Pending Boston Vote on Term Limits

It'll be ahot time on a cold day Wedensday, 12/16, at Boston City Hall. Councilor Sam Yoon's last shot is a proposal for mayoral term limits. He says it will almost certainly get an amendment in tomorrow's City Council meeting to limit councilors' terms as well.

It's split down the 13-member party, with Yoon hoping to swing the decisive seventh today. He was able to join us at Left Ahead! for today's podcast to discuss it — about 46 minutes into the show.

At yesterday's Government Operations Committee hearing, numerous voters made it plain they favored limits. One spoke against and maybe 18 in favor. Coverage of that is at Marry in Massachusetts and surprisingly good detail at the Boston Globe here. I was there and remain stunned by the turnout as well as the combination of passion and reason in calls for limits.

Because he ran for mayor, Yoon did not stand for re-election to council. The same is true for Michael Flaherty. Both of them favor term limits for mayor and councilors.

I scanned the announced pro- and anti-limits councilors. I thought there was be an obvious breakdown by how long they had been in office, with the longer serving councilors opposed. That's not the case. However, today Yoon noted that with two exceptions — pro Chuck Turner and con Rob Consalvo — the breakdown is by age. The younger councilors favor limits.

It's good the ugly old building is made of concrete. It should be able to stand the heat and wind.

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6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Who is for/against term limits

    There are many different ways to look at who is for and who is against term limits on the city council. There is some information to be gathered from their bio's.

    One is by age, as a Blue Mass Group blogger has written. With the exception that Turner is for them, and Consalvo is against them.

    One might want to argue that intelligence, as measured by advanced degrees is another dividing line. Only Yancey (Masters in Public Administration) of the opposed against term limits has a degree past the college level. However, Flaherty, Ross, Yoon, and Connolly all have graduate degrees. Of course, I don't have an advanced degree either, and I'm for term limits.

    Another obvious dividing line is a sort of combination of "time since being in the private sector/possible employment" in the private sector. Flaherty and Connolly actively pursue law outside the council, Ross has a degree in law and (I think) one in business, Tobin is currently running a comedy club. No one doubts that Sam Yoon has many marketable skills. They clearly don't need public jobs to keep their families afloat.

    If you look at those opposed, Yancey, Consalvo, Lamattina and Linehan have no record at all in the private sector. It has been 16 years since Feeney worked in the insurance business. Ciommo has always worked in the public sector except for a mention as a non descript small business owner. Murphy worked for a bus company until 1984, 25 years ago. Doesn't seem like the private sector is very appealing for those opposing term limits.

    The other dividing line is that those closest to Menino are against term limits, with the exception on either side of Ross and Yancey. Of this whole group, I must say I am very impressed that Mike Ross is coming out in favor of term limits. Three cheers for Mike!

    I wish that Charles Yancey would recognize how term limits have hurt his constituents in one of the two poorest districts in the city. All these years of Charles complaining that the Mayor won't help the people in Mattapan, won't build a school there, well he can look himself in the mirror after this and say that he is part of keeping machine politics in Boston. Any future complaints he has about Menino will be falling on more deaf ears.  

    • Career or Service?

      Thanks for the analysis, Kevin. I enjoyed the recurring theme of the citizen and pro-limits councilors yesterday on the old idea. That is, a citizen/official would run successfully for office, provide public service relatively short term and return to the regular business of life. The career pols even with this relatively low-paying job are a different matter.

      Mike Ball, a.k.a. massmarrier

    • That has nothing to do with term limits

      That's personal between Charles and the Mayor, with certain activists supporting Menino as a condition of access and funding.  

      The problem involves the lack of bottom-up politics, both within Districts Four and Seven, and throughout the City as a whole.  I could go further and include the entire Commonwealth (based on the Special Primary returns), but what the hell.

      At the broad community (ward) level in Boston, effective civil culture (and accountable politics) exists only in Ward 20 (West Roxbury).

      The issue is not machine politics per se; the Menino machine has been structurally comatose since 1997.  The problem is the lack of a countervailing organized grassroots.   However crippled, some organization beats no organization.

      As was proved by Floon, foundation-funded activists are not part of the solution, operating as they do as political suppression mechanisms by repelling voters.

      Term limits in today's political climate will depress public participation, as happened in post-term limits California and New York City.

    • $quot;intelligence, as measured by advanced degrees$quot;

      That is kind of offensive. I have known plenty of dim bulbs with graduate degrees. I also know plenty of brilliant people with just college degrees and in a few cases just high school degrees.

      Quite frankly, intelligence has nothing to do with one's support for or against term-limits.

      Personally, I am strongly against term-limits. I believe they are anti-democratic and serve only as a crude weapon to solve a problem that its proponents are unwilling to solve through other means.

      I also think that when you ask for term limits you tell the voters you think that they are too ignorant or lazy to make an informed decision.

  2. Who is for, and who is against:

    According to an email sent by Sam Yoon:

    Yoon, Tobin, Turner, Flaherty, Ross and Connolly are for term limits.

    Opposed or undecided:

    Yancey, Lamattina, Linehan, Feeney, Ciommo, Consalvo, Murphy

  3. I understand the power of incumbency is an obstacle

    that is unreasonably hard to overcome and I would argue for a method to remove the unreasonable advantage, and at the same time be able to vote for the best candidate without any kind of artificial limit.  

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