NY State Ballot Proposals 2017

Did you miss this?

Did you read this?

And consider this piece: A Constitutional Convention for New York? This May Be the Year - The New York Times

I have to say that leaving this up to mood or abstaining when the outcomes of the convention could hurt so many already vulnerable citizens seems irresponsible. Sure, there is the pie in the sky possibility that NYS could get State-wide public healthcare; however, it could also (and more likely by many accounts) result in greater power for conservatives in the State and a rolling back of protections for the poor, women, POC, LGBTQ+, the disabled, etc. With our Federal system already going after these groups, my concern is that the Con-Con leaves these groups open to even greater attacks/deprives them of the relative protections of the existing (and more liberal than most states) NYS political system.

That is a big assumption about a process that will be wholly defined by its as-yet undesignated delegates.

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If moneyed and corrupt interests stand so much to gain from a convention happening, why are they largely opposed to it happening?

To which groups are you refering?

Here is a list of all the groups in the largest coalition against the convention.


The vast majority of them fall into the following categories:

  1. Labor groups. The NY State constitution guarantees rights to collective bargaining and pensions for state workers, as we can see in ballot proposal 2. While I agree with these groups, they are against the convention as a whole because they care about this single issue, and the status quo is currently in their favor. Therefore, they support a no vote even though that results in maintaining the status quo in all areas, not just their one area of interest.

  2. Environmental groups. Same as the labor groups. I agree with their cause. The state constitution currently protects a lot of land from development, as seen in ballot proposal 3. They support a no vote because they have a single issue, and the status quo is in favor of that single issue.

  3. The rest of the groups range wildly. You got the rifle and pistol association (which is not the NRA, but agrees with the NRA). There are local Democractic parties. You have Make the Road NY, which is an amazing organization. You also have the Republican State Committee and the state Conservative Party, which are the worst and the somehow even more worst.

On the one hand, if this is something that everyone can agree on, maybe the no vote is correct. If we really have something that the Conservative party and the LGBT network agree on, then maybe that something is the way to go.

On the other hand a convention could solve the very problems that might plague it. Election reform, gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, even the constitutional convention process itself, can all be changed by the convention!

I’m afraid that a convention could remove some of the good stuff that is in the constitution already. I’m hopeful that a convention could leave those things alone and do other good things. My amount of fear and hope varies wildly.

The main reason that I’m still feeling ever so slightly towards yes, is this. Right now we have a scenario we can see where labor is putting up an incredibly strong push to get a no vote, and they are probably going to succeed. Well, let’s say the convention happens. Labor’s worst fear comes to pass, and the convention puts forth amendments to the public that will ruin labor rights in the state. If those labor groups can muster enough political will to get a no for the convention as a whole, they can also muster enough political will to get pro-labor delegates at the convention. Therefore, they can also muster enough political will to oppose any anti-labor amendments that come out of a convention. They could even potentially benefit their causes and tilt the current constitution even more in their favor.

The same goes for the environmental groups and others. If they have the political power to get a no vote, then vote yes now. Save the no votes for 2018 and 2019 to make sure your worst fear doesn’t happen, while allowing other good things to possibly get through.

The core of the matter is that with a NO vote, nothing happens, and the status quo is guaranteed to be maintained. That is good, and also bad.

A YES vote, ANYTHING can happen. Which is exciting and also terrifying. Without knowing what the anything is, people seem to be deciding based on what they imagine the “anything” is going to be. I can’t stop imagining all the different anythings, good and bad, making a decision incredibly difficult.

I guess it is just a matter of willingness to risk things getting worse for the most vulnerable among us for the less likely hope of making net positive changes. Remember, NYC cannot and does not always check the largely conservative Upstater contingent. This is a huge risk. I, for one, am not willing to risk the most vulnerable among us for an unlikely positive outcome in the current political environment.

What makes you think that a positive outcome is unlikely? The convention can do literally anything. Positive and negative outcomes are all equally likely. They could even have a convention that decides to do nothing. They could have one that makes just one amendment. They could also try to rewrite the entire constitution. And no matter what they do, voters have to approve it afterwards in 2019. The last convention in 1968 ended up doing nothing because New Yorkers voted no.

Whether NY can beat the upstate contigent depends on the process of electing delegates. This is unknown because it will be decided by the legislature in the event of yes vote. Since the assembly is firmly held by democrats, even though the senate is a mess, I can’t see how the delegate election will favor the right.

