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Friday, October 10, 2008

Ethics violations charged in term limits run-around the voters

Yesterday, NYPIRG and Common Cause filed complaints with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board about the Mayor's promise to put billionaire Ron Lauder on a Charter Commission that would reimpose term limits after he wins re-election to a third term. See Groups See Ethics Violation in Mayor’s Pledge to Lauder (NY Times):

Two civic groups said on Thursday that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg violated the city’s ethics laws when he pledged to put Ronald S. Lauder on a charter revision commission in exchange for his support for the mayor’s third-term effort.

The civic groups contend that the deal violates a provision of the City Charter, which says that a mayor cannot “use or attempt to use his or her position as a public servant to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant.”

In their complaint, the groups said that “we believe that Mayor Bloomberg has used his position in a prohibited manner to obtain personal advantage in a quid pro quo deal with Ronald Lauder.”

According to Allies Say Mayor Would Spend $80 Million on 3rd-Term Bid (NY Times), insiders in the Mayor’s circle say he is prepared to spend as much as it takes --$80 million, even $100 million, to win re-election:

Already, there are calls for Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire who has financed his own previous campaigns, to abide by the strict spending restrictions in the city’s public finance system. Mr. Bloomberg is not bound by such restriction as long as he spends his own money.

But his advisers, in interviews this week, said the mayor had no intention of limiting his spending. Indeed, they said he would spend whatever was necessary to proclaim his credentials and experience — especially in a time of financial unrest — and undo any damage his reputation suffered as a result of undoing the term limits restrictions.

One person involved in the discussions said: “There is no cap. There is no price tag.”

According to Anger grows at New York 'King' Bloomberg (AFP),

“Council member John Liu says he will certainly vote against. But he concedes that the Bloomberg machine may be unstoppable."This is a game of billionaires," Liu told AFP, "and as much as I can object, I am several digits short of being allowed to play."

Ron Rosenbaum discusses how “The New York mayor's power grab is a symptom of a national problem” in “The Bloomberg Syndrome” (Slate):

“… Anti-globalization writer Naomi Klein called such power grabs "shock doctrine" tactics. The shock doctrine argues that it is the pattern of the übercapitalist plutocrat class to create—or at least take advantage of—economic crises and crashes by using them as excuses to suspend and violate democratic and constitutional principles, getting a panicked populace to cede power to the plutocrats. Or by simply taking power from weakened democratic institutions…. I actually believe that in a democracy, those in the majority on a referendum win. And not just until some mediocre self-congratulatory mayor stomps his foot like a petulant child and says he wants more.”

Finally, Newsday is the only metropolitan daily whose editors have the independence to oppose the Mayor’s naked power grab in Not like that, Mr. Mayor:

It's been said before that we are a country of laws, not men. It's time to stand down, Mr. Mayor.”

(Daily News mock up thanks to Gothamist.)

1 comment:

Woodlass said...

I agree about Naomi Klein and identifying power grabs. It's so clear and so simple when you read her book.

What finally persuades some is this from Dan Cantor of Working Families:

"This is not necessarily about where you stand on term limits or whether or not you think that Mike Bloomberg has been a good mayor. This about the rules of the game. And you don't get to change them at the end of the fourth quarter just because your team wants to keep playing."