google-site-verification: google41e8ed0f0d9ef655.html

The New York State
Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse


Information Related to New York's Nov. 7, 2017 Constitutional Convention Referendum

 

This section has not been maintained and is only current as of Sept. 1, 2017.

Collections of more recent convention videos can be found at Citizens Union and NYPeoplesConvention.org.

Book Reviews Related To The

November 7, 2017 Referendum

 

Roberts, Sam, New York’s Overstuffed Constitution: Voters Face a Window for Reforms, New York Times, March 24, 2017.

 

Blog News Related To The

November 7, 2017 Referendum

 

Somerstein, Nicole, Will New York Decide to Hold a Constitutional Convention?, BallotReady, April 25, 2017.

3 Reasons to Vote in the NY State Constitution ReferendumManhattan Neighborhood Network, March 12, 2017.

 

Good Government Group Letters to the Legislature or Governor

Regarding a State Constitutional Convention

 

Broadcast Media Documentaries on the

November 7, 2017 Referendum

 

Constitutional Convention Forum

Constitutional Convention Forum, Mountain Lake PBS, May 26, 2017.

Election Day may still be months away but many political leaders and watchdog groups in Albany are gearing up for a debate over a referendum question that’ll be on the ballot this November that supporters say could improve how state government works, and that opponents fear could make unnecessary changes to the New York State Constitution.

Every 20 years New Yorkers can vote on whether to hold what’s called a constitutional convention, where a commission considers revisions to the State Constitution. While supporters argue it is the only way to push through major reforms that the legislature won’t address, holding a convention opens up the entire constitution to review, which is why critics oppose it. They worry revisions could roll back rights for workers, aid for the needy, and wilderness protections for the Adirondacks.

This week, we welcome a panel of scholars and experts to delve into the pros and cons of holding a constitutional convention. Joining the discussion are Christopher Bopst, a constitutional scholar; Neil Woodworth, the CEO and Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club; John Sheehan, Director of Communications at Adirondack Council; and Fred Monroe, the former supervisor for the Town of Chester and the Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board.

Finger Lakes TV Public Access Interview with Hank Dullea

See Murphy, Mike, Program on NY Constitutional Convention to air on Finger Lakes TV, Victor Post, January 31, 2017.

To be aired on the FLTV On The Road program.  However, as of February 5, 2017 it couldn’t be found on its website.

WCNY’s 6-Part Series, Issues Regarding a Constitutional Convention in NYS

The parts will be gradually released between May 2016 and November 2017, and available via streaming at wcny.org/ConnectNY.

Summary: Every 20 years, the state constitution sets a statewide referendum on whether to convene a constitutional convention. The next vote arrives November 7, 2017. Through 2016 and into 2017, WCNY will develop a campaign of content exploring this important expectation of the electorate, including a series of six episodes of Connect: NY so that voters are able to make an informed decision.  Episodes of the six part series will air Mondays at 9 p.m. on WCNY, and on local PBS stations across New York.


Summary Programming Guide


Part I

Connect: NY 107, May 16, 2016 Re-Imagining New York: NY’s Constitutional Convention – Halley’s Comet of Change 

Note: A remarkable factual mistake near the opening of Part I is that New York’s first constitution is still its current constitution.

In November of 2017, New Yorkers will have the chance to vote on whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention.  In the first installment of our series on this critical vote, we discuss the problems that exist within the State’s Constitution as well as the risks that are inherent when the document is opened up to change.

Part II

Connect: NY 108, June 20, 2016 Re-Imagining New York: Environment

There is no more famous provision in the New York State Constitution than the one protecting the Adirondack Park as “Forever Wild”.  In the third installment of our series on the pros & cons of a Constitutional Convention, we will discuss the history and practical implications of this unique constitutional promise.  Why, for example, should residents of New York City get to vote on a mining provision in the Park?  Plus, we debated other environmental questions.

