Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Liar, liar

Sensing a groundswell of increasingly organized opposition to the Bloomberg-Quinn term limits override plan, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has rush-scheduled a vote on the proposal for tomorrow, Thursday, 10/23.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows a “dramatic swing” away from support for billionaire Bloomberg’s power grab: 51% of NYC voters now oppose a third term for Mayor Mike, up from 42% just two weeks ago. The same poll revealed that city residents prefer changing the term limits law through referendum by a whopping 89% to 7%.

Bloomberg could probably buy himself another election, but has continued to push his cheaper plan. As detailed yesterday, the mayor has used both public dollars from a previously secret slush fund, and donations from his philanthropies to buy what he thinks is enough support inside the City Council to avoid a less predictable plebiscite.

Democracy is messy. Bloomberg is famously phobic of messy.

You know what else can be messy? The facts. So, naturally, Hizzoner (his dishonor?) doesn’t like them, either:

Asked about the public’s preference that term limits be decided through referendum, Mr. Bloomberg said it was too late and too legally problematic to call for a special election or referendum. He also dismissed suggestions that he chose to work through the Council since he could be more confident of the result.

“I’m not trying to manipulate the system for an outcome,” he said, during an event at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. . . .

He then hightailed it back to City Hall. . . where he continued to meet in private with nominally wavering council members.

One of those who had been officially undecided, Peter Vallone Jr., decided—he’ll stay bought support the mayor.

“I’m doing what I think is right,” said Mr. Vallone, the son of a former City Council speaker who is also an avid supporter.

Vallone then said, “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to counting my money.”

Metaphorically, anyway. Vallone Jr. received $400,000 from Bloomberg’s slush fund (making him the third largest beneficiary), and has been granted a discretionary budget of $1.1 million—about twice the council average—for both 2008 and 2009.

I guess if you take the second-term councilman’s statement to mean that he is doing what he thinks is right for himself, then I guess that Vallone isn’t a liar. . . so I would still need a second liar to justify my headline. . . .

Well, there is billionaire Republican Ronald Lauder, who (as previously mentioned) bankrolled the previous two term limit referendums. Lauder has publicly decided that in Bloomberg’s case, his previous efforts shouldn’t count:

It was Mr. Lauder’s money and advocacy that originally paved the way for term limits, and it was only recently that Mr. Bloomberg convinced a reluctant Mr. Lauder that the economic crisis necessitated a third term for the mayor. In exchange for Mr. Lauder’s support, Mr. Bloomberg promised him a seat on a charter revision commission that would probably try to restore the two-term limit in a subsequent referendum, likely in 2010.

“I believe very strongly that the mayor should get the extra term and the City Council should get a third term,” Mr. Lauder said in an interview. “That is part of the deal. But I never spoke about the first-term council members.”

Well, actually, Lauder is being kind of honest there, isn’t he? He is publicly announcing to all the world that he cut a deal with Michael Bloomberg. Yes, that’s right, the laws can change because two billionaires made a deal.

But only for the mayor and some of the council members—not the first term-ers. Gosh, that’s not how the deal is being sold by Council Speaker Chris Quinn. As she sells tells it, the one time extension to three terms applies to the mayor, the whole council, and the city’s comptroller, public advocate, and five borough presidents. Could the City Council be voting Thursday on something other than what they’ve been told?

I think we’ve found our second liar.

(cross-posted on guy2k and The Seminal)

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