What perspectives and possible issues arise from the NY Constitutional convention?

After reading the articles and key facts, discuss what are the different perspectives on the NY Constitutional Convention?  What issues are important for those groups? What issues might arise from learning about those different perspectives?  Please add your  ideas in the comment section below.  Please remember to review different responses and ask questions, extend or add to the conversation.

12 thoughts on “What perspectives and possible issues arise from the NY Constitutional convention?

  1. Anything about the constitution can be changed. Some groups like the union find this as a threat to our constitution because they feel they have protection already in place. Other groups see this as an opportunity to advocate for their cause. For example, upstate versus downstate (Home Rule), gaming, legalizing marijuana, state credit for free common schools versus no funds to aid to religious schools, and State protection and defense will not be the responsibility of the federal government. More than 60 percent of the people polled favor this convention as well as Governor Cuomo.

  2. The different perspectives behind why the constitutional convention (con con) should or should not happen vary widely. Proponents, including many on the progressive side of politics, believe that the con con is the only way to reform a stagnant and corrupt state government. Their argument suggests that the status quo favors those in power and it is against their interest to change on their own (1.) There is a feeling that this is a once in twenty years opportunity for the people to take back the government (2.) Other groups have more unusual motivations behind a constitutional convention. Voters in upstate New York see this as an opportunity to uncouple their fates from the powerful influence of NYC by creating autonomous legislative regions. Another suggestion is to enact home rule, where municipalities and counties would control their own governance (3.) Those in favor of a con con also see an opportunity for new rights to be enshrined in the state. The right to health care, equitable school funding, or the right to affordable higher education are some of the progressive pillars they some believe a convention could raise (7.)

    The opposition to the con con is just as fierce, and finds unlikely groups working together. State employees are concerned about their pension program, the third best funded retirement system in the country (4.) It is felt that moneyed interests would stop at nothing to privatize the 184 billion dollar pension system (5.) Environmentalist groups worry about the Adirondacks, because parts or all of the “Forever Wild” clause could be changed (6.) Conservatives worry that a constitutional convention would be dominated by progressive agendas, making NY even more like the progressive bastion of California (7.) Fiscal hawks complain that a convention would be unnecessarily expensive (8.)

    The arguments on both sides are varied and diverse. One consistent thread is uncertainty. No one knows for sure what a constitutional convention would bring. The side in favor of a convention see an optimistic future through the fog, where elected delegates could make a better New York. Groups opposed to the convention view the uncertainty with suspicion, expecting special interests to take advantage of the moment. The opposition see risks that are greater than rewards.

    References: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1R1GKA0zRyN757rVsN1un3oBsyAYGzCJyUAfovkwXZOk/edit

    • Thank you John for providing us with so many great references. I agree with you that uncertainty with the results of con con is a big concern for many of us. It is scary to think that some of the special interest groups could change the way how the public education etc. would change in NY.

    • Political cultures and waves are like slow moving aircraft carriers, that all of us in small life rafts have a chance to push on in our own small way. Elections are a time when we all collectively give our little push all at once. There of course is a chance that we can push the culture in a positive direction. But it’s scary nonetheless…. at least in NY, might not be worth the risk.

  3. Those who are in favor of a Constitutional Convention argue that this is an opportunity to address important issues in Albany. This opportunity only comes about once every twenty years, and it has been 50 years since the convention has convened. Some of the groups advocating for a convention argue that this is a way to address issues of corruption and transparency in Albany, while others see it as a chance to get through legislation that would take longer to work through the regular channels, like legalization of marijuana.
    Those opposed to a Constitutional Convention fear that it will open a Pandora’s Box. The teacher’s union, and other labor groups, fear that hard-fought protections could be reversed. Others are wary of the influence of well-funded outside groups.

  4. Some groups view a Constitutional Convention as an opportunity to make improvements within the state government while others fear that opening up the constitution could jeopardize many of the rights and protections already guaranteed.

  5. There is so much fear surrounding the concon, which is representative of the state of our country, it seems. We hold on to our opinions so tightly, safe guarding them and are constantly on the attack of opinions that don’t match up with ours.

  6. One group that is endorsing a “yes” vote for the Constitutional Convention is the League of Women Voters’ New York chapter. Their goal was to reform electoral practices, campaign financing, redistricting efforts, and modernizing the NYS court system.

    Source: http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6935-as-legislative-leaders-warn-of-con-con-dangers-good-government-groups-come-out-in-favor

    FYI: The Gotham Gazette is run by Citizen Union Foundation which is a pro-Constitutional Convention group.

  7. It seems that most constituencies who care about the possible calling of a constitutional convention are driven either by hope or by fear. Those who feel the current system does not work for them see this as a once in a 20 year opportunity to fix an ineffective system and those who have certain protections in the current constitution fear they will be taken away. What is consistent is that most people approach this issue myopically. They are concerned with promoting their own self interest or one specific issue they care about without considering the broader, comprehensive changes that could emerge from a constitutional convention – potentially addressing concerns from multiple parties

  8. Group 3

    In addition to Lisa’s comment above: in retrospect, the AFT and the UFT are against the New York Constitutional Convention. They are absolutely against NY State entering into the convention due to pensions and tenure. NYSTRS states,”Were the state constitution to be amended, either through a
    New York state constitutional convention (see related article) or
    by way of a preemptive federal statute, in an attempt to reduce
    public pension benefits….”

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