By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
The Giants are on the way to the Superbowl!
Its the chance of a decade for those of you who arent
sports freaks or even casual sports fans to become part of a New York sports experience.
Set aside the evening of Sunday, January 28th to join in the time honored tradition of
Superbowl fun and heartburn by inviting over or joining a small group of friends (too
large means the serious watchers have too many distractions) for the "Superbowl
The party rules are simple: chips, dips, finger food and six foot
heroes. A large screen TV is a plus. The fanatics sit closer. The casual watchers (often
the wives and female kids no sexist letters, please) sit far enough away that their
chatter wont interfere with the analysis of Greg Gumble and Phil Simms; but not so
far as to be unable to ask questions, jump up for Giant heroics and give requisite high
fives for any Giant score, interception, completed pass or run over 10 yards.
If its already starting to sound confusing for you beginners, the
idea is that the team that scores the most points wins and thats something to cheer
about, as long as the team is the Giants.
Theyre playing some Johnny come lately hoohahs from Baltimore
the Ravens. Only Edgar Allen Poe could get excited about a bunch of crows.
The Giants will have to move this odd shaped ball (sometimes referred
to as a pigskin) down the field and across the other teams goal line. The fans get
to scream, drink, eat and pat each other in places otherwise considered improper.
Youll love it.
Youre gonna love it so much that we are preparing a guide to the
Superbowl in next weeks Trib. Itll have tips on watching;
understanding, eating, drinking, patting, high-fiving and enjoying. Well pay homage
to the Giants, help you to participate in a great Superbowl party, review Superbowl,
winners, legends, lore and more while we help you root the Giants to a marvelous triumph
by the worst team that ever won the Superbowl.
Even if you dont have a big party, plan to spend it with your
significant other and kids while the world watches. Check out the Trib for more
ALBANY SILVER SPIT & POLISH? Its the way of politics;
but, we dont like it. Political leaders hand out rewards and mete out punishment not
based on merit but based on loyalties and coalition building.
So it was with Speaker Sheldon Silver last week. Silver, who last year
survived an attempted coup engineered by Queens County Dem boss Tom Manton, took the
occasion of Albany reorganization to make his political statement to friends and enemies
with lulus and committee assignments.
It was a gentle rebuke for the Manton minions with only three Queens
Assemblymembers being punished by the Speaker: Barbara Clark, Nettie Mayerson and Tony
Seminario each lost posts which carried a $10,000-plus paycheck bonus. The three never
attempted to make peace with Silver.
Surprisingly, in an apparent attempt to build friendships, Silver
elevated and rewarded a number of the Queens delegation who expressed a willingness to
move forward with him in spite of their recent stance in opposition: Ivan Lafayette, the
big winner, was named Speaker Pro Tempore; labor powerhouse Brian McLaughlin who was
instrumental in the coup, not only survived, but was promoted to the position as chair of
the influential Administrative Regulations Review; while Mark Weprin was appointed
secretary of the Democratic Leadership Conference.
TERM LIMITS: As we sit here contemplating an amazing New York
Superbowl win, there are folks sitting in the City Council contemplating a last ditch
effort to overturn term limits.
Weve covered this one before in this space. To me, the picture is
clear: the Councilmembers who are involved in trying to orchestrate this outrageous act
are self-serving, desperate individuals.
We dont know their names . . . theyre embarrassed and
trying to keep a low profile.
We do know that on two separate occasions this law has been put to the
voters and on both occasions the voters overwhelmingly approved it. Theyve said they
dont want these councilmembers to serve more than two terms. Two referenda, clearly
demonstrate the peoples will: in 1993, term limits were first passed, and in 1996,
the voters rejected a Council effort to overturn them.
Why would the present Council consider overturning term limits without
going to the people for a third time? Its simple: the people would reject them and
furthermore, they cant do it in time to save their own jobs.
So why take such drastic action contrary to the clear will of the
Theyll say they believe they know better than the voters.
Theyll tell you that the present law will force out 36 of the 51 Councilmembers thus
causing great instability. Theyll claim to fear that the City government would
crumble if elected officials were forced out en masse.
When they tried to repeal by referendum in 1996, New Yorkers for Term
Limits called their arguments "disingenuous." Their spokesperson said back then,
"I think keeping their own jobs is whats motivating this."
There are more than 3,000 cities and counties across the country with
term limits of six or eight years. Many were implemented in they same manner as NYC. So
far, we have not heard of one City to fall to term limit chaos.
