MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is victorious in his effort to win a chance at a third term. This afternoon, the New York City Council changed the city's term-limits law so the popular billionaire mayor can run for office again. NPR's Robert Smith reports from New York.
ROBERT SMITH: Under the old term-limits law, New York City Hall would have gotten an extreme makeover in next year's election. Mayor Michael Bloomberg would have been forced to hit the road. Two-thirds of the city council would have gotten the boot. But as Wall Street plunged into turmoil, New York City politicians saw a life preserver for their sinking careers. City Council President Christine Quinn said before today's vote that the financial crisis demanded a change.
Coucilwoman CHRISTINE QUINN (President, New York City Council): In a time like this, what you need is New Yorkers to have the opportunity to have consistent leadership, to have folks at the helm who've been at the helm.
SMITH: It might seem like a simple thing, to change term limits from eight years to 12 years, but this has been a very touchy issue in the Big Apple. The term-limits law was passed twice by voters. The recent polls show that 89 percent of New Yorkers wanted to vote on term limits themselves, not have the politicians make the decisions. City Council member Bill de Blasio warned the council not to cross voters.
Councilman BILL DE BLASIO (New York City Council): The people of this city will long remember what we've done here today, and the people will rightfully be unforgiving. We are stealing like a thief in the night their right to decide the shape of our democracy.
SMITH: In the end, Mayor Michael Bloomberg got exactly what he wanted. Now, he not only has a 75 percent approval rating and billions of dollars at his disposal, he has the legal right to run for office again. The mayor has promised a citizen process later on to determine what term limits of any should be in place, but what happens if there's another economic crisis in four years, and the city council wants to extend term limits again. Council President Christine Quinn.
Councilwoman QUINN: I hope that, come 2013, there is not a worse fiscal crisis than we have now.
SMITH: Even with the term limit change in New York, the process may not be over. There's the threat of more legal action against the council, claiming that it's a conflict of interest for politicians to extend their own terms, and it will certainly be an issue in every election race, including Michael Bloomberg's next year. If New Yorkers love term limits more that they love their mayor, they can still throw him out. Robert Smith, NPR News, New York.
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