Bloomberg: Four More Years?

IMGP1900_1.jpgWith Michael Bloomberg expected to announce today that he will seek a third term as mayor, current and would-be electeds are, understandably, in a tizzy.

While few two-term City Council incumbents seem to support term limits, several have their sights set on other offices, and many say they are leery of changing the rules to keep themselves and the mayor around for an additional four years. Others who are known to be running to succeed Bloomberg tend to be less conflicted. Said a spokesperson for Congressman Anthony Weiner: "It’s illegal to run for a third term."

And what of livable streets advocates? The Wall Street Journal today cites unnamed enviros who see a third Bloomberg term as a means to continue work on PlaNYC, and the prospect of Janette Sadik-Khan resetting DOT countdown clocks come January 2010 is an enticing one for sure.

With no clear livable streets favorite among the 2009 mayoral contenders (Tony Avella, anyone?), would you support another term for the Bloomberg administration?

Photo: Brad Aaron

  • Larry Littlefield

    No.

    Look at the big picture. This is not just a one-time decision about one person. He will lose all moral authority. And things will follow from there.

  • I’ve got a better idea:
    Maybe he could head up a “White House Office of Urban Policy”
    http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/urban_policy/#strengthen-federal-commitment

    just a thought

  • Ian Turner

    Larry is right. It’s absurd to do away with the term-limit laws because of a single person; term limits have been one of the best factors in restoring democracy to New York City politics.

    Plus, although his record on transportation and livable streets is great, his record on civil liberties and development goes a long way to negate that.

  • Car Free Nation

    I’ve never understood term limits. They restrict choice, and also seem capricious. Why city government, and not state government; why the President, and not the Senate or the House?

    If people don’t feel like a politician is doing his job, they can vote him out of office.

    In terms of Bloomberg, I think his reelection will be a great thing for livable streets. Hell, we might even get another shot at congestion pricing.

  • chris

    he has had almost 7 years now to get cars out of central park and prospect park, so I wonder if he might be waiting for his third and final term to get moving on that?

    i suspect at least he would make another push on congestion pricing, which would be good

  • I lean toward Larry’s and Ian’s view, though I note that with term limits we might be facing Mayor Raymond Kelly–a prospect many times worse than a third Bloomberg adminsitration from a civil liberties perspective. And 4 more years of JSK is pretty enticing.

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    I think term limits are a bad idea but the voters have clearly spoken…twice. To disregard that is politically perilous and just plain rude. The fact that Ed Skylar, Patty Harris and Kevin Sheekey all think it’s a bad idea tells me a lot. Finally, it is widely rumored that JSK would like to go back to Washington (perhaps as transportation secretary, if she is so fortunate) so there is no guarantee that four more years of Bloomberg means four more with her.

  • Yes, to term limits. It is far too easy today for too much power to be concentrated into the hands of one person over time, which is why key roles like President of the United States and mayor of New York City should be term-limited. I would support term limits on congress members for the same reason.

  • I don’t understand. Term limits came about as part of a voter referendum, right? Does Bloomberg have time to have another referendum? That would take care of the moral authority problem, at least in my mind.

  • If they have a voter referendum (as opposed to passing a council bill) and the voters are in favor of repealing/extending term limits, sure.

  • This might be too complicated, but I think people should be able to run for a third term –but you need to win with 60% of the vote or something.

    Just think what would have happened if there had no term limits with Rudy! We’d still be stuck with him and that would be awful.

  • Air

    I would be really scared if anyone else was mayor over the next few years. Not only in terms of not paving over bike lanes but the economy and everything else. There are some things that drive me crazy about him but overall no one else seems to be a better choice.

  • fdr

    There is no time now for a referendum unless it was a special election. There would have been time a couple of months ago – and there have been rumors for several months that Bloomberg was thinking of trying to run again – so it looks like the financial crisis is just an excuse to suddenly announce after it’s too late for a referendum.
    As for what he will do in his “third and final term” – who’s to say there wouldn’t be some crisis in another 4 years that would enable him to say he should run again? That was the rationale for FDR running 4 terms – and why the Republicans then pushed through a two-term amendment after he died.

  • When Rudy tried to pull this in 2001, I thought it was a lousy idea bordering on an extralegal power grab (he also tried to postpone the election that year because he was so busy being “America’s Mayor”). However, I do think term limits are pretty stupid (except in the case of the US president, where it makes sense to me not to allow one person so much power for more than a decade).

