2002-02-02 / Editorial/Opinion

Do Not End Term Limits

Do Not End Term Limits

Peter Vallone was one of the most powerful men in city government since the late 1970's. As the Speaker of the City Council, Vallone wielded virtually absolute power over its Democratic majority. Nobody crossed Peter and still retained his or her perks, chairperson seats, a nice office. Now, Vallone is gone, a victim of term limits. Vallone does not like the fact that he had lost all of that power. He is still angry and he wants to do something about it. He has plenty of time on his hands, one of the best name recognitions in town and he wants to use both his free time and his "juice" to bring down the term limits law. "I couldn't do this when I was in the city council, because people would have accused me of having my own self-interest at heart," he says. "Now, I can." Perhaps he can, but the question is, should he? We think not. Speaking strictly from a parochial Rockaway point of view, we were perhaps one of the biggest recipients of the largess of term limits. We traded Juanita Watkins and we got Jim Sanders, Jr. We traded Al Stabile and we got Joe Addabbo, Jr. To our mind, that is akin to winning the lottery. There are those who say that both Watkins and Stabile might well have lost the election in any case, because neither was addressing the needs of their particular community. History, however, argues that such is not the case. A recent study of election results over the past 20 years reveals that 96 percent of the incumbents who chose to run won reelection. That is not a number that is easy to ignore and that is why Ronald Lauder began the movement for term limits in the first place. Rather than overturning term limits, we should be moving to bring them to State elections as well as city elections. Ron Lauder was right all along. The electorate, which voted twice for limits, understood that. Only old pols such as Peter Vallone cannot understand the fact that the people are tired of political hacks remaining in office forever more because of inertia than because of solid achievement.

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