2008-10-08 / Political Page

I On Politics

Term Limits Issue Turns Into A Real Dogfight

Well, nobody ever said changing the term limits law was going to be easy.

The mayor is looking for an easy way out by merely letting the City Council vote on extending limits to 12 years in all, from two to three, four-year terms for all citywide officials and all councilmembers.

There is, however, strong support among a number of councilmembers for making the change through a referendum, voted on by the city's electorate. One of the leaders pushing this proposal is Councilmember David Weprin (D- Hollis); another is John Liu (D- Flushing).

Other than there being differences on how the change should be made, still another group of councilmembers doesn't want to change the term limits law at all.

Besides this, Ronald Lauder and the mayor have differences on changing term limits. While the mayor is holding out for a permanent change, Lauder would go along with changing term limits only for the 2009 election, because the economy is so bad generally and particularly because the city's situation is horrendous. Given these circumstances, the mayor should remain in office for another term because he's uniquely qualified to lead the city through these unsettled times.

SENIORS GREET GIULIANI, MALTESE: For his part, Maltese wasn't just sitting on his hands last week and had a big name talent helping his campaign. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who scored impressively in Queens in his two mayoral victories, was back in the borough last week to campaign with Maltese and Councilmember Anthony Como, both of whom are running for re-election. The former mayor and the candidates visited senior centers in Republican strongholds Glendale and Ridgewood. Maltese also announced another endorsement by a police line organization, the Police Conference of New York (PCNY), which represents 229 Police Benevolent Association chapters plus eight regional conferences, for a total of 25,000 officers throughout the state. Previously, Maltese had been endorsed by the Detectives Endowment Association and the Bridge and Tunnel Officers' Benevolent Association. Maltese has also gotten major endorsements from District Council 37 (DC 37), the 1.1-million-member municipal workers union, the Public Employees Federation, the Civil Service Employees Association, and the state AFL-CIO. SENIORS GREET GIULIANI, MALTESE: For his part, Maltese wasn't just sitting on his hands last week and had a big name talent helping his campaign. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who scored impressively in Queens in his two mayoral victories, was back in the borough last week to campaign with Maltese and Councilmember Anthony Como, both of whom are running for re-election. The former mayor and the candidates visited senior centers in Republican strongholds Glendale and Ridgewood. Maltese also announced another endorsement by a police line organization, the Police Conference of New York (PCNY), which represents 229 Police Benevolent Association chapters plus eight regional conferences, for a total of 25,000 officers throughout the state. Previously, Maltese had been endorsed by the Detectives Endowment Association and the Bridge and Tunnel Officers' Benevolent Association. Maltese has also gotten major endorsements from District Council 37 (DC 37), the 1.1-million-member municipal workers union, the Public Employees Federation, the Civil Service Employees Association, and the state AFL-CIO. However, there are those who object to the notion that there aren't any other people qualified to lead the city through a perilous period. Among them are Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D- Queens/Brooklyn), city Comptroller William Thompson and Councilmember Tony Avella (D- Bayside), all of whom are Democrats and all of whom have indicated that they plan to run for mayor even if Bloomberg gets a chance to run for a third term.

Weprin, who had long planned to run for city comptroller when his second term ended next year, has led the call for making changes in the term limits law by referendum only with a citywide vote. His position is backed by good government groups and others. All feel that the original term limits law and one other subsequent vote on the issue were both brought about by the entire city electorate, so the same method of approval or disapproval must be followed.

Liu said in a statement, "I've never supported term limits. I think it makes sense to extend them, but not this way by a city council vote. The term limits were enacted by referendum and confirmed by another referendum. So if we are going to tinker with this law, it should go back to the people."

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum also backs Weprin's bill.

Others speaking out on the issue were Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and James

Gennaro and Comptroller Thompson. Thompson stated: "First and foremost, the will of the people should not be ignored. I am opposed to any extension of term limits by legislative fiat. The voters have spoken twice and any attempt to disregard their voice sends a message that democracy has

taken a back seat."

On a similar note, Gennaro said, "The issue of extending term limits has gone to the people twice through public referendum, and any revisiting of the issue should go back to the people. If brought before the council, I would go with the will of the people and vote no."

Vallone stated:

"The earthquake that hit Wall St. this week has caused us to consider new ways to shore up our political foundation. Mayor Bloomberg is a great choice for the New Yorkers to have during these trying times, and I will therefore take a serious look at any term limits legislation that comes across my desk."

