Sunday, January 24, 2016

de Blasio, CFB, Conflict of Interests Board and the Media's NYCLASS Horse Carriage and Speaker's Race Cover -Up






Did the Silver and Skelos Arrests Dry Up Real Estate Money for de Blasio's Slush Fund PAC Campaign for One NY? 
Just 4 Groups Contributed $485 to the PAC
De Blasio committee raises $485K from just 4 donors (PoliticoNY) The Campaign For One New York, the political advocacy group Mayor Bill de Blasio created in December 2013 to advance his political agenda, has raised $485,009 from just four donors since July of 2015, according to disclosures voluntarily released to reporters.  The single largest donor to the group over the last six months was the Fund For Policy Reform, Inc., a nonprofit founded by Democratic mega-donor George Soros. The Campaign for One New York also took in $200,000 from UNITE HERE, a national labor union representing hotel workers and textile industry employees, which made its donation on November 23 of 2015.

Pay to Play Union Gets Deal On the Same Day It Contributes $200,000 to Mayor's Slush Fund
De Blasio nonprofitnets $200K from union on same day as Council boost (NYP) Mayor de Blasio’s nonprofit took in $200,000 from a food-service union on the same day a mayoral ally in the City Council submitted legislation to protect the union workers’ jobs, new financial filings show. Unite Here, a union formerly run by Hizzoner’s cousin that has given more than $900,000 to de Blasio causes, made its latest donation to the nonprofit Campaign for One New York on Nov. 23, 2015. That was the same day Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill requiring venues such as universities or sports stadiums to retain unionized food-service workers for at least 90 days after ownership changes.

Most of the Contributors In Past Cycles Had Business Before the City 
The 501(c)4’s fundraising over the past six month period is dramatically less than during the previous six month period, from January of 2015 to July 2015. During that time period, the Campaign took in $1.71 million from dozens of donors including real estate developers and unions, some of whom had business before City Hall. In contrast to the previous fundraising cycle, when the Campaign took in money from dozens of real estate developers, the nonprofit received just two donations from real estate development companies — $10,000 from DDG Development Partners, LLC and $25,000 from TF Cornerstone Inc., in the last six months. Between January 2015 and July 2015, by contrast, a slew of real estate developersdonated to de Blasio, while they were also 

Campaign for One NY Used the Same Law Firm As Advance Group Used for Their Sweet Heart Deal From the CFB
The Campaign For One New York also paid $215,000 in consulting fees to AKPD, the consulting firm that employs one of de Blasio's most trusted outside political advisors, John Del Cecato.   The group spent $45,000 on expenses related to "communications consulting" at Berlin Rosen,$86,627 over the six-month period to Kantor Davidoff Mandelker for legal expenses, and $104,705 to Hilltop Public Solutions for "General Consulting and Expenses." 

Over A Million Dollars of the Mayor's PAC Was For His Failed Iowa Presidential Forum
The mayor’s group, the Campaign for One New York, spent $1,222,091 in the second half of 2015, more than half of which went toward establishing the Progressive Agenda Committee, the liberal coalition that Mr. de Blasio founded. The mayor, a Democrat, had hoped to hold a presidential forum in Iowa, but the event was canceled because no candidates agreed to attend.



A Tale of Two Cities: de Blasio's Lobbyists and His Contributor Friends the 1% 
Two New Yorks: De Blasio’s friends — and everyone else (NYP) Say this much for Mayor de Blasio: He looks out for friends and donors. Stephen Nislick was the force behind the anti-horse-carriage group NYCLASS, which was a huge help in winning de Blasio the Democratic nomination. (The general election was a walk.) Now the deal will move the horses out of their West Side stables, so Nislick can finally acquire that property. Losers include the animal-rights nuts who wanted the industry banned, and the taxpayers who may have to pay some drivers to retire and for the renovation of the stables in the park. This comes on top of Rich Calder’s Post story Tuesday that Team de Blasio has green-lighted plans for a major, multiday music festival on Randall’s Island. Sponsoring the event is AEG Live — which paid Hizzoner’s old pal, Harold Ickes, $150,000 to lobby for it. As part of de Blasio’s transition team, Ickes even played a role in hiring Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver — who OKs permits like the one for AEG’s July 24-26 event. A slam-dunk for AEG. But two other concert promoters — who, like AEG Live, sought to hold multiday festivals — were shut out completely. And while all three applied to use Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, the site was moved to Randall’s Island, even though the AEG event may steal business from another music shindig there slated for a month earlier, Governors Ball. What a sleazy way to do city business — and what an awful message to send to cultural and business groups looking to operate here: If you don’t hire someone with personal ties to the mayor, you’re out of luck. Of course, the mayor can’t always deliver — the City Council’s rejecting his bid to crush Uber. So the taxi industry will have to collect some other favor for its generous donations to de Blasio’s campaign. De Blasio campaigned on the theme of New York’s “tale of two cities.” By treating friends and allies better than everyone else, he’s making that image true+


First Electric Cars Now Moving and Reducing Number of Carriages House in Stables in the Park, Another Idiot Idea Says the Daily News
Buck this bad dealand leave the carriage horses be (NYDN Ed) The odor of a rank sellout — of man and beast — emanates from negotiations between the union representing carriage horse drivers and City Hall. In the process, he would destroy the livelihoods of an undetermined number of drivers and support personnel, sharply cut the number of working horses and invest money in renovating a stable in the park. The Teamsters, who have much other and much larger business with City Hall, should have rejected all of this out of hand. About 220 horses pull 68 carriages. With their services spread out over the course of the day, that enables them to have rest periods. They also get at least five weeks of vacation a year. The new stables would likely accommodate 75 horses, while demand on the industry may well remain unchanged. If a reduced number of horses were to pull the same number of carriages as are operating now — a big if, but a possibility — that would mean at least double the labor for each animal. nd were to get the funds for new Central Park stables? Not from taxpayers, because de Blasio is engaged in a vanity project as payback to NYCLASS, the animal activists who financed advertising that crippled former Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s mayoral bid. Although the complexities are overwhelming, de Blasio and the Council appear to believe they can surmount any obstacle while brushing past sure legal challenges. More likely, their ideas will go into oblivion, just like de Blasio’s scheme to have carriage drivers tool around Central Park in electric Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang cars..* Sources: City offering to pay for Central Park horse stables (PoliticoNY) Upgrade could cost millions in taxpayer dollars* City Study Thwarts Pols' Accusation That Uber Causes Traffic Congestion (DNAINFO) The report recommends more regulation for the for-hire vehicle industry. 
A Tale of Two CFBs: Albanese vs Campaign PAC NYCLASS,UFT's United for the Future





