Now, Bloomberg Supports Two Terms for Lawmakers

Michael Bloomberg on Election Day, 2009.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who led the push to extend term limits for city lawmakers, says he will vote next week to roll back the law to its original incarnation.

The term limits issue is one of two questions that will appear on the back of the November 2 ballot for New York City voters. If the measure passes, the law will roll back and limit future city lawmakers to serving two, consecutive four-year terms. If the measure fails, the current limit of three terms, will stand.

The issue is on the ballot, thanks to the creation of a New York City Charter Revision Commission, which the mayor empaneled. The question begin posed to New Yorkers will not affect current office holders.

Bloomberg, at a ground breaking event in Brooklyn on Monday, said he'll vote to roll back the law, but wasn't happy with it's shape.

"I'm voting to restore it," Bloomberg said. "It's not the bill that I wanted. It's not the bill that I think the commission should have passed, it's not the bill that I think most of the commission wanted to pass, but it's better than what we have now."

When pressed to explain his answer, Bloomberg said he was following through with a promise he made in 2008, when he asked for the City Council to extend the law.

In the summer of 2008, as Democrats were gathering in Denver for the Democratic National Convention, Bloomberg aides were quietly acknowledging the mayor would seek to extend the law. By October, the city and national economies were collapsing and the end of his tenure was months away. Bloomberg's team marshaled support for extending term limits from the city's three main daily newspapers -- New York Post, New York Daily News and New York Times (which called for the abolishment of term limits).

At the time, Bloomberg said he was the most experienced person to help guide the city through the economic turmoil ahead.

"I don't want to walk away from a city I feel I can help lead through these tough times," Bloomberg said at a press conference inside City Hall in October 2008. "My whole life has prepared me for the challenges ahead and I want to give the voters a chance to elide if they want me at the helm."

Aiding Bloomberg at the time was an eerie silence from the State Democratic Party -- whose de facto leader, Governor  David Paterson -- was worrying about a primary challenge of his own, from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Paterson appeared with Bloomberg quickly after the announcement.

Also supporting Bloomberg was fellow billionaire Ron Lauder, the failed mayoral candidate who bankrolled the two earlier initiatives which created the two-term limit law.

Lauder said at the time he favored a one-time exception, for Bloomberg, in 2008.

On Monday, Lauder said he wanted the law returned.

"Well, I never thought I'd be doing a third time for term limits," Lauder said. "But this time, it's different."

Critics of the roll back, pounced on Bloomberg's turnaround.

"Incredibly hypocritical!" is how Bloomberg's opponent in the 2009 mayoral campaign, Democrat Bill Thompson, described it.

Bloomberg beat Thomspon, with just 51 percent of the vote. Bloomberg also spent $108 million on his re-election effort.