Thursday, October 16, 2008

How You Can Fight the Rise of "Tyranny" at City Hall

The Queens Tribune calls it "tyranny". "Never has the city seemed so nakedly for sale," writes Newsday. The good government group Common Cause wants the Mayor investigated for using "his position in a prohibited manner to obtain personal advantage in a quid pro quo deal with Ronald Lauder." Even the Mayor himself said (back in 2005): "I think it would be an absolute disgrace to go around the public will."But still the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg are less than two weeks away from pulling off the most shameful power grab in the history of New York. This is the time for all New Yorkers to stand up and save our City from the naked ambition of our elected officials.Here's what you can do right now that's quick, easy and effective: Call Our Council Members! Below you'll find a list of all of the City's Council Members, their contact information, and where they stand on the issue. If we don't all work together to apply pressure to the Council Members, who are undecided or support the extension of term limits, then NO ONE WILL!Forward this blog post to all of your friends and urge them to take action! I know that we're all wrapped up with getting Barack Obama elected, but to bring about the change we need in America we all have to do our part in our own community.

Spread the word!


Simcha Felder (Brooklyn)

District Phone: 718-853-2704

District Fax: 718-853-3858

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7357

E-mail Address:

Sara Gonzalez (Brooklyn)

District Office Phone: 718-439-9012

District Office Fax: 718-439-9042

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7372

Kendall Stewart (Brooklyn)

District Office Phone: 718-951-8177

District Office Fax: 718-951-8191

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6859

David Yassky (Brooklyn)

District Office Phone: 718-875-5200

District Office Fax: 718-643-6620

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7348

E-mail Address:

Michael McMahon (Brooklyn/Staten Island)

District Phone: 718-556-7370

District Fax: 718-556-7389

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6972

Legislative Office Fax: 212-341-3045

E-mail Address:

Melinda Katz (Queens)

District Phone: 718-544-8800

District Fax: 718-544-4452

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6981

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-7052

E-mail Address:

James Sanders (Queens)

District Phone: 718-527-4356

District Fax: 718-527-4402

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7216

Legislative Office Fax: 212-227-1210

E-mail Address:

Helen Sears (Queens)

District Phone: 718-803-6373

District Fax: 718-803-9832

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7066

E-mail Address:

Hiram Monserrate (Queens)

District Phone: 718-205-3881

District Fax: 718-205-4145

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6862

Legislative Office Fax: 212-442-2725

E-mail Address:

Peter Vallone Jr. (Queens)

District Phone: 718-274-4500

District Fax: 718-726-0357

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6963

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-8957

Thomas White (Queens)

District Phone: 718-843-0792

District Fax: 718-845-0817

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6850

Legislative Office Fax: 212-442-2729

E-mail Address:

Gale Brewer (Manhattan)

District Phone: 212-873-0282

District Fax: 212-873-0279

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6975

Legislative Office Fax: 212-513-7717

E-mail Address:

Inez Dickens (Manhattan)

District Phone: 212-678-4505

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7397

Legislative Office Fax: 212-442-2732

Alan Gerson (Manhattan)

District Phone: 212-788-7722

District Fax: 212-788-7727

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7259

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-7727

E-mail Address:

Jessica Lappin (Manhattan)

District Phone: 212-980-1808

District Fax: 212-980-1828

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6865

Legislative Office Fax: 212-442-5503

E-mail Address:

James Oddo (Staten Island)

District Phone: 718-980-1017

District Fax: 718-980-1051

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7159

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-7232

Helen Foster (Bronx)

District Phone: 718-588-7500

District Fax: 718-588-7790

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6856

E-mail Address:

Maria del Carmen Arroyo (Bronx)
District Office Phone: 718-402-6130
District Office Fax: 718-402-0539
Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7384
Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-8920
E-mail Address:


Christine Quinn (Council Speaker - Manhattan)
District Phone: (212) 564-7757
District Fax: (212)564-7347
Legislative Office Phone: (212) 788-7210
Legislative Office Fax: (212) 788-7207
E-mail Address:

Erik Dilan (Brooklyn)