True News Wags the Daily News On the Kid Gloves Fine The Speaker Was Hit With By the Ethic Board
The Daily News Left Out the Name of the Lobbyists Advance Group and Its Interlocking-Directorates to the Mayor Who Picks the Ethics Board
The watchdogs did it (NYDN) The guilty must be identified. By whom we mean the city ethics watchdogs who make sport of severely punishing low-level city workers while giving the powerful a pass. These three members of the Conflicts of Interest Board mete out unequal justice: Andrew Irving, Fernando Bohorquez and Erika Thomas-Yuille. The trio sit on a panel that investigates and punishes violations by municipal employees. The board’s record includes fining parks and sanitation workers thousands of dollars and forcing them off the payroll for accepting a box of chocolates or tips as low as $5. But when Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito broke the same law by accepting $4,000 worth of free services from a lobbying firm that does business with the Council, the board went easy. Mark-Viverito faced a maximum fine of $25,000. The board let her off with a $7,000 penalty — and let her dip into campaign funds for the money. We pounded the board when it released the ruling this month, naming Chairman Richard Briffault as chief toady. Since then, more has come to light in regard to the inner workings of this secretive outfit. In fact, Briffault, a Columbia law professor, and fellow board member Anthony Crowell, dean of New York Law School, took no part in the Mark-Viverito matter. They stepped aside because they also serve as board members of Citizens Union, the good-government group that filed the complaint against Mark-Viverito. All the dirty work was done by three little pigs Irving, Bohorquez and Thomas-Yuille.








.
Ethics Board Also Ignores Lobbyists Working to Elect Candidates to Help Them Make $$$ Off of City Contracts 
A gift for MelissaMark-Viverito: Ethics watchdogs let the City Council speaker off easy forconflicts of interest (NYDN Ed)  By all rights, were justice equal in New York government, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito would be out of her job today. The city’s ethics regulations bar public employees from accepting gifts — but the Conflicts of Interest Board comes down hard, in fact, unforgivingly hard, only on the little guy or gal for even trivial rule violations. Consider 24-year veteran sanitation worker Lenworth Dixon, who accepted a $20 tip from a grateful homeowner for whom he had carted off yard waste. In 2014, the board forced Dixon to retire and fined him $1,500. Or consider 20-plus-year sanitation workers Robert Bracone and Rene Torres, who had each accepted a $5 tip. The board drove both men to retire and pay $2,000 fines. Now, consider Mark-Viverito. In 2013, she accepted freebie services from a lobbyist as she campaigned among her colleagues to be speaker. Still worse, the firm represented clients who would need the speaker’s backing for legislation. According to the conflicts board, the gifted services had a value of $3,796. Despite the fact that the amount was more than 700 times larger than a $5 tip, and despite the fact that Mark-Viverito had undermined the integrity of her office, the board imposed a fine of only $7,000 Which was $18,000 less than the top penalty. Which Mark-Viverito can pay out of her campaign funds, rather than out of the city salary she’ll continue to receive. Parks Department manager Cristina Badillo never got a break like that. The board last year fined her personally $1,000 for accepting a $15 gift of chocolate liqueur and an $8 box of Whitman’s chocolates. Still worse, the board ordered Mark-Viverito to pay $4,000 to the lobbying firm of Scott Levenson, who was her partner in crime. She will take that money, too, from a campaign account. Still worse, Levenson can take that $4,000 and pay his fine, in that exact amount. Still worse, Mark-Viverito admitted guilt only after waging a long battle against the board, running up legal bills of $123,313, with more to come. Again, she’ll




Another Slap of the Wrist for Lobbyists Advance Group This Time Illegally Working for Mark-Viverito Speakers Campaign 

An Interlocking-Directorate of Lobbyists That Controls the Council Speaker
Setting precedent, Conflict of Interest Board settles with Mark-Viverito   (CapitalNY) Lawyers for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have reached a settlement with the city’s Conflict of Interest Board following an investigation into free political consulting services that Mark-Viverito accepted during the race for speaker in 2013. As part of the settlement, the speaker has agreed to pay a $7,000 fine for accepting the services, a small fraction of the $25,000 statutory maximum she faced when the inquiry was first launched. The ethics board launched the non-criminal investigation in January of last year, alleging she acted improperly by accepting help from the Advance Group — a lobbying firm which has business dealings with the city. Elected officials are barred from accepting anything of value from registered lobbyists including a gift in the form of a service. The settlement decision was strengthened by the fact that the structure of Mark-Viverito’s undeclared campaign account is different because the race was not subject to regular campaign finance rules. Normally, elected officials are barred from using campaign money to run for another office, or to spend money from transition committees which typically only help pay for inauguration events. During the race, The Advance group helped Mark-Viverito prepare for the race, which included several community forums and debates as well as behind-the-scenes politicking with council members and county party leaders who helped collect votes in her favor. * Melissa Mark-Viverito Drops Advance Group for Speaker Bid(NYO) Ms. Mark-Viverito insisted today that this was not the case but out of an “abundance of caution,” the relationship would end. Melissa Mark-Viverito Drops Advance Group for Speaker Bid - Blogs(TU) * An operative with the controversial Advance Group, Jonathan Yedin, who has been working in Brooklyn Democratic Party politics for more than a decade and belongs to Mr. Seddio’s political club. Though Ms. Mark-Viverito eventually stopped taking free advice from the Advance Group, Mr. Yedin remained a crucial player in the brokering of the deal, sources said.  Inside Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Road to Victory(NYO) * Nailed! @MMViverito must pay $7K fine for accepting free help from lobbyists in bid for job (NYDN) In addition to the $7,000 fine, which Mark-Viverito can use campaign funds to pay, she’ll pay the Advance Group $3,796.44 for its work.
loophole.

