Bloomberg, late in his third term, calls for ‘a revolution among the voters’

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A "62-year lifelong resident of New York City" named Harry called into Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Friday morning radio show today and expressed his deep displeasure with the apparent breadth of corruption in politics.

"I've never been more depressed over the level of corruption and the failures of government at the state and federal level," Harry said. "What hope is there that this overwhelming mess will be cleaned up and not just completely overtake us?"

First, Bloomberg sought to put this week's mass arrests of elected officials in some sort of context.

"If you go back to the Boss Tweed days, New York City politics were probably worse and more corrupt than they are today," he said. 

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Then he got to the meat of it.

"I think the basic answer to your question is you have to have a revolution among the voters," said Bloomberg. "You cannot expect, at a state, federal or city level, the elected officials to go and to do something that will keep them from being able to feed their families. And this is a job for them. It's just not gonna happen. There's no chance whatsoever. So where you can have a referendum, that's where you have a chance of changing things."

Bloomberg said the recent phenomenon of voters passing state referenda in favor of gay marriage illustrated his point nicely.

But voter referenda can also be overturned by elected officials, as Bloomberg knows from personal experience.

When, in 2008, Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn succeeded in overturning term limits so that the mayor could run for a third term, they did so by abrogating two voter referendums in favor of term limits.

In Albany, meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo did much to insulate incumbents from the parties in power in the legislature—and make the possibility of a "revolution among the voters" that much less likely—by signing off on a gerrymandered redistricting plan, in violation of his campaign promise.