Part III

Connect: NY 109, July 11, 2016 | Re-imagining New York: Crime & Punishment

Could a constitutional convention fix New York’s criminal justice system? Learn about the tragic story of Samuel Harrell, a mentally ill prisoner at the Fishkill Correctional Facility whose 2015 death was ruled a homicide and is still under investigation. A panel of experts addressed the issues that stem from the case, and discuss how a state constitutional convention could address the injustices that may have occurred.

Part IV

Connect: NY 110: Aug. 22, 2016 | Re-imagining New York: Power and Ethics

In the last 10 years, more than 30 current or former state officeholders in New York have been convicted of crimes, or accused of wrongdoing.  Could a Constitutional Convention help sweep out the bad apples?  How about take money out of politics?  Recalibrate power?  Or institute term limits?  The answer to all of the above is YES – but it comes with risks.

Part V

Connect: NY 111, Sept. 19, 2016 | Re-Imagining New York: Education

This episode introduces the idea that a Constitutional Convention in New York could impact the issues surrounding how children are equitably educated, how the education system is funded and why collective bargaining plays an important role.

Part VI

Connect: NY 112, Oct. 17, 2016 Re-imagining New York: From Imagination to Reality

What happens if New Yorkers vote ‘Yes’ to a Constitutional Convention in 2017? What are the risks? What positive steps could come out of a convention?


Detailed Programming Guide


‘Connect:NY’ series explores the next constitutional convention

Every 20 years, the NY state constitution mandates a statewide referendum on whether to convene a constitutional convention. The next vote arrives Nov. 7, 2017, when voters determine whether to hold a convetion. New York’s 50,000-word constitution currently has 225 amendments and was last amended in 1938.

To help voters make informed decisions, WCNY will explore this important opportunity to reshape government beginning with a series of six episodes of “Connect:NY.” WCNY’s News and Public Affairs Director Susan Arbetter will host monthly conversations on six of the key aspects of the issue on “Connect:NY.” Stakeholders in government, labor, the environment, law and business will join scholars and educators will join a lively, in-studio presentation that will be produced from WCNY’s Broadcast and Education Center.

The program features the following six upcoming topics:

May 16 at 9 p.m. | New York’s Constitutional Convention: Halley’s Comet of Change

In November of 2017, New Yorkers will have the chance to vote on whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention. In the first installment of our series on this critical vote, we discuss the problems that exist within the State’s Constitution as well as the risks that are inherent when the document is opened up to change.

June | Re-imagining New York: Environment

There is no more famous provision in the New York State Constitution than the one protecting the Adirondack Park as “Forever Wild”. In the third installment of our series on the pros & cons of a Constitutional Convention, we will discuss the history and practical implications of this unique constitutional promise. Why, for example, should residents of New York City get to vote on a mining provision in the Park? Plus, we will debate other environmental questions.

Issues:

  • Has “Forever Wild” worked? What lessons from it can we apply to other parts of the constitution?
  • Is there anything about “Forever Wild” that needs to be tweaked?
  • Could the constitution do more to promote conservation (e.g., carbon tax or mandate to reducecarbon emissions to a certain level)?
  • Should fresh drinking water be considered a constitutional right?

July 2016 | Re-imagining New York: Crime & Punishment

Critics say New York’s justice system is failing. State prisons employ rogue officers. The facilities to accommodate inmates with mental health problems are inadequate. That New York is one of only two states where 16-year-olds are treated as adults. In part four of our series on the Constitutional Convention we discuss how re-writing the State’s Constitution could address these issues, as well as the unintended consequences of constitutional change.

Issues:

  • Should New York raise the age of criminal responsibility?
  • Should there be a constitutional right to mental health supports?
  • How do we address prison brutality?
  • Why are some judges in the state appointed and other voted in by the people

August | Re-imagining New York: Ethics & PowerThe balance of power in New York State government tilts toward the executive branch. Critics say that the balance needs to be re-calibrated; they are unhappy that the Governor is permitted to include policy provisions in the state budget as he did with teacher evaluations in 2015. In the 5th installment of our series on the Constitutional Convention we will address the balance of power, as well as the issues that have had New Yorkers scratching their heads for years, including why “3 men in a room” hammer out the budget every year.

