Voters deserve chance to set terms

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico columnist

In the last 12 months, mayors of Clovis and Portales have said it was time to go, even though no term limits existed. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was time to stay, even though term limits do exist.

Bloomberg is seeking a third term as mayor, despite the city’s two-term limit for city employees. He got the chance Thursday, when the New York City Council made a one-time exception for him with a 29-22 vote.

What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe it was the 1993 vote where New Yorkers said yes to term limits. Or maybe it was the 1996 vote to re-affirm that decision. Or maybe it was the Quinnipiac poll from Tuesday, where 89 percent of New Yorkers say they should make the decision on term limits.

Bloomberg saw a different picture. He looked at the financial meltdown, and determined it was a problem that only he could solve.

“Given the events of recent weeks, I don’t want to walk away from leading the city in these tough times,” Bloomberg said, in relation to the financial meltdown.

Sorry, Mr. Bloomberg, but history doesn’t agree with you, and a few banks failing doesn’t change the rules.

When terrorists crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center, there was another mayor about to be term-limited.. If anybody could have made an argument that the times required steady leadership, Rudy Giuliani had the perfect situation. Giuliani could have easily said, “Given the events of recent weeks, I don’t want to walk away from leading the city in these tough times,” and gotten term limits scrapped two months before election day. But he didn’t. I have my qualms about Giuliani’s leadership before, during and after the attacks, but I’ll always respect him for not exploiting a crisis to keep power voters didn’t want him to have.

If Bloomberg truly cares about putting the interests of New York ahead of politics, he could stand up right now and say, “I won’t walk away from the city. I volunteer myself as an advisor to whoever wins the 2009 election.” But he wants to do it alone, on the taxpayer dime.

If he or any city council member thought the rules needed changing, they should have given New Yorkers another election. It’s a dark day for our country when a mayor and a council can decide “tough times” trump democracy.

But democracy still has a chance against Bloomberg. When November 2009 comes, I don’t want Bloomberg defeated in his re-election bid. I want him humiliated, beaten so badly at the ballot box he’ll wonder why he ever left his mansion. I want all 29 council voters, regardless of party, voted out if term limits hadn’t already done the job. I want the next mayor to know that you don’t let a council say yes when voters have repeatedly said no.

Orlando Ortega told Portales earlier this month that two terms were enough. I hope next year, voters are telling Bloomberg and power-grabbing exploiters the same thing.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com