Term Limits, a.k.a. Bloomberg's crossing of the NYC Rubicon (East River?)

I’m a little surprised there hasn’t been a thread about this, but I know it’s a local issue. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has decided he’s running for [del]President[/del] [del]Vice President[/del] [del]Governor[/del] mayor again, even though he’s term-limited out.

Or he was until yesterday, when the city council suspended the law just this once.

What do NYC Dopers, and others, think of this? I’m all for getting rid of the term limits rule, but thought it should have been put to the vote. I laid that objection aside because it was so close to the election… until I realized the mayoral election is next November. So from what I can tell, there was no good reason to leave it to the City Council instead of the voters, and I don’t like that move.

Right now, this has some high drama qualities, with legal fighting possible and one billionaire potentially duking it out on the airwaves with another, as Bloomberg argues with Ron Lauder, who supports the term limits. Bloomberg himself used to support them also, very strongly. He says the city would benefit from his leadership during this economic crisis. And he may be right, but a few days after he decided he thought the term limits should get tossed, a backlash started. I still think he’ll probably win the election, but it’s a long time off.

Ex-Manhattanite here. This is amazing to me. Say what you want about term limits, but for the guy in office to make it happen is scary. I could see, as you say, changing the law, but at the very least the people should vote on it.

Didn’t Rudy try this just after 9/11?

Yeah- however he didn’t make it happen all on his own. He came up with and floated the idea, but it’s the City Council who made it happen. He’ll sign the law, if he hasn’t already. The law does apply to the CC members up for re-election next year. Quinn, the speaker, was actually going to run for mayor herself but decided to get on board with the term limit idea.

What’s even more iffy about it is that it’s a one-time thing. They haven’t abolished term limits, they’ve suspended them just this once.

Not quite. He asked for an emergency three-month extension of his term, just to help us out and everything. He was very unpopular by this time and nobody supported it.

Thumbs down from me. If anything, it should have gone to the voters.

I’m also cranky about how Bloomberg is spinning this, that we need his financial know-how to get through this economic crisis. Grudgingly, I kinda sorta admit that might very well be true. But at the same time, I’m thinking “GEEZ MIKE, if you’re such a financial supergenius, how come you didn’t use your awesome powers to prevent the crisis?”

I’m pretty sure Green and Bloomberg both supported it (possibly not that enthusiastically) but Ferrer melted down over it and dragged Green with him.

I am not sure that Ferrer or Green could have dragged themselves down lower than they already are, even by melting.

I am of a mixed mind about this, myself. I find my basic beliefs about city politics are totally out of whack with the standards I try to use to weigh things nationally. I kind of expect and admire a bit of strongarm scumbaggery around here. Save Giuliani, America’s Douche.

Since Bloomberg is still very popular, I am trying to understand why we could not have voted on this issue. It would have forced the council’s hand since Bloomberg would have likely won. So who actually benefits from the lack of referendum?

When I first heard about the proposal I didn’t think it was going to make it past day 1 but here we are and I’m very surprised. I was thinking maybe some sort of finance czar role for Bloomberg instead of this power grab, which disappoints me. I’m not a big fan of “this place will fall apart without me” type personalities and I thought Bloomberg was more gracious than that. He doesn’t play support roles, I reckon.

Yeah, apparently that’s right. Although the way it’s phrased here, they may have said they’d agree to talk about the extension just to keep him from running. The whole thing was thoroughly unnecessary.

I’m of two minds as well. On the one hand I see how easy it would be for a terrible mayor to get elected over and over again because he’s entrenched and has influence over a large block of voters.

On the other hand, I feel that Bloomberg has done a remarkable job running the city, and why would you toss him out for an unknown quantity?

Perhaps it should have come to a vote, though there may not have been enough time to get it in this upcoming election. Ultimately, though, it will come to a vote, twice, in a primary and the general election, and the people will have a chance to tell Bloomberg that they want to respect the idea of term limits.

There would have been enough time, the NYT points out, if Bloomberg hadn’t spent months flirting with the idea and simultaneously with the idea of running for all the other elected offices I mentioned.

Bloomberg flirts quite a bit. I suppose he wanted to make absolutely sure that he didn’t have an outside chance of scoring a position in the federal government first.

I’d like a cite that Giuliani was “very unpopular” when he suggested the three-month extension. Giuliani first floated the idea in late September (Cite). In Mid-October, six weeks after 9/11, he still had a 79% approval rating among New Yorkers.

Yeah, I don’t understand why he did it this way. This seems even worse than actually extending term limits. I’m more worried about a government than can ‘temporarily’ make exceptions than I am about a government that goes through the process to change the rules.

Looking back on the data, yes, his pre-September 11th approval ratings were fair. I do have to wonder about that poll a bit, though, since it gives Green a 16-point lead in a race he lost only two weeks later.

His approval ratings kind of sucked.

Jury seems to be out on Hizzoner.

I’ve heard that they’ve suspended them just this once, but this is what it actually says:

“§3. This local law shall take effect immediately and shall apply to elections held on or after the date of its enactment, provided that this local law shall be deemed repealed upon the effective date of a lawful and valid proposal to amend the charter to set term limits at two, rather than three, full consecutive terms, as such limits were in force and effect prior to the enactment of this local law, where such proposal has been submitted for the approval of the qualified electors of the city and approved by a majority of such electors voting thereon.”

In other words, the law will be in effect unless the charter is amended again by referendum. I’m don’t know where the idea that it’s temporary is coming from. Am I missing something?

Not being a New Yorker, I don’t really have an opinion on Bloomberg or his value to the city, or the specific politics that led to this event. However, I do have to say, I find the idea of addressing this question by extending it to the public for a vote to be a little … I don’t know, silly, I guess. I mean, the upshot is, you’re asking the people to vote for or against the opportunity to vote for or against this guy. Ultimately, that’s the bottom line. If the public votes in favor of it, then obviously they like the guy enough to vote for him in the regular election. Yes? His later victory won’t be much of a surprise. I don’t have much use for term limits (my philosophy: let him be judged by the people as many times as he wishes, and returned to office as long as the people approve), but if you’re going to have them, it seems most sensible to allow exceptions to be handled legislatively, rather than popularly. The latter approach just seems, what, redundant to me.

Interesting point, Cervaise. The term limits law was only about a decade old, and I’m not sure how it came to be. If the City Council did it, I’d more or less drop my objection to doing it that way, but if the voters passed a proposition creating term limits, it should be up to them to revoke it.