Giving the Council Options
October 22nd, 2008
Council members David Yassky, Gale Brewer and Alan Gerson want to give the council some options, they said at a joint press conference on the City Hall steps this afternoon.
To do that, they will introduce an amendment on the floor of the chamber tomorrow during the council’s stated meeting requiring a City Charter review commission and referendum on term limits before an extension could take effect.
“This critical issue – whether the decision about term limits should be made by referendum or by Council action – should be put squarely before the City Council,” reads the joint statement (available in full here). “Accordingly, we intend to ensure that Council Members have the option to vote on a referendum proposal as an alternative to the Mayor’s proposal to amend term limits legislatively.”
Each said they were still undecided — despite the grilling from the City Hall press corps — and would not divulge how they would vote if their amendment was defeated. Yassky pledged to not abstain, while Gerson said it was an option.
Essentially, their amendment takes the James-de Blasio bill (which requires the city set up a review commission to look into term limits then send it to the voters) and incorporates it into the mayor’s bill (which simply extends the city’s term limits from two to three terms).
Neither the de Blasio-James or the Weprin bill (a full explanation of all the term limit legislation is available here) were put on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting. Yassky said it was obvious the speaker wanted to do it legislatively.
Interestingly, what this amendment will do is force council members who support the mayor’s bill to vote against a referendum and charter review commission before they can vote on the mayor’s proposal. (I imagine that could come back to haunt them.) Any member, as we explained here, can propose an amendment during a stated meeting.
Weprin’s Communications Director Pat Barrientos said he had no explanation as to why the other bills were not on the agenda tomorrow, while the mayor’s bill was.
When asked whether the trio had enough votes to get the amendment passed, Yassky said, “Honestly, I don’t know.”
The three will be lobbying over the next 24 hours to try to get that support, they said.
Beyond that, who knows if the mayor would sign such a bill. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been arguing there is no time for a special election before next fall’s citywide contest. So, if this amended bill were to pass, would he veto it on principle?
Gerson, Yassky and Brewer have been three of the undecideds targeted by groups who oppose the extension of term limits legislatively.By Courtney Gross on October 22, 2008, 2:11 pm
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