By Sebastian Smith, AFP
NEW YORK — Michael Bloomberg’s bid to remain mayor for another four years is a problem with 8 million other New Yorkers. One of them, George Addison, took that obstinacy to the streets Thursday, urging residents to sign a petition against Bloomberg’s attempt to extend term limits so that he can run for a third, four-year spell. After an hour, Addison and three other volunteers from the Working Families Party, whose members include major city trade unions, had collected dozens of signatures. The day before they’d gathered 1,000. Bloomberg, 66, is bypassing a referendum on the city’s two-term limit by asking the City Council’s 51 representatives to change the rules. There is little doubt Bloomberg would win a new election next year. His approval ratings are around 70 percent. With a net worth of US$20 billion, according to Forbes, Bloomberg has poured his own money into the battle in two previous campaigns.
The growing anger stems from the way Bloomberg has appeared to override ordinary people in a dash to line up support from fellow billionaires. Ron Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune and bankroller of the successful pro-term-limit campaigns in the 1990s, supports Bloomberg running again. “My personal belief is that in ordinary times two terms is the appropriate number,” Lauder’s statement said. “However, these are extraordinary times … For those reasons I will reluctantly support the mayor’s legislation.” John Liu, a Democrat council member, says he will certainly vote against. But he concedes that the Bloomberg machine may be unstoppable. “This is a game of billionaires,” Liu told AFP, “and as much as I can object, I am several digits short of being allowed to play.”