Ydanis Rodriguez — Hypocritical Council Member
I know what you’re thinking — a hypocritical politician?! The horror! But the fact that my local council member, Ydanis Rodriguez, is running for re-election is particularly galling, considering his past stance on a major issue.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say that I considered a primary challenge of Rodriguez in Washington Heights/Inwood’s District 10. I even started filling out the preliminary paperwork. But I abandoned it because there was no possible way I could win.
First of all, it is nearly impossible to unseat an incumbent council member in New York City.
And after eight years in office, I’m sure Rodriguez is a well-funded, well-organized candidate with an extensive staff. I have none of that. Mine would have been a lone wolf, self-financed campaign. And since I am not a rich man (and I would have refused to accept donations from individuals or corporations — not that they would have been beating down my door to hand me cash!), it would have been impossible to compete.
And frankly, I do not think a non-Latino can ever win in my district. So why bother running if I knew beforehand that I was destined to lose?
Anyway, let’s go back to 2008, the year before Ydanis Rodriguez was first elected to the Council. That was then then-Mayor Bloomberg made a backroom deal with the City Council leader to allow him and termed-out council members to run for a third term in 2009.
Critics were outraged, since city law called for a maximum of two consecutive terms, voted on twice by the people of New York (and a third time since then). So the will of the people of New York was and still is clear — they do not want politicians in office for more than two terms.
Now, part of the Bloomberg deal allowed council members who were elected in 2009 to also run for a third term. Rodriguez falls under that clause and is clearly taking advantage of it. So it is important to point out that Rodriguez is not doing anything illegal by running for a third term.
But. And it’s a big but.
Here is what Rodriguez, planning his run for his City Council seat at the time, said, according to a report in The New York Times on October 9, 2008:
“I find this entire situation to be very frustrating. It’s frustrating for me as a candidate, but it’s even more frustrating for me as a social studies teacher.
“It’s painful for me to tell my students about democracy and that the will of the people is the foundation of this country. And then, I have to watch a city where billionaires like Bloomberg get to decide what happens.”
So back in 2008 Ydanis Rodriguez cared very deeply about the “will of the people” because it suited his purposes. The district’s incumbent council member, Miguel Martinez, was planning on running for a third term, which likely would have left Rodriguez in the dust. Rodriguez caught a break when Martinez was caught up in a corruption scandal and resigned in July 2009, just a couple of months before the primary.
So the will of the people was very important to Ydanis Rodriguez back then. Now, though, not so much.
If Rodriguez still cared out the will of the people, he would not run, even though he could. He could have said, “I am allowed to run, but I won’t because I know the voters do not want me to.” He would have been a hero, a man of great character, a man who puts the needs of the people over his own. A true public servant.
Instead, Ydanis Rodriguez is your typical politician, worried only about his own self-interests.
He does not deserve to be re-elected. But he will, because that’s the way the system in this city is set up. It is why term limits were proposed in the first place — to allow more people to get into government. Sadly, Ydanis Rodriguez has decided to slap that idea down, as well as slapping the voters in the face.