No Outrage That de Blasio Paid Off A Low Life Developer Who Used NYCLASS to Illegally Go Around the Election Law to Help Him Win the Mayor's Office
A NYC Council hearing today exposed gaps in basic knowledge among city officials related to de Blasio’s proposal to remove horse carriages from city streets in all but a limited number of situations, and create a new stable in Central Park.* Mayor's horse carriage plan faces a grilling in City Council hearing (NYDN) * City Provides Few Details on Carriage Horse Plans, Council Says (DNINFO) City officials have not selected a site for the proposed Central Park stable.

Pedicab Operators See Loss of Livelihood in de Blasio’s Plan (NYT) Pedicab operators, who say they are already scorned and powerless, face the prospect of losing customers if they are banned from Central Park below 85th Street.* 'Abuse of power, plain and simple': Park and animal rights advocates slam Mayor de Blasio's Central Park horse carriage deal (NYDN) * Pedicab drivers, the group most negatively affected by de Blasio’s horse carriage deal, were an easy mark for the mayor, as they are an unsympathetic bunch for most New Yorkers, often accused of swindling tourists,the Times writes:  *  
Two Developers Defend Proposed Deal on Carriage Horses (WSJ) Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu say they care about welfare of the animals, deny their cause is about real-estate opportunities; council vote looms The two developers who pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio to get rid of Central Park’s horse carriages tried on Thursday to build support for a proposed deal on the issue, disputing allegations that their cause is about real-estate opportunities and has been aided by contributions they made to a political group tied to the mayor. Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu largely funded the campaign to ban the horses from Central Park, and they described the past two years as a political “learning experience.” “Under no circumstances would I have any interest in this real estate,” Mr. Nislick said. “If they gave it to me I wouldn’t take it.” The two together gave $125,000 to Mr. de Blasio’s political arm, the Campaign for One New York, and funded a campaign in 2013 against then-Speaker Christine Quinn during the Democratic primary race for mayor. Asked whether their political contributions influenced the mayor’s decision, Mr. Nislick said no. Even though his organization has lobbied City Council members and the mayor’s office.*  The de Blasio administration will not be issuing an RFP for the horse stables in Central Park, because it would not be "appropriate." *  The City Council’s Stupid Human Tricks (NYO)
@Adrian_Benepe Mayor de Blasio NO information loons speaking for him can't answer one question @NYCCouncil asked #SHAME #CarriageOn



How Can Quinn Remain Silent When the Mayor Pays Off A Political Debt That Killed Her Chance to Be Mayor

Mr. Nislick said “we are not politicians. We do not understand the political process.”* When de Blasio announced a deal last weekend to limit horse carriages to Central Park while banning pedicabs in the park below 85th Street, it came as a surprise to the city’s 837 licensed pedicab drivers. * Park and animal rights advocates joined forces yesterday to protest the compromise plan to move the horse carriage industry to stables inside Central Park. * The two developers who pushed de Blasio to get rid of Central Park’s horse carriages tried to build support for a proposed deal on the issue, disputing allegations that their cause is about real-estate opportunities and has been aided by contributions they made to a political group tied to the mayor. While Homeless Are Put In A Decontamination in A City Hospital The de Blasio administration is so desperate to find space for the burgeoning homeless population that it’s housing downtrodden New Yorkers in a decontamination unit at a city hospital.
De Blasio switched committees from consumer affairs Espinal had the votes to kill it #CarriageGate





Wag the NYT Stenographer Dwyer 
True News Published A Picture Editorial 3 Day Before Dwyer That Stable Money Can Better Be Spent On the Homeless
 The Times’ Jim Dwyer writes that de Blasio’s horsecarriage plan solves a problem that doesn’t exist and will cost the city millions of dollars that could otherwise be spent on other issues, like homelessness











True News Also Wags the Daily News On the Speaker Statement That the Mayor Owns Central Park 
The public doesn’tcount in Central Park horse deal (NYDN Ed) Mayor de Blasio’s campaign-donor-driven obsession with carriage horses has revealed how one-party political rule distorts the minds of elected officials. First, Queens Councilman Rory Lancman: “I’ll probably support the agreement because my goal is to protect the drivers’ jobs and keep the horse carriages for New Yorkers,” he said, adding: “It really is ridiculous that we have to spend $25 million and upend not one but two industries” because de Blasio would not buck his donors. His was the pronouncement of a supine politician who would rather get along with the mayor than refuse to divert $25 million from, say, affordable housing. Next, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is backing de Blasio and just wants park advocates to shut up: “At the end of the day, the city owns the park. The city owns this facility, and the city is making a decision to invest in this facility.” First, Queens Councilman Rory Lancman: “I’ll probably support the agreement because my goal is to protect the drivers’ jobs and keep the horse carriages for New Yorkers,” he said, adding: “It really is ridiculous that we have to spend $25 million and upend not one but two industries” because de Blasio would not buck his donors.

His was the pronouncement of a supine politician who would rather get along with the mayor than refuse to divert $25 million from, say, affordable housing. Next, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is backing de Blasio and just wants park advocates to shut up: “At the end of the day, the city owns the park. The city owns this facility, and the city is making a decision to invest in this facility.”



The New York City Council has increased its spending by millions of dollars over the past two years, hiring new staff as it seeks to pass more legislation and play a greater role in the city’s land-use process under Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Journal reports:   * A day after carriage drivers criticized parts of his plan to move their industry inside Central Park, de Blasio’s animal rights friends reversed course and said they now fully embrace the controversial compromise, the Daily News writes *  The Daily News writes that the public’s opinion seems to matter little in one-party New York City on the matter of horse carriages in Central Park, as de Blasio’s political donors have been driving his push to ban the practice


True News Yesterday 
Did Mark-Viverito Just Admit The Council is the Mayor's Puppet?
Central Park is Owned By the People, Not You and the Mayor Madam Speaker
Mark-Viverito: Critics just have to deal with Central Park stable plan (NYP) City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Tuesday that critics of the city’s plans to convert a maintenance building into stables in Central Park should just accept that the city has the power to do it. “At the end of the day, the city owns the park, the city owns this facility, and the city is making a decision to invest in this facility,” Viverito said. “There are those who may think they own the park. Central Park Conservancy has a contract with the City of New York. The park in Central Park is city property, and the mayor does make decisions as to what are priorities for the city.” Outside City Hall on Tuesday, pedicabbies protested the move, chanting: “Central Park is not for sale.” *After de Blasio characterized a potential ban on pedicab rides below 86th Street in Central Park as a “fair outcome” in the deal to cut the number of horse carriages, pedicab drivers protested outside of City Hall, Politico New York reports: * The de Blasio Diaries, Chapter 53: Save a horse, ride amayor  (Vanity Fair)* "Animal rights advocates suddenly back de Blasio horseproposal" (PoliticoNY) * #NYCLASSsays it backs new bill to limit horse-drawn carriages to #CentralPark 





