today in black history

May 28, 2024

Educator and health advocate Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X, was born on this date in 1936 in Detroit, Michigan.

So Hard To Say Goodbye

POSTED: September 10, 2008, 12:00 am

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Next year New York City is scheduled to have municipal elections in which voters will elect a Mayor, City Council and the Presidents of the five boroughs, the latter synonymous with counties in most jurisdictions. Under current city statute there are term limits that impose restrictions on the number of terms elected officials in the city may occupy an office. While some jurisdictions talked about imposing term limits, New York City went full throttle and implemented the mandatory turnover of elected officials. For the moment the Mayor and 35 members of the New York City Council are expected to be prohibited from seeking another term next September.

This all may change if Mayor Michael Bloomberg has his way. It appears the mayor is having second thoughts about surrendering his office. Buoyed by relatively positive poll numbers the billionaire media baron is now showing signs that he will not stand in the way of repealing term limits. It seems like Mayor Bloomberg has determined that another stint in the City Hall may be necessary to preserve his legacy. A bill to change the term limit statute has already been introduced by a Council Member. If passed and reaches Mayor Bloomberg’s steps he will likely sign it into law.

The mayor’s apparent eagerness to extend his tenure has larger implications. One of the major candidates for mayor is City Comptroller William Thompson, a Black American who has been positioning himself for the top job. Given Mayor Bloomberg’s sizeable checkbook he would likely overwhelm any of the other people most likely to run, including Thompson, Rep. Anthony Weiner and Council Speaker Christine Quinn. New York has only had one Black mayor and the likelihood of a second diminishes greatly if Bloomberg supports the overthrow of term limits.

Also at stake in 2009 is the 51 member New York City Council, now just one seat shy of having a majority of color for the first time in the city’s history. The Council membership determines which one among them will be Speaker, the Member who presides and sets policy. There is a strong possibility the next Speaker might be a Black American.

So in many ways a third Bloomberg term would stop Black political progress in its tracks. Clearly, the mayor enjoys being a public servant and has become quite the transformed businessman into politician along the way. But there are only so many places a billionaire in New York can go to satisfy his political urges. Since he ruled out a run for the White House, Mayor Bloomberg’s only options to stay in the game are to remove term limits or seek the governor’s seat. The latter would open a hornet’s nest since he would have to oppose New York’s first Black governor David A. Paterson.

Stay tuned. Pull up a chair. As political theatre goes, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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