Tom Menino can serve until he dies

The City Council today rejected a proposed limit on how long somebody can serve as mayor.

While backers of the measure, sponsored by at-large Councilor Sam Yoon, said it would reinvigorate the political process and prevent the abuses of incumbency, opponents said it was insulting to tell voters they could not vote for the candidate of their choice as often as they want.

Against: Ciommo, Consalvo, Feeney, LaMattina, Linehan, Murphy, Yancey.
For: Connolly, Flaherty, Ross, Tobin, Turner, Yoon.

The council voted 8-5 to reject a proposal by at-large Councilor John Connolly to limit city councilors as well; Ross, who voted for mayoral term limits, voted against.

Comments from councilors before the vote:

Feeney: "I don't believe that is something our forefathers intended," she said, pointing to Ted Kennedy as an example of why to oppose term limits. "People have died all across this universe" for the right to vote, she said, adding she has been to Normandy twice and recognizes the sacrifice soldiers there made to preserve our right to vote.

Turner: "I don't think the country is any worse (for having a limit on presidential terms). ... If this country can be well served by having term limits for president, than I think we can be well served by having term limits for mayor."

Yoon: City needs freshness and change. "We know that the power of incumbency here, no matter who's in office, can overwhelm."

Yancey: "My concern is that what we would do were this to pass would actually be to limit choice. I know there are some in this chambers who think I am in the mayor's back pocket, but let me assure you this has nothing to do with my great and working relationship with the current mayor." Would limit future voters. There is no guarantee that we would be re-elected. Many incumbent councilors have lost elections. It artificially restricts choice on the part of future voters.

LaMattina: Said he can't deprive voters of their choice. His grandfather was so proud to become a citizen and win the right to vote. He said his daughter told him last night, "You know dad, the voter should decide." "I don't think it's fair to the voters."

Connolly: Supports term limits: "I think we have a crisis in civic participation and voter participation in the country and the city. I don't think term limits will be the cure all," but it will help. Will also help increase number of candidates. Look at the at-large council race this year. "We shouldn't have to wait 8 or 12 more years" for another race like that. "While people want, first and foremost, qualified leaders, we also want more woman and candidates from communities of color who are also qualified leaders." Feeney made the single best argument against term limits: Sen. Ted Kennedy. "But where I come down at the end of the day on the argument there, is that for every Sen. Ted Kennedy there seems to be more along the lines of Sen. Strom Thurmond." The power and money of incumbency skews the process.

Consalvo: Not only hurts democracy, but voters. "Nothing more valuable than the individual vote. Nothing is more powerful than the individual voters." For every Strom Thurmond, "I will give you thousands of examples" of powerful incumbents turned out by voters. "Those who come out to vote know what they're doing." Also, us pols? "We don't have to run for re-election!" On the seven years, I've been on the city council, there have been eight new councilors!"

Tobin: Wants to increase limit to three four-year terms, support Connolly to limit city-council terms. Look at the pathetic turnout in the Senate race. "This is about stifling people who want to serve." Didn't believe in term limits until he was elected. Why is Boston only now getting its first female African-American city councilor? I can understand how some long serving councilors could take this personally. "We respect the past and we respect their service. This is about the future and about moving forward." Bloomberg spent millions and millions and millions against an unknown and still barely won. That was a rebuke against his effort to overturn New York term limits. Time has come for a full blown charter commission.

Flaherty: "It's the power of the office. It's name recognition. No one's reading the newspapers anymore," he said. "The best candidate doesn't always win. The hardest worker doesn't always win. If he did, Doug Bennett would be coming onto the city council." Some opposed to term limits for mayor supported term limits for city council president. "Be consistent. Don't have it both ways, folks."

Murphy: "I've seen it all. I've just seen my good collegaue from Roxbury supporting the federal government way of doing things." "I enjoy what I do here ... so I give it my best." Term limits would mean loss of institutional memory in City Hall.

Ciommo: "It demonstrates a lack of confidence in the voter when we arbitrarily choose a number of terms. ... At the end of the day, it's about choice. ... My summer was ruined, Councilor Tobin, but it was a good challenge."

Linehan: Opposed. Always have opposed them. "We've had three mayors since I've been able to vote and during that period, the city has grown and improved and become one of the premier cities in the country without term limits."

Yancey: Tony Creighton, David Scondras, Dapper O'Neil, all proof we don't need term limits. Willie Brown in SF proof term limits are wrong.

