Posts Tagged ‘Article 14’

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pete Nelson: Be Wary of Corporate Power in a Constitutional Convention

Article 14, Section 1 New York State Constitution Forever Wild clauseOn Tuesday, November 7th, New Yorkers have an opportunity to vote on Ballot Proposition 1: whether the State will hold a constitutional convention in 2019. Many of my colleagues in the Adirondack environmental world are urging a “No” vote. Anticipating that such a convention would be heavily influenced by moneyed special interests, they are concerned with possible threats to the legendary “Forever Wild” constitutional amendment that protects the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves. They reason correctly that Forever Wild, being the gold standard in wilderness protection, cannot be improved, only weakened, and they don’t want to see State take that risk.

I share my friends’ concern about Forever Wild and I agree with their basic argument, but I do not join them in urging a “No” vote. My political DNA is too deeply imbued with grassroots, democratic activism for me to oppose this opportunity for the people of New York to directly act on the condition of their government. I also recognize that simply convening a constitutional convention does not expose the welfare to the Adirondack Park to unfettered abuse by special interests who would exploit it. No matter the goings on among the delegates to the convention, the people of New York will have the final say in the process, by virtue of their vote on any amendments in November of 2019.

But count me as wary.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

‘Explorer’ Editorial: Consider a Convention for New York

PHOTO BY JOHNATHAN ESPER

This November’s election may be an off-year, but it’s an important one for New Yorkers. The ballot will include the question of whether to hold a convention to make changes to the New York State Constitution, a chance that comes along once every twenty years.

New York State residents with ties to the Adirondacks should be conflicted: on the one hand, their state constitution is in desperate need of revision — punctuated by a string of corruption convictions against state leaders in recent years. The changes needed to fix this problem aren’t likely to come from lawmakers themselves through constitutional amendment.

But while taking back control of our constitution seems a desirable goal, opening the potential for harm to Article 14, which includes the forever-wild clause protecting the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills, is a proposition scarier to some than politicians lining their pockets with public money. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Constitutional Convention Vote Raises Article 14 Fears

Monuments at Monument Falls along the West Branch of the Ausable River near Lake Placid Every two decades, New Yorkers go to the polls to decide whether they want to rewrite the language in their state constitution. Historically, they take a pass on this opportunity — in more than a century, only three constitutional conventions have been called by the voters, the most recent in 1967. And even in that year, the same voters who called for the convention decided they didn’t like the result and rejected the changes proposed by the convention’s delegates.

But if last year’s presidential elections and the rise of a self-styled populist to power were reflective of anything, it was that much of the electorate is irritated with business as usual and might be willing to take chances in the name of draining the swamp. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

PROTECT Statement On End Of 2017 Legislative Session

NYS CapitolWhat follows is a statement issued by PROTECT. 

The 2017 New York State Legislative session ended on June 21st as both houses adjourned and left Albany. It remains unclear at this time if the two houses will return to complete unfinished business. The two houses were deadlocked over issues of “Mayoral Control” of New York City schools and extensions for local taxation districts across the state. Both of these issues are important for New York City and state residents and may require further action.

There was unfinished business for the Adirondacks as well. The two houses were close to reaching an agreement in the last hours of the session on enabling legislation for the proposed “Health and Safety Land Accounts” amendment to Article XIV, Section 1, the “forever wild” provision of the State Constitution. This amendment would provide access to 250 acres of Forest Preserve lands for maintenance of local highways in the Adirondacks bordered by Forest Preserve, and lands for municipal water wells, as well as authorize burial and colocation of utility lines and bike paths in state and local highway corridors. The “enabling legislation” sets in law the process for the implementation and administration of the amendment. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Adirondack Wild: ‘Oppose A Constitutional Convention’

Article 14, Section 1 New York State Constitution Forever Wild clauseAs this year’s legislative session winds down, more public attention is focused on November’s vote whether or not convene a state constitutional convention in Albany.

