At the end of this article, you will find an invitation to a symposium on the Koch administration, which members of New York Civic are invited to attend at a sharply reduced rate.  Read it.

Polls Say: Stick a Fork in 2005.
Let's Start to Think About 2009.

By Henry J. Stern
October 12, 2005

With both the Marist and Quinnipiac polls predicting a substantial victory for Mayor Bloomberg, it is time to take an early look at what will happen in 2009, when the Mayor will be ineligible to run again.  This article is not intended to suggest that the result in 2005 is assured, likely as that may appear today.  Anything can happen in politics, and the past does not necessarily foretell the future.

Conventional wisdom has City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who will be term-limited out of the job he currently holds, as a major candidate.  But the rise of Congressman Anthony Weiner, previously all but unknown outside his Brooklyn-Queens district, who polled an astonishing 29 per cent in the Democratic mayoral primary, and then deferred to Freddy Ferrer, makes the race wide open.

We can be certain that Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, an attractive Latino leader, will run for either Mayor or Comptroller.  He would have a much better chance to become Comptroller, a city-wide position which he could hold until 2013, when he will be 52, a good age for a CEO.  However, outgoing Council Speaker Gifford Miller did not follow the advice of many of his friends who urged him to run for Manhattan Borough President, a position which he would have had a better chance to attain.  He could have gently aged on the job until he reached 43, when term limits striking for the second time would have propelled him into a city-wide race. But a characteristic of youth is impatience, and Miller had good cause to believe that he would be a better mayor than his rivals.

Another public official who will be dislodged in 2009 is Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who by inclination and personality is a logical contender for Public Advocate.  He could well be opposed by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall in the Democratic primary.  Neither should have illusions about seeking the mayoralty.

The next tier of elected officials looking for jobs includes, first, the next Speaker of the City Council, whoever he or she may be.  Since the Council will generally not elect a freshman as its Speaker, unless he/she is returning from some higher office, the likelihood is that future Speakers will serve only one four-year term, and spend a good part of it looking for a better job in politics.

Sometimes Councilmembers overcome the hardship of term limits by getting elected to the State Legislature (as John Sabini of Queens and Annette Robinson of Brooklyn did in 2002.)  State Senator Martin Golden cut his eyeteeth as a Councilmember from Bay Ridge for two terms, and was elected to join the Republican majority in the Senate in 2002.

Some political observers suspect that Gifford Miller, in a parting shot at the voters of the City of New York, will engineer the repeal or modification of term limits in a post-election lame-duck session of the Council.  The candidates to succeed him as Speaker will vie with each other in promising support for this attempted putsch, in which the twice-expressed will of the people will be trumped by the very objects of the rule they voted to adopt.

The repealer would have to pass with 34 votes, rather than a simple majority of 26 of the 5l members, since Mayor Bloomberg has said he intends to veto any attempt by the legislators to override the referenda of 1993 and 1996.   In the end, it will be up to the Court of Appeals to decide whether to give legal blessing to the coup.

It would be more reasonable for the Council to place on the ballot a plan to extend their limit from eight to twelve years.  That proposal has merit, and is certainly within the range of debate.  And, if that should be the will of the people, the Councilmembers would not have to scurry so soon for their next employment.  From my own experience, nine years and three months was a sufficient time to serve on the Council, but the situation is not really comparable because, back in 1983, Mayor Koch gave me another opportunity in city government.  If he had not, I would certainly have wanted to stay on the Council, a position in which the amount of time and energy you spend on the job is up to you.

The year term limits took effect was 2001, when three quarters of the Council turned over.
In 2009, the eight years allotted to the class of 2001 will have elapsed, and there will then be substantial changes in membership.  Unless, of course, the old guard can save itself by tinkering with the Charter.  They should not succeed in that self-serving effort.  If they have distinguished themselves by their Council service, there are other public offices for which they can legitimately compete.  They might, if qualified, be considered for the city administration.  If all else fails, there is the private sector, where their skills will have to meet the test of the marketplace.  Is that prospect too dreadful for our Councilmembers to contemplate?

Note: If there are any potential candidates who feel slighted that they were not included in this article, please overcome your shyness and let us know, and we promise to call your aspirations to the attention of our readers.  And, if you should happen to have something to say on a matter of substance, please include us among those with whom you share your views.

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Museum  to Hold Symposium on Mayor Koch on October 19.
New York Civic Members Invited to Attend at Half Price.

The Museum of the City of New York and New York Civic invite you to a symposium and reception to launch the exhibition New York Comes Back: Mayor Ed Koch and the City.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
4:00 – 6:00 pm
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street

This landmark program offers an in-depth look at the Koch era from the perspective of some of the key players and leading observers of the politics of the 1970s and 1980s. Moderated by Michael Goodwin, the program features a keynote address by Pete Hamill and a roundtable discussion with Ken Auletta, Stephen Berger, Victor Gotbaum, Joyce Purnick, and Al Sharpton.

Opening Reception

6:30 – 8:30 pm
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street

Reservations required.

Special Ticket Prices for New York Civic Subscribers:
In recognition of the ongoing collaboration between New York Civic and the Museum of the City of New York a limited number of half price tickets are being held for New York Civic subscribers

New York Civic Subscribers: 

Adults: $15 each
Museum members, seniors, & students: $10 each

(New York Civic Rate available by phone only, please call 212.534.1672, ext 3395.)

Non-New York Civic Subscribers:

General admission: $30 each
Museum members, seniors, & students: $20 each

The symposium is co-sponsored by Association for a Better New York; Citizens Budget Commission; Citizens Housing & Planning Council; The Gotham Center for New York City History; La Guardia Community College/CUNY, La Guardia and Wagner Archives; Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; The Municipal Art Society; The New York Academy of Medicine; New York Building Congress; New York Civic; and The New-York Historical Society.

About the Exhibition...

New York Comes Back: Mayor Ed Koch and the City explores how New York City went from near bankruptcy and decline in the 1970s to the boom of the 1980s. It tells the story of the brash, funny, confident, and in-your-face three-term mayor, Edward I. Koch, and how his administration worked to revive the spirit and economy of the city. In the process, he helped redefine New York and renew faith in the future of cities. The exhibition explores the achievements and the controversies of the Koch era, shedding new light on one of the great comebacks in urban history. Original artifacts, images, audio, and video reveal the character of the man and the temper of the times.

The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York through March 26, 2006.

Henry J. Stern
New York Civic
520 Eighth Avenue
22nd Floor
New York, NY 10018

(212) 564-4441
(212) 564-5588 (fax)