Issues:

  • Is “three men in a room” found in the constitution?
  • Why doesn’t the state have term limits for legislators/governors?
  • Can we take the money out of politics?
  • How come it seems like the same people win every year?
  • Would “Initiative & Referendum” work in New York State?

September | Re-imagining New York: EducationThe New York State Constitution promises a “sound basic education” to every student. But education advocates argue that lawmakers haven’t taken the promise seriously and have underfunded many districts. In the second installment of our Constitutional Convention series we will discuss school financing, as well as the constitutional provision that protects pensions for teachers.

Issues:

  • Should there be a constitutional right to pre-kindergarten education?
  • Should there be limits on class sizes?
  • How do we ensure equity in school funding?
  • Do we need to reform how the Board of Regents functions?
  • How do charter schools fit into the state constitution?
  • Should pensions be constitutionally protected?
  • Do we need to reform collective bargaining?

October 2016 | Con Con 2017: From Imagination to Reality

In the final installment of our series to prepare WCNY viewers for the November 2017 vote on a Constitutional Convention we will present a final breakdown of the risks and rewards of holding a convention including the idea that a convention acts as a pressure relief valve (or so our forefathers may have thought) for those who are dissatisfied with the process and the product of government and seek a course correction.

  • We explain that New Yorkers will have 3 opportunities to say “yes or no” in this process.
  • If voters say “yes” in 2017, what then? How would delegates be selected? Are lawmakers allowed to be delegates and if so, would they get double the salary? How much would a convention cost? How long would it last? Where would the event take place? What if we go through this process and voters say “no” to the final result? Will it have been a waste of time?
  • What would New York in the 21st century look like with and without a new constitution. “Connect: NY” will be broadcast on public television stations across New York State. It will also be available for streaming online at wcny.org/connectny.

 

Broadcast Media Interview Shows that Regularly Cover the

November 7, 2017 Referendum

 

Effective Radio with Bill Samuels

A radio talk show that regularly covers the upcoming state constitutional convention referendum is Effective Radio with Bill Samuels, which airs every Sunday at 11 a.m. both online and over-the-air on AM970. Here is a link to its convention episodes.  Here is the press release announcing the series.

 

Broadcast Media Coverage of the

November 7, 2017 Referendum

 

Regional News Network’s Andrew Whitman moderates a debate over whether or not New York should hold a convention on the state constitution between former assemblymen Richard Brodsky and Arthur Kremer, July 28, 2017.  The half hour show, including ads, was divided into three segments.

 

Making the Case for a Constitutional ConventionSpectrum News, June 27, 2017. Brandon West from New Kings Democrats and Dick Dadey and Art Chang from Citizens Union make the case for holding a constitutional convention.

 

Civic Group Panel Discussions Available Online

 

New York State League of Women Voters

Panel discussion about the New York State Constitution in the context of the upcoming referendum, November 10, 2016, Albany NY (1 hour, 17 minutes)

The New York State Constitutional Convention in Historical Perspective. Sponsored by the New York State Historical Association
November 18, 2016, SUNY Albany.  Note: The session on New York State constitutional history was organized as a follow-up to the September 24, 2015 event at the New York Council for the Humanities produced by The New York State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse.  See the article in the New York History Blog, November 29, 2015.

 

Trade Publications

 

Marijuana

How New York Voters Can End Prohibition, Medical Cannabis Advocates, August 16, 2017.

Siegel, Jeff, How New York Voters Can Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis in Two Years, Wealth Daily, July 10, 2017.

Dewald, Jerome W., Tyranny in Albany on Independence Day, LinkedIn, July 4, 2017.

