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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Opposition to term limits forming, called "power grab"

Taxpayer groups call Hardberger's suggestion a 'power grab.'
By Jim Forsyth (photo)
1200 WOAI

Mayor Phil Hardberger's dream of significantly revising the city's 17 year old term limits law is certain to face opposition from taxpayer and neighborhood activist organizations, 1200 WOAI's Bud Little reports.

"The Homeowner Taxpayer Association will fight back," says Homeowner Taxpayer Association President Bob Martin.

The HTA led the drive to win approval of the term limits law, the strictest in the nation, under the leadership of founder C.A. Stubbs, and Stubbs says Hardberger may be catering to the elites in the Chamber of Commerce and in City Hall, but changes in the term limits law are not supported by the people.

"I frankly cannot figure out what part of 'no' the mayor and the other people down there don't understand," Stubbs said.

Hardberger unveiled in his State of the City address last week a plan to tackle the city's restrictive term limits law head on. He says the two two year term limits are the biggest impediment to good government, and said he will support a move to four two year terms for the mayor and council.

"I'll tell the mayor that I could learn his job or any councilman's job in ninety days," Stubbs said, saying that the claim that you need experience to serve on council is 'nonsense.'

Almost every mayor since the term limit law was imposed in response to the so called 'council for life' which served throughout the 1980s has toyed with tinkering with the law. Two three year terms were once considered, as was eliminating the term limits law entirely, but all of those proposals were dropped in the face of polls showing overwhelming approval for the current law.

Observers say even using every ounce of his legendary charm and arm-twisting ability, convincing voters to go away with the law will be tough for Hardberger. They point to the fact that few council seats have been unopposed in the past 17 years, and pointing out that more than ten people were seriously considered to succeed Kevin Wolff and Roland Gutierrez when they resigned from council last month.

"It's a typical power grab," Martin said of the current effort to revise the current law. "You see it from time to time, so it's rearing its ugly head once again."

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