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Editorial / Periscope - Niall O'Dowd
Bloomberg’s Big Move
October 30, 2008
MICHAEL Bloomberg has been an excellent mayor of New York City since 2002, but whether that entitles him to ride roughshod over the term limits bill, which was passed some years ago in 1993, is debatable indeed.
Bloomberg and New York City Council President Christine Quinn rammed a vote through the council last week which will allow Bloomberg to run and very likely win a third term as mayor next year.
For Quinn the pact with Bloomberg is a risky step by one of the leading Irish American politicians in New York. She was a strong contender for next mayor before Bloomberg’s decision, but she will now remain City Council leader. She is well placed to eventually take over from Bloomberg, who certainly owes her, but there may well be a voter backlash.
The vast majority of New Yorkers, over 80%, wanted the issue of extending term limits put to another referendum of the people.
That could certainly have been possible either on Election Day this year or early next year, well before the November 2009 election.
Bloomberg, however, instead decided to take the sure and certain route of winning a majority vote in the City Council. To further ensure victory he convinced fellow billionaire Ronald Lauder, who had essentially authored the term limits legislation back in 1993, to back him.
When a couple of billionaires get together in a back room good politics usually do not follow. However, to no one’s surprise the City Council went along with the pact.
It is no secret that said council has been a rubber stamp for the mayor, and the mayoral largesse to many city council members ensured their votes to overturn the limits.
However, it was a closely run thing, unlike most other votes on the council, reflecting the deep division in the city and among the ethnic communities to the mayor’s move.
He succeeded but has left a very bitter taste among many voters who see the arrogance of power in Bloomberg’s move.
He is expected to spend north of $80 million to get himself re-elected next year, a vast sum that will scare away all but the most determined challengers.
To date only Congressman Anthony Weiner has stated definitively that he will run, which may be bad news for Bloomberg as he is the strongest opponent with Quinn out of the picture.
Weiner is a Senator Chuck Schumer protégé and has his combination of workaholic habits and shrewd political calculation. He will be betting that voters will still remember the method by which Bloomberg received his permission to run for a third term.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, will be gambling that in these troubled times voters will much prefer a hands on mayor with an excellent track record to a new pair of hands.
Thirteen months is truly a long time in politics, however, and the political landscape may have changed utterly by then.
Suffice to say that if Bloomberg had gone the more democratic route and got voters to endorse altering the term limits law that would have been a far more acceptable route to power. America got rid of the divine right of kings a long time ago.
GETTING out to vote on Tuesday, November 4, is your way of participating in the greatest democratic exercise on earth.
We pick a president, much of the Senate and the entire House, not to mention many other state and city offices.
We can be blasé about this responsibility, or embrace it with the realization that there are so many places in our world who will never have this opportunity. We should not take our responsibilities lightly.
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