Sunday, November 03, 2013

NYS ballot proposals

As an odd-numbered year, it's only local offices up for vote here in New York. But voters in the Empire State will have a number of statewide propositions to vote on. All would amend the state constitution.

The exact wording of all amendments can be found at the website of the state Board of Elections.

PROPOSITION 1 - GAMBLING - NO
The most controversial of the amendments would authorize up to seven non-Indian casinos in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo has come under fire for manipulated the wording of the amendment after passage by the legislature, a move of dubious legality. Further, it makes one suspect that makes one suspect that accusations of him being in the back pocket of gambling interests might be true; revelations that he and other pro-casino legislators have taken large brib... I mean, "donations" from the industry add to the appearance of sleaze. Many New Yorkers think the amendment would cause far more problems that it would solve. The process has been so rigged that I can't have any confidence in supporters' claims.

PROPOSITION 2 - CIVIL SERVICE CREDIT FOR DISABLED VETERANS - YES
Current law gives state workers credit for being disabled and credit for being a veteran, but not both. This change would allow them to get credit for both.

PROPOSITION 3 - MUNICIPAL DEBT AND SEWAGE - YES
The change would allow municipalities to exempt debt incurred for sewage facilities from their constitutional debt limit.

PROPOSITION 4 - TOWNSHIP 40 - YES
This amendment would settled disputed land claims in the Raquette Lake area. The change has been negotiated by the state and landowners. It is supported both by local officials and by all the major environmental groups. There isn't any known opposition.

PROPOSITION 5 - NYCO AMENDMENT - NO
This is another amendment regarding state land but is more disputed than Prop 4. The mining company NYCO is offering to swap some of its land for state owned land. It would mine the land and then return it to the state forest preserve. Not surprisingly, this is supported by the business community and most local officials, but it has divided the environmental community. The Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club support it. Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild oppose it. I think both sides' arguments have merit but it seems to me that if public land can be handed over the private interests for open pit mining, then it's not really 'forever wild.'

Note: North Country Public Radio has a more in-depth look at Props 4 and 5.

PROPOSAL 6 - JUDICIAL AGE LIMIT - NO
Prop 6 would increase to 80 the maximum age to which some state judges could serve before mandatory retirement. This is a good idea in theory but poor in execution. It does not apply to all judges and has some many exceptions as to defeat the purpose. This amendment should be rejected and the legislature instead should raise the retirement age of ALL judges.


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