Volume 21, Number 24 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Oct. 24 - 30, 2008

Downtown Notebook

Pols sound off on term limits

Many citizens, politicians and former officials testified at the City Council last week regarding a bill to extend city term limits for the mayor, city comptroller, Public Advocate, borough presidents and city councilmembers. Here’s a sample of what they said, as reported by Lincoln Anderson and Albert Amateau:

My position is extraordinarily simple: Term limits don’t make any sense. I’ve been against them my entire political career. Term limits are a desperate attempt to improve government based on two assumptions: After four or eight years, the incumbents will lose their efficacy; and newcomers will be better. Our city had been governed for 200 years without term limits — and became one of the world’s great cities.
Former Governor Mario Cuomo


The mayor initiates policies and legislation and I concluded that it often takes as much as 12 years of effort and support to place in a position for lasting effect those policies and laws.
Former Mayor Ed Koch


We urge the mayor and the City Council to slow down this hasty process and to hold hearings in all five boroughs. Just like state legislators should not draw their own district lines, the City Council should not vote on term limits.
Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union


Let me say that Mayor Bloomberg is a good man and a good mayor, who, due to personal ambition, is subverting the democratic process.
Former Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Mark Green


There’s never been the kind of integrity and ethical questions that this presents. Here you are, the representatives of the citizens, directly undoing what they have done. There’s a very good argument for three terms — entirely credible and entirely sensible. So why try to ruin it by doing it like a putsch? What I’m trying to tell you is be honorable. Why disgrace yourselves by trying to do it in this sleazy way?
Henry Stern, former councilmember and former Parks Commissioner


As a practicing attorney for 25 years, I am appalled by some of the statements that I have heard here today on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg, appalled at the mayor’s outright dismissal of the process in favor of his opinion that he is the indispensable man in our time of financial crisis. Process is the basis of our democratic government. The indispensable man argument is based upon the politics of fear…. The cost of a referendum troubles the mayor. If the mayor wants to save money, he can scrap the half-a-billion-dollar, three-district Sanitation garage that he is imposing on the West Village community, accept the modification proposed by the Sanitation Steering Committee and save this city $250 million.
Maria Passannante Derr, former Community Board 2 chairperson who is considering a run for City Council District 2, represented by Christine Quinn


The mayor has said that he merely wants to give the people of New York a choice. But what choice are you giving when you knock out qualified and competent opponents who simply cannot compete with $80 million and an incumbent billionaire? This doesn’t create choices, it extinguishes them.
Yetta Kurland, another possible District 2 candidate


While I have been philosophically opposed to term limits, the current debate on the method by which the law would be altered is deeply troubling. Once again, the choice must be returned to the people through a referendum on term limits. … Instead, there was a calculated decision to wait until that option was precluded by time constraints. This is one of the most cynical political choices in my memory. A special election is now the only democratic option for deciding this issue.”
Assemblymember Deborah Glick in a prepared statement


Even in times of crisis — especially in times of crisis — there are some concerns in which the people’s voice must be heard. The move to extend this city’s term limits is one of those concerns….I oppose term limits. We have that billionaire Ron Lauder to thank for that, and he now reminds us that he was wrong. But the voters voted for term limits twice and the will of the people is clear.
Congressmember Nydia Velazquez


With a two-term limit you arrive in office and spend time learning the ropes. Your time to do big things for the people who elected you is so short, it’s almost over before it begins…. Back in the 1990s, we let a billionaire hijack the electoral process and we’ve been paying for it ever since.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer


Under Mayor Bloomberg and this City Council, New York City is currently stronger than ever. He and you have led the city back from 9/11, rebuilt our economy…and delivering more and better services to the New Yorkers who need them most.”
Richard Parsons, chairman of Time Warner


You’re mugging democracy. Being for or against term limits is not the issue. The question is ‘Is New York City for sale/ We didn’t crumble after 9/11. Please pay attention to the man behind the curtain and say that New York City is not for sale.”
State Sen. Eric Adams of Brooklyn




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