Activists Bet $600,000 On Cannabis For NYS Constitutional Convention, MJ News, June 16, 2017.

Changing the New York Constitution on Cannabis, Comfy Blog, June 2017.

Adams, Mike, New York Lawmakers Make Second Attempt to Legalize Marijuana in 2017, Merry Jane, June 9, 2017.

Adams, Mike, New Yorkers Could See Marijuana Fully Legalized in 2019, Merry Jane, June 5, 2017.

Adler, Hillary, Recreational Cannabis Legalization Could Happen in New York by 2019, Green Rush Daily, June 5, 2017.

  Lectures on the Upcoming Referendum

League of Women Voters Chapter Event on October 2, 2017.  

Title: Finding Voice: Understanding the NYS Constitutional Convention Referendum:

Location & Date: This program was held at the Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning, New York on October 2, 2017.

The program is shown in five video clips as follows:

  1. Video 1: contains the program introduction by Karen Biesanz, of the League of Women Voters of Steuben County, and part 1 of the presentation of J.H. Snider the editor of the NYS Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse.
  2. Video 2: contains part 2 of the presentation of J. H. Snider the editor of the NYS Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse.
  3. Video 3: features the presentation of Professor Jim Wombly of Elmira College.
  4. Video 4: features part 1 of the Q&A session
  5. Video 5: features part 2 of the Q&A session

Program Overview:  Learn about the NYS Constitutional Conventions and the upcoming November 7 referendum. Two distinguished political science scholars, J.H. Snider, editor of The New York State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse and Jim Twombly, award-winning Professor of American Politics at Elmira College will talk about the history, process, delegate selection, and function of the state constitutional convention and referendum as well as current issues. Hear how the institution of the periodic constitutional convention referendum can play a vital democratic role. There will be a Q & A and open mic following the program.

Speakers: J.H. Snider is the editor of The New York State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse. He has a Ph.D. in American Government from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. He has been a fellow at several institutions including Harvard and Northwestern.

Jim Twombly is an award-winning Professor of American Politics at Elmira College. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from SUNY Stony Brook. He was an Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, SUNY Buffalo. He has run for public office. He is a Political Analyst for WENY-TV.

“Finding Voice” is designed to be a safe space for all voices. A series co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Steuben County & The Southeast Steuben County Library.

Lecture on New York’s first constitutional convention in 1777.

Published on Feb 27, 2017.  A presentation on the New York State Constitutional Convention as part of the “Kingston Buried Treasures” series held at the Senate House in Uptown Kingston, NY. The NYS Constitutional Convention was held in the colonial city of Kingston at the Courthouse (the current location of the Ulster County Courthouse) from March 6th to April 20th, 1777. Presented by retired Court of Appeals Justice Albert Rosenblatt, the lecture discusses how the NYS Constitution helped to shape other state constitutions and the eventual drafting of the US Constitution.

The three main drafters of the 1777 constitution were (@36:00):

  1. Jon Jay, Born December 12, 1745, age 31
  2. Robert Livingston, Born November 27,1746, age 30
  3. Governeur Morris, Born January 31, 1752, age 25

David Miranda, Announcing the Committee on the New York State Constitution, New York State Bar Association,July 24, 2015.

Snider, J.H., Brainstorming a Public History and Civic Participation Agenda for New York’s Nov. 2017 Constitutional Convention Referendum, New York Council for the Humanities, September 24, 2015.

Benjamin, Gerald, The Potential Impact of the 2017 Constitutional Convention Referendum, The State Academy for Public Administration, October 28, 2015. [One correction: the outcome of the 2010 Maryland referendum concerning the required majority was not litigated and has never been litigated.]

 

David Miranda, Report of the Committee on the New York State Constitution, New York State Bar Association, November 13, 2015.

New York State Constitutional Convention Boot Camp for Reporters, New York State Bar Association, December 7, 2015.