As Article XIV – the “forever wild” clause –  is of particular relevance to both the Adirondack and Catskill Park regions, I offer the following resolution approved by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve this spring. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Whiteface Mountain Zip Line Faces Article 14 Test

Whiteface Mountain Courtesy WilmingtonPeople Town Facebook PageOne project hyped in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget announcements early in 2017 was a zip line that would run in three stages from near the summit at Whiteface Mountain, near where the gondola brings passengers, to the base of the mountain. This was proposed as a way for Whiteface to rival zip lines at other ski areas in the northeast U.S. that were trying to expand summer tourism and resort operations.

One of Governor Cuomo’s press releases billed the Whiteface zip line as “one of the longest zip lines in North America.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Philip Terrie: Constitutional Convention Could Hurt Forest Preserve

Article 14, Section 1 New York State Constitution Forever Wild clausePhilip Terrie’s commentary is the third of three essays about the vote coming this November on whether New York State will hold a Constitutional Convention.  The first commentaries, by Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie, can be found here.

In the American political climate of 2017, is it really a good idea for people to insist that they can accurately predict the future? Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst appear to think it is. They claim that a constitutional convention (concon) will not diminish the authority of the provision in our current constitution – Article 14, Section 1 – stipulating that the state Forest Preserve be “forever kept as wild forest lands.” Their argument advances the case one hears circulating all around the state these days, as we gear up for the vote in November, 2017, when New Yorkers will vote yes or no on this simple question: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” If this passes, delegate elections will he held in 2018, and the concon will sit in 2019. A vote on a new constitution would probably be held in November, 2019.

Along with a committee of the New York Bar Association, the League of Women Voters, and other prominent organizations, Galie and Bopst, duly noting both the culture of corruption in Albany and the labyrinthine and antiquated nature of much of what we have now, ask us to approve a concon and seek to convince those of us who have spent a good part of our lives defending the forever-wild provision that nothing bad can happen. Count me as unconvinced. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Commentary: Convention Unlikely to Undo Protections for Forest Preserve (Part II)

Article 14, Section 1 New York State Constitution Forever Wild clauseWhat follows is the second of three essays about the vote coming this November on whether New York State will hold a Constitutional Convention.  This is part two of a commentary by Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie. An essay opposing a convention by Adirondack historian Philip Terrie will run on Sunday afternoon.

Part I of this two-part article discussed the history of the forever wild provision since its adoption by the Constitutional Convention of 1894. The absolute nature of the prohibition has made it the most amended section of the New York State Constitution (Peter J. Galie & Christopher Bopst, The New York State Constitution, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 312). Despite the number of amendments to the provision during the last 120 years, most of the forest preserve has retained its wilderness character, and the preserve has expanded significantly since it was first created. The preserve has functioned both as a success story and a point of pride that New Yorkers can take in their state constitution. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Commentary: Constitutional Convention Will Protect Forest Preserve

Article 14, Section 1 New York State Constitution Forever Wild clauseWhat follows is the first of three essays about the vote coming this November on whether New York State will hold a Constitutional Convention.  This first commentary in support is by Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie. Part two of Bopst and Galie’s essay will run Sunday morning, followed by an essay opposing a convention by Adirondack historian Philip Terrie on Sunday afternoon.

On November 7, 2017, New Yorkers will be asked whether they want to convene the state’s tenth constitutional convention, to consider amendments and revisions to the state’s 120-year old constitution. The question, which is automatically placed on the ballot every 20 years (N.Y. Const., art. XIX, sec. 2), causes considerable angst among those concerned a convention may jeopardize protections currently enshrined in the constitution, such as the beloved forever wild provision. The first part of this article will provide a brief history of the forever wild provision, and in particular how this provision has been treated at state constitutional conventions. The second part of the article will discuss how and why the provision has remained over one hundred years after its adoption a viable and vital part of our constitutional tradition while other constitutional prohibitions have not. The viability and vitality of the provision augur well for the likelihood that it will retain its significance should a convention be called in 2017. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Historian Testifies In Forest Preserve Snowmobile Trail Lawsuit

Protect the Adirondacks offered its first witness Wednesday in a civil trial that could clarify the meaning of Article 14, the section of the state constitution that declares that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”

Historian Philip Terrie spent several hours on the stand, establishing his credentials and testifying about the meaning of timber circa 1894, the year Article 14 (then Article 7) was approved.

