Golisano on the Battle of the Billionaires

[img_assist|nid=83|title=Golisano.|desc=golisanofoundation.org|link=none|align=left|width=69|height=100]Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano said he wants a public referendum to determine whether or not to extend New York City’s term-limits law, and that he was prepared to spend an unspecified amount of money in an ad blitz to promote the effort.

An aide to Golisano said the advertising would include newspapers, television and radio and that the newspapers ads could appear as early as tomorrow.

Golisano said Michael Bloomberg has been a great mayor for New York City, but that “the people have spoken,” and that “sometimes, you may have to lose a good candidate” because of term limits.

Golisano was speaking to reporters inside the Millineum Hotel near Ground Zero, and was joined by an unusual group of supporters: New York State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, liberal Air America radio owner Mark Green, and a number of other state and state lawmakers who oppose the legislation.

“The city has already said two separate times ‘We want term limits.’ They should apply to everyone,” said Golisano. He declined to characterize his involvement in the issue, opposite Bloomberg and billionaire term-limits activist Ron Lauder, as a “battle of the billionaires.”

Golisano also indicated he may spend money to not just put term limits on the ballot again, but to oppose Bloomberg should he launch a campaign for a third term if the law was changed without a public referendum.

“I would feel pretty negative about that,” Golisano said. “I would feel negative about his campaign.” He went on to question “how would the population feel about electing him if they don’t feel he should be running in the first place.”

Long sought to draw Bloomberg directly right into the argument, saying “If ever there was an example of why we need term limits, mayor Bloomberg is the clear example of that.” After praising Bloomberg’s early ideas about reforming government, said, “the corruption of his own principles took place by him now rolling over the citizens of the city of New York, who voted twice for term limits.”

I told Golisano about Bloomberg’s light-hearted dismissal of his involvement in the debate, and asked if he thought Bloomberg was taking him seriously.

“I have no idea if they’re taking me seriously or not. It’s a really serious issue,” he said.