10.01.2008 0

The “Unbearable” Burdens of Democracy

  • On: 10/24/2008 12:48:39
  • In: Term Limits
  • By William Warren

    The political elites of New York City have discovered that certain aspects of democracy—such as term limits and popular votes—are sometimes just too much of a burden.

    According to the City Council, sometimes the people need a king.

    In a highly controversial throw down, the New York City Council voted yesterday in a 29-22 decision to repeal the existing term limits law which currently restricts elected officials to two terms. This was predominately and most obviously done so that Mayor Michael Bloomberg can seek a serve third term. Well, hail Caesar!

    Heralded as the only person—out of a mere 7 million people—qualified to see New York City through the current financial storm, the Big Apple apparently would rot without him.

    Despite all of this, the people of New York City have made it clear time and time again that their elected leaders are to serve no more than two terms. According to Chapter 50 of the New York City Charter:

    “No person shall be eligible to be elected to or serve in the office of mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president or council member if that person had previously held such office for two or more full consecutive terms…”

    As the Charter unconditionally details, the people enacted these rules with a very clear purpose in mind:

    “…so that elected representatives are ‘citizen representatives’ who are responsive to the needs of the people and are not career politicians.”

    Moreover, two different public referendums, one in 1993 and another in 1996, firmly cemented the voiced will of the people. In both referendums, a significant majority of the people approved the limitation of their elected officials to no more than two-terms.

    The New York City Council, however, does not believe the will of the people to be all that important. In fact, it seems to be more of a burden for 29 of the Council Members. After all, they are the politicians and they know best.

    As Philip Blumel, president of U.S. Term Limits said:

    “The City Council’s vote today is a shameless violation of the people’s will…These Council Members have willingly subverted the democratic process and moved New York City government one step closer to one-man rule.”

    However, the moral outrage isn’t limited to just term limits. Even the very means by which term limits are decided has been pilfered from the people. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 89 percent of New Yorkers say that the issue of term limits should be decided by a referendum—not by the self-serving politicians in the City Council.

    Yet again, however, politicians know best.

    Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. expressed his issues regarding a potential referendum:

    “The best way to remedy this problem would absolutely have been a referendum in November. We all agree on that … It’s no longer possible, unfortunately. To put this to a referendum now would cost the city $15 million at a time we face one of the most serious economic crises we’ll ever face. In addition, it may not get onto the ballot until May or June, which would shut this government down.”

    Apparently, democracy is also a burden.

    New Yorkers shouldn’t worry though, because the City Council always knows best.

    And, once Monarch Bloomberg begins his third term, New Yorkers’ own burdens will be royally decreed away by His Royal Majesty.

    William Warren is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.


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