Feeney, Yoon clash over term limits proposal
Outgoing City Councillor At-Large Sam Yoon says he has the votes to pull his proposal to set mayoral term limits out of a City Council committee, setting up a clash with a fellow Dorchester councillor.
Yoon said Thursday that he has the votes needed - five - to take the term limits proposal out of the Government Operations Committee and put it to a vote before the full 13-member City Council. Term limits were a central platform of his unsuccessful mayoral campaign.
The renewed push on the proposal, which limits Boston mayors to two four-year terms, comes with about two to three full City Council meetings left in the year before a new year starts and councillors must refile their proposals. Yoon did not seek re-election, choosing instead to run for mayor.
Yoon said the chair of the Government Operations Committee, District 3 Councillor Maureen Feeney, told him she will not be holding a hearing.
Under City Council rules, only five votes are needed to pull a proposal out of a committee.
"We should have a debate," Yoon said. "That's why we have this rule. It's a check and balance against a hostile committee member."
A frustrated Feeney said a number of hearings are in the committee's queue and said that Yoon should have focused on his bill, filed in July, earlier in the council's session.
"Very respectfully, as of September he was no longer a candidate [for mayor]," Feeney said, referring to Yoon coming in third, behind Mayor Thomas Menino and City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty.
"I find it hard to believe this is the most burning issue in Boston," she said.
Caught in the middle of the debate is City Council President Michael Ross. Ross said Thursday that he respects the power of committee chairs and does not want to overrule them.
On the proposal, he added: "I'd like to see it addressed by the council, whatever the outcome."
Ross said he was "open" to the concept of term limits.
Questions remain whether a majority of the council supports the proposal and where Menino stands.
Should Yoon's bill clear the council, Menino would have to sign off on the proposal, sending it to Beacon Hill for state lawmakers' approval. (Formal sessions for lawmakers ended on Wednesday, and they are expected to meet in informal sessions, in which one member can hold up a bill.)
Menino has often said on the campaign trail that elections are in effect term limits, with voters setting them on their own. But according to mayoral contender Kevin McCrea, when the two of them recently had dinner, Menino indicated that he would sign a term limits proposal were it to reach his desk.
During a mayoral debate, Menino said a proposal has yet to land on his desk. "That's a sign of openness," Yoon said Thursday.
(Menino aides did not return an email seeking comment.)
Yoon sent an email to supporters Thursday morning urging them to lobby Feeney and other councillors for an up-and-down vote on the legislation.
"Term Limits bring urgency to government and protects us from political machines that put politics before people," he wrote. "Nine out of the ten largest US cities already have Term Limits. And so can we."
Full email below:
Our campaign addressed the power of the Mayor of Boston - and our belief that too much power in one person's hands holds us back as a city.
That's why we fought hard for Term Limits. If eight years is good enough for President of the United States, it's good enough for the Mayor of Boston.
Term Limits bring urgency to government and protects us from political machines that put politics before people.
Nine out of the ten largest US cities already have Term Limits. And so can we.
A bill to limit Boston mayors to two four-year terms is before the City Council's Government Operations Committee. But we need your help to get it out of committee and to the full Council for a vote.
I am asking you to call and e-mail the Chair of the Government Operations Committee, City Councilor Maureen Feeney, and respectfully ask that she bring the bill to the full City Council for an up-or-down vote.
And please call and e-mail your District and At-Large Councilors to urge them to support this bill.
Your opinion matters to your city councilors - they represent you - and we need to make sure that they debate and vote on Term Limits before year's end.
This is what our campaign has been fighting for.
The contact info for your City Councilors is below. Please take a minute to do this - and then forward this to five of your friends in Boston.
At-Large City Councillors (represent the entire City):
John R. Connolly
Michael F. Flaherty
Stephen J. Murphy
District City Councillors (elected by voters in the district indicated):
District 1. Salvatore LaMattina
East Boston, Charlestown, North End/Waterfront, City Hall/Beacon Hill
District 2. Bill Linehan
Chinatown, South Boston, South End, Roxbury/South Bay, Dorchester
District 3. Maureen E. Feeney
District 4. Charles C. Yancey
District 5. Rob Consalvo
Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan
District 6. John M. Tobin, Jr.
Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury
District 7: Chuck Turner
Roxbury, Dorchester, South End, Fenway
District 8: Michael P. Ross
Back Bay/Beacon Hill, Fenway/Kenmore, Mission Hill, West End, Allston
District 9: Mark S. Ciommo