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Commentary & Opinion

Andrew Pallotta: The Con Job

I’ve been thinking a lot about a really scary poll number:

89 percent of New Yorkers say they have heard little or nothing about a ballot question coming at us this November.

You see, every 20 years there’s a question on the November ballot:

Should New York convene a special convention to open up – and possibly re-write – the state constitution?

I’m from Brooklyn originally – you may be able to tell by my accent – and we speak pretty directly.

Let me tell you: A constitutional convention is a bad deal for the average person.

The “con con” is a con job!

This wouldn’t be a people’s convention. It would be a taxpayer- funded party for politicians and their hedge-fund backers.

Billionaires would run the show.

Politicians would be paid an additional $80,000 a year on top of their legislative salaries, giving them no incentive to get any work done. 

A Constitutional Convention would cost millions and millions of dollars.  It could run on for months with no end in sight.  The total cost to taxpayers could easily be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yep, the con con is a con job!

This would be a convention for the politicians – not a convention for the people.

The cost would be enormous — and so much would be at risk.

A lot of the protections we count on could be dismantled in a free-wheeling party to rewrite the constitution.

The state Constitution guarantees the “forever wild” protections of the Adirondacks and the Catskills — so we don’t have strip malls, or strip mines  that mar our state’s natural beauty.  Those protections would be threatened. .

Women’s reproductive rights, retirement security — they could all be at risk.  Workers ‘ right to organize in unions could be lost.

These are all protections that hard-working families rely on.

But once the big money starts flowing, who knows what Albany politicians will do?  All of these rights and more could be gutted.

The legislature already holds the power to pass positive reforms —  IF it wants to. There’s no need for a special big-bucks party on the taxpayer’s dime.

Progressives, moderates and conservatives don’t normally agree on ballot issues.  But groups across the spectrum agree on this:

A constitutional convention would be an expensive boondoggle.  Too many of the rights that New York families now enjoy would be at risk if politicians and special interests run the show.

We don’t need to waste millions and millions of taxpayers’ dollars on this.

When you go to the voting booth this November, remember to vote NO on a Constitutional Convention.

This “con con” is a con job!

Andrew Pallotta is president of the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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