Oral Arguments heard on Term Limits and the “naked ambition” of Mayor Bloomberg and 29 City Council Members yesterday in downtown Brooklyn

Oral arguments around the Term Limits lawsuit were conducted at the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn yesterday afternoon. Plaintiffs, including NY City Council Members Bill de Blasio, Letitia James, Charles Barron, as well as voters and third party candidates, argue that the City Council’s overturning of two voter referendums violates the First Amendment and due process protocol. Randy Mastro argued the case for the plaintiffs and did a compelling job, at one point referring to Mayor Bloomberg and the 29 City Council members who enacted our CEO Mayor’s bidding as “scoundrels.” Stephen Kitzinger, lead attorney for the city, was a little less compelling but seemed very confident in his arguments. Judge Charles P. Siftin (U.S. District Court) seemed confused as to how he would make the decision of whether the City Council had the right to overturn voted-in term limits, the effect ultimately being that they gave themselves and the Mayor an almost guaranteed third term. The judge stated: “It is difficult to convert [the arguments] into a common denominator.”

For NY1’s clip and story, go here.

Court Hearing Challenging NY City Council Term Limits Vote; Opening Arguments Begin Monday, Jan. 5th in Brooklyn

So, do you remember that lawsuit that NY City Council Members Letitia James, Bill de Blasio, and Charles Barron, as well as Comptroller William Thompson, filed back in November challenging the City Council overturning of voted-in term limits on October 23rd? Well, interestingly enough, opening arguments begin tomorrow, Monday, January 5th at the United States District Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn between lawyers for the plaintiffs and the city.

Mayor Bloomberg, City of New York, the City Council, and Speaker Christine Quinn, among others, are listed as defendants in the suit. You can download a PDF of the suit and read the Times’ original story from November at the paper’s web site.

The suit is being litigated by Randy Mastro, formerly a deputy mayor in the Giuliani Administration, and Norman Siegel, well known as an advocate for free speech who is also running for public advocate.

From the complaint:

Allowing a self-interested mayor and City Council to dismiss the results of two recent referenda undermines the integrity of the voting process, effectively nullifies the constitutionally-protected right to vote, and perniciously chills political speech by sending the unavoidable message that the democratic exercises of initiatives and referenda can be disregarded by public officials.”

From my post about the suit when first filed:

One of Mayor Bloomberg main arguments is, that if people don’t want him as Mayor for a third term, they can just vote him out. However, the lawsuit highlights how unlikely that is. For City Council Members, the complaint states: “in the past decade, only 2 of 107 incumbent council members lost a re-election bid.” Couple that statistic with our billionaire mayor’s intention to spend $80-$100 MILLION of his personal fortune (which, by the way, quadrupled while he has been Mayor) on his campaign and it’s not really a fair fight.

Details if you’d like to attend (it should be interesting):

Monday, January 5th, 4:30 p.m.

Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Downtown Brooklyn

Trains: 2, 3 to Borough Hall and Clark Street; 4, 5, M, R to Court Street/Borough Hall; A,C,F to Jay Street/Borough Hall; in addition, many Brooklyn buses go to Borough Hall (check MTA website).

Two City Council Members file court papers to stop Council Term Limit vote Thurs. 10/23. Update: Vote will proceed as scheduled at 10 a.m. at City Hall

NY City Council Members Bill de Blasio and Letitia James (Go Brooklyn!) filed papers in court this morning to stop the scheduled City Council vote tomorrow morning on Mayor Bloomberg’s bill to extend term limits from two terms to three. Voters in NYC have voted for term limits twice over the last 15 years and those votes, via referendum, call for a two term limit. Mayor Bloomberg, who believes he is indispensable to our city during this financial crisis — but had been floating this idea long before it even happened — would like to stay on for another 4 years stating that he has not “finished” everything he wanted to achieve. Frankly, I think he may not realize it but he is finished.

The case – which calls for a restraining order – is being heard now, beginning at 2 p.m., in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Read more here from the New York Times. (As always, check out the reader comments, always insightful and illuminating.)

If their petition for a restraining order fails, the vote will take place Thursday, October 23rd at 10 a.m. at City Hall in Council Chambers, 2nd floor. The public is invited to attend.

Update: No big surprise (although I think it is a wrong decision). State Supreme Court justice Jacqueline Winter Silbermann did not agree to stop the City Council term limit vote scheduled for tomorrow. (Read more at the Times site.) Another new development has City Council member Alan Gerson (Washington Square Park falls within his district) in the mix who (of course…?) is publicly undecided. Council Member Gerson and two other City Council Members, David Yassky (Brooklyn) and Gale Brewer (Manhattan), called for a referendum amendment to be added to the existing bill. According to the Times, unless the amendment gains support, it is “expected” that Alan Gerson will vote for the Mayor’s extension of term limits to three terms.