Adirondack Park local government officials and conservation organizations both spent a nervous few hours after the polls closed on Election Day this year, worrying that Proposal Three – the community health and safety land bank – would be defeated. It passed by a slim 52 percent to 47 percent margin (about 100,000 votes out of 3.1 million cast).
As Adirondackers from across the political spectrum look towards working together in 2018 and beyond, there are important lessons to learn from this close vote. The park’s continued success depends on our understanding the state’s voters. » Continue Reading.
I voted for the first time as a New Yorker this month, mainly to vote against the constitutional convention, which might have opened the door to wholesale changes in the forest preserve, and, conversely, for a land bank that will allow small, common sense changes in the forest preserve.
I have to hand it to New York voters. Back in West Virginia, we never would have figured that out. As dearly as I love my home state, it is safe to say that the color gray simply does not exist. You’re either fer-it or agin-it, and the idea that fine tuning is not dependent on wholesale destruction, as a concept, simply does not exist. » Continue Reading.
On 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.
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.
As 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.
Philip 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.