On fitness

I've written once before about the idea that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg run for a third term despite the fact that New York City's term limit law prohibits the mayor, comptroller, public advocate, city council members, and borough presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms. I want to highlight the fact that the prohibition is on more than two consecutive terms, because this is a better way of balancing the costs and benefits of term limits than a hard and fast two term rule. It alleviates incumbent entrenchment and at the same time allows the voters to bring back the previous office-holder if they still prefer him or her. See §§1137-38 of the New York City Charter (.pdf link, page 242) for the exact wording of term limit law, if you're interested.

I was originally going to write about the idea again today because I read that cosmetics fortune heir Ronald Lauder, who had bankrolled the campaigns for the two referendums in favor of term limits, had come out in favor of changing the law to allow Bloomberg to serve a third term due to the ongoing financial crisis. But in the time between when I thought about writing this post and actually did it, Bloomberg himself announced that he plans to ask the City Council to change the law and then run again, and the N.Y. Times wrote another awful op-ed on this topic (my previous post on term limits discusses the ways in which the Times editorial board's thinking about term-limits is generally moronic).

So the facts have changed, but the points I wanted to make still stand: The only way for a legislative body to remove a term limit without engaging in massive self-dealing at the voters' expense is for it do so but have that change take effect after the next election, having a legislative body do so after voters have twice voted in referenda to have such a law is even worse, and asking the City Council to do so after you, Michael Bloomberg, have “repeatedly said [you] support[] such constraints on elected leaders, dismissed the idea that anyone is indispensable, and once called an effort to revise the limits 'disgusting'” pretty much disqualifies you from being fit to hold office all by itself and makes a mockery of your entire public career.

I had meant to talk in this post about two other procedural issues with elections and passing laws, namely the National Popular Vote bill and Nancy Pelosi's mistaken decision to hold the vote open on the bailout yesterday to see if she could twist some arms, but this post is too long as it is. I may take those topics up later.