Philip Blumel: Ready, set, go. Two weeks into 2024 and the Term Limits Movement is already shaking state capitals. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast to the Term Limits Movement. This is episode 230, published on January 15th, 2024.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Yes, the Term Limits Convention Resolution has already been filed for the 2024 legislative sessions in Maine, South Carolina, Alaska, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. And in South Dakota, Louisiana, and Utah, we’re getting ready to file as soon as the legislative session start. But get this, the Florida House, on the very first day of the 2024 session, just last week, passed the Term Limits Convention Resolution. Yes, that’s right. But wasn’t Florida the very first state to pass the Term Limits Convention Amendment a few years ago? Yes, it was. Then why pass the Term Limits Convention Resolution again in 2024? Well, why not? [chuckle] What kind of question is that? Florida should pass the Term Limits Resolution every year. But seriously, there is a good reason to pass it yet again. The new version of the resolution cleans up some language so that it will conform more exactly to the model legislation that’s being passed by the states that passed it after Florida. To aggregate all the calls on Article 5, they need to be substantially similar. And they are. We believe the original version that Florida passed is fully serviceable, but the new version is pristine and absolutely unassailable. And you can’t be too careful.
Philip Blumel: We’re gonna run to tremendous opposition of this when we start getting close to the requisite two-thirds of the Congress needed to call the convention. Of course, there’s another reason too. You may have seen the video of Governor Ron DeSantis promising to use his bully pulpit as President to advocate the Term Limits Convention in every state. Well, he’s making a down payment on that promise in his own state. Thank you, Governor. Let’s encourage the Florida senate to follow the house’s lead. The first committee vote is already scheduled. So if you live in Florida, go to termlimits.com/takeaction, and find the Florida Take Action button, press it. There you can send a quick message to the relevant decision makers in the Senate to encourage support for the resolution. Hurry, the first senate committee hearing is on Tuesday this week. But there’s more homework this week than just for Floridians. If you live in any of the states I mentioned above, that have or will have the Term Limits Convention Resolutions filed, get on over to termlimits.com/takeaction and, well, take action. The Term Limits Convention Resolution already has its first committee hearing in Indiana scheduled as well. So if you live in Indiana, you know what to do. Ditto for the Maine senate. Ditto for the Alaska house, termlimits.com/takeaction
Philip Blumel: The most ground work has been laid in Tennessee, and I mentioned in the last episode that we expect early action in that state. The Term Limits Convention has already passed the Tennessee house in 2023, and this victory carries over to 2024, so we only need to pass the Tennessee Senate to make Tennessee win number seven. And guess what, the first senate committee hearing has also been scheduled. What momentum we have right now? I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising, given the record high polling for term limits we saw last year, and the short circuiting of aged politicians forgetting their lines, and the first house committee vote on term limits in a generation. But one less obvious reason is our Pledge Program. You could call the Pledge Program the term limits movement secret weapon. Our team works diligently in collecting pledges from state legislators to co-sponsor and vote for the Term Limits Convention Resolutions. When we hit a critical mass of pledge signers in a state, we know that that state is ripe for a term limits convention resolution effort.
Philip Blumel: By the way, we have a new tool for activists who wanna help with the Pledge Program. Added to the termlimits.com website is a searchable, sortable, filter-able list of the members of the state legislatures who have signed the US term limits pledge and will co-sponsor, vote for, and defend the resolution in applying for an Article 5 convention, for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress. There you’ll find all 967 signers listed. Yes, 967 State House and Senate members have signed that state pledge. Is your local Representative or Senator listed? Thank ’em. Or if they’re not, ask them to sign the pledge, you can find all our pledges at termlimits.com/pledge. They know about it already. Or post about it. Feel free to share the link. You can find the state level pledge signers list that I’m talking about at termlimits.com, under the Article 5 pull down menu. These pledges work. Yes, once in a while, a politician will sign the pledge during the campaign and then try to weasel out of it after they get elected, but that’s when our education team goes to work, you might say, this is another one of our secret weapons. In our recent episode, we told the story of US representative Tony Gonzales of San Antonio, Texas, who signed the Congressional pledge we present to all US Congress members and candidates.