How Can de Blasio Spend Millions on A Stable for Horses When There Are Homeless All Over Our Streets

A day after the mayor declared the matter closed, his proposal to limit the hansoms to Central Park drew more criticism, with pedicab drivers chanting “one-term mayor” outside City Hall. * De Blasio CarriageHorse Deal Ticks Everybody Off (NYO) Stable owners, cart drivers, park advocates and pedicab cyclists are bristling at Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Council’s plan to rein in the horse carriage industry. The agreement negotiated with the Teamsters union representing the drivers would cut the city’s equine stock from 220 horses to 95 and prohibit them from leaving Central Park. The animals would live in a new stable remodeled from a maintenance building, set to open in 2018. As a sweetener, the proposal would restrict pedicabs to the area north of 85th Street in order to eliminate competition. Norman Siegel, a prominent attorney representing the carriage drivers, argued that the regulations posed a threat to his clients’ civil rights—and promised to sue if efforts to persuade the Council to reject the plan fail. “Is this really the proper use of this beautiful parkland?” Tupper Thomas, executive director of the group New Yorkers for Parks asked yesterday, noting that $25 million could restore Saint Mary’s Park in the South Bronx. “Could there be other things done there that would be more useful to the citizens of the city of New York?” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who previously called the carriage industry“inhumane,” testily defended the plan and scoffed at suggestions that the plan would poorly allocate city funds. Pedicab drivers, meanwhile, staged a hundred-strong rally outside City Hall against the plan, chanting “save our jobs.” Those the Observer spoke with argued that curtailing their activities to the north end of the park would destroy their industry, as most of their fares come from the tourist-rich area around 59th Street.*  Mark-Viverito "went on to deliver a searing rebuke ofparks advocates who have criticized the deal."(Politico) * New Yorkers Don’t Think The City Is Doing Enough to HelpThe Homeless (NYO)





Horse Feathers: Carriage Deal Is All About Making Money Off the Stables Real Estate

New York City reaches agreement on horse carriage deal  *  City officials and advocates reach a deal to keep horsecarriages in Central Park and off citystreets. (NY1) * Horse carriage industry, City Hall strike deal to keep carriage rides in NYC (NYDN) The number of horses will drop from the current 180 to 110 by December, and to 95 when new stables open in the park, according to the Council. Horses will be banned from traveling the streets outside Central Park, except when going to and from their current stables, starting in June.
The de Blasio administration announced a deal to reduce the horse carriage industry from about 220 horses to 95 and build a stable in Central Park and will seek the New York City Council’s consent, The New YorkTimes reports:  * The Central Park horse carriage industry would be significantly reduced – and its horses confined to a new stable within the park – under a deal announced late yesterday by the de Blasio administration. The agreement eases a longtime political headache for the mayor, who promised campaign supporters he would eliminate the industry on Day One of his first term.* There are currently 220 licensed horses in the city. That will drop to 110, carriage rides will now be confined to just Central Park and all of the private stables around the city would be forced to shut down by October of 2018.* Mayor @BilldeBlasio will allow 75 horses to continue plying Central Park,down from 220.Carriage horse compromise calls for new Central Park stable, reduces licenses to 75 from 180 (DNAINFO) * De Blasio strikes deal to cut number of horse-carriage drivers (NYP)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cuomo Goes After de Blasio's Arm of Campaign Consultants and His Left Supporters ddd





What Does Cuomo Do When He is Cut Off From His Real Estate Campaign Money?
Bundled in blankets and enduring the frigid temperatures that arrived in New York City this week, homeless people said Cuomo was missing the point with his executive order, insisting what they need is housing, not someone telling them where to sleep and eat on a temporary basis. * Cuomo took another swipe at NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of the homeless, charging that people live in the streets because they’re afraid of the city’s “dangerous” shelters.* “I don’t see it changes anything in what we actually do or what we have done for 20 years,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said of Cuomo’s order.*  Speaking with reporters after an unrelated event in Manhattan, Cuomo did not tip his handas to what exactly he will propose in his Jan. 13 State of the State/executive budget address that adds to his executive order to address homelessness. But he did acknowledge the need for more supportive and affordable housing options.* In Manhattan real estate, 2015 was a year for the record books, with the median price for co-ops and condos hitting a new high of $1.15 million in the final months of the year,according to reports by major real estate firms that will be released today.* How Cuomo shifted the conversation on income inequality (PoliticoNY) .@CommissBratton on removing homeless people from streets: "I’m not going to be violating the Constitution."* Cops clear dozens of homeless people off streetsas cold sets in (NYP)


Cuomo is Lucky the Left in NY is So Dumb and Easy to Buy
You didn’t think it was an accident that the Cuomo-created Women’s Equality Party [WEP] might be mistaken for the WFP on 2014 election day, now did you? Which is not setting well with true-believing, leftward-tilting Democrats like Teachout and activist Bill Samuels, who flirted with a primary run of his own last spring. Teachout, still an enrolled Democrat, is refusing to endorse the party ticket while Samuels complains bitterly about the governor to anybody who’ll listen: “[Cuomo’s] politically reckless behavior is endangering Senate Democrats” — which, in the end, seems rather to be the point.  * Mayor de Blasio was key in scoring WFP nomination for Gov.Cuomo (NYDN) The mayor brokered a deal with the Working Families Party in which Cuomo got the nomination after publicly committing to push for Democratic control of the state Senate and a host of liberal goals. Meanwhile, Senate insiders say Cuomo will have a rough time pushing anything through the Senate this year after he called for a takeover by Dems. A self-described progressive and the first Democrat to run New York City in 20years, de Blasio persuaded the union-backed Working Families Party to support Cuomo, a centrist governor running for re-election.





