Updated 10/08/2008 12:24 PM
Two Term Limits Bills Introduced, But Speaker Is Undecided
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Legislation to change the city's term limits law was introduced to the City Council Tuesday, but Council Speaker Christine Quinn said at a news conference that she was not ready to weigh in on the issue.
A bill proposed by the mayor's office would allow for three consecutive four-year terms for city officials if approved by the council.
An opposing bill was also introduced that would put the decision in the hands of the voters.
The earliest the council would vote on either proposal is October 23.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose second term expires at the end of 2009, is making a push the change the term limit law after deciding earlier this week that he is best prepared to lead the city through the current economic troubles.
Quinn, addressing reporters Tuesday afternoon, said she was not ready to take a position on the issue.
She said that she and her fellow councilmembers need more time to look at all the sides.
"That obligation to seek input and have dialogue doesn't eliminate my ability to come to my own position. And that doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then taking the position necessarily of whatever the majority of members are," she said. "I will come to my position, but I feel, as the speaker, I need to have consultation with my members, and I need a little more time to do that to the level I think is appropriate given the significance of this issue."
Former Mayor David Dinkins told NY1 that he, too, has no comment on the issue of term limits.
But former Mayor Ed Koch said he is in favor of the change.
In the past, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has given his general approval of three consecutive terms, but he has yet to react to today's bill.
Some members say there appears to be enough support for the measure, but that it's not a sure thing.
"I think it's very, very evenly split, literally," said Councilman Bill de Blasio. "Some very strong 'no' voices, some very strong 'yes' voices, some real undecided folks. I think people were honest about the mixed feelings they're having."
"It's time for us to say no," said Councilman Charles Barron. "It's time for us to say no when the people have already spoken."
"Term limits are undemocratic and should not be the way we govern our society," countered Councilman Joel Rivera.
Another issue is the support of cosmetics heir Ron Lauder, who spent millions to help impose term limits in the 1990s.
Lauder is reportedly not in favor of a permanent change in the law, and is only willing to support a one-time exception for Bloomberg.
Before heading home from his trip to London, the mayor said he had spoken to Lauder.
"We talked to the lawyers," said Bloomberg. "The lawyers said that probably would have a significant probability of not standing up in court. But a solution that we worked out with his lawyers and he and I on the phone was, 'you change term limits and I promise to appoint a Charter Revision Commission.'"
There will be two City Council hearings on the issue. One will be held on the night of October 16th, allowing the public to testify, and the other will be on the next day for elected officials to comment.