    I’d like to see NYC term limits overturned and Bloomberg run again. Yet I’m bothered by my own hopes, because the situation is pretty much the same as w/Rudy above (except that Bloomberg hasn’t proposed postponing an election)…

  • I still don’t like this we’re selling out the future for a short term gain. The city has had some bad mayors and I just know it will happen again.

  • One of the things I have believed that I really think has made the city a better place in the last 7 years (besides having Mr. Bloomberg at the helm) was the mass turnover of the City Council. The new batch of folks tackled a whole new set of issues and gave many ideas momentum and importance. I don’t know how many of you remember what the City Council under Peter Vallone was like, but it was far different – they accomplished a fraction of what has been done under this bunch.

    And if you look at term limits, they brought us Bloomy after Rudy. That was vital to the city. And though I love Bloomy lots, who knows if the next person to take over will be even better him? Yes, it could happen. But almost surely NOT with the batch of candidates that are lined up. That is a tough thing to try to wrestle with.

    I have been a vocal supporter of term limits. I volunteered to pass out fliers way back when for the referendum. It’d be great to see what Steve O’Neill suggests – a voter referendum (even a special one) because that would be more fair. I am not comfortable with the Council getting involved.

    But even after all that, after all I have written and my supposed morals, I’d close my eyes – look the other way – and give a 3rd term for Mayor Bloomberg. My perfect scenario: no term limits (or three consecutive) for mayor, but keep them for the council. Of course, there is no way that passes without the self-interest of councilmembers….

  • Bloomberg has done some positive things for Livable Streets, but some of you seem to forget that his administration presided over the chaos of the 2004 Republican National Convention and the ensuing crackdown on Critical Mass. And that he was happy to have Iris as commissioner for the first six+ years of his term. And that so far, PlaNYC 2030 is as much marketing plan as anything else. And that he has failed to ban cars from the parks, as someone mentioned above.

    We survived 9/11 without four more years of Rudy; I think we can muddle through the next four with someone other than Mike.

    Like term limits or not, the voters decided — twice — that term limits were the law. Bloomberg and a large number of council members may only be in office because their predecessors were forced out in 2001. So they aren’t even going to let one cycle go by without trying to overturn the will of the voters in a simple vote by a council that has an obvious conflict of interest? So much for democracy.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “As for what he will do in his ‘third and final term’ – who’s to say there wouldn’t be some crisis in another 4 years that would enable him to say he should run again?”

    I can guarantee the Council will pass another 4-year extension crisis or not, if necessary over Bloomberg’s veto if he has had enough.

    “I still don’t like this we’re selling out the future for a short term gain. The city has had some bad mayors and I just know it will happen again.”

    Bloomberg will turn into a bad Mayor selling out the future in order to get re-elected. People are behind him in exchange for all gain now, someone else’s pain later. He’ll be competing with Weiner to sell out the future. So there won’t be any realistic choices in the next budget.

    Then, if he wins, he will suddenly discover there are worse problems than excpected, and call for sacrifice for the common good. But he will have lost all moral authority, and the Sheldon Silver backers of the world will just laugh.

  • What Eric McClure said.

    Bloomberg is at base an authoritarian and an egomaniac.

    And while he has his good moments he has benefited from great PR or he would not be so popular.

    People should remember Atlantic Yards, West Side Stadium, 2004 Convention debacle, the failed Olympics bid, last year’s discretionary $1 Billion tax rebate in the face of a pending financial crisis (and cuts to MTA capital plans), treatment of Critical Mass under Bloomberg, even his original scrapping of glass recycling.

    We don’t need another 4 years of Mike. He has accomplished some good things, but we’ve never had a mayor this out of touch with working people or willing to cut corners for his billionaire developer pals.

    We can do a lot better, and to cling to this man out of fear of the unknown is ridiculous.

  • Geck

    I voted against term limits and continue to dislike them and I am unimpressed with the other mayoral candidates. Blumberg’s Livable streets and PlaNYC 2030 need more time(though the Republican Convention and the handling of critical mass do remain a stain on his legacy.)

  • jmc

    The comments here are pretty funny. Is Bloomberg all of a sudden not the most progressive mayor on transport policy that we’ve had in years? Did he not appoint JSK? Think about it, guys!