Cuomo Runs Against Himself, His First 6 Years of Governing  
In A Political Effort to Cut Himself A Piece of de Blasio's Left
STATE OF THE STATE PREVIEW - Cuomo phones NY1: "Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform. We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven't done enough. And I'm going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etc. That's going to be right up at the top of the agenda. Economic development, which in Upstate New York means basically restoring the economy, and in downstate New York it means growing the future economy - the high tech economy, having the transportation infrastructure to do that - and making sure the economy is working for everyone, right? Back to social justice: we have very high unemployment among young minority males, black and brown, and it's just unacceptable. We have to make special economic initiatives there. "On education, we have failing schools in this state, today, where we have over 100,000 students in schools that we call "failing" schools. Failing schools are schools that don't reach the basic minimum requirement by SED, the State Education Department, and many of these failing schools have been failing for over 10 years, believe it or not. And the system, the bureaucracy, has been too tolerant, in my opinion. And we are - we're going to be focusing on the closing schools, we're going to be investing in the school system to make sure we're doing everything we can on the state side. So we're going to have a very robust agenda and then the progressive government side that is very important to me."




Cuomo’s Erratic Governing Behavior is Noticed by the Media and Dems
And the governor, the sources said, has begun displaying what many of his own staffers see as “peculiar’’ bursts of energy, in which he abruptly shifts gears on key public-policy positions in hopes of increasing his popularity: first battling and then embracing the teachers unions, opposing and then backing a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and refusing and then granting pardons to thousands of convicted criminals.  “Today, we are a state that is transformed and once again the progressive capital of the world,’’ Cuomo continued, failing to mention the convictions on corruption charges of the former leaders of the “progressive’’ capital’s Legislature, the state’s bottom-of-the-barrel rating as a place to do business, and the state’s massive population losses — more than 500,000 people since he took office. Quipped a prominent Democrat,: “Why’d he stop with ‘capital of the world?’ Why not the ‘progressive capital of all the galaxies?’ ”Some Democrats used words like “weird’’ and “embarrassing’’ to describe Cuomo’s relatively recent policy of issuing press releases urging the public to be careful as a routine snowstorm or other seasonally inclement weather is forecast.* Cuomo and some of the state’s most powerful unions will kick off the new year with a massive rally today to push for a $15-an-hour statewide minimum wage.* Cuomo Plans Ethics And Economic Improvement Platform (YNN) -- Cuomo aides met with advocates in December to discuss paid family leave, a sign that the governor may be pursuing the issue this legislative session.* Cuomo extends $15 minimum wage to SUNY employees (NYP)* Continuing a push for the payment of higher wages for public-sector jobs, Cuomo announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for state university workers to $15. The plan will affect a larger number of state employees — about 28,000, most of whom are upstate — and is designed to include students who use work-study jobs to pay tuition and bills while attending classes. Cuomo’s goal now is to get lawmakers in Albany to sign on to a statewide minimum of $15. To assist in that effort, he also announced at a labor union rally the launch of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice, named after his late father, who served as governor for three terms. CUNY workers were excluded from Cuomo’s order. CUNY chancellor James B. Milliken said the university “supports Governor Cuomo’s initiative on increasing the minimum wage for public employees. We look forward to working with the administration and the Board of Trustees to ensure that CUNY’s employees receive a fair minimum wage.”
More About Cuomo




Nassau With Two Growing Federal Investigations is Ground Zero for the War to Control the State Senate, Maybe More
Nassau County Democrats, increasingly confident they’ll win an upcoming special state Senate election, dropped plans to urge Cuomo to hold off on setting April 19 — presidential primary day — as the date to fill the now-vacant Skelos seat. The Democrats had initially feared an expected heavy turnout of Republicans in the presidential primary — in contrast to the predicted light turnout for the Democratic primary, which Hillary Clinton will likely win easily — would favor the GOP candidate for the Senate. But “we’re no longer concerned about the date because we now expect that this campaign will be very well-funded and that we will win,’’ a senior Nassau Democrat told The Post. Nervous Republicans, tainted by the Skelos corruption scandal and what many believe are two widening corruption probes involving other Nassau County officials, had hoped to field Assemblyman Brian Curran, but GOP sources say he’s reluctant to enter the race.
Republicans hold a bare one-vote majority in the Senate, and a Democratic victory in Skelos’ long-under-GOP-control district would be seen as signaling a looming Democratic takeover   State BOE Fed Investigation Also While Bharara has ongoing investigations, state Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugarman has also referred a number of cases for criminal prosecution to state and local prosecutors, the Daily News’writes: * NEW YEAR, NEW ARRESTS: Board of Elections boss expects more pols to be hit with criminal charges in 2016 (NYDN)  * Former Republican U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato praised Democratic Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, who may run to replace the seat left vacant by Dean Skelos, but added he still wanted a Republican-controlled state Senate, the Daily News reports: * Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota asked to meet with then-U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in 2014 to alert her that a Suffolk detective whom the government hoped to use as a witness was leaking information, Newsdaywrites:  * The tabloid-ready case against a former Suffolk County police chief comes at the same time as a broader federal investigation of the Suffolk County political machine and its hold over the local criminal justice system, the Times writes:  * Nassau Dem Leader Expects Cuomo To Help Win Skelos Seat (YNN)
Lobbyists Al D'Amato and the Long Island Investigation





Cuomo Goes After Berlin Rosen and the Rest of de Blasio Team Who Run 1NY PAC and Campaigns  Don't Just Make Them Register As Lobbyists, Put Them In Jail for Fixing Elections 
New York'sethics rule could infringe on free speech, experts say (CrainsNY) Revised proposal would vastly broaden definition of lobbying, but watchdogs say the transparency is needed. Public relations firms challenged a proposal from the state’s ethics watchdog as too vague last month, but it backfired: The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has updated its advisory opinion to say that communication between public relations consultants and the press on public policy should count as lobbying. “A public relations consultant who contacts a reporter or editorial board in an attempt to get the media outlet to advance the client’s message would also be delivering a message,” the revision says.* An advisory opinion that would expand the scope of individuals regulated by JCOPE has gained support and inspired opposition from those already registered with the commission and those who might be.

