We love the rule of law that says we are all equal as citizens, and we love the checks and balances - including term limits - that keep power from accumulating in the hands of a few.
These are the finest of democratic instincts, and everyone who signed a petition, made a phone call or berated a Council hack in recent days deserves a medal.
Perhaps the most effective testimony (at least according to It's Our Decision, the coalition opposing Bloomberg's power grab) came from Noticing New York blogger Michael D.D. White, who cleverly asked if he could extend his remarks and was told no, as Council Member Simcha Felder, the hearing chair, belatedly recognized that White, like the mayor, wanted the rules to be changed.
The Bloomberg-AY connection
We all know, thanks to some vigorous reporting by the New York Times (which hasn't devoted similar scrutiny to Atlantic Yards), that Bloomberg has used his philanthropic clout to influence testimony.
And what about Atlantic Yards? Yesterday, White tried to connect some dots:
It seems pretty simple. In an apparent quid-pro-quo for city approvals for Atlantic Yards, developer/subsidy-collector Forest City Ratner gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Mayor’s charities; the Mayor then uses his charities as an instrument of pressure to generate coerced testimony in favor of his remaining in office.
It is, of course, "apparent" rather than proven. But the philanthropic angle behind Atlantic Yards deserves as much scrutiny as the similar effort behind the term limits override. Perhaps the Times, and Louis, can take a look.
Bob Guskind of the Gowanus Lounge comments:
Après moi, le déluge. We think a big fan of democracy named Napoleon uttered this famous phrase. Today, a variant is being spoken by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and, to a lesser extent, by Borough President Marty Markowitz. Without them and their superb leadership we will all be lost. And so, it is imperative that one of most grotesque subversions of democracy that any of us will ever witness short of a coup d’etat in Washington will happen today in New York City when the City Council votes to end term limits. (There is still hope than an amendment to subject it to a public referendum has enough votes to pass, thank God.) But, if not, the Mayor and Council Speaker Christine Quinn have traded enough votes and favors to overturn turn limits and allow incumbents to extend their own terms in office. In this sense, Mayor Bloomberg is morphing into our very own Vladimir Putin and Marty Markowitz into Brooklyn’s own low-rent version of Napoleon.