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.