Bloomberg’s Term Limits Scheme
As it heads into the home stretch, the Bloomberg campaign has adopted a new slogan to sum things up and help focus voters on the big picture. The new motto was rolled out at the big Bloomberg rally held primary night on a West Side pier, a gala celebration aimed at snatching attention away from Democrats and on to Mayor Mike. The slogan was emblazoned on Bloomberg’s podium, and tattooed over and over on a TV backdrop. Which made it hard to miss. It read: "Progress. Not Politics." The first word is a debate worth having. The next two are simply lies.
Not politics? Whatever you think of Bill Thompson’s erratic campaign, at least he was being nominated that very night by his own party in an open primary. Mike Bloomberg? His GOP endorsement came courtesy of a classic, old-school political deal in which five Republican county leaders sat down in a room and agreed to give the mayor their ballot line.
He cut the same insiders’ pact with the cultish local chapter of the Independence Party. The party’s nominating convention this spring featured all the democracy of a Chinese Politburo meeting, including a ruling clique that fawned over the visiting mayor. A few weeks later, Bloomberg sealed the deal with a $250,000 down-payment to the party’s coffers, with presumably a great deal more to come.
Not politics? Bloomberg continues to scorn the city’s campaign finance system, the hard-won reform designed to curb the influence of big money in elections. He spends as much as he wants—the same way the hacks used to do before limits were adopted.
Then there’s the bare-bones political scheming that won the mayor the very right to even appear on the ballot this year. That’s the one topic Mike Bloomberg still refuses to talk about. He gets an electric-like jolt whenever the topic is raised. Just when and why Mike Bloomberg decided to overturn the city’s term limits laws is shrouded in mystery. He’s done his best to keep it that way.
But there’s new light shed on the subject by Joyce Purnick, the veteran New York Times editor and reporter whose insightful political biography, Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, is out this month.
Bloomberg gave Purnick unprecedented access, granting her multiple one-on-one, hour-long interviews. He also green-lighted his top aides—deputies Patti Harris, Kevin Sheekey, and Ed Skyler—to talk as well.
The book makes clear that many months before economic disaster struck in September 2008—the crisis that Bloomberg said prompted his reversal on term limits—the mayor was already pondering the move.
Purnick says that a few weeks after Bloomberg’s February 28, 2008, announcement that he would not seek the presidency, she asked the mayor about then-vague rumors that he was looking for a way to run for mayor again.
"It was clear he had given a third term some thought," she writes. The mayor told her that "the mechanics" of such a bid were "difficult" because he would need the backing of the city’s daily papers. Bloomberg told her that he knew he could count on Post publisher Rupert Murdoch and the Daily News’ Mort Zuckerman. But he was in the midst of saying he was "uncertain about Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr." when a press aide cut him off, insisting that the rest of the conversation had to be off the record.
That spring, Bloomberg commissioned a poll on public attitudes about changing term limits. Purnick confirms that it showed that voters were likely to vote thumbs down on any move to change term limits in a new referendum.
Other hints of the mayor’s pre-crisis calculations came from her interviews with mega-millionaires who were urging Bloomberg to run again. In July, Bloomberg attended the annual tycoons’ retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho. There, Purnick writes, Bloomberg mingled with Murdoch and other pro–third term chums, including investment mogul Henry Kravis and Time Warner’s Richard Parsons. The mayor was apparently treated to a full-court press from those moguls, who were in turn consulting with real estate big Jerry Speyer and investment strategist Steven Rattner, both of whom were aggressively pushing a third term.
Purnick quotes one "business associate" saying that "they all came back from Sun Valley loaded for bear, sure he was going for it."
Zuckerman, a key player in Bloomberg’s strategy, told Purnick that the September market crash wasn’t the reason. "No, it was not the economic crisis," the publisher and real estate magnate said. "He wanted to run for a third term. What else was he going to do? He loves being mayor."
