"there will be blood!" No, this isn't in reference to last month's Paul Thomas Anderson riff, his filmmaking still sucks. This is what Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio had to say on the floor of City Hall about the joint Mayor Bloomberg/NYC Council's usurpation of our democratic process.
The power grab falls under the guise that these tough economic times have suddenly made this Mayor and this Council "Uniquely Qualified" to steer our city clear of the looming financial crisis. So scary is the current deregulation meltdown that our current crop of elected officials must bypass our City Charter, and must be allowed an opportunity for a third term in office. Never mind that Bloomie (who according to Brooklyn Councilman, Charles Barron, has seen his personal wealth balloon from a whopping 5 billion to a disgustingly obscene 20 billion dollars) is a champion of deregulation himself.
Hmmm, wonder why Cheney and Dubya didn't come up with this "Post-9/11" logic for themselves?
Of course bypassing the Charter goes directly against two public referendums (voted on in 1993 and again in 1996) where the people loudly made their support for term limits, and those limits being restricted to two, not three terms, known.
"It's no wonder the people no longer trust politics or politicians." added Eric Gioia, Councilman from Queens. Gioia, John Liu (also of Queens) who called Bloomberg "arrogant" and eighteen other "good guys" joined de Blasio and Barron against Bloomie's revisionist hand. In the end however, fighting the power proved as effective as a late season division lead by the Mets. What Gioia, Liu, de Blasio, Barron, and company witnessed was that most in power like to keep power, even if laws need amending in the process.
Christine Quinn, part time Council Speaker/part time captain of the Bloomie cheer squad, lead the corrupted against, not only the current law, but also the current polls. Polls which show New Yorkers to be just as in favor of term limits today, as they were during the two separate referendums which created and confirmed them to begin with. In fact, despite an incredibly impressive 75% approval rating for Bloomie, almost 90% of New Yorkers are still vehemently against extending term limits. Most, as this poll indicates, even say they would vote against a third Bloomberg term. Aaaah, but fear not incumbents. The people only say this now, before Bloomie drops 100 milly of his own chump change to keep his power.
Quinn, like Bloomberg, like every single member of the City Council, is only in office now because of term limits. Despite that, the mayor's complacent sidekick (as described in the Bloomie-friendly NY Times) set the stage for one of the most appalling circle jerks ever conceived at City Hall.
The high jinx began with a judge refusing to allow de Blasio and Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James' Hail Mary attempt at keeping the Bloomie amendment from ever reaching City Hall's floor. When that preemptive legal strike failed, a compromise amendment (sponsored by David Yassky of Brooklyn and Manhattanites Gale Brewer and Alan Gerson) asking to put Bloomie's amendment to a (third) public referendum for the spring of 2009 was voted on instead.
That vote, went down 28-22, with one abstaining. Rumor has it Councilman James Sanders of Queens (the one missing vote) was so torn between doing the right thing and a chance at keeping power for another four years, that he had himself holed up under his desk, sucking his thumb until the preliminaries were over.
And then came the big one. The final showdown. Known to some as "Introduction 845-A" but to most as the Uniquely Qualified vote. Realizing that the Dark Side would now prevail, even Sanders came out for a cameo and, like a beta wolf tip toeing behind the alphas over a fresh carcass, gingerly made his own Uniquely Qualified power grab.
In the end Bloomie and his 29 appeasers pushed aside the 22 who still honor, for good or bad, the City Charter. In fairness, these "Dirty 30" gave evidence (endorsements coming from rags like the NY Post, to defenders of the establishment like the NY Times) that they really are Uniquely Qualified to lead in a way that no mere mortals can. In fact, Bloomie and Quinn even pointed to support from ever popular Wall Street CEO's, including cosmetics heir, Ronald S Lauder (the man who bankrolled the 1990's term limits crusade) as a final sign of proof.
Never mind that Lauder (who has never served a day in public office) has been awarded a seat on Bloomberg's Charter Revision Commission. Never mind that Lauder has been promised that term limits will indeed come back once Bloomie is ready to step down. Never mind that Lauder only wanted term limits on regular Democrats and not on his fellow billionaires. If the Uniquely Qualified point toLauder (who looks and even sounds a bit like that effeminate ((illegal?)) alien dude from American Dad!)then how can we question their judgement?
Oh yeah, as an extra kick in the head to democracy, Yassky and Gerson, sponsors of the bill to bring another referendum to the people, later switched sides and voted with Bloomie and Quinn the second time around.
In fact, although Yassky was the most prominent traitor, in all there were actually four Benedict Arnolds. Brooklyn's Darlene Mealy and the Bronx' James Vacca united with Yassky/Gerson in the exercise of appeasing Bloomie. In the days leading up to the big vote, these four all publicly declared themselves with de Blasio, Baron, Gioia, Liu, James and the others committed to preserving the sanctity of previous democratic votes.
Sadly, had these four stayed true to their word, Bloomie would have (like with his Congestion Pricing scheme, or his West Side Stadium plans) again tasted defeat. Instead, barring law suits which are sure to come from the likes of Civil Liberties Lawyer, Norman Siegel, as well as a few local state reps in Albany, Bloomie is now free to buy (he spent $85 million in 2005 against former Bronx boss, Fernando Ferrer) yet another election. Let's not forget, even against a shady lightweight like Ferrer (who refused to support fellow Democrat Mark Green in the 2001 mayoral election) Bloomie still found 85 large in between his couch cushions to ride out a smooth victory.
Fortunately, we saw the last of Freddy in 2005. Hopefully, we'll see the last of the Dirty 30 in 2009. Below, the "enemy's list" of those who are so Uniquely Qualified, that they were able to amend laws to suit their own self-serving needs:
Feel free to contact (phone numbers, street addresses, e-mails provided above) the dancing ring leader. Or better yet, contact the 29 helpers and ask, would they have voted with Bloomberg, had it only been Bloomie receiving a reprieve from the term limits restrictions? Ask also, why should people bother voting if election results can later be so easily changed? Finally ask, why a city which survived 9/11 without needing term limit extensions, suddenly needs them now?*
UPDATE - November 3rd, 2008: On the eve of what will be (with all due respect to Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Washington) America's most historic election ever, Mayor Bloomberg "officially" thumbed his nose at previous election results by signing his mini-coup into NYC law.
Needing a witness before overruling the vote of the people, Bloomberg was instead barraged by 200 witnesses. Although a vocal mob of close to 1,000 showed up bright and early to City Hall, safety regulations allowed only the first 200 into the antiquated room. These 200 were allowed to speak publicly, and did so for nearly five hours, before Bloomberg's pen proved mightier than any sword, or democracy.