New York City, NY, (CMN) October 13th, 2008 -- Rep.
Anthony Weiner (D - Brooklyn/Queens), a Democratic candidate for New York City Mayor Monday afternoon accused Mayor Michael
R. Bloomberg (I) and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D - Manhattan) of trying to "quickly push through legislation"
to extend term limits in New York City, efforts that he says would violate the federal Voting Rights Act.
"There has been an orchestrated attempt on the part of the mayor and the city council speaker to make
this a discussion about whether Mike Bloomberg has been a good mayor or a bad mayor and whether the speaker has been a good
speaker or a bad speaker," said Weiner. "The question of choice is one about whether the voters of New York
City have the choice to change the term limits law that they put in place. That's the conversation that we should
be having." Weiner took the call as an opportunity to again urge New Yorkers to go to www.letnycvote.com and sign up to testify at a City Council hearing on the matter this Thursday and Friday at what "sadly
could be the city's only opportunity" to voice their opinions on the matter. Asked whether he would personally
testify, Weiner said he "might come out at some point in the evening," but has and will continue to make his opinion
known to the Council.
Anthony Wiener charged that legislative action usurped the rights of citizens to voice their opinions.
"I have no problem with Mike Bloomberg and [billionaire financier] Ron Lauder talking about the future of term limits,
I have no problem with the Speaker and the mayor talking, but the people of New York City want to participate in that conversation,"
said Weiner, who noted that conflict of interest complaints have already been filed in this matter and this will no doubt
end up in the courts, "but must also dominate in the court of public opinion." The question of term limits
has twice gone to the voters, once in 1993 when a two-term limit for New York City elected officials was first put into place
and again in 1996, when a ballot referendum aimed at overturning them failed. Weiner asserted that to overturn the will
of the votes by any means other than an election, would constitute voter suppression and in his opinion constitute a voting
rights violation. "The matter will have to undergo a review by [an] Obama Justice Department, Civil Rights Division,"
said Weiner, who was confident that "the rights of the voters would prevail."
Weiner's conference call came 11 days after Bloomberg announced his intention to ask the legislature to
overturn term limits, so that he could seek a third term and one day after Quinn endorsed the proposal. At his press
conference, Bloomberg asserted that "a special election would be illegal." And at her news conference Sunday
Quinn said that there was "insufficient time" for a special election.
Weiner dismissed Quinn’s assertions, pointing out that there will likely be a special election for several
Council seats, as he reeled off a list of names of Council Members likely to be elected to higher office on November 4th.
"There most definitely will be a special election" to fill those seats, he said.
A spokesperson for Bloomberg defended the mayor's position. " As the Mayor has said repeatedly,
lawyers have counseled us again and again that it's a special election which, as you know, are low-turnout affairs in
which many minorities and the disabled tend to be under-represented, that wouldn't pass muster," said Bloomberg Press
Secretary Stu Loeser. "Either way, however, I've read in several places that either decision would have to
be reviewed by the Justice Department automatically, whether anyone calls for it or not."