New York Times is live blogging from the term limits hearing… Also NY1 is carrying hearing live.

New York Times is live blogging from the term limits hearing today at City Hall. It’s well done and somewhat entertaining. Apparently, Mayor Bloomberg got 50 of his supporters in there early and it’s unclear if they were paid to attend.

Council Member Charles Barron took on the Mayor’s reputation (at last someone did):

“It was under Mayor Bloomberg — under his watch, that Wall Street collapsed,” Mr. Barron continued, adding, “If he’s so sharp, a big-time businessman, why didn’t he foresee this?” he asked of the crisis. “Not only did he not foresee it, what he did was come in and cut this budget. He’s closed down seniors’ centers and youth centers. He robbed the poor and gave to the rich. And you’re going to push Bloomberg on us.”

You can read up-to-the-minute information here.

They will be signing people up to speak until 8 p.m. tonite (but will go later than that if necessary) and it starts again at 10 a.m. tomorrow. (Getting there earlier before the Bloomberg “supporters” arrive is probably a good idea.) If you’ve never testified before the City Council, it can be a little daunting but it’s such a magnificent building and sort of fun to do.

Updated: NY1 is carrying the hearings live til 7 p.m. !  I just discovered this.

Conflicts of Interest Board has Conflicts of Interest?

The New York Times reported today that the Conflicts of Interest Board ruled last night “that members of the City Council may vote to modify, extend or abolish term limits even if they will directly benefit from such a change, dealing a blow to three officials who had argued that it would violate ethics laws for Council members to alter term limits without a public referendum.”

The argument was brought before the Conflicts of Interest Board by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and City Council Members Bill de Blasio and Letitia James.

The Board also “concluded that if the voters find the Council’s actions ‘unseemly or even outrageous,’ they can and should make their views known in the voting booth.”

Oh Please. After Mayor Bloomberg has spent $100 million to install himself back into office? They’re kidding, right?

However, the greater question is what happened to a very interesting complaint brought before them by New York Public Interest Group and Common Cause. As I wrote on October 10th, the two advocacy groups “filed a complaint with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board stating that the Mayor’s behind-the-scenes deal-making with fellow billionaire Ronald Lauder, Estee Lauder heir, amounts to a violation of city ethics laws. Bloomberg promised Lauder – whose issue since at least 1993 has been term limits – a position on a Charter Revision Commission in return for not challenging (with his money) Bloomberg on overturning voted-in term limits.”

As I noted – and the Board’s decision yesterday just makes it that much more apparent:

“Ethics not being Michael Bloomberg’s strong point, I’m not so certain this will mean much to him. The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board members are all appointed by the Mayor. (See Decision: Daniel L. Doctoroff.)”