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No Need for a Referendum

In any event, we do not see the need for a referendum on changing the term limits law.

On Tuesday, three Queens councilmen — John Liu, David Weprin and Eric Gioia — introduced Intro. 850, legislation that closes the loophole that allows a Council vote to extend term limits by another term. If that happens, the city's 8 million citizens would be given the opportunity to vote on changing the law before the Council could consider it.

This bill contradicts Intro. 845, spearheaded by Brooklyn Councilman Simcha Felder, that would effectively change the law to allow three terms rather than two. Felder's bill recognizes no need for a referendum.

Surveys show the public supports changing the law, but the Queens council members believe the measure would be defeated in a general vote. Felder has received more discretionary funds from the mayor's office than any other candidate.

Councilman Tony Avella strongly supports term limits. "It is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy [by the mayor] to overturn the will of the people," he said. "Unfortunately, I think it will pass in the City Council." Avella is running for mayor and his chances of winning will all but disappear if Bloomberg gets to run again.

Councilman James Gennaro agrees: "The issue of extending term limits has gone to the people twice through public referendum and any revisiting of the issue should go back to the people. If brought before the Council, I would uphold the will of the people and vote no."

But all this seems to imply that the Council does not represent the "will of the people." If that is the case, why should the Council exist at all? Why not put every bill up for a referendum?

The call for a referendum appears to be nothing more than a waste of time and tax dollars. The Council members have had opportunity to comment on the bill. Now, as the representatives of their districts, they should show some backbone and vote.

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