Ross: "The model I think works best is the state and federal model: Limits on executive, no limits on the legislature." The legislature, he said, would serve as a check on bureaucracy.

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Comments

just an fyi

Our forefathers didnt institute term limits.....the folks who couldnt unseat FDR did...the same way they are trying to do it to Menino. The election of Franklin D. Roosevelt to a fourth consecutive term, and his sudden death a few months later, gave rise to a successful move in Congress to restore the two-term tradition in the Presidency. As ratified in 1951, the Twenty-Second Amendment states that "no person shall be elected to the office of President more than twice..."

You want them out ....vote them out !! I know that Flaherty and Yoon wish it otherwise, but guess what they lost! More people like and voted for Menino...deal with it and move on.

Feeney is not right about much, but the same moonbats that are pushing term limits would be howling if their poster boy Ted Kennedy was forced to resign his seat after 2 terms. The liberal Lion was elected nine times and served for 46 years in the U.S. Senate.....what about term limits !! Wah, wah !!! You want to be the man, you got to beat the man....or wo-man !!!

FDR

It was kind of funny listening to Chuck Turner citing that as an example of why term limits are good (the country isn't any worse off than it was before, basically) - I can't imagine the last time he agreed with Republicans on something.

Exactly

It was that two term TRADITION that was instituted by the forefathers because they recognized that a change in leadership was important for never chancing the oligarchy they'd left behind by forming our new government in the first place! Term limits were drafted into an early form of the Articles of Confederation!

The idea that you would point to the intent forefathers in your argument to defend a lack of term limits is STUPID!

I think this is something the

I think this is something the new council should have debated, not the old council. It was not emergency legislation, it did not need to happen by the end of this term. Why should Councilors who are leaving be making the rules everyone else has to live by? Especially when it is lead by two Councilors who just lost an election to the person the bill is aimed at.

And City Council?

What about the people who voted against City Council term limits? Sure, the only person who voted against that but voted FOR mayoral limits was Council President Ross, but...

What a tool. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, and what's good for the mayor is good for the Council.

If you have Councillors there forever, but a new mayor every four years, then the Council becomes stronger than the mayor. And that's of course better, right, COUNCIL PRESIDENT?

Yes, term limits for

Yes, term limits for everyone. Good for the goose, good for human beings. Term limits for adamg, he's been posting on here too long. Term limits for my manager. Term limits for my mom, I didn't choose her in the first place. Let's lower the term limits for my kids too. 18 years is too long. How about every 6 years I can decide if I want to keep them or leave em on the side of the highway.

Why voted on yesterday

It was voted on yesterday because the sponsor and biggest advocate for the measure had his last council meeting yesterday. The new council doesn't change the math. Losing Flaherty and Yoon and gaining Pressley and Arroyo definitely won't bring any new votes.

Bah...

Menino didn't need to call in favors. Those against term limits may one day have mayoral aspirations themselves, so why shoot themselves in the foot now?

from anecdotal evidence,

from anecdotal evidence, those who voted FOR term limits seem like ones with mayoral aspirations (Yoon and Flats clearly have it, and so do the rest of the yes's besides turner, tobin already announced and Ross is sick of being on the council). they want to make sure that if they lose in 2013 open mayor's race, they have another shot in 2021 for an open mayoral seat.

You don't need term limits.

You don't need term limits. You need candidates who don't wait until right before the primary to become known across the city, build up an organization, and spread out chits to be paid back. How many times did Floon visit Charlestown or East Boston or West Roxbury to show their faces and become known quantities? What you have here is a history of piss-poor candidates who run for mayor because it seems like the thing to do when primary time comes along.

Please, Menino does

Please, Menino does everything in his power to squash anything the city council does. See citywide wifi.
Bostons strong mayor system makes the city council very weak, and Menino uses all his power (which is immense) to make sure they can't do anything so that he controls everything. What great things did Menino accomplish as city councilor to get appointed mayor by Flynn? Its all about political favors, which is why the backbone lacking councilors who voted against term limits did so. They are waiting till Menino decides he will retire and gives them the mayor position, along with his machine so we will have another 16+ year mayor.
This current system makes the city council impotent, and therefore most of us citizens of Boston have no voice, just the people who donate to the Menino for Life committee.

