Editorial: No special exemptions for proposed term limit rule

02/26/2016 10:00 AM |

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Just when you think a councilman’s recent proposal to offer Town Board members a raise was another unfortunate example of a politician putting his own interests ahead of taxpayers’, he comes up with another idea.

This time, Councilman John Dunleavy has offered new legislation that would grant him — and only him — a special exemption from a proposed 12-year term limit — even though he isn’t the only Town Board member who would be affected. Both Mr. Dunleavy’s term-limit plan and another version — which includes no exceptions and would prevent him from seeking another term in 2017 — are up for a public hearing next month.

It’s not uncommon for proposed legislation to include a grandfather clause exempting certain people or property owners who would otherwise be affected. So a conversation in this case could have been expected to determine which board members — if any — would be affected by the term limit proposal.

But a conversation about just one councilman getting a pass? Unacceptable.

Unfortunately, Mr. Dunleavy’s proposal only reinforces a recent trend indicating that he’s more concerned about what’s good for himself than about what’s good for Riverhead. His suggestion to offer Town Board members raises in December, with the town facing a dire fiscal crisis and literally weeks away from dipping into its dwindling reserves to make payroll, was nonsense. Now, term limits will apparently be OK for other Town Board members — as long as Mr. Dunleavy gets the chance for one more term in office.

The decision to even hold a public hearing on Mr. Dunleavy’s proposal paints an unflattering and somewhat confusing picture: Not only is Mr. Dunleavy uninterested in treating all Town Board members equally, but the three board members who voted to hold a public hearing on the legislation aren’t too keen on it either. It reeks of the same old, same old political squabbling that wastes time at the expense of making progress in town.

Mr. Dunleavy’s proposal is so blatantly unfair that it’s not even worth a public discussion. Any term limit legislation should either grandfather all current Town Board members or none of them.

Our vote? None of them.

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