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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mayor Mike Bloomberg Gets His Crew Together Again To Extend Term Limits Without a Vote

New Yorkers who have children in the public school system are familiar with the 'modus operandi' of the Bloomberg machine: "get him what he wants, overturn any laws or regulations that get in his way".

In 2003, his appointed Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, former partner at Proskauer Rose who also had as partner the late husband of the Chief Judge Judith Kaye, to expedite the passage of a new version of Education Law 2590 that suspended the right to vote. Cardozo's justification was that New Yorkers dont vote for the school board anyway. See my article:
Editorial: The New York City Department of Education is a Sham and Mike Bloomberg is the Flim-Flam Man

Mike Bloomberg then appointed Joel Klein, an Attorney with an ethically dubious past at the U.S. Department of Justice, to be Chancellor of the New York City school system, but violated his own Education Law by not giving him a contract:
The "Who Are You Kidding??" Award Goes To: Joel Klein, New York City Board of Education Pretender

So, let's look at this again: where are you, New Yorkers? Why would you support a man who cares so little about what values, policies, or interests you have? Let's stop him.

Do not vote for Mike Bloomberg or anyone who supports him, for any office. Go on Facebook and find out who all the friends of anyone who helps Mr. Bloomberg, and never vote for him/her again, for any office. This is serious.

Betsy Combier

October 16, 2008
Cue the Fireworks: Hearings on Term Limits Begin

The caffeine will flow, extra security will be on hand, and the room is expected to be packed. Some staffers are joking about bringing cots and pajamas into the Council chambers.

Thursday [October 16, 2008] opens the most eagerly anticipated hearings in years at City Hall, as friends and foes of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to overhaul New York’s term limits law marshal their forces to testify on the legislation.

The mayor’s political operation is showing its muscle, using Neil Giacobbi, (pictured at right) director of Mr. Bloomberg’s 2005 campaign volunteer operation, to turn out a crowd in favor of Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal, which would permit the city’s elected officials to serve for 12 years rather than 8.

Mr. Giacobbi has called on the mayor’s network of supporters to show up in droves, writing in a mass e-mail message: “I need your help again.” [Kevin Sheekey, pictured at right, is a friend of Mr. Giacobbi, and on his facebook friends page -Editor]

Mr. Bloomberg’s measure is expected to be lauded by former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and former Mayor Edward I. Koch.

Not to be outdone, the Working Families Party is urging those who object to the mayor’s plan to show up, too. And to get the word out, the party produced a commercial to air during Wednesday’s presidential debate and distributed fliers focusing on undecided council members in their districts.

No matter what happens, people are already expecting that the hearings will be a memorable moment in the city’s political history.

“I’m surprised at the tremendous effort going on on both sides, in getting the vote, and in spinning this story the right way,” said George Arzt, a veteran political consultant and former City Hall reporter. “We haven’t had an issue as dramatic as this in many years. I haven’t seen anything like since the 1970s.”

The hearings start at 1 p.m. Thursday before the Government Operations Committee, in the main Council chambers in City Hall. A second day is scheduled for Friday, starting at 10 a.m.

Each speaker will be given roughly two minutes to testify. And given the level of interest, there is already pregame speculation and political gamesmanship over just how long the Thursday session will last, and how many people will show up. The chamber can hold 250 people, but an overflow area will be set up.

Some of the mayor’s fiercest critics, for instance, are whispering nervously, perhaps as part of a strategy of lowering expectations, that the session will be dominated by Bloomberg supporters. Others, including Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat who has been a vocal critic of the mayor, are all but encouraging residents to drag out the hearing until the small hours of the morning.

Bloomberg supporters are calling upon a Rolodex of notables, [like Scott Stringer? He is on the facebook friends page of Mr. Giacobbi] past and present, to echo the mayor’s argument that in these difficult economic times, continuity and a proven track record are preferable. So, too, are aides to City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who, in an announcement on Sunday that took no one by surprise, declared her support, too. Mr. Koch, a longtime Bloomberg ally and the last mayor to serve three terms, was invited to appear by Gary Altman, legislative counsel to the City Council. Mr. Koch said that he would testify that it takes 12 years for both a mayor and legislator “to get things done — not just to see through a proposal but to make sure it takes hold.”

