2006-10-06 / Editorial/Opinion


Council Off Limits In Push To Change The Terms

The voters of New York City have voiced their opinion on term limits three times since those limits became law in 1993. That 1993 referendum limiting local officials to two four-year terms was passed by more than 60 percent of the voters. If that is not a strong mandate, we don't know what is. Then, in 1996 the politicians tried to change the game. Term limits advocate Ron Lauder, scion of the cosmetic dynasty, beat back that challenge and 54 percent of the voters rejected the politician's bid to hang around forever. In May, the new Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, commissioned a poll paid for by her election funds as well as by the Democratic Party to find out the public's feelings about extending term limits to three terms of 12 years. While Quinn has steadfastly refused to release the results, leaks in the media say that the breakdown was 57 percent to 40 percent for keeping the present limits. As a Daily News editorial said recently, "Message to [the 51 councilmembers]. The public thinks that eight is enough. How many times do you need to be told that?" Quinn's poll should end the term limits question once and for all, but it probably won't. There are councilmembers who believe that they can change the rules without going back to the electorate. They believe that there is a backdoor legislative method of making the changes that the public does not want. We hope that Quinn's poll persuades those councilmembers that there would be a large public backlash should they override the present term limits without the public's approval because that would be political suicide.

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