Get them out of office!
That’s what Assemblyman Karim Camara (D–Crown Heights) was saying as he won The Brooklyn Paper’s coveted “Hero of the Week” award for introducing legislation that would cap legislators’ terms at just 12 years.
Camara, who hasn’t been in office a full year yet, called the state’s unlimited terms “the last frontier.”
“There are people in office who have been there too long to be effective,” he said. “They are not working for the people who elected them so many years ago. They are working to keep their jobs and a political system based on seniority.”
Reform-minded groups agree.
“Currently, the only way out of office is through promotion, death or a jail sentence,” said former Parks Commish Henry Stern, who is now best known through his ubiquitious e-mails under the banner, New York Civic.
Stern said that Camara’s proposal was a “terrific idea” that will never become law.
“These [lawmakers] will stay in office until their flesh falls off,” he said. “They won’t vote themselves off the gravy train.”
Some say the need for term limits is obvious from this statistic: In the past 24 years, challengers have defeated state legislators only 34 times in close to 2,500 races, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group.
Opponents say limits deprive the legislature of valuable experience — insert your own joke here.
Keep them away from the bar!
That’s what constituents of Assemblyman Karim Camara (D–Crown Heights) were saying this week, one week after the lawmaker won The Brooklyn Paper’s ignominious “Goat of the Week” award for being arrested on a drunk driving charge in Albany.
Police in the state capital pulled over the first-term Assemblyman around 1:45 am on April 25 after noticing his car weaving at 65 miles per hour — 35 mph over the speed limit. Police officers said he had glassy eyes, slurred speech and alcohol on his breath, according to the Albany Times Union.
Cops also told the newspaper that Camara failed field sobriety tests and refused blood-alcohol-level tests at the scene and at the stationhouse. He was charged with DWI.
The news sent shockwaves through Crown Heights, where Camara has worked for years, first as a community leader and Baptist minister and then as a legislator.
“I think it’s horrible,” said Geanette Jones, one of Camara’s constituents. “He’s supposed to be a role-model, but he’s not doing the right thing. I wouldn’t vote for him.”
Another constituent, who only gave the name Tameke, added, “I don’t think he’s setting a good example.”
Officials at the First Baptist Church, where Camara serves as the executive pastor, referred all calls to the Assemblyman’s Empire Boulevard office, but Camara did not call back. His chief of staff said the Assemblyman would issue a statement, but he never did.
Of course, some said the arrest wouldn’t sway them from supporting the assembyman.
“He is a community-minded politician who has done all he can for his community,” said Benfied Munroe, director of the Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association.
Munroe, whose group donated money to Camara’s 2006 race, said the assemblyman would “overcome” the incident.
“We all make mistakes,” he said.
And M.C. Love — another constituent — cautioned against judging the lawmaker too quickly.
“Sometimes the arrest isn’t the whole story,” Love said. “You have to look at the whole situation.”
Camara is married to Orelia Merchant, an assistant United States attorney in Brooklyn.