BLOG | 08/12

Editorial: New York needs a constitutional convention

The last time New Yorkers were required to consider holding a constitutional convention, they demurred. That was in 1997 and, according to the state’s 20-year schedule, voters will again be asked this November if they want to convene such a gathering to make changes to the state’s foundational document. They should vote to do so.

It is true that there are risks in holding such a convention. Delegates could be beholden to officeholders who want to manipulate the state to their advantage. The upstate/downstate split could be exacerbated, especially if the downstate power center dominates the proceedings.

Those were the arguments that arose in 1997, as well, and likely in 1977, too, when a convention was also rejected. But there is a different dynamic in 2017, one that compels serious consideration of the benefits that such a convention might produce.

Foremost among them is the issue of ethics. Albany has none. It’s a playground for extortionists, thieves and other crooks, among them a former governor, a former state comptroller, a former Assembly speaker and a former leader of the State Senate. The place is crawling with miscreants who think their positions of public trust amount to a license to raid the public cupboard or otherwise indulge a dangerous sense of entitlement.