I think I am going to ask my representatives what they think. They almost definitely know more about it, and they are generally awesome and I agree with them almost all the time.

Not if rural areas are over-represented or if Russia intervenes.

I personally believe that New York State is more resistant to the influence of Russia than the federal government. As for whether rural areas are over-represented, it could happen, but I don’t see it as likely. I will investigate further and return with more infos.

Also if Russia or upstate rural areas thought they had a lot to gain with a convention, why are they not currently using that influence to get out the yes vote?

Also, just because a deligate is from NYC doesn’t 100% guarantee they will be liberal or that they won’t sell out. In fact, NYC representatives sold out the dems just a few years ago.

So I called my state representatives a few days ago to get more info about the constitutional convention. They both said they would have someone call me back. I have not yet heard from my assemblyperson’s office, but today I did receive a call from the legislative counsel for my state senator Michael Gianaris.

FYI my state senator is pretty progressive. To get an idea, just search for his name on Gothamist. He’s always on Cuomo’s case about the MTA, wants to eliminate cash bail, etc.


Here’s what I learned:

My senator supports a yes vote.

Staff are not supposed to say their position on the issue at all, due to ethical concerns. Elected officials obviously can, but aren’t doing so loudly for the same concerns. You won’t easily find which legislators support yes/no by searching around.

And now for the scariest info. They don’t know much more than we do.

How will delegates be selected? It’s just like we know. 3 from each senate district and 15 at large. We know how many signatures delegates need to get on the ballot, but we don’t know more than that. Voting will probably be similar to how we vote for judges. Choose 3 from this list.

Since the delegates from my district that win are probably going to be 3 people selected by the democratic party, I asked how the parties are going to choose. They don’t know for sure, but it will probably be a matter of local politics. The parties in each county, district, etc. will choose in their own way. Some will be top down. Some will be grass roots.

Existing elected officials can also be delegates. Existing legislators or judges could try to get in there. This also includes judges and such. The last convention there were a few, but not many. It is assumed that if any do, they might have more influence than other delegates at the convention itself, but the procedures of the convention are a complete unknown.

What the convention will do is also a complete unknown. They can do whatever. But when asked this question, he reminded me of what I already knew. This vote is not the last vote. There is a vote for the delegates and then another vote on any amendments they come up with, if any.

I asked if they had seen any polls about what the likely result is for the vote, and they had not. I haven’t see any online other than this from the lousy NY Post. https://nypost.com/2017/09/05/more-voters-favor-holding-state-constitutional-convention-poll/

Ok, so what to take away from all this? It is simultaneously reassuring and terrifying that a state senator’s office knows just about as much as we do. There’s not much else to learn that could influence our decision, which is good, but the fact that we have to make a decision with so many unknowns is very bad.

A vote for yes is a vote of huge risk. If yes wins, anything crazy can happen. NY State could be completely ruined such that we have to suffer and/or move somewhere else. A vote for yes is also a vote for hope. NY State could become the best state ever. Gerrymandering eliminated, more human rights guaranteed for NYers that aren’t guaranteed by the US Constitution, etc.

A vote for no is a vote for safety. For all its faults, NY is pretty damn good. Much better than other shitty states! They can’t ruin it if we vote no. A vote for no is also a vote of fear. A vote that passes what may be the best opportunity to fix problems of corruption and such.

In the end, I don’t think there is an objectively right or wrong answer regardless of where anyone falls on the issues. A crazy right wing nutjob and a far left commie hippy have both got to be feeling the same things.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to go yes or no, but I did decide that I am not going to obstain. I also decided how I will decide. I’m gonna go in that booth In November and just go with my gut.

For the other two, I’m still leaning slightly towards yes and yes, but I won’t be upset with no on either or both of them. Neither of them are on the level of the vote that happened a few years ago where NYers voted against giving the MTA more money. We are feeling the repercussions of that one now for sure.

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You are putting this into oversimplified terms, IMO. It is not “hope” v. “fear,” it is a risky unknown v. protecting the relatively decent known. In voting, I hope you consider those who are not white, straight, cishet, male, and/or middle-to-upper class. A Con Con in this political environment is a much bigger risk for some than others.


I’m increasingly leaning no on the convention.

