Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On the Flip Side

When voting, people sometimes forget to turn their ballots over and vote on the proposals that appear there. This year, there are four of them. They are all pretty important and should not be overlooked.

Proposal Number One is a simple question:
Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?
The constitution in question is the constitution of the State of New York. The Village Voice characterizes the question as "an opportunity to make profound, long-lasting, and much-needed changes to New York's outdated state constitution--or open a Pandora's box that could doom working people forever, depending on whom you ask." 

The last time the state constitution was updated was in 1938, in the New Deal Era. Proponents of a constitutional convention note that many things people value in the constitution were the product of that constitutional convention eighty years ago, but opponents--who seem to far outweigh the proponents--fear the process will be influenced by "dark money." The cynicism about change is bringing together opponents of vastly different stripes, from the Conservative Party and the New York chapter of the NRA to environmentalists and Planned Parenthood. 

A couple of things can help inform you about the issue. On October 12, on The Capitol Connection on WAMC, Alan Chartock spoke with Dr. Gerald Benjamin, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Political Science, about the issue of a constitutional convention. In that conversation, Benjamin articulates the reasons why a constitutional convention should happen, while Chartock voices the opposition. Today, Chartock talked with Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), about the constitutional convention proposal, as well as the other two statewide proposals, on Vox Pop. 

Proposal Number Two is an amendment to the state constitution:
Allowing the complete or partial forfeiture of a public officer's pension if he or she is convicted of a certain type of felony
The proposed amendment to section 7 of Article 5 of the State Constitution would allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer's existing duties. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
It's hard to imagine anyone being opposed to this amendment.

Proposal Number Three is another amendment to the state constitution:
Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes
The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?  
This amendment, which has the support of most conservation groups, was the subject of a segment of New York Now on WMHT back in September. Click here to watch. The segment begins at 18:30.

Proposal Four is a local issue:
Shall the annual contribution of the City of Hudson for the operating budget of the Hudson Area Association Library be increased by $130,000 to the sum of $250,000 annually?
The library is having a question-and-answer session tonight--Tuesday, October 31--to address concerns surrounding the proposal. The conversation takes place at 6 p.m. at the library, 51 North Fifth Street.

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