    Let’s think about the realistic alternatives to Bloomberg that we could possibly have. If the two words “Anthony Weiner” don’t scare the crap out of you, you haven’t been following things closely enough.

  • JoeyKnickerbocker

    Ian Turner writes: “It’s absurd to do away with the term-limit laws because of a single person”

    Ian, the instigation of term limits (TL) was in fact the work of a single person: rich, right-wing billionaire Ron Lauder who lost as Mayor in 1989 and, so rebuked by the Democratic voters, spent his wealth on a slick ad campaign to eviscerate the Democrats by convincing voters of the worthiness of his scheme. (Note that LAuder didn’t push TL for the Republican State Senate or Republican NY Governor, Pataki, or for the Republican Congress at the time!)

    Just as ad campaigns convince people that Coke is better than Pepsi, so too did this ad campaign work. Opponents of TL had not the financing to mount a serious ad blitz. (Curiously and without comment, TL did not pass in Manhattan, with its large base of progressive, college-educated activists, who may not be as susceptible to Lauder’s gambit than some other voters. Remember, the outer boroughs were not ‘gentrified’ in 1993.)

    Voters believe that all politicians are corrupt, except the ones THEY themselves vote for. A naive concept.

    Thus TL was passed: by the spite and money of a single person – spoiled rich kid, Ron Lauder.

  • jmc

    It’s hardly fear of the unknown.

    Anthony Weiner! Anthony Weiner!

    I know exactly what would happen with that.

    Do you guys not remember the pre-Bloomberg era?

    Iris Weinshall?

    Was Rudy a friend of progressives?
    Was Dinkins effective?

  • abraham

    the same as Bloomberg takes credit for the after 9/11 economic buildup (if yes…?)he should take full credited for the the economic crisis
    dump Bloomy

  • ms nomer

    Ditto to Susan Donovan’s, Eric McClure’s and Gary Reilly’s statements.

    To those of you who are making supportive noises about a third term: Do you realize that Bloomberg’s proposal to do an end-run around the voters’ clear support of term limits is tantamount to approving a political coup? Forget short-term issues like who’s a good successor to the Mayor. The longer-term consequences are far too disturbing to let that matter.

    Term limits aren’t perfect — but the outrageous complacency, lack of transparency and accountability, and disdain for the public shown by most of the city’s pre-term-limit incumbents should be better remembered by all of us. Heck — they were the reason WHY the term limits referendum passed not once but twice. Human nature doesn’t change. Take away term limits and watch our city leadership vanish behind a veneer of smokescreens and sneers at the public.

    Term limits were what gave us the savvy, smart city electeds we have now, and there’s every reason to believe we’ll see an even broader, sharper batch of candidates each election season, because of the opportunity that term limits has provided. That is the longer-term benefits that term limits restored to New Yorkers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Term limits were what gave us the savvy, smart city electeds we have now.”

    Exactly. I’ll be pretty angry at the existing Council members if they do this, but how do they compare with the state legislature? Well, another four years and they will turn into the state legislature.

    Bu the way, to savvy and smart add more representative of those who are here and moving in, not just those cashing in and moving out. Most of those who actually benefitted from Sheldon Silver’s decisions are either dead or living in Florida.

  • Sadik-Kahn for Mayor

    If Bloomberg still wants to be mayor in four years, he can run. I do like the direction things are pointing now. Bloomberg has come a along way since 2004, but I get the sense that many of the rapid changes that he and Sadik-Kahn have been able to accomplish are because of a sense of urgency to get things done before the end of his term.

    Clarence is right, the Council is much more dynamic now and wholly improved.
    Besides, a man with Bloomberg’s money and influence can still do a lot to continue to shape the city. Maybe he should have run against Shelly? Governor Bloomberg?

  • ms nomer

    To Sadik-Khan for Mayor: “Governor Bloomberg”?! Now you’re on to something! And Larry L., you made an important point in bringing up the state legislature. My hope is that with city term limits, those smart, savvy city legislators who are term-limited out, will vie for state legislative posts. And so on, and so on. We could end up having a dynamic state legislature if we have a continuous supply of ambitious, sharp city electeds who’re done in 2 terms but hungry for more… I dare to dream. Sigh.

  • Capitalist

    “Bloomberg is at base an authoritarian and an egomaniac.”

    And what politician isn’t?