Cuomo Wants de Blasio Campaign Consultants Army to Register As Lobbyists 
If a consultant has input into the content of such a message and helps to deliver it, that consultant would apparently be a lobbyist under the new rules.   The ethics commission's proposal in November sought to compel more consultants to register as lobbyists. Taken aback, four PR firms in the city had civil rights law firm Emery Celli write to JCOPE in December that the opinion was too vague and could be construed to apply to conversations with the press.  “We put the spotlight on this issue exactly and we basically said, 'You can’t possibly mean that talking to an editorial board or a reporter was lobbying, you can’t possibly mean that,' ” attorney Andrew Celli said. “So the staff looked at our letter and I believe they said, 'No, no, that’s exactly what we mean.' ”

de Blasio's Election Fixes
 The New York Civil Liberties Union agrees with the PR firms, saying that conversations with the press fall outside the legal definition of lobbying. “Writing an op-ed piece urging law reform cannot be regarded as lobbying, unless it further urges individuals to contact public officials,” NYCLU legal director Arthur Eisenberg said. “When we read most op-eds, we understand that that’s not lobbying, that’s public education and entitled to free speech protections of the First Amendment.” But the good-government group Citizens Union said that consultants use the media to influence lawmakers, and that such activity should be reported. 
The advisory opinion also includes provisions that would require consultants who connect clients with lawmakers to register as lobbyists. Celli’s letter called that move “good public policy.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed for that reform in his State of the State address Wednesday, in a possible reaction to newspaper stories about the relationship between strategic communications firm BerlinRosen and the de Blasio administration. The firm has a slew of clients with business before City Hall. “Political consultants who advise elected officials while also representing clients before the government do not currently register as lobbyists either—and they should also,” Cuomo told state legislators. “I am going to send you that bill, and that’s a bill that you should sign.”

Berlin Rosen Interlocking-Directorates Helps Their Clients Get A City Pay Raise


@BilldeBlasio backs commission's recommendations to raise pay for pols - 23% for Council, 15% for mayor, at least 12% for everyone else * Mayor OKs recommended raise of $26G for City Council members, but he’ll pass on his own salary bump (NYDN) NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his stamp of approval to a city commission’s plan to raise the salary of elected officials, and to make the City Council a full-time job with strict limits on outside income, but said he personally won’t accept a raise in his first term.

Monday, January 11, 2016

As the 2017 Referendum on the New York State Constitutional Convention Approaches: A Look Back At the Early Accomplishment





As the 2017 Referendum on the New York State Constitutional Convention Approaches: A Look Back At the Early Accomplishment of the Constitutional Conventions. Its Last Accomplishment Was in 1938

By James S. Kaplan

Recently, a political consultant and editor of the True News blog I have periodically written about historical subjects informed me that in the wake of the convictions of Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senate speaker Dean Skelos, the hottest topic in the political community fighting for ethic reforms of Albany is the upcoming referendum on the New York State Constitutional Convention. He thus asked me about the history of such conventions.   I was somewhat surprised to discover that the next referendum on this subject would not be held until November 7, 2017 almost two years hence,  and that the vote would only be on whether to hold such a convention (presumably only if favorable would the delegates would be selected and the convention itself would be held later). Furthermore, in the last two referenda (which by law must be held every twenty years) in 1997 and 1977 the voters of this state had declined the invitation to hold such a convention. In fact the last time a convention to revise the New York State Constitution was held was almost 50 years ago in 1967, and despite the hard work of its delegates, the revised Constitution that was put to the voters was rejected in its entirety. The last successful significant amendment to the New York State Constitution was that promulgated by the Constitutional Convention of 1938, almost eighty years ago. Nevertheless, the history of Constitutional Conventions in New York State is not as bleak as this recent history would indicate. In fact there are at least three New York State Constitutional Conventions—those of 1777, 1821 and 1938—which shaped the State’s political history in a very positive way and have had a vast impact on the state and its people.



I  New York State Constitutional Convention of 1777


NYS First Constitutional Convention Held and Past In Spite of Heavy Fighting That Forced It to Re-Locate More Than Once
Probably the most amazing and important New York State Constitutional Convention was that held in 1777. The key figures at this convention were three young lawyers—John Jay, Robert Livingston, and Gouverneur Morris, with Jay probably being the most important leader. With the  first Reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York at what today is New York City’s City Hall Park on July 9, patriotic New Yorkers immediately set about creating a mechanism to revise the Colonial Charter to create the independent State of New York. A convention with delegates from around the State was first held in New York City, but soon a problem arose. 33.000 British troops had landed in Staten Island and Brooklyn in August 1776 and the Continental army was disastrously defeated at the Battle of Brooklyn, so that New York City was occupied by the British. The Convention was moved up to White Plains, then as the British moved into Westchester County, to Fishkill and then to Kingston. Given the unsettled war time conditions in which the property of many delegates was threatened it was difficult to maintain attendance, but nevertheless the delegates carried on as the City of Kingston was particularly hospitable. By March of 1777, a preliminary draft of a full Constitution was submitted to the delegates. This Constitution, which followed plans by the French enlightenment writer Montesqieu, provided for a two house legislature—a New York State Assembly reelected every year and a New York State Senate, elected less frequently. There was an independently elected Governor whose actions were subject to review by a “Council of Appointment” It also provided that delegates to the Senate and Assembly were to be elected from districts (counties) around the state by all male property holders. There were even provisions for temporary representatives from areas like New York City that were under British occupation. Unlike virtually every constitution in the world at the time, it also provided for complete freedom of religion.

Although under the circumstances, a full vote of the state’s inhabitants ratifying the Constitution was virtually impossible, on April 20, 1777 it was read in its entirety from the steps of the Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston and declared effective as the law of New York State. This document created a blueprint for New York State to have an effective functioning government throughout the rest of the Revolutionary War and for forty years thereafter. However, there were still times of considerable difficulty shortly after its ratification.  In October of 1777, British troops under General Vaughn came up the Hudson hoping to link up with British force under General Burgoyne coming down From Canada, which was blocked by an American Army compried primarily of New York and New England militia men under General Horatio Gates at Bemis Heights near the village of Saratoga.  On October 16, 1777 General Vaughn had every building in Kingston, except for a few, burned to the ground, allegedly as punishment for the inhabitants support of the patriot cause and the New York State Constitution. However, for the patriots, the burning of Kingston (which I understand is now celebrated every other year in Kingston) was tempered by another happier event. On October 17,  1777. General Burgoyne surrendered his entire force to General Gates at Saratoga, thus creating the turning point of the American Revolution. 

