2005-11-30 / Political Page

Would 2 Big Spenders Join To Unravel Changes In Term Limits?

Here we go again with the term limits controversy.

At a recent forum on the subject at Baruch College, six of seven candidates who want to be City Council Speaker during the next four years, including Melinda Katz (D–Forest Hills) and Leroy Comrie (D–St. Albans), said they favor the extension of term limits for another four years.

Only one Speaker candidate, Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) said he was undecided on the issue.

There’s a very good chance that the next person to fill the powerful Speaker’s post will be able to push the extension through, since it benefits every incumbent that will be sworn in to a second four-year term in January.

However, the proposal is not so popular outside the council. Worse still, it is unpopular with two very rich guys—Mayor Michael Bloomberg and cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder, who twice provided the money muscle to push through the term limit reform and again to fight attempts to water it down.

Lauder said in a New York Times interview about a week ago that if the extension proposed by the Speaker candidates goes through, he would try to get another referendum on the ballot to overturn the change in the present law.

“I’m going to fight it every way,” he stated. “I will put everything behind it. I didn’t fight the battle twice to give up.”

Lauder has spent $4 million on the successful term limits battles and can be expected to be just as lavish on another one.

Bloomberg, as has been well established, is the biggest spender of them all on political matters, called the positions voiced at the Baruch College forum “an outrage” and “disgraceful”.

“The public wants term limits, and if that’s what they want, we should all learn to live with them,” the mayor stated.

He didn’t address his options in case the council as a whole follows through and approves the proposed change. The mayor most likely would refuse to sign the bill and would probably veto the measure, which would be a useless gesture because the council can easily override his veto.

Nor did he touch on dealing with the matter as Lauder has pledged to do. Now, that would be interesting—a joint financial effort to build public support to defeat any term limits changes via the referendum and the ballot box.

FUNDS FOR DA’S SENIOR FRAUD FIGHT: U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has secured $250,000 for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown to launch a new initiative to combat exploitation of the elderly. A press person for Clinton said the funds will be used to support a demonstration project to address the serious and growing problem of crimes involving financial exploitation of the elderly. The new program is aimed at telemarketing scams, consumer frauds, credit card fraud, identity theft, caregiver/familial financial crimes and “stranger” exploitation matters.

LAWMAKERS AT BUSINESS BREAKFAST: Three Democratic lawmakers from the city’s delegation—Anthony Weiner (Queens/Brooklyn), Carolyn Maloney (Queens/Manhattan) and Charles Rangel (Manhattan) will discuss the outlook for the upcoming congressional session this Monday morning at a Crain’s Business Breakfast Forum in Manhattan. Among the topics on the agenda expected to be hashed over are 9/11 aid, eminent domain and tax reform.

One of the event’s sponsors, the Partnership for New York City, is presently organizing a lobbying effort to block legislation that would sharply curb the use of eminent domain, the legal method by which governments can take privately owned property. Last spring, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a controversial decision saying localities can use eminent domain to seize property for use in development projects.

PATAKI PICK PANNED: Governor George Pataki’s appointment of Assemblymember Charles Nesbitt, Republican minority leader, to a $124,000-a-year spot on the next state Tax Appeals Tribunal should be confirmed by the state senate any day now despite broad opposition to the appointee.

The job calls for the three-member panel to resolve complex legal disputes over tax collections and requires two of three panel members to be lawyers. Nesbitt is not a lawyer.

Talk around Albany is that the governor gave his good friend Nesbitt an eight-year plum appointment because there are moves afoot to dump him as GOP minority leader because, sources maintain, he’s done a lousy job.

Meanwhile, the governor tried to get state GOP party leaders to simmer down and soften the rhetoric as they discuss choices to be the party’s nominee next year to succeed the three-term governor who is not seeking re-election.

State Party Chairman Stephen J. Minarik failed to get a consensus on a choice at a recent meeting where he supported former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as the candidate. It didn’t fly because of opposition from supporters of Independence Party founder Tom Golisano and former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and ex-Secretary of State Randy A. Daniels.

Minarik blasted Faso and Daniels, leading Pataki to call for less heat because the party has so many qualified candidates.

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