Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Lately there's been a lot of controversy over term limits. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, along with the City Council, has decided to explicitly overturn the express will of the people. In their view, that's that, and people have no right whatsoever to question them:

Arguing on behalf of the city, Stephen Kitzinger, senior counsel in the city’s Law Department, said the claims “have no merit whatsoever” and added, “This law does not preserve an incumbent’s position for another four years.”

Now it's certainly true that anyone with a war-chest rivaling Mayor Mike's, and the local tabloids in his or her pocket could give him a run for his money. Look, for instance, at Caroline Kennedy (though the press has not been quite as kind with her as they are with Hizzoner). But didn't the people vote? Isn't the will of the people sacrosanct in a democracy? I guess it all depends on just how far you want to take this whole "democracy" thing. I mean, sure Mayor Bloomberg bought the election fair and square, but is a billionaire really the sort of person we need to run the school system? He probably wouldn't be my first choice, particularly with this, "Ethics-shmethics, I'll do what the hell I like" attitude.

And why won't the UFT take a principled stand against this? Well, their record on democracy is not all that good either. When those goshdarn high school teachers had the temerity to elect a non-Unity VP, they contested the election and ended up losing by an even more decisive margin. To make sure this would never happen again, they opened Vice-Presidential voting to the entire UFT, so that the elementary teachers, who outnumber us and favor Unity, could help us decide. I understand such tactics were utilized after the civil war, to ensure that white politicians could represent absolutely everyone.

Also, District Reps used to be elected by Chapter Chairs, but are now hand-picked by Ms. Weingarten. Both she and Mr. Bloomberg interpret democracy to mean, "my way or the highway."

It's in the hands of we, the people to vote for or against this sort of democracy. But if we're getting our info from the Daily News, the NY Post, or Edwize--then it's pretty clear we're in for more of the same.
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