    “And while he has his good moments he has benefited from great PR or he would not be so popular.”

    It’s more than PR. At the core of things, Bloomberg really does make most of his decisions on what he in good faith thinks are the merits, which is not something you can say about very many politicians. People who observe the details of the way his administration works recognize this. He gets good press (despite the fact that does nothing to hide his contempt for the media) because he does as good a job as can be done with his office. He is sometimes wrong, and he does have a blindspot for develepors, but compare him to the two administrations that preceded him, which were worse in every way. He undid much of the damage done by his predecessors to the basic competence and esprit de corps of NYC’s civil service. By doing things like allowing agencies to run themselves with much less intereference from City Hall, supporting investments in technology (sometimes to a fault, admittedly), streamlining an awful lot of internal procedures, and appointing mostly pretty good people instead of hacks and/or members of his praetorian guard to high-level positions, he made a very big difference in the day-to-day running of the city. That’s the source of his good press, not his PR efforts, which are widely viewed as inept.

    “People should remember Atlantic Yards, West Side Stadium, 2004 Convention debacle, the failed Olympics bid, last year’s discretionary $1 Billion tax rebate in the face of a pending financial crisis (and cuts to MTA capital plans), treatment of Critical Mass under Bloomberg, even his original scrapping of glass recycling.”

    Yup, these were all mistakes (though the glass thing worked out in the end). On the flipside, no Russell Hardings, no Crown Heights riots, no PVB scandals, no Bernie Kerik, no DOT commissioners impersonating cops, no Norman Steisel soliciting prostitutes, no prosecuters in charge of basic city services, no Amadou Diallo, no Abner Louima, no Abe Beame reaping what he sowed with a financial shell game … We could do (and have done) much worse.

    “We don’t need another 4 years of Mike. He has accomplished some good things, but we’ve never had a mayor this out of touch with working people or willing to cut corners for his billionaire developer pals.”

    That’s nonsense. He has made huge improvements in the administration of health, social services, and education and done more good for ordinary people than any City official since LaGuardia. Yes, he has also thrown a huge amount of money in the direction of his developer pals. That’s not evidence of his being out of touch. It’s evidence of his being a poltician.

    “We can do a lot better …” Not with the current crop of prospective candidates

    ” … and to cling to this man out of fear of the unknown is ridiculous.”

    Believe it or not, I agree with this. As much as I respect Bloomberg, detest term limits, and wish he could run for a third term legitimately, the route he seems to going is not legitimate. He’s exploiting a loophole in the term limits law for his own personal gratification, and will be abetted in this by council members who have the same conflict of interest. If he wanted term limits abolished, he should have put it directly on the ballot a long time ago. As for others’ comments about how term limits have improved the calibre of the City Council, bullshit. All term limits accomplished was the exchange of one collection of hacks and mopes for another. What the current crop lacks in senility they make up for in ineptitude and venality.

  • vnm

    I am all in favor of term limits … for Shelly Silver, but not for Mayor Bloomberg. And therein lies a big problem. I should be free to vote against Silver but for Bloomberg.

    We have a problem in this democracy with corruption, opaqueness, lack of responsiveness to one’s constituents, being bought off by special interests, etc., that goes along with extended incumbancy with a great many, but not all, politicians. Extended incumbancy itself is not a problem as long as the office holder remains competent, as is the case with Bloomberg.

    To limit someone’s ability to choose among all qualified candidates is a truly drastic step, and one that gets at the problem only obliquely. There have to be better ways to eliminate the problems that come with entrenched politicians without resorting to term limits. We’re using a machete to eliminate the good with the bad, instead of selectively pruning.

  • To limit someone’s ability to choose among all qualified candidates is a truly drastic step, and one that gets at the problem only obliquely. There have to be better ways to eliminate the problems that come with entrenched politicians without resorting to term limits.

    The thing to remember is that term limits aren’t a solution to the problem of incumbent advantage, they’re a kludge. They were one way to get enough of the Howard Goldens and Peter Vallone Seniors out of government to hopefully implement a real solution, but that solution has not yet been implemented. Once it is, we can remove term limits.

    In the meantime, I agree with a lot of Capitalist’s assessment of Bloomberg, but I also agree that keeping him in power for another four years is not worth trashing what democracy we have in this city.

  • gecko

    Bloomberg has done the job well and it’s difficult foreseeing any successor being even close.

