The Optimist has spent the last couple of weeks talking to City Hall insiders about whether term limits will likely be extended another four years. His conclusion? Mayor Bloomberg and the current City Council class will be sticking around until 2013.
By numerous unofficial counts, there are at least 34 Councilmembers out of a possible 51 in favor of giving themselves another four-year term (a 2/3 majority is necessary to change the current law) and more are likely to cave. It seems that with the economic downturn our fearless Councilmembers think this isn't the best time to go looking for another job.
What does this mean? The hundreds of Council candidates waiting in the wings to swoop into empty seats will be seriously pissed off. Some of them have spent 2, 4, even 8 years diligently going to community meetings, building their lists of contacts, and ingratiating themselves to anyone who would listen. Now the vast majority of them are likely not to run, demoralized by the daunting prospect of facing off against a highly favored incumbent.
And just think about how many consultants, staffmembers, and petitioners will be denied paychecks because of the hotly-contested primaries that now never will occur. Talk about a blow to the local economy!
Of course, a few brave souls will hold fast to their dreams and take aim at toppling an incumbent. I have heard from a few candidates intent upon sticking with it. I wish them the best. Despite the odds, I think they will have a strong case to make to voters that their opponents have demonstrated contempt for the will of the people, who have twice voted in the last decade for term limits.
Is it not the hallmark of tyrants to change laws just so they can keep power? Who among them would have the right to protest if President Bush tried to do the same?