On October 19 General Gates (himself a former British army officer) wrote to General Vaughn:  “With unparalleled cruelty you have reduced the fine old town of Kingston to ashes, and its inhabitants to ruin”  Pointing out that ‘the fortunes of war” had placed a number of British soldiers and officers under his control, Gates noted the possibility that Vaughn himself might some day be subject to vengeance.However, Gates’ very generous treatment of British soldiers (so much so that it was later partially repudiated by the Continental Congress) as contrasted with British atrocities like the burning of Kingston won the Americans high marks with dissidents in the English parliament.  The fact that the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1777 was able to promulgate a constitution that would allow the State to function with its major City under British occupation during the American Revolution and for more than forty years thereafter is a testament to the farsighted ability of its delegates and the viability of the convention process. It is no accident that the three key figures at that Convention—John  Jay, Robert Livingston and Gouverneur Morris would also be very important participants ten years later in 1787 at the federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. In fact the U.S. Constitution incorporates many significant elements of the New York State Constitution, such as a bicameral legislature, an independent executive power, and Freedom of religion. Jay would later be Governor of New York, U.S Secretary of State and the first Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Livingston would later for 24 years be the Chancellor of New York State who swore in 1789 George Washington as President, and as Ambassador to France in 1803, one of the architects  of the Louisiana Purchase, and Gouverneur Morris would be a prominent member of the federal Constituonal Convention and an important early promoter of the Erie Canal. Although not well-known today, the Constitutional Convention of 1777, the conditions under which it was held and the  First New York State Constitution which resulted from its efforts have to be considered one of the high points in New York State’s history and one which should be much more widely studied.

However, the New York State Constitutions of 1777 was not without its faults. First,there were property qualifications for voting, which greatly restricted eligibility to vote. For example, it required that all voters for representatives to the State Senate have at least $250, e. It is estimated that perhaps only 10% of the male population in places like New York City were eligible to vote in these elections. This would soon create considerably controversy, particularly when former Revolutionary War veterans were deprived of their ability to obtain forfeited land by the U.S. Constitutional provisions favoring Tories. Furthermore the veto of the Council of Appointment over a governor’s action also greatly restricted the governor’s ability to act. These problems were compounded by the fact that the 1777 Constitution did not have a specific procedure for amendment.  These were problems which would have to be faced in later Constitutional Conventions.


II New York State Constitutional Convention of 1821      
The 1821 Constitutional Convention Gave the Right On White None Property Owners to Vote
The issue of voting qualifications had long been a problem in the early history of New York State, particularly in New York City.   To some extent the problem was more severe in New York City than elsewhere because during the Revolution there were many more pro British Tories living in New York City, which was under British occupation during the War. Under the initial New York state statutes lands of these Tories were subject to forfeiture to the State, and Tories had no right to vote. However, the Treaty of Paris as implemented by the U.S Constitution overrode these state forfeiture statutes, and in the late 1780’s the restrictions against former Tories from voting were removed. Thus in theory former Tories had the right to recover their forfeited land, some of which had been distributed to Revolutionary war veterans. Meanwhile Revolutionary war veterans from New York City tended to be poorer working class people who did not own significant property (and who had fled the City during the Revolution). The new policies of the 1790’s tended to disenfranchise men who had fought on the American side, while enfranchising the Tories who had fought for the British.


The Revolutionary War veterans tended to congregate in a civic group called the Tammany Society which sought more liberal qualifications for voting, and the elimination of the developing hegemony of the former Tories and their allies over the City’s politics and economic institutions. This issue came to a head in the New York City elections of 1800, when the Tammany Society acting through its agent the Democratic Republican party ran candidates for the New York State Assembly (which selected electors to the electoral college) opposed representatives put forth by the previously dominant Federalist party. The candidates of the Tammany Society whose mastermind was Aaron Burr included a number of prominent Revolutionary war figures such as General Horatio Gates and former Governor George Clinton. They were pledged to the election of Thomas Jefferson as opposed to Federalist incumbent John Adams, and they were successful in defeating the Federalists. As a result, New York City and State sent pro Jefferson electors to the electoral college, Jefferson was elected President over Adams, and his election ushered in a new period of “Jeffersonian Democracy”. The political objective of the Tammany Society was always to expand the number who could vote. In fact they tried various strategems to get around the property qualifications on voting, such as having a large number of members buy a single property with a value over the voting limit and then claiming they all could vote. 



It Took the Constitutional Convention of 1821 For New Yorkers Who Did Not Own Property to Have the Right To Vote
Notwithstanding the Tammany victory in the 1800 elections, control of New York’s politics see sawed between Federalists and “Democrats” up until around 1818 with the Democrats never quite able to amend the provision of the 1777 Constitution establishing strict property qualifications for voting. Finally in 1818, a democratic legislator in Albany sponsored a bill to seek a referendum on whether to call a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the New York State Constitution. This in essence would permit the Democrats seeking to eliminate property qualifications for voting to by pass the State legislature and amend the State Constitution directly.  A version of the bill passed in 1820 and in a referendum the state’s voters overwhelming called for the convening of a  Constitutional Convention to consider revamping the 1777 Constitution. This convention proved to be one of the most productive in the State’s history. It completely revised the wartime Constitution of 1777 to eliminate such archaic institutions as the Council of Appointment, which had the right to veto any legislation approved by the State Assembly and Senate.
More importantly after a bitter debate the Convention eliminated property qualifications for voting. In this debate a number of the State’s most prominent political leaders strongly defended the provisions of the original Constitution limiting the vote to property owners. Chancellor James Kent, the state’s leading legal scholar and the head of its highest Court, for example, argued that if all citizens in the State had the right to vote those without property would through taxation and other means appropriate the property of the wealthy landowners. He stated:

“By the report before us, we propose to annihilate, at one stroke, all those property distinctions, and to bow before the idol of universal suffrage. The extreme democratic principle, when applied to the legislative and executive departments of government, has been regarded with terror by the wise men of every age, because in every European republic, ancient and modern, in which it has been tried, it has terminated disastrously, and been productive of corruption, injustice, violence and tyranny. And dare we flatter ourselves that we are a peculiar people, who can run the career of history, exempted from the passions which have disturbed and corrupted the rest of mankind?...”  