Article 14 mandates that timber on the Preserve shall not be “sold, removed or destroyed.”

Protect the Adirondacks contends that the state’s construction of “community connector” snowmobile trails violates this provision and will destroy tens of thousands of trees. The nonprofit group is suing the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Infrastructure Construction at Boreas Ponds?

Governor Cuomo’s proposed new public-private initiative to revitalize Northway Exit 29 in the Adirondack Park, the former Frontiertown theme park, and to create a new visitor center and “gateway” there to benefit not just the town of North Hudson, but Essex County and the entire Adirondack Park is a good proposal.

After the Governor spent public funds to acquire the nearby Boreas Ponds for the Forest Preserve as a kind of gateway to the High Peaks and Dix Mountain Wilderness, this well-traveled sector of Essex County so close to I-87 deserves a gateway information and interpretive center that helps attract, orient, inform and inspire curious travelers – whether or not those visitors intend an outdoor adventure at Boreas Ponds.

What concerns me is one sentence buried in that same State of the State report (on page 271): “Specifically, DEC will construct infrastructure at Boreas Ponds in the Adirondacks and build trails as part of the “Hut-to-Hut” system that links State lands to community amenities.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Snowmobile Trail Tree Cutting And Forest Preserve Law

peter-bauer-examines-a-stump-along-a-newly-constructed-community-connector-trailA rose is a rose is a rose, Gertrude Stein said. Defining a tree is not so simple.

That question — what is a tree? — has emerged as a central issue in a long-running dispute over the construction of “community-connector” snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve. These trails, which link hamlets, are nine feet wide (twelve feet on curves) and graded to make them smooth. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Court Continues Ban On State Tree Cutting On Forever Wild Lands

A 12-foot wide snowmobile trail bridge constructed in the Moose River Plains in 2012.A new preliminary injunction has been handed down today by a full panel of the Appellate Division, Third Department, of the State Supreme Court, to sustain a temporary ban on tree cutting by state agencies on the forever wild Forest Preserve. This preliminary injunction will remain in place until a decision is made on an appeal of a denial by the State Supreme Court for a preliminary injunction against tree cutting during construction of a network of new class II community connector snowmobile trails on the Forest Preserve.

Tree cutting was stopped for 25 days in mid-July thru mid-August 2016, resumed for one week, and then was halted again on August 19th by one justice of the Appellate Division. The new ban is expected to remain in place well into the fall. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Court Stops Tree Cutting On Forever Wild Lands Again

Peter Bauer measures a snowmobile trail near Newcomb.A justice from the Appellate Division, Third Department, of state Supreme Court, issued an order to show cause Friday to stay further tree cutting on the Forest Preserve by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as it builds a new 9-12 foot wide snowmobile thoroughfare between Newcomb and Minerva.

Last week a Supreme Court decision denied a motion for preliminary injunction against tree cutting by DEC, which had work crews cutting trees on the Forest Preserve this week. Tree cutting had been stopped for 25 days in mid-July thru mid-August. This new decision will halt tree cutting for the next ten days while the Appellate Division considers whether to issue an injunction during Protect the Adirondacks’ appeal of the Supreme Court decision.

The DEC has cut over 7,500 trees on 6.5 miles of the new community connector snowmobile trail from Newcomb to Minerva, including many located in old growth forest habitat. The DEC is planning to cut another 7,500 in the weeks ahead. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dave Gibson: Mt. Van Hoevenberg And The Forest Preserve

Article 14, Section 1 New York State Constitution Forever Wild clauseIt can be an arcane field, the Forest Preserve. Article XIV, Section 1 of the State Constitution, the “forever wild” clause, is comprised of 54 words which appear clear enough. Its authors in 1894 thought it should slam the door on those late-19th century abuses of the Preserve.

The century-plus since has seen (mis)interpretations of law, purposeful evasions of law, statutes that contradict the NYS Constitution, contradictory opinions of attorneys general, contradictory rulings by our highest courts – the list goes on and on.

How to keep it all straight? For years, advocates have relied on the writings of Bob Glennon, Al Forsyth, Norman J. Van Valkenburgh, Neil Woodworth, and others to get to the heart of these inconsistencies. » Continue Reading.


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