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Bloomberg term limits turmoil continues

(Credit: Urbanite)


(Dave Sanders)

NEW YORK (AP) — Brooklyn council members Bill de Blasio and Letitia James went to

court Wednesday to block Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to change the city’s term-limits law so that he can run for a third four-year term.

The pair filed a petition asking the court to stop a scheduled council vote to

increase the number of terms the mayor and current council members may serve.The two lawmakers want the court to declare that the vote to

allow a third term in office for its own members, as well as

Bloomberg, would violate the city’s conflict of interest law.

The vote is scheduled for Thursday. A hearing on the issue was

scheduled for later Wednesday before state Supreme Court Justice

Jacquelyn Silbermann.

Randy Mastro, lawyer for the two petitioners, said his clients

oppose the proposed term-limits vote “as a matter of deeply held

principle.”

The petition names the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board and

the council as defendants.

The board wrote an opinion last week concluding that it was not

a conflict for council members to vote on term limits changes for

themselves and the mayor.

Jamie McShane, a spokesman for council Speaker Christine Quinn,

who supports Bloomberg’s proposal, noted Wednesday that the panel

issued a “strong and decisive opinion.”

“We are confident the court will agree that this lawsuit is

entirely without merit,” McShane said.

Two-thirds of the council members will be forced out of office

next year under the existing law, which restricts the mayor,

council members and other city officeholders to two consecutive

four-year terms. The mayor’s proposal would add the option for a

third term.

Bloomberg announced his intentions late last month after several

weeks of turmoil on Wall Street, arguing that he is uniquely

qualified to lead the city through the financial crisis because of

his business background. The founder of the multibillion-dollar

financial data firm Bloomberg LP, the mayor is reported to be worth

an estimated $20 billion.

The petitioners’ court papers note that Bloomberg had previously

expressed his support for term limits.

“Then, when the recent crisis in New York and worldwide

financial markets unfolded, Mayor Bloomberg seized on the

opportunity to make public his private desire to amend the term

limits laws” so he and some council members could stay in office,

court papers say.

Bloomberg’s first-ever veto when he took office in 2002 was to

reject a council bill that sought to extend terms for some

lawmakers. At the time, he said the proposed law was wrong because

it amounted to changing the rules for personal political gain.

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