Philip Blumel: Tony sponsored a series of billboards in both Spanish and English in his district, letting constituents know that he was apparently breaking his promise to get on House Joint Resolution 11, that is the US Term Limits Amendment Bill. Since then, he’s changed his mind and became one of the 103 co-sponsors of the bill. The billboards are coming down. Welcome aboard, Tony. No hard feelings. Next, on December 21st, a federal jury convicted former Chicago alderman and term limits opponent Ed Burke on 13 or 14 counts of corruption, after seeing evidence that the longest-serving city council member in Chicago history, 54 years, used his political position to win private law business from developers. Sentencing is scheduled for June 19. We’ve been following this story since day one, here’s an oldie but a goodie corruption segment from 2020.
Philip Blumel: On January 2nd, 2019, the FBI lodged a 37-page criminal complaint against Edward Burke, a 50-year incumbent on Chicago City Council. Since 1983, he has chaired the city’s powerful finance committee, and during that time, he has apparently also been using his position to shake down individuals and companies for money. For much of 2017, federal agents followed him around and recorded his phone calls and eventually raided his office. The FBI says that Burke insisted that a chain of fast food restaurants, including a Burger King, hire his law firm, Klafter & Burke, to handle their tax affairs in Illinois. Burger King didn’t need a new tax firm, so they settled on a 10,000 donation. The FBI also says that Burke withheld a city permit from a restaurant owner who wanted to renovate until the businessman wrote Burke a big check. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. That this case should arise in Chicago is hardly surprising. As a University of Illinois study from 2018 called Chicago, quote, “The most corrupt city in the US.” It’s author, political science professor Dick Simpson, estimated that there have been 200 council members, or aldermen, as Chicagoans call them, since 1969 when Burke first got elected. Of them, 33 have been arrested for corruption, including extortion, bribery, and fraud. A survey in 2016 found that more than 90% of Chicago business leaders observe cronyism in city government.
Philip Blumel: Of the 10 largest cities in America, Chicago is also the only one without term limits on its city council, or its mayor. Term limits discourage corruption, as corruption is highly correlated with tenure in power, as long tenure breeds both arrogance and provides opportunity. Term limits also encourage transparency, as the critical institutional knowledge is not bottled up amongst a team of entrenched incumbents. Instead you have regular stream of ex-council members constantly being created, who have intimate knowledge of the system. Meanwhile, new members come in and review the system with fresh perspectives. Voters know all this, and in 2018, about 60% of voters told pollsters they supported term limits for the Chicago Council. In 2018, there was a serious attempt to put mayoral term limits on the Chicago ballot. Led by former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, the requisite signatures were collected and the measure was okayed for the ballet. However, under state law, only three ballot questions can appear on the city ballot in one election.
Philip Blumel: The Chicago City Council promptly approved additional advisory questions for which zero signatures have been collected, so that the term limits measure would be crowded out, one non-binding question read, quote, “Should the city of Chicago ban the use of plastic straws within corporate limits?” Governor Quinn called this a sabotage tactic. It’s also fair to call it corrupt. Guess who sponsored the measure to boot term limits off the ballot? Alderman Ed Burke.
Philip Blumel: Lastly, mark your calendar, February 27th is Term Limits Day. On February 27th, 1951, the 22nd amendment was added to the US Constitution imposing eight-year term limits on the US President. Today, this day is celebrated by showing public support for term limits on all levels of government, particularly Congress. How are you going to show your colors on February 27th this year? And it’s time to start thinking about it. We’ll be sharing some ideas in the upcoming episodes, in the meantime, you might wanna grab some conspicuous merchandise at termlimits.com/store. Save the date, Term Limits Day is February 27th.
Stacey Selleck: Like the show? You could help by subscribing and leaving a five-star review on both Apple and Spotify. It’s free.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The term limits convention bills are moving through the state legislatures, this could be a breakthrough year for the Term Limits Movement. To check on the status of the Term Limits Convention Resolution in your state, just go to termlimits.com/take action. There you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a Take Action button by your state. Click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators, urging them to support the legislation. They have to know you’re watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the Term Limits Convention Resolution, or the bills have not been introduced in your state, you can still help, please consider making a contribution to US term limits, it is our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress, and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate, termlimits.com/donate. Thanks, we’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: Find us on most social media @ustermlimits, like us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and now LinkedIn.
Philip Blumel: USTL.