Friday, October 17, 2008

My Testimony Before City Council on Changing Term Limits Legislatively

I had an incredible experience yesterday, waiting for 8 hours to speak at City Hall and then eventually delivering 2 minutes of testimony before the Council's Government and Operations Committee. It was times quite exhilarating and uplifting and at times quite frustrating and depressing. The following is my entire testimony:

Written Testimony for the New York City Council
Submitted by Dave Kerpen, 25226 60th Ave, Little Neck, NY 11362

Good afternoon. My name is Dave Kerpen. I am a Queens resident, a former public school teacher, a business owner, and a Democratic candidate for New York City Council next year. Most important, I am a husband and father to 2 little girls. As someone interested in politics and government at all levels- I often talk to my 5 year old daughter Charlotte about the issues in language that she can understand. For example, she is looking forward to coming with me next month to vote for ‘Orock Obama’ and she knows that people in the City Council help to make the schools better and sidewalks cleaner.
A few weeks ago, she saw me reading about the current term limits discussion, and so I explained to Charlotte that the rules may change, so that the Mayor of New York and other leaders like the City Council can stay in their jobs for 4 more years. She responded, and I quote, “Oh. When do we get to vote on that, Daddy?”
It is embarrassing that I had to explain to my 5 year old that we may not vote on that issue. It is embarrassing that there is even a debate over whether this should be done legislatively or via voter referendum. It is embarrassing that Michael Bloomberg called a legislative change in term limits “disgusting” just a few years ago and then introduced this bill. It is embarrassing - and really quite sad - that Bloomberg has gone from being a fearless leader beholden to no party and no special interest– to a politician ignoring the will of the people with one undemocratic, purely political maneuver.
I am philosophically against term limits. But the issue before you isn’t about term limits. It’s about how they should change if they are to change– by a vote of the 51 of you- or a vote open to all New Yorkers. It’s about democracy versus political maneuvering.
I fully understand that it may be legal for you to change term limits law despite the fact that New Yorkers voted otherwise, twice. But is it moral? Is it the right thing to do, to vote on the potential to extend your own jobs when New Yorkers have twice voted against this? Can a self-interested Mayor and City Council possibly be a better, fairer group to vote on this than the people of New York in a special election?
I have great respect for public servants and for the political process. In fact, I have been told on numerous occasions by people that obviously don’t share that same respect- to not to go into politics because it’s too dirty – When I’m told that, I respond that I’m happy to still be an idealist- and I believe there are a lot of good, honest people in politics, in New York and beyond.
I know some of you, and I so I know there are a lot of good, honest people in this room. I am proud that my City Councilman, David Weprin, has been a fervent opponent of the bill introduced by the Mayor, and that as of today, nearly 20 of you have publicly joined with David in this opposition. To those of you who are still publicly undecided, I urge you to consider joining those who oppose Bloomberg’s Bill – because the will of the people must not be ignored, because this issue – and those of you on each side of the bill- will not be soon forgotten by the people of New York – and most of all, because it is the right thing to do.
Thank you for your time, and I am confident you will do the right thing, and let New Yorkers vote on term limits. I hope in a few weeks I can tell my 5 year old daughter that we will, in fact, be getting to vote on that thing we talked about.

P.S. Special thanks to Councilman Robert Jackson, who despite seemingly being in favor of this bill, has courageously joined my Facebook group, New Yorkers for Our Vote to Count, opposing the bill on Facebook at least. :-)

1 comment:

queenoftheclick said...

I liked your article and I am glad you had a chance to speak before City Council.

I see as of today, several city council members are trying to vote for the referendum to let the people vote on this. I agree with you on the procedure and morality of the issue. Christine Quinn

There are many qualified candidates ready to step up in this position of mayor. Hopefully, tomorrow we will see positive results from the city council.