New Yorkers will have a chance to vote on term limits when they go to the polls this November. But in a controversial move, those currently in office won't be affected by any change to the law. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was two years ago that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council voted to extend term limits, allowing Bloomberg and many Council members to run for a third term. Now, voters will have a chance to restore the old two-term limit, but those currently in office will be exempt and allowed to serve three terms.
"For those that were voted in, in 2005, they would have the opportunity to run for an additional term. And for those that were elected in 2009, they would have the opportunity to have just one more term," said Charter Revision Commission Chairman Matthew Goldstein.
It was an issue that divided the commission. In fact, some opponents introduced a competing measure Monday that would have applied term limits to all current office holders. It was narrowly defeated. Many members of the public also criticized the move.
"I believe that an essential injustice is being done, that you are wrongly deceiving the people of New York," said Henry Stern of the group "New York Civic."
"Allowing any Council member to benefit by postponing the effective date and precluding the public from immediately voting on it, in my view, does not respect the will of the people," said Charter Revision Commission Member Kenneth Moltner.
In the end, the commission approved language that essentially creates a grandfather clause. The measure would also prevent Council members from again voting to extend their own terms.
A second ballot measure to be put to voters will bundle a number of government reforms. Among them, cutting in half the number of signatures required to get on the ballot, requiring more disclosure by independent groups spending money on political campaigns, and raising fines for ethical violations.
"Members of the commission, while we won't be doing this in a public session way, will be involved in educating the public as to what these items are and why we think they are important," Goldstein said.
After the election, the Charter Revision Commission will essentially go out of business. However, members made it clear Monday that there were a number of important issues they simply didn't have time to get to, leaving open the possibility the mayor could re-empanel the commission or appoint a new one after November.