On the other hand the state’s voters had elected the majority of delegates to the Convention from the Tammany or “bucktail” faction of the State’s politics, which was headed by  later Governor and President Martin Van Buren. Van Buren gave a long speech urging the rejection of a motion to retain property qualifications and attacking Chancellor Kent’s theories. Similarly Governor Daniel Tompkins, the chairman of the Convention who had led the State militias during the War of 1812 argued that the men who fought in the wars should have a right to vote, just as well as landed property owners. Tompkins stated:  “Who filled the ranks of your armies? Not the priesthood, not the men of wealth, not the speculators: the former were preaching sedition and the latter decrying the credit of the government to fatten its spoil. And yet the very men who were led on to battle, had no vote to give for their Commander in chief…. It is the citizen soldier who demands the boon, and he rightfully demands it.” The motion to retain property qualifications for voting was defeated by a vote of 19 to 100.  The entire Constitution as reported by the Convention was submitted to the state’s voters in 1822, and was ratified by a vote of 71,732 to 41,402. Like the Constitution of 1777, the Constitution of 1821, which had been created by a referendum, was an amazing achievement. It had modernized and updated the earlier Constitution to provide a framework for the State government that met the then modern conditions. The elimination of property qualifications for voting was probably one of the most important political developments in New York’s history and one which remains with us to this day. As the state’s economy changed from agricultural to industrial and as immigrants flowed into the state from Germany and Ireland and later from Eastern Europe and Italy, the right of each citizen regardless of land ownership to vote in elections would create a protection for the poor that was unlike anything available in the places where most immigrants came in Europe.Although arguably this provision spurred the growth of sometimes corrupt political organizations in the 19th century, it required such organizations to provide basic services, such as free education, limited health care, and jobs on public works to integrate people into the society. By the 1920’s New York through such public officials as Frances Perkins, Belle Moskowitz and Robert Moses would be a leader in providing social welfare programs, which would later be implemented throughout the country. Rather than creating “corruption, injustice, violence and tyranny” as Chancellor Kent had warned, it helped significantly to create a stable democracy that people around the world would emulate, as internationally democratic governments with broad based suffrage would soon replace the monarchies of the past. 



However, like the 1777 Constitution, the Constitution of 1821 was not without its flaws. Although it eliminated property qualifications for voting for white males, it provided that free blacks had to have at least $250 of property in order to qualify to vote. This effectively disenfranchised the entire black community in pre Civil War New York. Black leaders such as Brooklyn’s Henry Highland Garnet repeatedly tried to have this blatantly racist provision removed from the Constitution, but these efforts did not succeed until after the Civil War more than 40 years later.   After the 1821 Constitutional Convention, there were a number of efforts to further amend the New York State Constitution to meet different needs of the State Government at the time. In fact the Constitution was amended in 1846, 1867, and 1894, and there was an attempted amendment in 1915. Starting in 1846, there was a Constitutional amendment providing that a proposition had to be placed before the voters asking whether they wanted to call a Constitutional Convention to consider amendments every twenty years. This provision is still in the law and is the basis for the 2017 referendum. 
  


III. New York State Constitutional Convention of 1938
The Constitutional Convention of 1938 Want to Ensure That New Deal Programs Like Public Housing, Aide to Poor Children and Health Care Rights Were In the State's Constitution
The last significant successful amendment to the New York State constitution took place as a result of the Constitutional convention in 1938. This convention had the broad support of New York’s political leaders including Governor Herbert Lehman, and came at a very different time in the State’s politics. Both the country and the state were reeling economically from the impact of the Great Depression. New York politicians such as Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt had led the country in instituting social welfare programs to combat the economic depression. Former New York labor Commissioner, Frances Perkins had been appointed by President Roosevelt the first woman to become the federal Secretary of Labor where she was designing and implementing the programs of the New Deal. {see A New York Woman Who Deserves to Be on the $20 bill” )The constitutionality of a number of these programs had been questioned by a Conservative Supreme Court. Roosevelt and Perkins’ successors in the New York State government wanted to continue their tradition of progressive social welfare programs so that New York would remain a model for the nation in this regard. However, concerns were raised that the New York State government too lacked the Constitutional power to carry out these programs.  


The delegates to the New York State Constitution of 1938 thus wanted to make sure that specific programs for low income housing, aid to poor children and medical assistance were explicitly authorized. Thus, specific provisions covering such programs by name were incorporated into the Constitution.  "For example, Article XVII of the Constitution as added by the convention, specifically dealt with "social welfare" and provided for state treatment of persons with "mental disabilities" and for the treatment of prisoners. Similarly Article XVIII contains specific provisions permitting the State and its localities to provide low income housing to its citizens, These are not matters specifically discussed in prior constitutions.    As a result, the current New York State Constitution is seven times longer than the Federal constitution. While effectuating an appropriate social purpose, these revisions were criticized thirty years later as unnecessary, since the state had the inherent authority to undertake them anyway


IV. Recent Efforts at Constitutional Reform Have Been Blocked By the State's Permanent Government
A Coalition of New Yorkers Hurt by Government Will Be Need to Build the Public Support and Political Power to Force the Permanent Govt To Allow A Constitutional Convention in 2017


Unfortunately the efforts to amend the State Constitution and bring its provisions into line with modern conditions in the last eighty years have been less successful. Whether for this or other reasons, the New York State government no longer is consider a national leader in the forefront of governmental reform or effectiveness of which most New Yorkers can be proud. In fact recently the legislative process has degenerated to a point where it is controlled by “three men in a room”, two of whom have been now convicted of misusing their positions for personal gain. As indicated above, the last two referenda for a  constitutional convention in 1777 and 1997 were rejected by the voters because of the opposition from well funded special interests concerned about change, concern about overpaying delegates and general voter apathy. The proposed 1967 revision to the Constitution, the last to be actually put before the voters was rejected because of political controversy over funding transportation for parochial school children. However, perhaps it is now time for New York State voters to look to the achievements of the more distant past, and not the more recent failures. There is now a state commission to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. July 4, 2017 will mark the 200th anniversary of the commencement of the construction of the Erie Canal Why not look for a 
new beginning on November 7, 2017 with the referendum for a New York State Constitutional Convention?