Brooklyn will host the upcoming courtroom battle to determine the legality of the City Council’s recent vote to extend its stay in City Hall for another four years, it was determined this week.
On Monday, city attorneys made a motion for a venue change, which would move the case from Brooklyn Federal Court — where the suit was filed – to Manhattan, where the city was facing another legal challenge on the term limit vote.
But Judge Charles Sifton denied the motion, declaring that the case would be heard here.
Brooklyn City Councilmembers Bill de Blasio of Park Slope and Letitia James of Fort Greene are plaintiffs in the suit, which claims that Mayor Michael Bloomberg acted illegally when he called for a vote to give himself, city leaders and Council members another term in office.
The Council abided by the Mayor’s plans, overriding a twice publicly voted referendum that restricted city legislators to no more than two four-year terms.
Council members contend that there was a loophole in the referendum that allowed them to extend their term to four more years if it was deemed necessary.
City attorneys believed that moving the case from Brooklyn to Manhattan and balling the term limit cases together would save money and resources.
Judge Sifton disagreed, finding that the two cases had distinct differences.
Although a court date for the case has not been set and not a single piece of testimony has been heard, de Blasio called the change of venue request an “initial victory.”
“We are very pleased with the speed with which the case is progressing,” de Blasio said. “Judge Sifton is moving things along quickly, and he has rightfully recognized that the claims behind these two cases are very different.”
He added that there “can be no disputing the facts that the actions of the Council and the Mayor in overturning voter-ratified term limits were in clear violation of local, state and federal law.”
“Not only did our government completely disregard the will of the people, but its actions were illegal,” she said. “The New Yorkers who elected us to represent them deserve better, and I will fight for them.”
Other plaintiffs in the case against the city include candidates for local office, voters, and good-government groups.
De Blasio has announced that he does not intend to run for a third term, and instead will run for Public Advocate. James will not be term limited out of office at the end of 2009 with her colleagues — many of whom voted for the third term extension.