Bloomberg hesitated, Purnick writes, concerned in part about the response of fellow billionaire Ronald Lauder ("Complication No. 1," she dubs him), who spent millions to win the original term limits referendum and who successfully beat back a later challenge to the law.
That hesitation, she says, helped the mayor avoid pressure to put term limits on the ballot that fall, when it was even more likely to be defeated by the pro-Obama voters expected to swamp the polls. She said that one close friend of the mayor who was also urging him to run for a third term told her that the mayor "deliberately ran out the clock because of the poll in June." The friend told her that Bloomberg’s "political advisers were telling him he wouldn’t win a referendum" overturning the term limits law.
It was while that clock was running down that the financial collapse struck, giving the mayor what Purnick dubs "a plausible reason" to push for a fast Council vote rather than a public referendum.
The mayor then turned to "Complication No. 1." Lauder had already fired an opening shot, running a TV ad depicting politicians as baby diapers that need regular changing. But after what Purnick says was heavy lobbying by the pro-Bloomberg business crowd, Lauder bowed to a one-time change in the law in exchange for a small concession: that the mayor agree to name him to a new Charter Review commission panel in 2010—one that would recommend reinstituting term limits.
Bloomberg and Lauder were so excited about their agreement that they put out a press release describing it. The release was issued by Lauder’s eminent public relations adviser, Howard Rubenstein. But Bloomberg’s City Hall helped write it and approved it. "I will reluctantly support the mayor’s legislation to extend term limits to three terms," Lauder stated in the release, "with the understanding that I will serve on a Charter-revision commission which will place the question of the number of terms before the voters in 2010."
Lauder clearly wasn’t getting much in return: The commission doesn’t even exist, and if it is convened, he’ll be just one member. But it was also a glaring example of the city’s top executive using the perks of office to win political advantage. That is something officials are explicitly barred from doing by the City Charter. As good-government advocates Gene Russianoff of NYPIRG and Susan Lerner of Common Cause put it in a letter a few days later to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, "We believe that Mayor Bloomberg has used his position in a prohibited manner to obtain personal advantage in a quid pro quo deal with Ronald Lauder."
Whatever became of that complaint? "Nothing," said Russianoff last week. "We never heard a word from the board."
That’s the policy, a board official said when asked about the matter. When the board doesn’t find any violation, "the public never finds out," he said. Which is just how the mayor wants to keep it until after November.
A Congress of common citizenry
Why should we, the people who form the electorate, be satisfied with a body of elected people who resemble us less and less? At what point should we begin to question the rationale of electing, and re-electing, officials who have spent more time separated from us than with us?
I believe our Founding Fathers envisioned a Congress made up of people who took on the burden and chose to give up their livelihoods for a brief time to ensure their neighbors’ interests were heard. I look forward to the day when Congress is comprised of 535 bakers, self-employed businessmen, dentists and other samples of those who walk among.
At what point does a politician lose his perspective when the average member of the House has been in the Washington for more than five terms and the average senator for more than a dozen years?
I would suggest we can defend against such detachment by limiting the amount of time any one person spends in Congress. With term limits, we are guaranteeing our Congress has a complete turnover on a regular and orderly basis that would force more people into the process.
I believe these term limits would produce an ideological bell curve that would more closely represent the true mindset (both liberal and conservative) that inhabits the nation.
I look forward to a Congress made up of the common citizenry, of our neighbors who take a finite amount of time out of their lives to speak up for us, qualified with nothing more than the common sense implanted in their brains, the loyalty to a nation entrenched in their hearts, and their desire to return to their lives to make room for the next group who wait their turn.
Stop Congress: Demand term limits
The politicians (the people we voted into office) worry way too much about their party ties instead of the people who elected them.
They double-deal behind closed doors while we, the people, pay the price for their failure to represent us.
They talk about how bad the economy is but still pass billions and billions of dollars on pork barrel projects every day of every month.
Also, they spend billions of our tax dollars in aid to countries that hate the U.S., while in the U.S. we have homeless veterans, older Americans who have to choose between needed medicine or are eating dog food to survive.
