“The vast majority of the members of the commission publicly are opposed to term limits, period.”
(Matthew Goldstein, chair of the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission, speaking at New York Law School on Friday, October 22, 2010)
“But we understood that by accepting to sit on this commission that we wanted to bring back for referendum the idea ‘do you want to go back to what was in place before 2008’ and that’s what we did and that’s what you’re going to be voting on.”
(Matthew Goldstein, ten seconds later)
So much for the pretense that a mayorally-appointed charter revision commission can act independently.
And so much for voters’ ability to decide whether term limits should exist at all. The choice we’ll get on Election Day is “two or three 4-year terms, but if you choose two terms this won’t take full effect until 2021.”
Term Limits will be the subject of the first of two charter revision questions to appear on the back of the November 2 ballot. The second question — equally problematic — covers a bundle of seven unrelated “reforms” that sound good, but on careful examination, are anything but.
As much as we’re tempted to suggest that New Yorkers “vote with their feet” to protest the Hobson’s Choice presented by Question 1, we’re fearful that such a boycott could allow a few City Hall loyalists to determine the outcome of the referendum.
So we’re urging you to vote (if you can find a way to conceal your two-sided paper ballot from poll-watchers as you insert it into the scanner), and specifically, to vote “No” on Question 2.
One audience member at New York Law School, Bernard Kabak, noted that the provision in Question 2 that would enable future candidates to get on the ballot with fewer signatures could increase the “kook factor” in city elections.
The rest of Question 2 is no bargain, either. We’ve looked at the fine print, and we’re concerned that its proposals could allow a mayor to interfere with administrative law judge selection and would increase his leverage over the City Council.
So we do urge you to vote on charter Question 2. Vote “No.”
It’s way too late in the process, but I wonder whether if we could extend the concept of coterminality (making the community board districts coterminous with police precincts and other city services) to council districts. After each census, instead of altering the district lines you would simply alter the number of votes cast by each councillor based on the population of the district (which would solve the Baker v Carr objections).