2006-01-27 / Editorial/Opinion

Business As Usual For City Council

Although we remain in favor of term limits for both city and state officials, it is clear that even a completely new City Council made little difference in the way it does business. For the “new” council with its “new leadership,” it is politics as usual. Witness the plight of James Sanders, Jr., who represents the east end of the peninsula in the council. When Tom Manton, the pol who runs the Queens Democratic Party with an iron fist, decided that Sanders was no longer useful to the party, David Hooks was endorsed as the candidate for Sanders’ seat. Sanders, however, wiped the floor with Hooks and won the election. Then, Sanders backed Republican Mayor Mike Bloomberg for reelection. Bloomberg wiped the floor with the Democratic candidate, Fernando Ferrer. Then, Sanders back the losing horse in the fight for City Council Speaker. The winner, Christine Quinn, billed by her supporters as a kinder, gentler leader, immediately moved to punish Sanders for his transgressions against the party. He lost his prestigious chairmanship of the Economic Development Committee and along with it the $10,000 “lulu” that all chairpersons receive. While it is questionable as to what Sanders brought to Rockaway through the chair for the past two years, it is clear that his demotion is a blow to Rockaway’s revitalization plans. Having a local as the chair of that committee only served Rockaway’s interests. Now, that is gone. City Councilman Tony Avila, who traditionally refused to take his “lulu” as chair of the Zoning and Franchise Committee, said publicly, “The stipends [lulu’s] are a not so sophisticated tactic used by the political leadership of legislative bodies in this state and throughout the country to exercise control over its members. It binds the members to will of the leadership. Independence and freethinking are lost as a result” It is clear that party bosses such as Manton made the choice for Speaker, not the members who represent our communities. It is just as clear that this leadership is moving ahead with a plan to either ameliorate or do away with term limits without going back to the public. It is business as usual for the “new” City Council and once again it is the residents of the city who will be damaged by its purely political actions.

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