We, the people, must demand that term limits be set for Congress and the Supreme Court.
Once they get in Congress and get powerful, they all seem to think they are some sort of god and can do whatever they want.
This also pertains to the state level. It’s time to put business people in Jackson and in Washington – people who understand that you don’t spend money that you don’t have.
The politicians will never take this step without the people declaring that enough is enough.
Let’s take back the government and our country before the politicians destroy it and all of us.
Blogs and Opinions: The Time has Come for Term Limits
The biggest problem in Washington is that we re-elect the very people who have created our problems on the hope that in the next term they will solve them.
Once in Washington, politicians realize that they have little influence unless they play the political games, which leads to partisanship. In order to get a longer tenure, they do favors for this or that special interest or lobbying group, in exchange for campaign money and votes
We re-elect them because the longer their tenure, the more influence they have, and the more our state gets from the national coffers. Advertisement
We need a constitutional amendment that will place a limit of two terms on every elected office. We must prohibit anyone from becoming a paid lobbyist who has served in elected office for a period of seven years. This will break the chain of connections that special interests have on our government
No more pensions unless, as in the military, a person has served his country for 20 years. No special health-care plan, no special retirement plan, no special treatment after office.
That way, the people who go to Washington to serve us will have to return as ordinary citizens under the very laws and taxes that they themselves have created for the rest of us.
– Doug Sorensen, Audubon
Letter to the Editor: Limit Terms
I agree with letter writer Doug Eden that term limits are needed for our elected national officials (Voice of the People, Sept. 4). It would be great if we could get our representatives and senators to enact that into law, but we have a fat chance of that happening.
I would like to see the president and U.S. senators limited to one, six-year term. About the third year a new president is in office, he starts to campaign for a second four-year term and neglects what he was elected to do. Then when he gets elected to that second term, he coasts because he can’t get re-elected again.
I’d like to see all elected national officials serve just six years. It could be one, six-year term for the president and senators and a maximum of three consecutive two-year terms for representatives.
Then they’d have to sit out one term of the office they seek and run again if they so choose.
If you recall, Barack Obama, right after he was elected, warned us the job of straightening out the country would take more than four years.
He was already campaigning for a second term.
As for not voting incumbents back in office, this is a fantastic idea, but we’ll have to wake up the voters.
— John A. Michaelis, Manitowish Waters, Wis.
Term limits would help reduce conflicts of interest
The periodic call for congressional term limits suffers a fate similar to that of a kidnap victim’s scream for help from inside the trunk of an abandoned car. Yet as unlikely as term limits are to come about, it is still a worthy cause to reiterate the call from time to time.
If ever there has been a clearer gong for the revision of how we finance the election, allow for privileges and extend the seniority into perpetuity for federal legislators than the health care reform process, I don’t recall it. The highest profile portion of the reasonably civil part of the debate has been the year-long wrangling of the Senate Finance Committee and its sub-committee referred to rather aptly as “The Gang of Six.” There have been the less civil parts of the debate, but much has already been said, written and shown about that well-financed and well-camouflaged fiasco.
But lest I digress too far, back to term limits. Over the couple of hundred years that we have elected our government representatives, those representatives have found that they have pretty good jobs. They pay well, require little heavy lifting and if you can align yourself with monied special interests, provide at least as much job security as that of the average auto worker. Hence, over that couple hundred years, the privileged few that have won an election have proceeded to create an environment of privilege, advantage and power who have reduced the likelihood that they will be defeated in an election to that of being struck by lightning.
And as they amass power, privilege and miscellaneous advantage they become the proverbial “foxes in the chicken house.”
Consider Senator Max Baucus, leader of The Gang of Six, that eloquent group of privileged few from the powerful Senate Finance Committee that spent a year wrangling over health care reform only to produce a proposed bill so bad that nobody likes it – nobody except for Baucus himself. Baucus’s elevation to chairman of the Finance Committee is a storied prototype of what happens when seniority propels incompetence and special interest to positions of real responsibility.
