Imagine if the Board of Elections put seven separate elected officials — Congressman, Senator, Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, Assembly member, and State Senator — on the same ballot line, and made you mark just one oval to choose all of them.
Sounds like the old Soviet Union.
The decision by the 2010 New York City Charter Revision Commission to group seven unrelated proposals under ballot Question 2 — based on an opinion that the ballot was too small to show them separately — is just as cynical: It’s a way of telling voters, “If we let you vote seven or eight times, you could get confused and forget to vote ‘Yes’ on everything we want.”
Mike Bloomberg’s one non-negotiable charge to his 2010 charter revision commission was: “Deliver a term limits question, so I can fulfill the deal I made with Ron Lauder in 2008 to let me run for a third term.”
Commission chair Matthew Goldstein confirmed this when he said at a recent New York Law School breakfast, “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.”
But democracy requires that charter commissioners listen to the public, and public hearings could look like a sham unless voters get something to consider beyond term limits. So we have Question 2.
Question 2 would give Mike Bloomberg some “reforms” that his loyalists know he’d favor. Those reforms are not necessarily good for Democrats, for the City Council, and (if you believe the New York City Lawyer’s Association) for the city’s administrative law judge system — but they’ll please wealthy, self-funded candidates, as well as anyone — like Bloomberg himself — who thinks the city’s mayor should have even greater control.
That leaves the rest of us. Whatever you decide about Question 2, don’t skip it. Vote.
The people have spoken and for the third time they have approved term limits in NYC. Why? What is sacrosanct about two terms, but not three or four? The electorate had the opportunity to vote elected officials out in 2009 who were seeking a third term. The Mayor, Council members and Borough Presidents all ran for third terms under a law that gave them the eleventh hour ability to run. Most were reelected. Now we want to go back to two terms. We’ll see how long that lasts.