Other boldface names who are also expected to support the mayor are John Sexton, president of New York University; and Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, which represents major businesses.

Labor unions endorsing Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal will also be present, like those representing emergency medical technicians, sanitation workers, firefighters, police officers and construction workers.

“With this very scary economic climate we’re in now, I come out with the answer, why deny the public access to Bloomberg, because he has done a good job over the last seven years?” said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association.

But opponents are relishing the opportunity to make their case.

Despite Mr. Bloomberg’s popularity, the measure has set off some intense opposition, mainly because voters approved the limits of two four-year terms through referendums in 1993 and again in 1996. The mayor is pushing the Council to change the law without a public vote.

Richard Emery, a civil rights and election lawyer who helped dismantle the city’s Board of Estimate in the late 1980s, said he was invited to speak by a member of the Government Operations Committee.

Mr. Emery said he is a “big supporter of Bloomberg” and opposes term limits. But he plans to testify against the mayor’s legislation, arguing that such a change, without voter input, would weaken the City Council and hurt the integrity of city government.

“If these council members now degrade themselves by lining their own pockets and jumping into the lap of the mayor, they will have forfeited that 20 years’ process of obtaining legitimacy and will slip back, in the view of the body politic, into being hacks, which is what they were always thought of,” Mr. Emery said.

Randy M. Mastro, who is representing, pro bono, several elected officials opposed to the term limits extension, dubbed the legislation “profoundly undemocratic” and “blatantly illegal.”

To Mr. Mastro, a former deputy mayor, the hearing represents “a historic moment and it will define us as a city. Will we reaffirm our commitment to democratic principles and respect for the will of the people, or are our elected officials going to turn their back on the electorate and say their views don’t matter?”

The loudest and most persistent foe has been the union-backed Working Families Party, whose officials say that volunteers have collected 15,000 signatures for a petition opposing the mayor’s plan to change term limits through legislation.

Dan Cantor, the party’s executive director, said that he expected a large turnout at the hearings, even though “it’s not an issue of great salience — it’s not health care or their job. But it’s struck a chord.”

It is unclear how late the hearing on Friday will last, or if the committee will even hold a vote on the mayor’s bill. If it drags into the evening, council officials expect that the committee’s chairman, Councilman Simcha Felder, a strong Bloomberg ally, to hand the gavel over to someone else, in observance of the Sabbath.

The entire Council could take up a term limits bill next Thursday, and 26 votes are needed for passage. Though the situation is fluid, a tally of council members Wednesday evening by The New York Times showed 19 opposed to the measure, 14 in favor, and 18 undecided.

In a decision that was viewed as a setback for opponents, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board on Wednesday ruled that council members could vote on the measure without violating the prohibition on using their office for “personal or private advantage.”

Meanwhile, there will no shortage of press conferences and moments of political intrigue each day, and almost every hour.

A 10-minute panorama on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday provided an apt illustration. First, State Senator Kevin Parker held a press conference to denounce the mayor’s bill. A few minutes later, a group of about two dozen ministers took their place, and declared their support of the mayor.

As they were finishing their news conference, Mr. Bloomberg showed up, and entered City Hall without taking questions. It would be very unlikely, city officials say, for him to show up or say anything on Thursday or Friday, so as not to distract from the Council.

Jonathan P. Hicks contributed reporting.

Clinton on Term Limits: 'The People of New York City Should Be Heard'
by Katharine Jose, The New York Observer

Hillary Clinton took a stronger stance on the city's term-limits debate today than she did last week. Appearing on Inside City Hall, Clinton told host Dominic Carter:

"It is disturbing that voters voted twice, so I think that the City Council and the mayor have to first go through the hearings they're holding and try to figure out what they will do. They have the legal authority to make the change that they're considering, but I really am going to watch from the sidelines now because this is a very intense, local debate and the people of New York City should be heard. They should have every opportunity to express themselves and that's what I hope happens."