The bill spawned from the behind closed doors discussions of the Gang of Six has been universally decried as the worst of the worst. It has been described by nearly all sides of the debate as a $60 billion annual windfall for the health insurance companies. And why should there be any surprise? Baucus has ascended the ladder of seniority and power in the usual ways and along that path has taken over $3 million in campaign contributions from the health insurance industry in the last decade.
His Republican counterpart on “The Gang,” Sen. Charles Grassley has taken over $1 million from those same well-meaning corporate citizens.
How in anybody’s right mind can “The Senators” be expected to be objective or well intentioned in this debate? In an even modestly objective world they should be required to recuse themselves from such a position of influence under their personal circumstances of blatant conflicts of interest. It would appear at this point the insurance industry’s investment in Senators Baucus and Grassley has the prospects to produce a very handsome return, indeed.
And these are the people who through their time tested machinations and manipulations of power and privilge elevate themselves to positions of decision making that can be considered in the public interest by only the most naïve, uninformed and specially treated. The “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” assertion would seem very much in vogue.
Such dramatic illustrations justifying calls for implementation of term limits come along only every so often. So from the trunk of the car, “THROW THESE BUMS OUT.” And by the way, next time you pay your health insurance premium, you may want to include a tip for the good senators looking out for you.
John Kliebenstein is circulation and operations manager of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Wednesdays. E-mail him at email@example.com.
…Social and economic progress requires that people have faith in government and so, the Third Order of Business will be to return integrity to Government.
Too many New Yorkers think government works for the politicians, but not for the people. Nothing gets accomplished and petty politics and name calling pollutes the dialogue. This is not government worthy of this great state.
To restore this faith we must start from the beginning – all over again. We must call a Constitutional Convention and rewrite our state’s constitution.
We need to create a unicameral legislature. We need to reform lobbying laws and enact term limits. We need sunshine laws that let us know how special interests are influencing state government. We need serious conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws for all elected officials….
Nation’s dire situation calls for term limits
Editor, the Record:
I am afraid. We are an unbelievably divided country with common sense and respect for the Constitution quickly disappearing. Greed, hatred, ignorance, apathy are primary drivers when voting.
Economic slavery replaces slave labor. —» of, by and for the people" is replaced by —» for the government." The Department of Energy was instituted on Aug. 4, 1977, to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Worked out well for us, didn’t it?
Wanting "equal" opportunity to succeed has been replaced by "expecting" support on the backs of others: "free" government housing, meals, college, etc. Big business including Big Labor — itself a big business — thrives on greed and corruption. Politicians are only prostitutes with a different service. They’ve enslaved special interest groups with promises funded by future generations. "We the people "»" are to blame. As Japan realized an awakening of a sleeping giant with the invasion of Pearl Harbor, God willing past months of change have done the same with the silent majority of people.
Where we are results from where we came and what we’ve done. Most politicians never had a real job outside a law firm, with no appreciation for working an employer-defined work schedule. They love when hatred for the "other" party drives your vote, you vote the way you do because of parents, or the "union" dictates your vote. If real values don’t drive your vote, you better "wake up and smell the D.C. dung" before it’s too late. What Washington is currently shoving down our throats — maybe up an even more uncomfortable location — is only small "change" compared with what’s coming.
A change we should push our public servants to support is term limits for all of Congress, Senate and House alike. They’re unconcerned or unaware that we are their boss.
Resident petitioning for term limits
To the editor:
I am hoping to start a petition going here in Akron to force our local government to put before the voters a limit on how many terms you can serve in government, such as mayor, city council, U.S. Senate, Congress. The law only allows our President to serve two, four-year terms, it should be for all government office holders.
If we had term limits for mayor, etc., the recall would never have happened here in Akron.
We need to have new faces and new ideas in our elected leaders, instead of the same old politicians over and over.
