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Term Limits Dominate Charter Panel's Conversation In The Bronx

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The city's Charter Revision Commission met in the Bronx Wednesday to gather public input into its recent recommendations, but instead spent much of the night debating the issue of term limits. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

A few dozen members of the public turned out Wednesday to give their input on changes to city government. But they were upstaged by the commissioners, who spent more than an hour in spirited debate over term limits, which some are opposed to altogether.

"If you think recycling politicians every eight years is going to solve your problems, balance your city budget, fix your roads, pick up your trash, keep your streets safe, you're delusional," said Charter Revision Commission member Stephen Fiala.

Commission members agree voters should decide this November whether to revert to the two-term limit the mayor and City Council overturned in 2008 to allow Bloomberg to run for a third term. However, some prefer a two-term limit for the mayor and three terms for the Council. Many also favor barring Council members from again voting to extend their own terms.

"If we're gonna have term limits, those who are affected by them should not have the ability to change them for their own benefit," said Charter Revision Commission member Hope Cohen.

If voters do approve a two-term limit, it's still undetermined whether how long current Council members will be allowed to serve.

"I think to give them the benefit of a deal -- a deal that I believe was wrong -- to give them that benefit is just wrong on our part," said Charter Revision Commission member Anthony Perez Cassino.

Other issues that seem unlikely to make this year's ballot include whether to do away with party primaries, and possible changes in the roles of the borough presidents and public advocate. Commission Chairman Matthew Goldstein also prefers holding off on the issue of instant runoff voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, eliminating the need for runoff elections.

"Our work is not just about bringing something to the voters in November, but to set the stage for future commissions," Goldstein said.

The next public hearing will be held Monday in Manhattan at the state office building on 125th Street. The commission must make a final decision by early September on exactly what questions will be put to the voters this November.

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