Constitutional Convention - Good or Evil?

A Constitutional Convention takes place every 20 years, and the next one is not due in New York State  until 2017. The last one failed by referendum, because special interest groups waged a successful campaign aimed at misleading the public into believing it to be a bad thing (among other things). The good news is, one can be called for anytime before then. The bad news is, the State Legislature is the body that calls for it. If you're reading this, you're probably in the choir that already knows our state legislators are our biggest problem. These empty suits are the counterproductive force behind the dire straits we now find ourselves immersed -- like quicksand.

Our efforts to commence the noble endeavor to restore our state constitutional principles and the structure upon which it was founded, is hamstrung with fear the empty suits will use the prerogative to hijack the process, insert their own self-serving interests, and exclude us sensible, patriotic New Yorkers from participating. Therefore, we, at TEA New York, feel it essential that our List of Grievances be made known, before a vote to convene even comes forward. That way, they can't ignore us. Well, of course they'll try. But if, for instance, we were to create a petition and circulate it about the state, and get say, 5 million signatures, we'd easily become a force to be reckoned with. Even 500,000 would be significant.

Herewith is Our List of Grievances we would like to see addressed at a Constitutional Convention:
Proposals to Reform New York State Government

We the people of the State of New York appeal to the New York State Legislature to enact substantive reforms to significantly decrease the size and scope of government functions. In the event that our concerns are not addressed, we propose to abolish the present government.

The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence states "...that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends [enabling all Men's unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness], it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government...."

We the people of the State of New York believe the exponential growth of government in recent years has necessitated excessive and oppressive taxation upon a population unwilling and unable to sustain it. Moreover, the State Legislature's continuing demands, the substantial lack of accountability and negating of fundamental unalienable Rights of Individuals by extra-constitutional constructs have blatantly violated the public trust. As our representatives have turned a deaf ear to our concerns (i. e. socialized healthcare, masquerading as reform), we propose not to disassemble current functional agencies, offices and departments, but only to remove the entire body of representatives which acts as our present leadership. This can be achieved by a ballot initiative requiring electorate signatures that represent a percentage of the last gubnatorial election, which is estimated to be approximately 4.5 million signatures, as of 2009. We fully expect cooperation and assistance from law enforcement personnel to forcibly remove this body, if necessary.

Short of our civic duty to abolish present government, we propose to alter and restore it to the constitutional principles upon which it was founded, and we recommend a Constitutional Convention immediately convene to address and perform the following:

~Establish Term Limits
Legislators shall be limited to no more than two consecutive four-year terms

~Eliminate the gerrymandering of districts
The people of New York want their votes to be represented, not redistributed for the benefit of party agendas and incumbents’ re-election bids. Gerrymandering slices up districts to give an unfair and distinct majority of electors to one party, effectively eliminating opposition.

~Eliminate the Authorities
The unelected, unaccountable, and severely mismanaged Thruway Authority, the Water Authority, the Dormitory Authority, and countless other wasteful Authorities represent at least a $7 billion annual drain on the New York State economy.

~Enact Structural Reforms increase transparency and accountability of all government agencies.
~Explicitly make it a felony for a lawmaker to abuse his or her office for profit.
~Bar legislators, under another felony statute, from engaging in businesses that obtain revenue from the state.
~Outlaw, as a third felony, the practice of directing public monies in so-called member items to organizations with family ties or whose employees support a lawmaker's election campaigns.
~Establish a single, streamlined, independent ethics watchdog with full jurisdiction over the executive and legislative branches. Supply this body with subpoena power.
~Require full disclosure of lawmakers' outside income, accounting for every dollar, naming every client. Make this public disclosure available on the Internet.
~Stem special-interest cash flowing into campaign accounts by cutting contribution limits, eliminating loopholes and creating muscular election-law enforcement.
~Create stiff penalties, such as heavy fines, censure and suspension of pay for non-reporting of legislators’ Financial Disclosure Reports, of campaign contributions and expenditures.

~Set Measures in Place to Prohibit the Growth of Consolidated Power -- Eliminate the "Three Men in a Room:"
One man wields all power in each house (Senate & Assembly) – the power needs to be split – divided among legislators. It is essential that we return to a representative democracy.
~Legislators that serve on committees shall be the final authority on sending or discharging bills to a vote -- not the Senate Majority Leader, the Assembly Speaker, the Governor or their senior staffs -- and only after holding public hearings on proposed legislation to receive input from constituents and issue experts. Full reporting on hearings shall be made public, with each member's vote and final recommendations.
~No additional pay, benefits or stipends shall be awarded individual legislators for committee assignments, and committee assignments shall be distributed evenly among legislators (with both or all political parties represented), or reasonably to the extent that some committee seats may be more time intensive than others.
~A minimum of three full 24 hour days shall be given legislators to review and consider bills. The Governor's "message of necessity" shall rarely be used, and only exercised when threat to life has been clearly demonstrated.
~Set measures in place to curtail the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups.
~No more "one-house" bills
~Enact recall provisions for all elected State Officials

~ Propose and Enact the 28th Amendment: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

~Enact a Balanced Budget Act
This act would give the government two years to balance the budget when it goes into the red. Simply stated, the State Legislature should be prohibited from engaging in spending beyond its limits. We propose a freeze on borrowing, deficit spending and the hiring of new personnel.

~Require constitutional testing of all proposed legislation prior to passage
and enforcement.

~Provide initiative and referendum to the citizens of New York

~De-politicize the Board of Elections  by establishing an independent and non-partisan board. Revise the petition process, and make it a felony for any employee of the Board of Elections to provide misinformation, or attempt to delay, disrupt, arrange or otherwise influence the outcome of an election.

~Get rid of the "agency shop" rules for NYS employees, eliminating the requirement that all NYS employees pay union dues, regardless of whether or not they join a union. Set in place to financially support the union for its collective bargaining activities for all employees, union or non-union, it has now out-lived its usefulness, as a large part of "union dues" go to political activities (almost always for liberals/progressives and Democrat political campaigns).
This is clearly a conflict of interest, as it has largely contributed to the growth of government, and provides no incentive to cut such unsustainable growth.

~Eliminate Medicaid Fraud & Abuse.
30% of Medicaid spending is waste.  If New York State would align with other states' Medicaid provisions, property tax bills would decrease by 54%.

~Institute a Property Tax Cap
Erie & Niagara Counties have some of the highest property tax rates of anywhere in the nation.

~Restrict the functions of federal agencies within New York to those functions specifically required in the US Constitution.

~Reform Gun Laws in New York State  to reflect, not only the words of the Constitution of the United States but the spirit in which it was written. " A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

~Confirm the sovereignty of the State of New York

~Enact serious immigration reform.  Eliminate any and all public subsidies for the maintenance of illegal immigrants, and to require their immediate extradition to their country of origin.

~Make English the official language of the State of New York.

JMW Thompson, Rus Thompson, Tea New York
Leonard Roberto, Primary Challenge
"Three Men in a Room" by Seymour Lachman
Greg@ ReformNYS, Matthew Weiser, Thomas Dean, Ellie Corcoran -- "A great big nothing: The Legislature's idea of reform isn't even a joke"  Saturday, January 16th 2010
Created 31Mar2009; Updated 24Feb2010

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with suggestions, additions, ommisions.