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Bloomberg: a mayor of few options

Will New York City's mayor do an end run around term limits?

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Forget Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers, and AIG. The next casualty in Wall Street's financial crisis may be New York City term limits for public office.

Amid Wall Street's growing crisis, mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to announce Thursday that he will seek a third term, according to news reports citing unnamed sources.

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to ask the City Council to temporarily extend term limits by four years for elected officials already in office, according to The New York Times. Extending term limits would be in many council members' advantage: Unless the law is changed, more than 60 percent of the members will not be able to run again in 2009.

Bloomberg's Thursday schedule was not available at time of writing and his office had no other comment on the reports.

It's relatively unusual for a legislative body to act so directly counter to the will of the voters, political analysts say. New York City residents voted to impose a limit of eight years, or two terms, on the mayor and city council 15 years ago. In 1996, voters rejected a proposal to extend term limits to 12 years.

"It tends not to happen by legislative act," says Doug Muzzio, professor of public affairs at Baruch College in N.Y. "This is really undemocratic in a fundamental sense. It smacks of a coup by the legislative and executive [branches]."

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