If it could get on the ballot, I bet the voters would vote to limit terms of U.S. senators, congressmen, mayors, city council, even if the elected official does a good job, let’s give other citizens a chance and see how they hold up in office.
I believe it’s a great idea. I will be going around town and urging voters to sign my petition.
Jack Colman, Highland Square
Voters Reject 3 Council Members Backing Longer Term Limits
At least three veteran City Council members were ousted by angry voters Tuesday, the greatest repudiation of incumbents in a generation. All three had voted last year to change term limits, allowing them to run again.
Until Tuesday, council members were more likely to lose their seats by being convicted of a felony than by being defeated in an election. Voters more than evened those odds. They rejected Alan J. Gerson of Manhattan, Kendall Stewart of Brooklyn and Helen Sears of Queens in a rare rebuff to incumbency.
On Staten Island, Kenneth Mitchell, a newcomer seeking nomination to a second Council term, was defeated. In a Bronx district, another incumbent, Maria Baez, was trailing. In Queens, Thomas White Jr., who returned to the Council in 2006, was leading by six votes in the unofficial count.
Ms. Baez had been criticized harshly as an absentee councilwoman, and two of Mr. Stewart’s aides had pleaded guilty to embezzlement in an inquiry into the Council’s discretionary spending. But what tied Ms. Baez and all the defeated veteran council members was their vote last fall to extend the two-term limit that had been upheld by voters in two earlier referendums.
This was the voters’ first opportunity to register their disapproval, and a record number of candidates took advantage of the backlash by mounting challenges in the primary.
The groundswell may be a bad sign for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who was instrumental in persuading the Council to grant the extension so that he, too, could seek a third term.
By the Council’s glacial standards, Tuesday’s results could be taken as a wholesale housecleaning, but nevertheless, at least 18 of the 24 members facing challenges survived.
Every council member was either seeking re-election or higher office this year. Eight of the 51 seats up for grabs were open — seven because the Democratic incumbents were running for citywide office instead and one because the incumbent resigned.
Councilmen Bill de Blasio of Brooklyn and Eric N. Gioia of Queens were among the candidates for their party’s nomination for public advocate. Bradford Lander and James Van Bramer, respectively, were nominated to succeed them
Council members Melinda R. Katz, John C. Liu and David I. Weprin of Queens and David Yassky of Brooklyn ran for comptroller. Karen Koslowitz, Yen Chou, Mark Weprin (the councilman’s brother) and Stephen Levin won the nominations in their respective districts.
Councilman Tony Avella of Queens sought the mayoral nomination. The primary in his district was won by Kevin Kim.
One Council seat was vacant following the resignation in July of Miguel Martinez, an Upper Manhattan Democrat. He is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal felony charges stemming from a nearly two-year investigation into a Council slush fund.
Ydanis Rodriguez won the nomination to succeed Mr. Martinez.
Two other councilmen, Larry B. Seabrook of the Bronx and Mr. Stewart of Brooklyn, were tarnished by the scandal, though neither has been formally charged with wrongdoing.
Mr. Gerson was defeated by Margaret Chin, Mr. Stewart by Jumaane Williams, and Ms. Sears by Daniel Dromm in a testament to organizing by unions and behind-the-scenes efforts by the Working Families Party. Ms. Baez was trailing Fernando Cabrera by 90 votes. Mr. Mitchell lost to Deborah Rose.
Twenty-four incumbents faced primary challenges on Tuesday, the largest number since the Council was expanded to 51 members two decades ago. Only about a third of those primaries were considered competitive, though.
Among the others who voted for the extension and faced serious challenges were Diana Reyna and Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn, both of whom barely eked out victories, and Leroy G. Comrie Jr. of Queens, who fended off a challenge from Clyde Vanel, an insurgent energized by President Obama’s election last year.
Even Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, barely mustered a majority against two challengers.
Four years ago, 17 council members faced primaries and one lost.
Incumbents registered their largest losses in 1982, when three lost the primary and another was defeated in the general election.
