There are six proposed amendments to the NYS constitution that will be on our ballots Tuesday, November 5. My support is split, 3 yes, 3 no. Throughout this post I have linked to the League of Women Voters of New York State, an excellent non-partisan resource that will also link you to the actual proposed legislation. Here’s where I stand…
NO Proposal Number One: An Amendment – Authorizing Casino Gaming
YES Proposal Number Two: An Amendment – Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post-Appointment
YES Proposal Number Three: An Amendment – Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities
NO Proposal Number Four: An Amendment – Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve
NO Proposal Number Five: An Amendment – In Relation to a Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals, Inc.
YES Proposal Number Six: An Amendment – Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges can Serve
Proposition Number One on Casino Gaming is what people are hearing the most about, and you’ve probably been told it will be a jobs program for economically depressed communities upstate. I’ve seen firsthand the unfulfilled promises of casinos. My husband grew-up in Norwich, CT and my in-laws still live there. That’s where Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are. Like many upstate NY communities, Norwich was struggling economically. These casinos have brought jobs—low paying jobs that attract lots of new residents who have lots needs that cost more money for the municipality than any revenue generated from the casinos.
Why do people conclude that casinos are the solution to upstate NY’s economic problems? Have you been to Atlantic City? If you have ever visited a large resort or casino, how much of your vacation money did you spend in the surrounding local businesses? This NYT article points out, “Pied Pipers have wandered the Catskills for 40 years promising casino projects that would revive the area’s once-robust resort industry, which at its peak included more than 500 hotels, 1,000 rooming houses and 50,000 bungalows. But little came of the promises, and the proliferation of legalized gambling in the Northeast made it harder to be successful. Atlantic City casinos have seen a steady decline in revenue.” Last week the entire NYT editorial board summed up their position with, “There is plenty of evidence that more casinos will simply do more damage. Voters should reject the constitutional amendment.”
For me, there are also moral issues with our government establishing a public economic dependence on a highly addictive habit that profits most from the people who can afford it least. If you’d like to engage on this topic, let’s meet for coffee. For now, there are five more proposals to discuss…
Proposal Number Two helps disabled veterans have greater access to civil service jobs. “The League of Women Voters of New York State could not identify any organizations or expressed opinions in opposition to this amendment.” It’s no act of political bravery to say, YES, I absolutely support Proposal Number Two.
Proposal Number Three helps counties and municipalities upgrade and maintain sewer systems. Again “The League of Women Voters of New York State could not identify any organizations or expressed opinions in opposition to this amendment.” I am voting YES here too. This proposal will be up for a vote again in 2023 just like it was in 2003 and every decade since it was first proposed in 1963. The real question is, when can we drop the 10-year sunset part of the law and just enact it permanently?
Proposal Number Four and Proposal Number Five both deal with land use and State Forest Preserves. I believe passing these proposals would set a precedent that would tip the scales against individual property rights and environmental protection, in favor of corporate interests. Proposal Five authorizes a land exchange between a State Forest Preserve and NYCO Minerals. A friend sent me this article and challenged me to reconsider my position on Proposal Number Four, which is a long standing title dispute over a Forest Preserve. The article focuses mostly on the important reasons to oppose Proposal Number Five, while dismissing any reason to oppose Proposal Number Four. I haven’t changed my vote, though there is very little I can find written about Proposal Four beyond this kind of brief mention. While I still lean toward a mistrust of our legislature and am very hesitant to support any measure that weakens the Forever Wild protections, I do hate a drawn out intractable mess, which is what this proposal seeks to resolve. I would be grateful to anyone who can offer me a richer investigation of how passing Proposal Four will not, “establish a poor precedent for other private land ownership disputes in the Adirondak Park, inviting an endless stream of private bills and constitutional amendments.” I’ll not be moved on Proposal Five, but am open to reconsidering Proposal Four, even at the eleventh hour.
Proposal Number Six extends the age that NYS Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges can serve. I know lots of very sharp people past the age of 70. The LWVNY page acknowledges, “Some opponents of the amendment argue that the proposal unfairly favors high-level judges on the State Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, while others argue that forced retirement encourages diversity.” I believe a better way to encourage diversity and new blood in judges is to look at the system by which we nominate our judges. I endorsed four of the candidates running for NYS Supreme Court Justice in my post last week because they will make excellent judges. But it’s a strange path these candidates take to the nomination.
Where ever you come down on these issues, I hope you’ll make your voice heard on Election Day. Last week I wrote about the candidates I’ll be supporting in the county and local races. Several community members have emailed/commented to let me know their thoughts. Whether you share my views or want to challenge them, please take a moment to let me know. Hope to see you at the polls!!