October 28, 2006
Bloomberg Sends Troops to Help Lieberman

In the Lieberman campaign office in Hartford are, from left, Korinne Kubena, Ariel Dvorkin, Crystal Cook and Brian Honan. All but Ms. Cook are on loan from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City.

In his battle for re-election to the United States Senate without the backing of the Democratic Party, Joseph I. Lieberman is deploying a secret weapon in the race’s closing days: a sophisticated operation to identify and turn out voters, courtesy of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg group includes several top-level operatives who played key roles in the mayor’s decisive re-election last year or who are in the administration, and have taken leaves from their jobs to work on Mr. Lieberman’s campaign.

Since Mr. Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut to Ned Lamont, they have helped open campaign offices, devised a strategy to reach voters and are corralling enough volunteers to cover 2,800 shifts at more than 700 polling sites on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Given that Mr. Lieberman does not have a party apparatus to help build his field operation, the efforts of the Bloomberg team could prove critical in one of the most closely watched races in the nation.

“There is no independent network,” said Stu Loeser, Mr. Bloomberg’s chief spokesman, who played the same role in the re-election effort. “To a certain extent, we were the last independent campaign.”

The workers on loan are the most vivid example yet of how Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican who often breaks with his party on issues, could build a permanent political apparatus to support like-minded independent candidates across the country — if not a national bid for himself.

With his 2005 re-election campaign behind him, Mr. Bloomberg has been relishing his role as kingmaker, endorsing Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Illinois and Gov. M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut, raising money for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and appearing in a television commercial for Representative Christopher Shays in Connecticut. (Mr. Blagojevich is a Democrat, and the others are Republicans.)

But his work for Mr. Lieberman, which includes substantial fund-raising and Mr. Bloomberg’s first out-of-state stumping in addition to the gift of manpower, marks his most intense and direct engagement in someone else’s political bid. It may not only broaden his image of nonpartisan, influence-free pragmatism, but it could also test how well his political machine can function in an independent campaign with national repercussions.

Just after losing the Democratic primary, Mr. Lieberman’s campaign enlisted Josh Isay, who had worked on Mr. Bloomberg’s re-election campaign, as the new media consultant. From his administration, the mayor dispatched Korinne Kubena, the chief of staff to Kevin Sheekey, a deputy mayor who oversaw Mr. Bloomberg’s two mayoral campaigns, to direct the get-out-the-vote effort for Mr. Lieberman. Brian Honan, who was the deputy field director in the mayoral campaign and now works in the Bloomberg administration’s state lobbying operation, is serving as Ms. Kubena’s deputy.

Ariel Dvorkin, an administration aide, is helping compile a voter database for Mr. Lieberman; Josh Gold, who was on Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign field staff, is now the deputy director of Mr. Lieberman’s Stamford campaign office; and Neil Giacobbi, who became chief of staff to City Councilman David Yassky after running the volunteer effort for Mr. Bloomberg, is the director of the Lieberman office in Stamford.

“The mayor has obviously decided to try to make a difference in a few races in which he believes in the candidate,” Mr. Sheekey said. “In some places you can help them by doing a fund-raiser in New York, others where you can help by showing up for a day, and others where you can help by putting folks on the ground.”

Lieberman aides say that Mr. Bloomberg brings a certain gloss and legitimacy to Connecticut, where he appears to have a strong appeal.

“He is an icon of independence and straight talk and putting the public interest over party consideration,” said Dan Gerstein, Mr. Lieberman’s communication director. “He’s a great practitioner and advocate for the kind of politics Joe Lieberman practices.”

Aides to both men say they have known each other since before Mr. Bloomberg became mayor and admire each other’s accomplishments and independent streaks. Described as having a casual, friendly relationship, they have run into each other at events in Washington over the years and have worked together on various issues involving the city, including domestic security.