Voters sour on possibility of ethics reform
Even though state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn have touted their success in reforming Illinois’ pay-to-play culture, most voters don’t believe new state ethics laws will clean up political corruption, a Tribune/WGN poll found.
The results represent a sharp reversal from the optimism shown by Illinois voters in a February Tribune poll conducted days after disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich was ousted from office and while lawmakers in Springfield were meeting to discuss major reform proposals. At that time, a majority thought tougher ethics measures would have at least some impact on ending corruption.
But the new poll, conducted after a legislative session that had mixed results on ethics, finds the numbers almost exactly opposite.
Nearly 6 in 10 voters in the latest survey said the measures enacted by lawmakers and Quinn would have little or no effect on curbing corruption in Illinois, while roughly a third of voters said such measures would have at least some impact.
At the same time, 3 out of 4 voters favor term limits for statewide elected officials and want to see the same applied to the leadership positions in the state Senate and House, the poll showed. Voters by the same margin also want to see state and local elected officials subject to recall.
The findings of the new poll present a potential double-danger for incumbents and an opportunity for challengers heading into next year’s statewide elections — people seem to be tired of career politicians and unswayed by their claims that they can clean up their own act.
"There’s always an anti-incumbency mood brewing," said Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield. "People don’t like politicians and in Illinois it’s not surprising with [corruption surrounding] the past two governors and an interminable budget fiasco in Springfield."
Quinn and lawmakers are starting over on a key element of the ethics agenda they touted earlier this year — the idea of limiting political donations to candidates and restricting how legislative leaders use their massive campaign funds to influence elections. Quinn last month vetoed a measure that would have put the first limits on campaign contributions, saying it was too weak even though he and Democratic legislative leaders praised the plan when it passed.
But lawmakers and Quinn did enact several other ethics measures.
One new law rewrites the state’s Freedom of Information Act to strengthen penalties, require governments to act more quickly to respond to requests, and allows the attorney general’s office to intervene to mediate disputes.
Another creates what is known as a transparency and accountability portal, an Internet tool designed to make it easier for residents to find data on state salaries, contracts and spending.
Legislative leaders also have highlighted a change to the state’s purchasing laws aimed at trying to remove political influence from how government awards billions of dollars in contracts for goods and services.
But 59 percent of voters in the recent survey were not persuaded such measures will help, while 34 percent said they would help. The telephone poll of 700 Illinois voters, conducted Aug. 27-31 by Market Shares Corp., had an error margin of 4 percentage points.
The voters’ displeasure could have an impact on 2010 elections, with dissatisfaction of politicians evident in the 76 percent who say term limits should be imposed on statewide elected officials, including governor, attorney general, treasurer and comptroller. Only 18 percent said they opposed term limits.
Though all Illinois statewide offices are held by Democrats, the concept of term limits was backed by 72 percent of voters who identified themselves as Democrats. Nearly 80 percent of independent voters backed such a move, while 82 percent of Republicans — the out-of-power party — supported term limits.
The numbers were nearly identical when voters were asked if the "Four Tops," the Democrats and Republicans who run the General Assembly, should be limited in the number of leadership terms they could serve.
Michael Madigan, the Southwest Side lawmaker who also chairs the state Democratic Party, has served 24 of the last 26 years as House speaker. His GOP counterpart, House Minority Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, has served six years in that post. The Senate saw a changeover this year with President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) elected after retirements.
Just as term limits would require an amendment to the state Constitution, so too would a proposal to allow voters to recall state or local elected officials. The poll found 77 percent of Illinois voters favor such a plan, while only 14 percent opposed it.
Quinn, an advocate of recall, is supporting a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for voters to recall only the governor. Even then, such a plan would require at least 20 House members and 10 senators — an equal number from each party in each chamber — to file a notice of intent to recall a governor. Only then could supporters gather signatures to try to force a special election.
