The NYC Charter Revision Commission has published its instructions for voters — the first of which says “turn the ballot over.”
Presumably, the commission isn’t telling us to skip the front, where we can vote for governor and comptroller, among others.
But once we turn the ballot over, we’re into charter country, where things aren’t always what they seem to be.
The charter commission says that a “yes” on Question 1 will “set a limit of two consecutive terms” for Mayor, City Council member, Public Advocate, Borough President and Comptroller.” But read the fine print:
The two term limit would take full effect only after all of today’s incumbents can complete three full 4-year terms — 2021 for current Council freshmen.
Question 2 is even less straightforward. It asks you to vote “YES or NO on seven other reforms to the Charter concerning how government elections are conducted and how some parts of city government are organized.”
Sounds good, right? “Reform” means “to put or change into an improved form or condition.” But some of these “reforms” — which we can’t choose among — would increase the power of the mayor, at the expense of the City Council and the public.
So when you enter your polling place on November 2, don’t be fooled. The two charter questions on the flip side of the ballot were placed there by a commission whose members all were appointed by Mike Bloomberg. If you are confident that whoever succeeds Bloomberg as mayor deserves even more power than he has today, vote “yes” on Question 2.
But if you believe as we do, that the mayor already holds too much power, vote “no.”
As for Question 1, Term Limits, we can’t advise you. A lot can happen between now and 2021.