To say that I am appalled at yesterday's Council vote is to grossly understate my reaction. Last night, I was indignant. This morning, I woke up quivering with rage.
After sitting through the Brooklyn Democratic County Committee meeting last month, I felt certain that farce would be the most ridiculous political theater of the year. But, leave it to the New York City Council to come storming back a mere month later with a production so well-orchestrated and rehearsed that it deserved Broadway's most ostentatious marquee.
At least, the Brooklyn Democratic County Committee meeting had no pretension. All of our electeds, except Charles Barron, dutifully read through the script in a homogenous monotone that laid plain the emptiness of our faux democracy. To his credit, the evening's chair Marty Connor practically admitted that our attendance was all just for show.
Contrast Connor's candor with Betsy Gotbaum, our absentee Public Advocate (talk about a term that has become Orwellian!), who only shows up when it's time to the Mayor's bidding. Rather than raging on behalf of the people, as is her job, Gotbaum dutifully presided over yesterday's sham votes, piping up only to cut our Council Members' hollow rhetoric short with the gentle admonition: "Please, Council Member, everyone else has been so good at following the rules."
Gotbaum wasted her shallow breath in chastising her kin. Practically eveyone in the chamber was playing by the rules so obediently that they all deserved a gold star for good behavior. This was an event so thoroughly scripted that I read in the Queens Crap blog in advance of the vote precisely how Anthony Como and Jessica Lappin had horse-traded their "no" votes on the amendment calling for public referendum, so they could vote a safe "no" on extending term limits legislatively.
And with whom did they collude? David Yassky, Alan Gerson, and Gail Brewer, of course. In exchange for voting down Yassky's face-saving, bogus amendment, which allowed Yassky, Gerson, and Brewer to pretend they were populists, Como gets to boast about a "no" vote to his constituents when they go to the poll in two weeks, and Lappin got to feign reformer for Upper Eastsiders, while remaining safely in the Mayor's lap.
Don't believe me? Just rewind to yesterday's press conference before the vote and see Christine Quinn hardly suppressing her glee, announcing her certainty that the amendment would fail and the term limits extension would pass. How did she know? It was all a foregone conclusion. And not just in the past couple of days. I wrote on September 25th that City Hall insiders were already sure the term limits extension was a fait accompli.
Is this to what our government has been reduced? Silly shows for the media to deceive the public? And for what? So our incompetant elected officials can further infect our City with their incompetance?
Queens Councilman Tony Avella, who has impressively distinguished himself as one of the last true warriors for the public good in this City, precisely encapsulated yesterday's travesty in the remarks he gave explaining his "no" vote:
"The people of New York know the fix was in from the beginning and I apologize to my colleagues, but you should all be voted out of office for supporting this."
From Tony's lips to the voter's ears.