By Joe Angelino
This November’s Election Day will be the 20th anniversary of the last question of a Constitutional Convention for New York State.
Twenty years ago there was great hype and anticipation about finally being able to make much needed changes and amendments to our New York State Constitution. This is the document that lays down the law of our land and is the written moral conscience of our state. It was last amended by a convention in 1938.
Some of the significant items enshrined in our state Constitution are; the Adirondack Park remaining forever wild, K-12 public funded education for everyone, terms of political office, public employee retirement and social benefits for those in need to name just a few.
In the 1997 election lead-up, public sentiment toward a Constitutional Convention, hereafter known as the Con Con, looked like a sure thing. Back then I was a nascent police chief and I voted yes. Even the potential convention members were packing their bags for the trip to Albany. But, a last minute anti-convention barrage of print, radio and television ads changed the public’s opinion and the Con-Con was resoundingly voted down, 67% to 37%. The old adage, “politics makes strange bedfellows” rang true, because odd combinations of groups who any other time couldn’t agree if the sky was blue, banded together to either oppose or support a constitutional re-write. Twenty years forward, we need to brace for the 2017 onslaught of advertisements both for and against another Con Con.
This coming Election Day, in accordance with the State Constitution, Article 19, section 2, voters will be asked a simple, yet substantial question; “shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend same?”
Because it’s difficult to know the players without a program, I thought I’d let you know some of those who will be in the Con Con mix and my opinion as to why they are there.