A Guide To The Six Proposals On The Ballot In New York Tomorrow


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By Jay Kirell

I don’t care who you vote for in tomorrow’s elections, but if you live in New York, you’ll have a number of lesser-known ballot proposals. Here’s a quick summary, including my position and how I intend to vote on them…

Proposal 1: Authorizing Casino Gaming

The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?

Reasons to Vote YES

* Casinos will jumpstart the economies of economically depressed regions upstate by attracting tourists, creating jobs, and generating revenue.
* This will generate substantial tax revenues for state and local governments. Most of these revenues would be used to finance public education and lower property taxes.
* Casino gambling is a fun recreational activity that should be more accessible to New Yorkers.
* Many state residents already visit casinos in neighboring states such as New Jersey and Connecticut. New York should reap the profits from New York residents’ gambling, not these other states.

Reasons to Vote NO

* Legalized casinos are a predatory scheme to raise money from the poor and vulnerable. They would lead to an increase in compulsive gambling, which has financial and social consequences for victims and their loved ones.
* Casinos attract illegal activities such as forgery, fraud, theft, embezzlement, and prostitution. These and other problems caused by gambling could cost the state nearly $400 million per year.
* We should not permit casinos in New York before we more carefully study their potential impact. Casinos do not guarantee economic development, and sometimes have little overall economic effect.
* Casinos in New York will not be especially profitable, and will have a limited impact on regional economies, because the Northeast has recently become saturated with casinos.
* This proposal would have minimal short-term impact downstate because casinos would not be developed in New York City and nearby counties for at least seven years.
* We’re always promised that new state revenues will go toward education and lowering taxes, but this never seems to happen.

How I Plan To Vote:

* If I lived upstate this would be a no-brainer. The benefits of casino revenue far outweigh the negative impacts for upstate towns and cities. New York City doesn’t need a casino to generate revenue, and Long Island has horse racing. It doesn’t impact me personally, but I’ve been to Atlantic City enough times to recognize the sleazy element that it attracts. People like Donald trump and Sheldon Adelson tell you all you need to know about the types of people who get into the casino business. In a crappy economy, like the one we have now, it’s a lot easier for the snake-oil of casinos to lure politicians looking for easy infusions of cash. But maybe the economy combined with last year’s storm knocked downstate NY off its high moral horse enough to feel the pain upstate NY has been dealing with for decades. I don’t like the idea of casinos in New York, but I can’t think of a good reason to deny them to a region who could benefit from them.

I’m holding my nose and voting YES.

—-

Proposal 2: Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post-Appointment

The proposed amendment to section 6 of article 5 of the Constitution would entitle a veteran who has received civil service credit for a civil service appointment or promotion and subsequently is certified as disabled to additional civil service credit at a subsequent appointment or promotion. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Reasons to Vote YES

* It should not matter when a veteran is disabled for calculating civil service credit. This proposal closes that loophole.
* Our veterans have risked their lives for us and deserve our full support when they come home.

Reasons to Vote NO

* The civil service system already adequately compensates disabled veterans. More compensation is not needed.

How I Plan To Vote:

This is pretty much a no-brainer. It applies to veterans who get civil service jobs but haven’t gotten a disability rating yet from the VA – and since New York City has one of the slowest times for VA claims, it makes sense that someone can get a civil service position before their disability rating comes in – sometimes years later.

I’m enthusiastically voting YES.

—-

Proposal 3: Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities

The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 5 of the Constitution would extend for ten years, until January 1, 2024, the authority of counties, cities, towns, and villages to exclude from their constitutional debt limits indebtedness contracted for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Reasons to Vote YES

* This exemption would allow cities and towns to maintain high-quality sewage systems without exceeding their constitutional debt limitations.
* This proposal would allow municipalities to continue an appropriate financial management practice that has been in place for over 50 years.

Reasons to Vote NO

* This proposal would allow municipalities to accumulate excessive debt that could impose crippling obligations on future taxpayers.
* This exemption sets a bad precedent by allowing municipalities to get around debt limits. If we think the debt limits are too onerous, then we should revise the debt limits.

How I Plan To Vote:

I’ll admit I’m not the world’s greatest sewage system expert, but this seems like a debt issue relating the towns being able to go over budget to fund new sewage systems. And the types opposing it seem like the strict tea-party budget types.

I’ll vote YES.

