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Turmoil ups calls for four more years of Bloomberg

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As the Wall Street crisis continues, so too does talk that the economic turmoil supports the argument for extending Mayor Michael Bloomberg's term, which runs out next year.

One Queens elected official said Bloomberg was "probably the best guy to deal with the 2001 financial crisis" following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when he was sworn-in to office in January 2002.

"The mayor has proven to be one of the most adroit practitioners of capitalism," said the elected official, who asked not to be named because he did not want to ruffle any feathers. "He has shown time and time again that he can get the system to work again."

Bloomberg has given advice on the economic crisis to both presidential candidates and billionaire investor Warren Buffet suggested the mayor should be appointed as an economic czar in the next administration.

But the mayor did not seem to be interested in such a position and questioned its legality.

"The concept of a czar, the last time I checked in the Constitution, is not there," Bloomberg said during a news conference Monday to unveil the new Jet Blue terminal. "I think what I want to do is focus on being the mayor."

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), a mayoral candidate, said he believed giving Bloomberg another term was unwarranted.

Avella said the same arguments were given to give former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani a longer stay in office after Sept. 11.

"We didn't extend term limits then and the city didn't fall apart," Avella said.

The councilman also shot down the idea that Bloomberg's business background would suit him well in dealing with an economic crisis.

"The financial crisis was caused by a lot of [Bloomberg's] friends in the financial industry," Avella said. "Just because he's a billionaire — that argument doesn't carry any water."

Michael Krasner, a political science professor at Queens College, agreed with Avella.

"I think we've heard this kind of thing before in more extreme circumstances," Krasner said, referring to the debate on whether to extend Giuliani's term after Sept. 11.

While Krasner said Bloomberg obviously has economic experience, he did not see how a mayor could play a role in alleviating the economic crisis, which would be up to federal officials to solve.

"I'm a little hard-pressed to see exactly what [Bloomberg] could do as a mayor that would make a significant difference," Krasner said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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