You say you want a Constitutional Convention?

Be careful what you wish for, New York. Here are 10 reasons why a constitutional convention is not what New York residents (or any other Americans) actually want or need.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

….

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead

— Beatles, 1968

When I first heard about the opportunity for a New York State Constitutional Convention, I was excited. Social Studies teachers, of course, live for the democratic process. After an investigation, however, I have realized that voting no to a convention is the most important action in our current “democracy.”

I usually shy away from telling people how to vote. Heck, I just like when people vote. However, I feel compelled to notify my fellow New Yorkers the following reasons why they should go to the polls, flip over their ballot and fill in the “no” bubble on November 7, 2017. Yes, you read that correctly: you must flip the ballot over to vote “no” on this convention.

Although the following reasons for voting “no” on November 7, 2017, are not exhaustive, please allow me to boil down my research into ten digestible points:

1. The party hosts

The convention would be run by politicians financed by lobbyists.

The Rockefeller Institute really wants a convention. Hmm…Rockefellers? Are average New Yorkers really going to be well represented by the Rockefeller Institute?

Think deeply about what career politicians and their campaign financiers desire? Is their agenda comparable to what typical New Yorkers would need?

The following nine points would be on the bought-and-paid-for-politicians chopping block:

2. Pensions

Public employee pensions would be in peril. Police officers, firefighters, and teachers’ retirements would be in jeopardy. Let that sink in either personally or economically. If you are not a member or related to a person in one of those groups, please realize that New York’s economy would be severely hindered without the monies these professionals spend in their retirement.

A “NO” vote is a demonstration of support of our first responders and a group who are one of our children’s most important influences.

3. Grandma and Grandpa

Public monies for elder care, adult day care, and Medicare would all be on the chopping block. New York State elders are already limited in their options, often needing to be absolutely broke before receiving any financial assistance. Most of us will grow old. What size do we want the senior safety net to measure? In a time of deep cuts in budgets, where will elder care “fit” on the chopping block?

A “yes” vote disrespects a generation of people who have worked their entire lives, paid taxes to our state coffers, and who should not be reduced to eating cat food.

4. The Adirondacks

And the Catskills, too. “Forever Wild” designations could be changed to allow for development. Short term that might bring revenue, but Teddy Roosevelt appreciated that destroying our environmental heritage is never a long-term gain.

A “NO” vote is a statement in support of New York State’s beauty.

5. Right to Work

This is a confusing term. Sure, I want the right to work. However, it means the destruction of the rights of collective bargaining. Unions, although ineffective at times, are the only barrier between worker’s benefits and greed.

Trust me, New York, you do not want to be South Carolina!

6. Health Care

States decide how health care monies are allocated. This means local hospitals, ambulance services, medical research and Medicare dollars would all be at risk by a constitutional convention.

A “NO” vote is a vote for quality health care and access to hospitals across New York State.

7. Wasted Time

A year. It would take a full year to “elect’ the convention delegates. After these politicians are chosen, they would have an indefinite time to debate and discuss changes to the constitution.

Can we trust those elected officials to have integrity and punctuality?

No is the answer and is also why a “NO” vote on November 7, 2017, is so important.

8. Wasted Money

The last time a constitutional convention was convened was 1967, the cost was 47 million dollars! The estimated cost of a convention in today’s dollars is 350 million dollars!

Think about what could be changed with $350 million? What would be your personal wish list?

A “NO” vote is sending a message of fiscal responsibility.

9. Public Education

You want privatization and corporatization? Do you want an end to publically funded schools being a right of every citizen of the empire state? If, so, vote yes.

However, if you value public schools — one of the few things New York gets “right,” then vote NO! Education is a power reserved to the states. Advocates of charter and private school vouchers would use the opening of the state constitution as an opportunity to modify the rules to fill their own pocketbooks.

A “No” vote is an affirmation for public education.

10. Reform

Sure, reform is needed. So much is wrong in New York State. People have fled our great state in droves. Our roads and bridges need repair. Our schools need serious renovations. However true reform will not happen in a constitutional convention. Legislation and voter accountability of politicians is the path for needed reform.

No, changing the constitution is like opening Pandora’s box, and we all know that did not end well.

Links to Sources:

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