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Proposal 4: Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve

The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to settle longstanding disputes between the State and private entities over ownership of certain parcels of land in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County. In exchange for giving up its claim to disputed parcels, the State would get land to be incorporated into the forest preserve that would benefit the forest preserve more than the disputed parcels currently do. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Reasons to Vote YES

* This proposal would allow residents living on these disputed parcels to remain while adding more beneficial forest land to the Land Preserve for the public to enjoy.
* Resolving this decades-long land dispute through the courts would be expensive; the state can potentially save these costs if this proposal passes.

Reasons to Vote NO

* The state should not give public land to private owners.
* According to the Constitution, this land is supposed to be kept “forever wild.” If the state gives up its fight for this land, the entire forest preserve is in jeopardy.
* The Legislature cannot be trusted to obtain land in exchange that will benefit the forest preserve more than the disputed parcels do.

How I Plan To Vote:

This seems like a small regional issue that I probably should research more. But my instinct tells me to vote against it because if it can resolved in the court system, that’s probably the best place for it.

I’ll vote NO

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Proposal 5: In Relation to a Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals, Inc.

The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to convey forest preserve land located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, to NYCO Minerals, a private company that plans on expanding an existing mine that adjoins the forest preserve land. In exchange, NYCO Minerals would give the State at least the same amount of land of at least the same value, with a minimum assessed value of $1 million, to be added to the forest preserve. When NYCO Minerals finishes mining, it would restore the condition of the land and return it to the forest preserve. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Reasons to Vote YES

* Allowing NYCO Minerals to use the land could extend the life of its mine by at least a decade, saving more than 100 jobs in the area. The company’s current mine has only three more years of expected life.
* The Forest Preserve contains the only viable mining location in the region. Other potential mining sites would be much more difficult and costly to mine.
* The proposal would not diminish the amount of land available for the public to enjoy in the short term, and would ultimately increase the size of the preserve once NYCO Minerals returns the land it received to the State.

Reasons to Vote NO

* This sets a bad precedent because it would be the first swap of Adirondack Park land undertaken for private commercial gain.
* NYCO should not mine on Adirondack Park land when it could mine at an alternate site two miles away called Oak Hill.
* Mined lands that will be returned to the Park will have suffered ecological destruction
* There are a number of scenarios under which NYCO Minerals might never return the exchanged land to the public trust, or might return it in a damaged state, such as if the company were to go out of business. This could make the land unsuitable for public use or require public dollars to rehabilitate.

How I Plan To Vote:

I think this is a no-brainer again. Let’s see, parks or mines?
I’ll vote NO.

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Proposal 6: Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can Serve

The proposed amendment to the Constitution, amending sections 2 and 25 of article 6, would increase the maximum age until which certain state judges may serve as follows: (a) a Justice of the Supreme Court would be eligible for five additional two-year terms after the present retirement age of 70, instead of the three such terms currently authorized; and (b) a Judge of the Court of Appeals who reaches the age of 70 while in office would be permitted to remain in service on the Court for up to 10 years beyond the present retirement age of 70 in order to complete the term to which that Judge was appointed. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Reasons to Vote YES

* The current mandatory retirement ages were set in 1869. Considering that life expectancy is now much higher and many senior citizens lead active and healthy lives, it no longer makes sense to force judges to retire at age 70.
* This proposal will allow the most experienced judges to remain on the bench. Older judges may be more effective than younger judges due to their experience and the fact that their decisions may be less influenced by personal career prospects.
* Four current members of the U.S. Supreme Court are over 70, and have showed no signs of slowing down. If these judges sat on New York State’s highest court, they would have already been forced to retire.

Reasons to Vote NO

* We need younger and more diverse judges to bring a fresh perspective to the courts – not older judges serving longer.
* This proposal could result in judges serving after they are no longer mentally or physically capable.
* All judges in New York State should be subject to the same mandatory retirement age. This proposal creates a two-tiered system where statewide judges can retire later than judges in local and specialized courts, whose current retirement age of 70 would be unaffected.

How I Plan to Vote:

Really, there’s a ballot proposal to let 80-year-olds serve on the bench? I’m not saying it’s wrong, just kinda funny when you think about it. I guess if 30 is the new 20 and 40 the new 30 it stands to reason 80 is the new 70.

I’ll vote YES.

——–

So to recap:

1.    YES

2.    YES

3.    YES

4.    NO

5.    NO

6.    YES

h/t – http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/ballot_proposals.aspx

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