If this were happening after 2018, and the pendulum had indeed actually started to swing left again, I’d be leaning yes. But where we are now…

I don’t trust anyone to change anything.


I am dubious of this assessment. An open convention means there is no real direction or aim. It also means closed door debate. AND, unlike a regular amendment process, there is no long term campaign, no direct discourse, no anything really.

I’d rather have the usual amendment process for a specific positive initiative than an open convention. This can achieve literally the same goals, but with none of the associated risk. If a good outcome’s proponents can’t organize themselves enough to open a real debate on moving a specific amendment forward, then there’s no way said proponents would be organized enough to have ANY impact on an open convention.

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It is also risky unknown vs protecting relatively decent known, and it is also hope vs fear. It is both of these things equally. That risky unknown also has just as many possible positive outcomes as negative ones. It could propose amendments that remove the labor and environmental protections in the constitution. It could also propose to end gerrymandering, corruption, discrimination, and provide single payer publicly funded health care. Anything you can imagine (that doesn’t conflict with the US constitution) is possible. They could propose UBI for all NYers if they wanted to! They could also propose completely defunding the MTA or eliminating public education altogether.

It seems to me like you are only imaging the bad outcomes. I imagine those as well, but I also can’t help being optimistic and imagining good outcomes. Without any evidence to suggest which outcomes are actually realistically more likely, it is incredibly difficult to decide.

Where we are now is also questionable. Since the delegates are mostly determined by senate districts, it would also be easier to decide if the senate were not split so evenly. It is only controlled by the GOP because of rogue democrats in the IDC caucusing with the other side because they are corrupt and get more money that way. It is safe to presume their districts will send 3 democratic left-leaning delegates to the convention. Simcha Felder’s district is questionable. The at-large delegates would also presumably be mostly Democrats because the state is mostly democrats.

Again, that only gets you to about 50/50, and there are a lot of questions there. Even Democrats in NY are not great. Cuomo is a Democrat. Corrupt Sheldon Silver is/was a Democrat. How many of those kind of Democrats will end up being delegates?

As for the question of openness of the convention, it is also a complete unknown. The convention could be open or closed. It could go into hiding, make a bunch of corrupt deals, and then suddenly appear with proposed amendments. It could also operate completely openly and transparently in the spirit of democracy. Again, I see either scenario as relatively equally likely. It depends entirely on the delegates that are selected.

So what positive outcomes do you want from state constitution changes? Like, five specific things?

Oh, I mean if I was a delegate I would push for all the things I already said. End gerrymandering. End private campaign financing. Guaranteed single payer publicly funded health care. Explicitly non-ambiguous, guaranteed equal rights and no discrimination against people of all colors, sexualities, disabilities, genders, etc. Fix the MTA (somehow).

What are the realistic chances of even one of these things happening?


OK. So for any of those items…

  1. Is there a specific coalition that is actively working toward a constitution amendment today?
  2. If so, why have they failed to gain any real traction toward an amendment?
  3. If they haven’t been able to successfully advocate for an amendment, what makes you think they’ll have ANY ability to do so in the open convention? What’s materially different?
  4. If not (there is no coalition or group), then what makes you think ANYONE will be able to push that item forward in an open convention?

The difference is that to make an amendment the normal way you need the cooperation of the corrupt gerrymandered legislature. They would never put out an amendment to end gerrymandering. But 204 delegates from around the state with the freedom to write whatever could skip right past those legislators and put the vote directly to the people. No IDC. No governor’s veto.

The same however, is true of bad ideas. Bad amendments don’t get through with the usual process because it is so difficult. A convention would allow those amendments to make an end-around the Democrat-controlled Assembly and go direct to the people of NY…

Also, gun control. There is actually some evidence a convention might address this issue. Groups that favor gun rights are pushing HARD for a no vote. Of course, the NYCLU is pushing hard for a no vote as well, so is that evidence that a convention is likely to propose taking away other civil liberties?

That’s not my point.

My point is WHO is actually even trying? Where is the organized group that will specifically advocate for this at the convention?

If that movement doesn’t already exist, it’s certainly not going to magically materialize at a convention. This means the only items on the agenda will be the ones that have the most pre-existing lobbying infrastructure behind them.

That means shit like charter schools and private prisons.

For one example: The NY State Assembly actually passed a single payer health care bill. It never happened because of the IDC in the senate. Also, because Cuomo would probably veto it.