Christine Quinn sets big term limits vote for Thursday

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn set a showdown vote for Thursday on Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to change the term limits law, raising speculation she’s rounded up enough votes to pass it.

Quinn spokesman Jamie McShane had no explanation for why two other bills calling for the issue to be put to a referendum were not scheduled.

“They have the votes at this point. I went through them myself today, one by one, and I think they have it,” one undecided City Council member told the Daily News. “They wouldn’t put it on the floor if they didn’t have it.”

The news came as a Quinnipiac University poll found New Yorkers are souring on the plan to give the mayor, Council members and citywide officials a chance at a third four-year term.

“It’s a bluff,” said Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn), one of the leading opponents. “If, God forbid, it passes, there will be lawsuits the next day.”

The poll of 1,017 registered city voters said 51% oppose giving Bloomberg a third term, up from 42% two weeks ago – even though his approval ratings remain a high 75% and 59% of those polled would vote for him again.

“This is a dramatic swing,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac poll. “They like him a lot – but they don’t want to change the rules.”

The poll found an overwhelming 89% of voters believe term limits should be changed only by referendum, not by the Council. The existing two-term limit was put in place by voters in 1993 and 1996, despite opposition from politicians.

Bloomberg made no predictions Tuesday, but insisted there was no time to hold a referendum and deal with the inevitable legal challenges.

“I’m not trying to manipulate the system for an outcome,” the mayor said. “I’m trying to do the best I can to give the public the most choice.”

Quinn wasn’t talking Tuesday, leaving the players on both sides to consult their scorecards and count heads.

The number of undecided Council members dwindled to 13, as Peter Vallone (D-Queens) came out in favor of the extension and James Oddo (R-S.I.) announced his opposition.

“We’re going to be successful,” vowed Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn), an early supporter of the extension.

Others speculated that Quinn was trying to project strength while still scrambling to lock inenough votes to guard against last-minute defections and a humiliating defeat.

“I don’t know how she has the votes, but maybe I can’t count,” another undecided member said. “I can’t tell. She’s got a poker face.”

City Controller William Thompson insisted at the Crain’s Business breakfast Tuesday that he would run for mayor next year no matter what.

“While we’re coping with a downturn in a local and national economy that some say will rival the Great Depression, the mayor has chosen to talk about keeping his job,” Thompson said. “What about all the regular New Yorkers who are in danger of losing their jobs?”

Bloomberg and his allies have said his business experience and leadership during the city’s post-9/11 budget crunch demand that he stick around longer than the law now allows.

Thompson, though, joined billionaire Tom Golisano and other critics in saying the city will survive in 2010 without Bloomberg at the helm.

Source: NY Daily News

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