Capitalizing on all this, the Lieberman campaign plans for Mr. Bloomberg to greet commuters with the senator on Monday morning in Stamford, and to attend a fund-raiser there. Mr. Bloomberg headlined a fund-raiser in Chicago this week, which raised close to $230,000, according to the campaign. He plans to hold a third fund-raiser at his Upper East Side town house on Wednesday.

Lieberman aides say the money the mayor is raising is crucial, but it is the staff additions that represent an unusual degree of engagement for Mr. Bloomberg and show how he has developed his own potent political team to deploy as he wishes.

That team brings with it an approach that has been under development for some time and is similar to the one that President Bush used in his re-election bid in 2004. For Mr. Bloomberg’s first bid in 2001, Mr. Sheekey said, the campaign engaged in a targeting operation that merged voter information with consumer data to identify potential supporters and tailor specific messages to them. That method allows campaigns to identify voters by tastes and habits whether or not they live in an area where support for a particular party is strong.

In that 2001 campaign, outreach was primarily through mail and telephone, since the campaign could not recruit a strong contingent of workers on behalf of a political unknown, Mr. Sheekey said.

By 2005, though, the Bloomberg team was able to bolster its voter identification effort with an aggressive operation involving 50,000 workers fanning out through the city to knock on doors and reinforce the mayor’s message, Mr. Sheekey said.

With a version of that machine in Connecticut, Mr. Bloomberg’s aides are coy about where it might go next, particularly whether to support other like-minded candidates or even the mayor himself.

“There are a lot of things the mayor had done in his campaign which the Lieberman campaign needed,” Mr. Sheekey said. “You get involved in races where you want to make a difference and where you can make a difference, in that order.”

Bloomberg '08: This Time, He Might Be Serious
The mayor denies a bid but still sparks chatter about an idea hatched years ago

by Azi Paybarah
This article was published in the January 7, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.

The latest news about Michael Bloomberg’s intentions toward a possible run for president, apparently, struck local lawmakers with the force of a revelation.

At the very least, after a report in The Washington Post that the mayor will attend a meeting of Republicans and Democrats in Oklahoma to discuss the presidential election, they’re now officially talking about Mr. Bloomberg in the sort of carefully couched language reserved for serious national candidates.

“I’m supporting Hillary—but I wouldn’t bad-mouth Bloomberg if he ran against my candidate,” said City Councilman Joe Addabbo, a Democrat from Queens.

“I was one of the first Democrats to endorse him for mayor,” said Peter Vallone Jr., also a Democrat from Queens. “So nothing is outside the realm of possibility.”

At this moment of high suspense, though, it’s worth noting (once again) that the carefully cultivated, never-quite-fully-dismissed idea of a Bloomberg presidential candidacy has been a long-term project. (The mayor most recently denied that he was running during a New Year’s Eve broadcast on national television.)

Neil Giacobbi, a 34-year-old spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, said that when he read the Post story, he immediately recalled that he first heard of the possibility right after the 2004 Republican National Convention.

At the time, Mr. Giacobbi had been working with top Bloomberg aide Kevin Sheekey, who had been charged with organizing the convention, and was subsequently to head over to Mr. Bloomberg’s mayoral reelection campaign.

Mr. Giacobbi said he asked Mr. Sheekey what he planned to do after that.

“And what struck me and confused me was his talk about preparing for a presidential,” Mr. Giacobbi recalled.

“And I said, ‘Running who?’” Mr. Giacobbi continued. “And that’s way I really remember it. Kevin didn’t mention a name, and he didn’t really answer my question.”

Mr. Giacobbi continued: “I suppose, in retrospect, Kevin sensed where the public was moving—people fed up with partisanship.” He added, “What struck me was how affirmative he was.”

Mr. Giacobbi said that the Bloomberg pitch, after that, was easy to imagine: “‘I’m a visionary. I’m surrounded by these brilliant, capable managers who know how to get things done.’ And the convention just really demonstrated that and said it as strongly as you can say it. It went extremely well. Ray Kelly, Dan Doctoroff, Kevin Sheekey, here’s my team. Here’s what they can do. And it all started then.”

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