DEM BACKERS SHOW UP FOR ADDABBO: As the election calendar showed the start of the final month of the 2008 campaign, City Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr. turned his campaign for state senator against incumbent Senator Serphin Maltese up a couple of notches.

At one of his biggest rallies of the campaign, the Ozone Park/Howard Beach lawmaker was joined by City Comptroller William Thompson, Congressmember Anthony Weiner and other Democratic Party supporters, as well as members of several labor unions who have endorsed him and pledged to hit the pavement for him from now to Election Day on November 4.

All told, about 300 Addabbo supporters showed up at the Ridgewood Democratic Club to start the countdown to Election Day. To Addabbo, the large turnout represented the "people power" component of the campaign, and when the day ended, the labor union volunteers had accomplished one of their missions: ringing some 3,000 doorbells to pass the word about Addabbo's candidacy.

Thompson and Weiner, who both plan to run for mayor next year, gave pep talks to the energized crowd, both hitting the same theme about the need for change in Albany.

Addabbo also promised to "deliver for all New Yorkers" and to keep the pressure on until Election Day.

DIVERSE $UPPORT FOR GENNARO: In the other hot state senate race in the borough, in which Democrats hope to make inroads against Republican control of the state senate, Councilmember James Gennaro is challenging incumbent Senator Frank Padavan in Northeast Queens.

Gennaro reports that he has raised more than $723,000 for his campaign and has more than $400,000 of that still on hand.

But beyond the numbers, Gennaro emphasizes, "The contributions come from a diverse array of supporters, including the Asian- American community, the Jewish community, the environmental community and progressive activists interested in seeing the Democratic Party take control of the state senate for the first time in four decades, a situation that would materialize with just two Democratic victories in November."

However, Padavan has faced serious challenges in the past and it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

GIANARIS SPEAKER AT GREEKAMERICAN OBAMA EVENT: Assemblymember Michael Gianaris was the special guest speaker at a fundraiser for the Obama/Biden ticket in New York City attended by more than 100 Greek-American supporters. The Astoria lawmaker, stressing the importance of political activism for young Hellenes, recounted how his involvement in the 1988 Michael Dukakis campaign served as his springboard into political life and his election as an Assemblymember. He urged those who were present to journey to battleground states like Pennsylvania and Florida to help the Obama/Biden team make its final push toward victory in November. Gianaris also recounted his meeting with Barack Obama previously at a Chicago fundraiser.

At the September 25 event at the Olympic Tower Atrium Cafe in Manhattan other guests present were Democratic Party activist Angelo Tsakopoulos; Dr. Dean Lomis, former chair of the American Hellenic Institute, and event host Jeff Kurzon, who is affiliated with Armenians for Obama and Obama NYC. The fundraiser co-hosts were Dean Sirigus and Olga Alexakos.

CROWLEY HAILS US-INDIA CIVILIAN NUCLEAR PACT: The three-year effort to forge an agreement between the United States and India to authorize the transfer of U.S. civilian nuclear technology scaled a major hurdle when Congress approved the historic link up, Congressmember Joseph Crowley announced.

Crowley, House Chief Deputy Whip, who supported the agreement throughout that period both in Congress and in the Indian- American community which is included in his district, hailed the pact's passage.

"Today's passage of the final agreement is an historic moment, and the agreement's impending enactment will cement a critical partnership that I hope will continue for decades," he declared.

Crowley (D- Queens/The Bronx), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and former chair of the Caucus on India and Indian Americans, is a key leader on South Asian affairs in Congress. The Elmhurst lawmaker helped to broker the U.S.- India nuclear pact, which now goes to the Senate for approval.

REAL GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN: For almost three decades, the Enchanted Florist & Greenhouse, at 65-10 Grand Ave. in the heart of the Maspeth shopping district, has been owned and operated by Tony Nunziato.

On a recent Saturday, he temporarily converted part of the shop's large storefront into campaign headquarters for his run as the Republican candidate for the 30th Assembly District seat held by Assemblymember Margaret Markey, the Democratic incumbent.

Nunziato plastered the upper part of the building with large signs announcing his campaign, and in a news release was just as outspoken in making renewal of the commuter tax his key issue. Nearly 10 years ago, the tax on Long Islanders and surburbanites north of the city was repealed, denying the city $4 billion in revenue each year. Markey, Nunziato pointed out, was one of the members of the Assembly Democratic majority that voted to end the tax. Nunziato's name will also be on the Conservative and Independence Party lines. The district includes Maspeth, Woodside, and portions of Long Island City, Middle Village, Astoria and Sunnyside.

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