Weiner Questions Term Limits

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Strong Accusations

By Michael A. Harris

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.

Mayoral candidate and Rep. Anthony Weiner (CMN) U.S. House of Representatives

Speaking on a conference call with a half a dozen writers from across the city, Weiner again advocated for the question of whether or not to extend term limits to go to the votes via a ballot referendum, not legislation, saying that this isn't about whether or not people support or oppose term limits or Bloomberg, but a more fundamental question of making sure that the rights of votes are respected.     

"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 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."

The Justice Department did not immediately return calls from Cable Muse Network Monday afternoon seeking comment on the matter.

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Michael A. Harris, is a Freelance News Editor for PWdBC and New York City correspondent for Cable Muse Network.

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