2001-10-03 / Editorials


Rudy Should Stay; Green In Runoff

The Gazette can see no reason why anyone would object to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani continuing in office beyond the end of his term, which expires Dec. 31, 2001.

This can be accomplished either by repealing the term limits law and allowing him to run for and win another four-year term on Election Day, Nov. 6, or by having the legislature pass a bill to permit him to extend his term from three months to a year.

This newspaper, after having studied the pros and cons of these alternative proposals, feels either one would be appropriate and desirable for one overriding reason: in this unprecedented and extraordinary emergency, to which the mayor has responded flawlessly, the city’s best interests would be served if he would continue as chief executive.

This would be preferable to allowing a new mayor, burdened with the multitude of problems and concerns typical of a transition between administrations, to inherit the awesome responsibility of also overseeing the recovery and rebuilding of the World Trade Center site.

At this particular moment in history, the citizens of New York City should not have to entrust these gargantuan responsibilities to a person who has had no experience in taking on what has often been called the second most difficult job in the country or the world, after the presidency of the United States.

That comparison, with which we heartily agree, has become even more pointedly valid since the awesome new duties were added the mayor’s responsibilities by the September 11 devastation. They have added a vast new dimension to the job. Difficult though they may be for an incumbent, they are beyond the talents of any of the three candidates who might be elected on Nov. 6.

The accolades heaped on the mayor for his handling of the death and destruction that descended on the city need no repeating here. They have already been recorded in this newspaper’s pages from the beginning of this tragic period in the city’s history.

But we would point out that while it’s important to keep in mind the exemplary job the mayor has already done, the real importance of his continuing to do it is that the continuity of the effort built up in the past 23 days will be maintained. It makes no sense to have to turn the reins over to a new leader and a new team that would have to start from scratch. We can’t afford the lost time and the errors that are sure to happen in the transition process.

Since the idea of repealing term limits to allow Giuliani to run for another term surfaced, a generally negative reaction has emanated from the Democratic leadership in Albany, which is headed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D–Manhattan).

We would have hoped that Silver, who is key to legislation repealing term limits, would have followed the lead of Governor George Pataki and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, both of whom have indicated they approve of the mayor’s getting a chance to run for a new term.

This newspaper has been opposed to term limits since the idea’s inception. Term limits is a wrong, flawed policy because voters always have the opportunity to end an incumbent’s term by voting him or her out of office. Unfortunately, it took a disaster of the dimensions of the World Trade Center tragedy to point up the folly of replacing almost the entire City Council and the mayor’s office at the same time. Opponents of term limits had consistently pointed up the shortsightedness of the wholesale replacement of an experienced legislative body with an aggregation of novices from top to bottom.

But Silver seems not to be bothered by this dangerous prospect. Instead he’s doing what he does best: nothing.

Instead of acceding to the public’s unmistakable high esteem of the mayor for guiding this city through the worst period in its history, instead of giving the people the choice of voting on whether they would have him continue in office, Silver gets cute and says he’ll bring the question before the majority Democratic caucus by Oct. 15. By then the deadline for the mayor to receive the Conservative Party nomination and a place on the Nov. 6 ballot will have passed.

Ah, yes... politics as usual in Silver’s small universe at a time when the city is battling enormous odds to get off its knees and back on its feet again.

Perhaps if he is successful at blocking the mayor’s chances of seeking re-election, Silver might relent and give his assent to passing legislation allowing the mayor to continue in office for three months.

The Gazette certainly hopes so. These are not ordinary times by any stretch of the imagination, and common sense dictates that we stick with a team that appears to be succeeding at an almost impossible job.

Common sense also dictates we stay with the man who has led the fight and who’s getting thousand-percent effort from all involved—Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

While Silver and Albany Democrats decide what will be the mayor’s fate, the Gazette urges a vote for Mark Green in the Oct. 11 Democratic primary runoff against Fernando Ferrer.

Green exhibits more maturity than Ferrer, as shown by his agreement to let Giuliani continue in office for three months beyond the end of his term. Generally, we feel that Green, more than Ferrer, possesses the stature and steadiness to cope with the troubled times ahead when, in addition to dealing with budget deficits, the city must formulate plans to rebuild downtown Manhattan and find the financial resources to do it.

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