A group of political odd bedfellows announced their intention to tighten the city’s term limit law this morning at a press conference on the steps of City Hall.
Earlier this month, voters approved a provision that will restore the two term limit for all elected officials. The law, however, is not slated to go into effect until 2021, and exempts all officials elected in 2009 or earlier.
The group–which includes anti-Obama care crusader and former lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey; former Koch-era Parks commissioner Henry Stern; Seymour Lachman, a former state senator and the director of the Hugh Carey Center for Government Reform at Wagner College; and former Giuliani-era deputy mayor Randy Mastro–is trying to eliminate that exemption with a referendum for the 2011 elections.
“This is something that the Charter Revision Commission should have taken care of, but instead they capitulated to the political powers that be,” said Queens councilman Eric Ulrich, the lone elected official to support the effort. “My colleagues are not the bad guys. The bad guys are the Charter Revision Commissioners who chickened out and made a half-hearted attempt to right a wrong.”
Nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers voted to reinstate the term limit law after the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg altered the law in 2008. Term limits have been twice approved by New York voters before.
“The public voted for term limits three times,” said Stern. “But the incumbents managed to wiggle out whenever the sands start running out on their tenure. So we want to finally chop off the head of the snake.”
If the referendum were to make it to the ballot, it is likely to pass. But that is a big if. Supporters of the initiative need to gather 45,000 signatures and lack any kind of signature-gathering operation at the moment.
Ulrich said some of Lachman’s Wagner students would be willing to volunteer, and that they hoped to entice Ron Lauder to fund the effort, as he did the previous two ballot measures regarding term limits.
“If that happens,” he said. “This thing catches fire.”