Nothing stops city

Nothing stops city councillors from attending neighborhood group meetings, introducing themselves, kissing hands and shaking babies in off-years. Nothing stops them from sponsoring little league teams or visiting senior citizen homes. Typically, you have to run once and loose to get your name out there. That's because much of electoral choice comes from name recognition. Before you run for mayor, you should have people in every ward lined up two years ahead of time. Unless there's some big single issue controversy going on, a single-district pol will never beat an incumbent.

At the end of the day Menino

At the end of the day Menino is reelected every year because people like him. He makes the rounds and does his best to shake every hand in Boston. He shakes hands of those of us who live outside the city. When I met him I said I was not from Boston and he said something along the lines of we all make mistakes. I am not defending any actions or policies but based solely off of my personal interaction with him I can see the draw he has, especially with the working class and minorities in the city. Even when he is talking down to you, with his mumbling voice it does not seem like he is. Yoon on the other hand, I met him and was turned off from the get go. Flaherty, Ive never met, so I have no say but I imagine that he would be similar to the Mayor personality wise.

Yoon would not have won even if term limits were installed and Menino had to step down. I believe considering the time he ran (after just a few years on council) he hit his peak. I find it hard to believe any of the Menino voters would have voted for him over Flaherty or if the seat were actually open he would have had to contest Ross, Consalvo or another longer term councilor with a broader support base.

I demand a recount

Wasn't that 7-6? Not 8-5? One vote would have swung it the other way.

As for Connolly's comment - interesting - just fired off an email to a friend saying how sad it was that with tens of thousands of families using the BPS that only one person in a city of almost half a million adults stood up to serve on the school committee for two open seats. I wonder if anyone else raised their hand for round two. We were also having this discussion last night in a group about how it's getting harder and harder to find people to volunteer for civic activities.

There were two votes

First on an amendment to limit councilors' terms by John Connolly. Mike Ross was one of the eight to vote against that, so 8-5. In the vote on the main motion, to limit the mayor, Ross changed to the "aye" section, so 7-6.

Ross: "The model I think

Ross: "The model I think works best is the state and federal model: Limits on executive, no limits on the legislature." The legislature, he said, would serve as a check on bureaucracy.

What a clown.

promoted to your level of incompetence applies

A friend used to say that at his (city run) office, people were promoted to their level of incompetence. This is certainly true in government, and a great reason for term limits.

Menino has certainly risen to his level of incompetence, knowing he could never get elected to anything higher, and will sit there collecting a paycheck from us, it seems, for years to come, along with the cowards in the city council who voted against term limits.
.

Do you really not understand democracy at all?

So only the city council can get rid of the mayor? There's no possibility that someone else could get elected? Menino isn't exactly Robert Mugabe here- Floon tried and failed to unseat him, but that's their fault, not his. I'd rather have a different mayor, but he wasn't elected due to illegal shenanigans or voter fraud.

virtual mathematical impossibility

Here are two of the bigger problems with the current system:

1) Money

Who gives to city campaigns -

a) the big money comes from people involved in the real estate biz - do you want to contribute to the opposition knowing you have a billion dollar project under review by the BRA - no you play it safe and donate to the incumbent, developers, architects, lawyers, property managers, operations people and more give generously to the mayor

b) city workers - when the mayor is handing out 5% salary increases year after year on top of gold plated health care packages on top of guaranteed pensions - do you kill the gravy train and donate to someone demanding fiscal responsibility - not a chance - you give the money to your boss - not someone who might come in and eliminate your job.

c) unions - city and construction - add a and b above together of of course the unions get on that bandwagon - and unlike individuals who can only give $500 - I think the unions can give $5k per

Actually hats off to Flaherty for raising as much as he did - not an easy task.

2) Votes

Very simple - you need about 55-60,000 votes to win the election. There are about 20,000 city workers all enjoying the largesse of the mayor, most of whom are forced to live in the city (I guess we can exclude the firefighters and the police brass though - the mayor didn't spread the largesse to them). If they each on average have just one spouse, parent, adult child or friend that they can round up to vote for the incumbent so they can keep their job and the bennies flowing that gives the incumbent 40,000 votes. Take care of just a few constituents and you are a lock.

The mayor for life system in Boston is institutionalized. One solution is term limits. The better solution is a) get rid of residency and b) eliminate the mayor's control over the BRA and every development project in the pipeline. That will force greater dispersion of money, votes and ultimately power.