Sunday, March 15, 2009

Senate Dems Move Term Limits Bill (Nothing Personal, Mayor) by Elizabeth Benjamin - The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

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Following the lead of their Assembly counterpart, members of the Senate Elections Committee voted along party lines this morning to move a bill that would require another public referendum on term limits and throw a wrench into Mayor Bloomberg's re-election bid.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Parker, was moved to the Finance Committee after a 4-3 vote in which two of the four Democrats - Martin Dilan and Brian Foley (whose GOP opponent, ex-Sen. Caesar Trunzo, was backed by Bloomberg) - voted "yes" but with no recommendation (hardly a ringing vote of confidence).

The other two "yes" votes were cast by Sens. Joe Addabbo and Jose Serrano (by proxy).

The "no" votes came from Sens. Tom Morahan (also by proxy), Tom Libous and Joseph Griffo.

This really is more of a symbolic move than anything else.

My DN colleague Glenn Blain caught up with Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger after the vote. When asked whether he has a timetable for taking up Parker's bill, Kruger responded, shortly: "No." He also said he hasn't read the legislation yet, even though Parker insisted Kruger supports his bill.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who used to be a Bloomberg ally, hasn't taken a position on the bill, but has said he won't block it from coming to the floor.

What this morning's vote does demonstrate, is that there is considerable bad blood remaining between Bloomberg and the Senate Democrats.

The hearing debate, which lasted about half an hour, got a little testy, Blain reports.

Libous led the fray for the Republicans, insisting there isn't enough time to hold a May referendum as the legislation requires. He also asserted the bill would, in effect, impose an unfunded mandate on local governments by requiring they hold expensive referenda every time the issue of term limits comes up.

Parker, who is not a member of the Elections Committee, defended his measure during the hearing, insisting it would only effect New York City (this is not the case). During a post-hearing Q&A with reporters, Parker accused the Republicans, who have long benefitted from Bloomberg's largesse, of being "in the pocket" of the mayor.

The Brooklyn Democrat later echoed those remarks, saying Bloomberg and the Republicans are in "collusion."

But Parker also insisted he doesn't have it in for the mayor, despite the fact that Bloomberg backed Councilman Simcha Felder is his failed primary challenge against Parker last September.

"There's nothing for me to feel vindicated about. It's nothing personal," Parker said, adding, after I noted that Bloomberg had endorsed his opponent. "Yes, but I won."

Libous insisted the Republicans' opposition to Parker's bill was not politically motivated, saying: "I can tell you that I have never spoken to Mayor Bloomberg or anyone on his staff about this issue." He called the legislation "unfair to the taxpayers of New York City."

There were several Bloomberg aides present for the committee hearing, including the city's top in-house lobbyist, Michelle Goldstein, and Matt Gorton, press secretary for Bloomberg's Albany office.

Also in the room was Michael Avella, a former Senate GOP staffer who is now working with lobbyist Brian Meara and serving as counsel to the Bloomberg campaign. Avella later told me he wasn't there for the term limits debate, but rather as a representative of the voting machine company Sequoia.