Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Commission has labored long and brought forth a mouse. If the voters say they don’t want the change, then three terms presumably will be enshrined for the future. If they vote for this wishy-washy version of term limits, it won’t happen until years from now. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
It’s a compromise, they say, but at whose expense? They want to be fair, the commission members say, to the incumbents. But what about being fair to the people of New York? Somehow, that has escaped them.
From NY Civic:
The bottom line here is that some people wanted to take care of some other people they know. And they were able to convince enough naive colleagues so that they could do it.
The remedy here is relatively simple: another referendum, with an effective date written into it so no Commission can substitute its wishes for the voters' decision by fiddling with implementation and postponing a simple reform for over a decade.
The unanswered question is Rule 17-C. Who will bell the cat? Who will step forward and take the initiative to see that the will of the people is implemented, whatever it may be. Now is the time to begin consideration of that question. It has been attributed to Edmund Burke in 1795. No one, however, really knows who said it first: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing."
To those of you who think, what difference does this make, two terms or three, you have a point. The issue, however, is not two or three terms. The issue is fairness; first the Mayor and Council circumventing the Charter in 2008 for their own benefit, and now the Commission trying to circumvent the referendum of 2010, whether they know it or not.
Americans, and New Yorkers are Americans, like to play fair, and don't like to be disregarded or manipulated. That is what underlies this controversy. It is the same nagging issue that sharply reduced the majority the competent mayor should have received after two successful terms. Our recommendation: respect the will of the people.
From Room Eight:
The need for a referendum to change the charter, or at least portions of the charter for which the politicians have a conflict of interest, is one thing I thought any decent group of people would propose. But they haven't, and there is no explanation as to why, although the report does mention that having he Council overturn a referendum without another one is something many objected to. Not only could the City Council eliminate term limits, but it could also eliminate initiative and referendum. This stunning omission has gone without comment. BTW, to change the NY state constitution requires the assent of two consecutive state legislative terms AND a referendum. If the City Council can just change the charter, why does it exist, since it is no more difficult to change than any ordinance?