District Phone: 718-642-8664

District Fax: 718-642-8639

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7284

Legislative Office Fax: 212-227-5636

E-mail Address:

Lewis A. Fidler (Brooklyn)

District Phone: 718-241-9330

District Fax: 718-241-9316

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7286

Legislative Office Fax: 212-227-3176

Michael Nelson (Brooklyn)
District Office Phone: 718-368-9176
District Office Fax: 718-368-9160
Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7360
E-mail Address:

Diana Reyna (Brooklyn)

District Phone: 718-963-3141

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7095

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-7296

Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. (Brooklyn)

District Phone: 718-373-9673

District Fax: 718-373-0195

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7045

LegislativeOffice Fax: 212-788-7769

E-mail Address:

Albert Vann (Brooklyn)

District Phone: 718-919-0740

District Fax: 718-919-0744

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7354

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-8951

E-mail Address:

Leroy Comrie (Queens)

District Phone: 718-776-3700

District Fax: 718-776-3798

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7084

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-7093

Robert Jackson (Manhattan)

District Phone: 212-928-1322

District Fax: 212-928-4177

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7007

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-9190

E-mail Address:

Miguel Martinez (Manhattan)

District Office Phone: 917-521-2616/2640

District Office Fax: 917-521-1293

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7053

Legislative Office Fax: 212-227-1215

E-mail Address:

Maria Baez (Bronx)

District Phone: 718-294-3950

District Fax: 718-294-3955

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7074

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-8849

E-mail Address:

G. Oliver Koppell (Bronx)

District Phone: 718-549-7300

District Fax: 718-549-9945

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-7078

E-mail Address:

Joel Rivera (Bronx)

District Office Phone: 718-842-8100

District Office Fax: 718-842-6280

Legislative Office Phone: 212-788-6966

Legislative Office Fax: 212-788-8977

E-mail Address:


Joseph Addabbo (Queens)

Tony Avella (Queens)

Charles Barron (Brooklyn)

Bill de Blasio (Brooklyn)

Anthony Como (Queens)

Matthieu Eugene (Brooklyn)

James Gennaro (Queens)

Vincent Gentile (Brooklyn)

Eric N. Gioia (Queens)

Daniel Garodnick (Manhattan)

Vincent Ignizio (Staten Island)

Leticia James (Brooklyn)

John C. Liu (Queens)

Melissa Mark-Viverito (Manhattan)

Darlene Mealy (Brooklyn)

Rosie Mendez (Manhattan)

Anabel Palma (Bronx)

James Vacca (Bronx)

David I. Weprin (Queens)

