Amid claims of strong-arming tactics, the involvement of yet another billionaire and a circus-like atmosphere in the City Council chambers, the term limit debate remained undecided at press time.
At issue is whether the City Council will override two public referendums limiting all city office holders to two four-year terms.
Under current legislation proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city lawmakers would add a third four-year term.
If passed, this would allow Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz and 11 of the 16 Council members from Brooklyn to run for a third term.
According to the latest published reports, 16 Council members support the mayor’s bill, 20 oppose it and 15 are undecided.
The bill needs 26 votes to pass.
All seven of the 11 Brooklyn delegation members who support the bill are term limited and thus, if the measure passes, would have an incumbent’s leg up on being re-elected.
This includes Councilmembers Erik Dilan, Lew Fidler, Mike Nelson, Domenic Recchia, Diana Reyna, Kendall Stewart and Al Vann.
Six borough Council members are against the measure including Charles Barron, Mathieu Eugene, Bill de Blasio, Vincent Gentile, Letitia James and Darlene Mealy.
Of these six, only two — Barron and de Blasio — are term limited. However, both have announced plans to run to succeed the term-limited Markowitz for borough president.
De Blasio and James are two of the most active opponents of legislating in a third term, and have proposed a measure that would put the matter back in front of the voters for a third time in a special election.
De Blasio has also charged he knows of political arm-twisting that both the Bloomberg administration and Council Speaker Christine Quinn are doing to some City Council members to get their votes.
The arm twisting is in the form of saying that some Council members won’t get any committee leadership roles if they vote against the measure, said de Blasio.
Along with the $112,500 annual City Council salary, members can make up to an additional $12,000 for chairing committees.
De Blasio gave no names as to which Council member was being pressured. Both the Bloomberg administration and Quinn have refuted the allegations.
De Blasio did reportedly find success in recruiting upstate billionaire Thomas Golisano to fund advertisements and pressure City Council members to help defeat the Bloomberg bill.
Golisano helped found the Independence Party of New York State and has long been a proponent of passing laws by referendum.
Golisano entering the brohaha is a counter balance to cosmetics billionare Ron Lauder, who funded the two referendums on the issue, but now favors the Bloomberg bill.
Finally, three borough Council members are still undecided on the measure. They include term-limited Simcha Felder and David Yassky, and Sara Gonzalez, who will not be term-limited in 2009.
The ongoing tally aside, the City Council held two hearings on the issue last week, which created a circus-like atmosphere and some interesting comments.
“I cannot imagine that 69 percent of the City Council would disappear in one day. Granted, you may have brilliant people behind you but there’s a learning curve you have to go through,” said Rich Mazur, executive director of the North Brooklyn Community Coalition.
“I’m losing two City Council people (Diana Reyna and David Yassky) I have worked very well with and who have contributed their resources. I am now meeting with six new candidates for one Council seat and one candidate for the other seat,” he added.
One amusing moment at the hearings occurred when one woman brought a bag of cosmetics with her and dramatically dumped her makeup, eyeliner, and lipstick containers onto the wooden conference table in her testimony.
“These are products of Estee Lauder. When they run out, I will not be buying any more of these products,” the woman said, as Councilmembers Letitia James, Melissa Mark Viverito, and Rosie Mendez clapped in approval.
— With Aaron Short