Tribune reporter Kristen Mack contributed. firstname.lastname@example.org
Congressmen need term limits and time for dialogue
To the editor:
In reference to your editorial "Dialogue denied," publish Aug. 6, I think you completely overlooked the first and greatest attempt at denying dialogue. It was the attempt by the democratic controlled U.S. Congress to rush the health-care legislation through congress before the recess. Had they been successful their would have limited time for dialogue.
I also think that the past and present practice of proposing legislation of thousands of pages filled with legalese is by design.
It makes it very difficult for those voting on the legislation, as well as the citizens, to understand exactly what a bill is proposing. This practice denies dialogue too. And it also makes it easy for individual congressmen to slip in self-centered legislation that benefits them thereby influencing their re-election.
Which brings us to another issue. Perhaps it is time to institute term limits on congressmen. Then they could focus on legislating what is the best for our country instead of what will get them re-elected.
Denton to vote on city charter change on term limits
From theDallas Morning News
By LOWELL BROWN / Denton Record-Chronicle
DENTON – Denton residents will get a chance to vote on a plan that would let City Council members switch seats and serve up to 12 years without a break.
The council voted Tuesday to call a Nov. 3 charter amendment election on term limits, agreeing to put four propositions before voters.
Proposition 1, the main initiative, essentially would codify the city’s longtime practice of not counting prior years of service against council members who switch seats or sit out at least a term.
Council members would be limited to 12 consecutive years of council service. The proposal includes no limit on the number of terms someone could serve in a lifetime, meaning a council member could serve up to 12 years by switching seats, then sit out a year and run again.
Council members seemed ready to accept the committee’s proposal Aug. 18 but delayed calling an election after council member Joe Mulroy said several "housekeeping" issues needed to be addressed.
City Attorney Anita Burgess offered three propositions Tuesday to deal with those issues.
Perry supports term limits initiative
From theCape Cod Times
State Rep. Jeffrey Perry said yesterday that he supports a constitutional amendment that would set 12-year term limits for Massachusetts state legislators.
Term limits would help clear out corruption in the state Legislature by decentralizing power, Perry, R-Sandwich, said in an editorial board meeting with Cape Cod Times staffers.
"Now we have the culture of professional full-time politicians with staff. People get there and they want to remain there," he said. "People are making decisions based on what’s in their best interest."
State Rep. Karyn Polito, R-Shrewsbury, who also attended the editorial board meeting, said she filed the bill proposing a constitutional amendment on term limits because "the system is not correcting itself."
Each of the three previous House speakers has faced criminal charges, and efforts to bring about ethics reform in the Legislature are stalling, Polito and Perry said.
As a member of the Ethics Committee, Perry said his hands are tied by the cronyism on Beacon Hill. "My input is practically meaningless," he said.
Polito’s amendment would limit politicians to 12 years in the state Legislature in their lifetime, or six legislative terms. It would not affect other elective or appointed offices.
The clock wouldn’t start until the bill was passed, said Polito, who is in her ninth year in the Legislature. Perry is in his seventh year.
State Rep. Matt Patrick, D-Falmouth, called term limits a "worn-out idea."
"We already have term limits in that every two years we have to run for re-election," he said.
Patrick said he supports a constitutional amendment that would elect the House speaker by a secret ballot in order to reduce cronyism and favoritism.
Polito said the term limit proposal "ought to be at least debated." She said that within the next week or so she will ask the House speaker to move the bill out of the Joint Committee on Rules to a hearing.
If the amendment is approved by a majority of two consecutive sessions of the Legislature, the proposal could go to voters in 2012.
Fifteen states have some form of term limits for state legislators, Polito said. She said term limits encourage more participation and diversity in state government.
About 40 percent of the 200 state senators and representatives in the state Legislature have served the General Court for more than 12 years, she said, adding that it has led to a dearth of fresh ideas.
Although the state Legislature is dominated by Democrats, Polito said it’s not a partisan issue. "This is not a Democrat or Republican bill," she said. "It’s a good bill."