Why You Should Not Be Undecided About Term Limits

Before I lay out exactly why you should be against the City Council's move to extend term limits without your say, let me start by putting two common misconceptions to rest.
The movement against extending term limits is not about whether Mayor Bloomberg has done a good job in office. For the record, I think that he has. And if the City Council puts extending term limits on the ballot, as I believe they must, then you will have still have the opportunity to re-elect our Mayor if the measure passes.
So many New Yorkers are confused that this is an anti-Bloomberg initiative because that is how the Mayor has shrewdly framed the issue. Since the majority of New Yorkers feel pretty positively about him, miscasting the debate as “Bloomberg vs. No Bloomberg” twists the odds in favor of his agenda.
Second, this is not a debate about whether term limits are good. Personally, in an ideal world, I would be opposed to term limits, because the people should have the right to vote for whomever they want, for as long as they want. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
The real question about extending term limits is whether our City Council should be allowed to run roughshod over the will of the people, just so they can keep their jobs for another four years. When you understand that this is what's at stake, then there is no good reason to support or stay undecided on the Council's backroom deal to extend term limits.
Twice in the past 15 years, the people of New York City have voted for term limits. The 1993 ballot initiative that resulted in term limits was introduced by Ron Lauder as a response to a vast corruption scandal that rocked then-Mayor Koch's Administration. Lauder's thinking was that the power of incumbency was so imbalanced in favor of our elected officials that they felt secure in abusing their positions for personal gain, because they knew it was virtually impossible for them to get voted out of office. In other words, the reason for term limits was to keep our politicians honest.
The last Council election in 2004 once again demonstrated the power of iron-clad incumbency. In the entire city, the only Council Member voted out of office was Allan Jennings of Queens, a guy whose private and public behavior was so bizarre (and allegedly criminal) it verged on insanity. Even then, it took a former Councilman unseated only because of the City's term limit laws - Thomas White Jr. - to beat him.
The current class of City Council Members has done little to convince the public that the Council has reformed its ways since Lauder's 1993 initiative. On the contrary, under Speaker Christine Quinn's leadership, the entire Council has come under investigation from the U.S. Attorney's Office for one of the worst scandals in recent City history. Uncovered earlier this year, the "slush fund scandal" exposed the Council's longstanding practice of funneling millions of dollars of taxpayer money into phantom organizations, so that the funds could later be doled out by the Speaker for political favors. Because the Council's previous bylaws allowed its Members to hide who made the specific requests to pour money into these dummy organizations, we don't know just how many Council Members should be directly implicated in these illegal transactions. Only the Federal investigation currently underway by U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia can tell us. But what we do know about is some of the public fall out, like the fact that two top aides to Brooklyn Councilman Kendall Stewart were indicted for their role in the scandal and that Speaker Quinn has hired a criminal attorney at taxpayer expense to defend herself. The entire Council as a body has also retained Quinn's lawyer.
The reason I bring up the Council is that it is often forgotten that the price for keeping around our popular mayor is another four years for the majority of our Council Members. Many of us like Bloomberg, but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to go to bat for extending term limits just to keep our Council Members in office.
Anyone, that is, except for our Council Members.
Neither myself, nor almost anyone else in opposition to the Council's move to extend term limits is arguing that a third-term for our elected officials would necessarily be bad. What we are advocating for is that the people of New York decide this issue.
It is a fundamental conflict of interest for our Council Members to vote to rewrite our City's laws when they are the sole beneficiaries of that change. And, for those of you who question my characterization of our Council Member's motives, keep in mind that the Mayor has made it abundantly clear that he intends the third-term to be applicable only to the current crop of term-limited elected officials. That's the main reason why the few Council Members who aren't term-limited in 2009 are so incensed. They stand to gain nothing for playing ball with the Mayor and Speaker Quinn.
The Council is moving quickly to vote on extending term limits, so that more New Yorkers don't have a chance to understand what's really going on. They've reduced the entire public discourse on this event to a slim two-week window and arranged for only a single, solitary public hearing on the issue – and only in Manhattan. By comparison, when the City was considering banning horse-drawn carriages, there were nine public hearings on the bill. Imagine how many there would be if we wanted to build a new highway.
In any case, if the Council were willing to put term limits on the ballot for us to decide, this whole debate would be over in an instant.
But the Mayor and Speaker Quinn know that their scheme doesn't stand a chance if the voters get their say. They argue that a ballot referendum would be undemocratic because so few voters participate in special elections that the outcome of a vote just on term limits wouldn't really be representative of public opinion.
This is simply not true.
The real reason is that they don't trust the voters to do their bidding. They know that if we vote their initiative will fail and then they'd be out of a job. Twice in the last 15, New Yorkers have voted in favor of term limits. Recent polls show there is no reason to suspect that the third time would be any different. In fact, what Bloomberg and Quinn secretly understand is that generally only the most passionate and informed voters tend to show up for special elections – precisely the voters they won't be able to dupe with their self-serving propaganda.
A lot of fear has been used to manipulate us. Above all, we've been threatened that only New York City's richest man has the business skills to pull us back from the brink of economic collapse. Maybe. That's why I'm for the Council letting the people decide if we want to keep Bloomberg in office.
But until we get the chance to vote, I ask you to put your personal feelings aside about Mayor Bloomberg. Were you among the legions of New Yorkers outraged when Mayor Giuliani announced after 9/11 he wanted to stick around for another term, because only he could keep us safe? Are you a New Yorker who would have rioted in the streets and stormed the White House if President Bush had insisted on a third term? When we change the rules to benefit a good man, we also benefit those with the worst of intentions.
Share with your friends the real reasons to oppose the Council's attempt to deny us our voice. And make sure to call your Council Members to let them know they work for you, not for themselves.