Posts Tagged ‘Henry Stern’

Reputation of New York City Council ‘Hanging in the Balance’

October 21, 2008

If you watched the New York City Council hearings on NY1 you were lucky enough to hear Richard D. Emery (of the amazing civil rights law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP) who passionately presented the prime position for why the city council should not enact legislation overturning the term limits laws enacted by the people of New York in both 1993 and 1996. This is what he said:

“Next witness: Richard D. Emery, a lawyer who was involved in the litigation in the 1980s that resulted in the Board of Estimate being declared unconstitutional. The board was abolished in a 1989 charter revision vote, and the City Council was enlarged and given more power.

“We could do it, but it would be wrong,” Mr. Emery said of the Council’s extending term limits on its own, citing “moral corrosiveness” and “self-interest” that he said the Council should avoid.

“Sitting in the lap of the mayor” as the process goes forward will ruin the Council’s reputation, he said, warning, “Your reputation as a body is at stake here. … It’s hanging in the balance. Either you opt for the principled position — which is to go back to the people, even though you don’t have to — or you take the self-interested road and put the Council in the position of ignominy it was in the past.” (except from the New York Times.)

A final thing I found pretty amusing during the hearings, which you wouldn’t pick up from reading accounts in the press, was that at the end of a feisty testimony by former Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern, there was some testy back and forth between him and the hearing chairman, and corrupt Bloomberg stooge, Simcha Felder.

Stern said, “I’ve been watching city government closely for 50 years, amazing considering how young I look,” he said jokingly, including 40 years of public service.

“I must say this current action shocks me” more than any other public dispute over the years, he said. Mr. Stern said “there is a very good argument for three terms instead of two,” but that for the Council acting on its own seemed like “a putsch” and “sleazy.”

Mr. Stern said, “Nobody is for this except for the handful that will directly benefit or are being paid to show up.”

At the end of his comments, Stern, underhisbreath yet into the mic, told Felder to “go fuck yourself” in Yiddish. This is why I love New York.

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