2007-10-19 / Editorial/Opinion

Council Should Not Tinker With Term Limits

New York City voters have spoken loud and clearly a number of times on the issue of term limits for New York City's elected officials, including the Mayor, the City Council, the Comptroller and the Public Advocate. Each time the voters affirmed their belief that term limits are not only good, they are necessary. Each time, an overwhelming majority voted for the term limits. It is obvious that the members of the City Council were not listening to the voters. Once again, the specter of term limits is haunting City Hall, and the members of that body are scheming to overturn the voice of the people so that they can keep their high-paying, low-energy political positions. We can understand their panic over losing their jobs. The part-time position pays $112,000 a year and allows the members to hold other positions as well. The fact is that 36 of the 51 council members will be out of work on December 31, 2009 unless they tinker with the law to give themselves a reprieve, and that is just what many of them want to do. Council Speaker Christine Quinn recently let the cat out of the bag at a city breakfast when she said of extending the term limits that she faces, "No final decision has been made, but one will be made in the near future." The current law allows members to serve a maximum of eight years. Quinn and others want to extend that law to 12 years. To do that, they would have to pursue one of two options: they would have to bring it back to the voters in a referendum; or they would have to pass an enabling bill that would allow them to extend the limits without going back to the voters. The first option is probably lost to them, and they all know it. The voters would most likely reject any attempt to extend the limits. There is political danger in the second option as well. Voting for such an enabling bill would be political suicide for any candidate seeking another office - such as Joe Addabbo, hunting for a mainland State Senate seat. What to do? We would suggest that the council members accept their fate and allow term limits to stand - and begin looking for another elected office.

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