    We are in very difficult times and there is a lot at stake especially, in this difficult city with many people at risk.

    When talk moves to fears of trashing democracy just look around, at the streets, the headlines, and TV news; the past eight-year voted-in (in part by the Supreme Court) nightmare Whitehouse legacy, and in this matter the moral outrage rings hollow.

    Bloomberg gets his pleasures being in the limelight (perhaps) and serving the city and its people and it would be naive and a bit self-destructive not to take full advantage of his graciously proffered oversight, talents, and resources.

  • rhubarbpie

    I think it’s very early to conclude that another mayor wouldn’t be an effective advocate of many of the changes we want. Beyond that, this is a power grab that astounds me as a voter (including one who supported term limits twice, as did the majority of New Yorkers) and as a citizen.

    I’d be happy to entertain the question of whether term limits make sense, though — in a vote put forward by the mayor and council and only if they themselves would not benefit. In other words, for the NEXT mayor and the NEXT round of council members. Otherwise, the mayor and the council will just be doing a local version of what’s done in Russia or North Korea.

  • Capitalist

    “I think it’s very early to conclude that another mayor wouldn’t be an effective advocate of many of the changes we want.”

    I don’t think it’s too early conclude that neither Anthony Weiner nor Bill Thompson will be effective advocates of anything, let alone a particular policy agenda. That’s got to be at the center of Bloomberg’s thinking — he can get away with this because of two words that have the city’s financial and political elites scared shitless: Mayor Weiner.

    “Beyond that, this is a power grab that astounds me as a voter” You must not be from around these parts I reckon …

    “(including one who supported term limits twice, as did the majority of New Yorkers) and as a citizen.” I voted against them twice, foreseeing exactly these circumstances. But what Bloomberg is doing is wrong. Get a referendum on the ballot and let the people speak that way.

  • Reasons not to support another Bloomberg run:

    1. The longer people are in power, the more entrenched they become.

    2. Someone who considers himself indispensable (because he will save the city from financial ruin, environmental disaster, etc.) will consider himself infallible.

    3. If George W. Bush suspended the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution (imposing term limits on the president) on the justification of a state of emergency, we’d be outraged. Changing the rules to keep one’s self in power happens in corrupt governments all around the world–let’s not let it happen here.

    4. Unbridled development, gentrification, and suburbanization of New York

    5. Rampant and unchecked abuses of power by the NYPD

    6. If such a “green” mayor can’t do something as uncontroversial and widely supported as making Central Park and Prospect Park car-free (out of deference to a minority of automobile owners), what good is he?

  • Jeff Simmons

    I thought I would share with you New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.’s statement following the Mayor’s announcement that he will support City Council legislation extending term limits. The Comptroller has spoken assertively about the need to respect the public’s vote on two occasions. Thompson said: “I am extremely disappointed in Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement. I have always taken the Mayor at his word, particularly when he said on multiple occasions that altering term limits through a council vote would be disgraceful. Let me be clear: today’s announcement constitutes an attempt to suspend democracy. We should not undermine the will of the voters.”

  • Thompson is right. There needs to be a vote– it’s wrong to just do this without putting it to the people first.

  • gecko

    #37 Susan Donovan, Right. Thompson’s pronouncement that Bloomberg’s “announcement constitutes an attempt to suspend democracy.”

    How true!

  • “although his record on transportation and livable streets is great, his record on civil liberties and development goes a long way to negate that.”

    Ian (#3) is right about that, although with the current climate rampant development will be less of a problem.

    I understand the ambivalence about the term-limit extension and Bloomberg himself, but jmc (#33) is dead on.

    Two words: Iris Weinshall. The rest of the candidate field is dismal, and Weiner is no progressive. He’ll set us back 20 years. Whereas with Bloomberg we get another 4 years of JSK, and how can you beat that?

  • gecko

    The Bloomberg administration will have a lot of unfinished business at term’s end; lots of good stuff.

    It should be allowed to finish as much as possible advancing its deeply entrenched progressive framework and trajectory for this city.

    Whatever concerns that have to be met with all the bluster about “trashing democacy” and the need for referendums, etc.; so be it.

  • I hope Bloomberg can be mayor for another term – I was a student in NYC public schools throughout his administration and while he has problems working an education system, he’s done amazing things for the quality of life in NYC. Go Bloomberg!

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