And better still, term limits have attracted a whole new group of
bright, eager public servants. The hundreds of candidates preparing to run for vacant
seats in 2001 include a large group of exciting, competent leaders. We, in Queens, can
expect to see fourteen new, energetic, not-so-tainted or jaded candidates ascend to the
Council. They will have something to prove to us and eight years to prove it. Queens and
this City will be no worse off likely better off.
Now, Ive said it before, in principle I do not support term
limits. Voters should have the freedom to accept or reject candidates at the ballot box
and can impose term limits on any candidate at any election. This paper has not endorsed
term limits we never have we always opposed it in the past, believing voters
can always term limit officials on Election Day.
However, elections are not fought on a level playing field.
Incumbents have all the advantages of office. They use their mailing permits, staffs,
incredible ability to raise money from lobbyists doing business with the city, which makes
challenging them near impossible. We do not recall in modern history, a single incumbent
council-member who sought reelection and lost.
And so, as we bask in the victory of the Giant blowout, there sit a
number a large number of Council members trying to figure out if they can
without bringing shame to their names repeal term-limits and garner enough votes to
override a mayoral veto.
Well, with 36 of the 51 members term limited, surely they can find a
majority of 26 who do not have the moral fortitude to adhere to the will of the people.
However, coming up with the 34 members (two-thirds) needed to override a mayoral veto
might not be so easy.
All of the 14 members of the Queens delegation is term-limited and
therefore cannot seek reelection.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said of any limit change, "It would
be very difficult to pass, and time is quickly running out before party primaries in
Eastern Queens Councilman Sheldon Leffler said he has been contacted
regarding possible legislative action against the term limits in recent months, but
refused to name names.
Although they may support it, it appears no Queens legislator wants to
step up and publicly take responsibility for a bill to change the current laws. Because of
the strong support of the current term-limit laws by the voters, summed up one legislator,
"It could be political suicide. At least for anyone desiring to run again."
However, Councilman Tom White, told Not4Pub, "Now that
women, Latinos and blacks have more power than ever before, they want to change the
Councilwoman Julia Harrison, facing the end of her 15-year run as
Flushing representative in City Hall, said, "Im not crying about it, but I do
resent it. I feel we may be replaced by inexperienced, incompetent challengers. I
dont think the public realizes how badly things will be shaken up come the new
And Councilman Alfonso Stabile agrees that those new council-members
coming in "may be ineffective," noting "There will be no Peter Vallone to
teach them and show them the way." If his bid to become borough president fails, said
Stabile, "Ill definitely be looking to run again Im not ready to
Many of the current Queens councilmembers, including Stabile,
Koslowitz, Leffler, Mike Abel and Councilwoman Helen Marshall will vie for the borough
president position next year. Some, like Councilman Morty Povman, have law firms to fall
Others, like Councilman John Sabini told us, "As for me, I came
out of the private sector, and will return to it if need be."
We are contacting each of the members of the Queens Council delegation
and asking them where they stand on this issue. We shall share their responses with you
assuming theyre talking. We have sent email to each councilmember (except for
Walter McCaffrey who does not have an email address) and the Tribune has phoned
each member with the following question:
It has come to our attention that some members of the City Council are
considering legislation (enabling you to seek another term) that would overturn or modify
the existing term limit law passed by referendum in 1993 and upheld in another referendum
in 1996. Should any such legislation be introduced without taking the issue back to the
voters, how would you vote?
__I would vote in favor of modifying or overturning the term limit law.
__I would vote against modifying or overturning the term limit law.
__I would support a modification for future Councils providing the question was put to the
people by referendum.
Feel free to attach comments.
Please return this by fax or email, for immediate publication.
We think the issue is clear. If the Council wants to overturn term
limits, take it back to the voters who passed it. Any attempt to override it by
legislation, although perhaps legal, is a vacuous immoral act of desperate folks who are
afraid of going into the workplace for real jobs.
We shall reject it and we shall reject each and every councilmember who
supports it. A vote in favor of overturning the will of the people will follow each
offending Councilmem-ber for the rest of their very short political careers.
Limit Score Card:
How Queens Councilmembers intend to vote on an effort to repeal term
limits without a referendum by the voters, based on email or phone interview this week.
||position on term limit appeal
||"Too late; gut feeling: oppose. "
||"Term limits are a travesty"
||"Public has spoken, twice."
||"Inappropriate; questionable legality"
||"If supported by mayor or speaker."
||"Im not the leader; but Im for it."
||"Term limits are detrimental."
||"Poor chance of passing."
||"My district doesnt want this."
||"Gut reaction: no."
||"The people have spoken."
||"Concerned about future council"
Councilmembers are invited to submit addtions, modifications or
explanations to the above chart.
Richard Schack contributed to this column.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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