A Convention Could Solve Albany's Corruption

The governor and Legislature have buried their heads in the sand during a time of crisis in New York State. Corruption has run rampant, destroying public trust and threatening the very foundation of democracy – a government that works for the people. Yet, despite watching the historic sentencing of two former legislative leaders, among other lawmakers, Albany is simply bumbling through the home stretch of session passing one-house bills and fringe legislation even as the public clamors for real change. Quite frankly, it’s pathetic and embarrassing that it’s nearly June and we are still only talking about ethics legislation.
 
One way to get at the heart of all that’s wrong with Albany is to convene a Constitutional Convention, which I strongly advocate. If those in power won’t do what’s needed, the people should. A Constitutional Convention would allow delegates chosen in non-partisan elections to identify ways to improve the New York State Constitution and send those suggestions directly to the voters via referendum. This would be a perfect opportunity to ensure, for example, corrupt politicians never again collect taxpayer-funded pensions.  
 
GETTING POWER BACK TO THE PEOPLE
 
The state Constitution requires a vote to hold a Constitutional Convention be placed on the ballot at least once every 20 years, and it is scheduled to appear on the ballot in November of 2017. If the Legislature chooses to submit the question sooner, though, voters would be given a chance to decide before the statutorily guaranteed 20 years.
 
Now is the time to act. Albany’s indifference has left the institution of government in shambles and the lack of transparency and ethics is chilling. The people of New York deserve so much more than they are getting, and a Constitutional Convention would give them a powerful voice for change.
 
Under legislation I have proposed, the People’s Convention Reform Act (A.4674), delegates at the convention would be selected in a fair, non-partisan manner that would remove special interests and donations from political parties. This legislation would require any elected official or officer, or party official, to vacate their office in order to serve as a delegate. Anyone lobbying the convention would be prohibited from serving as a delegate.
 
As we prepare for the final days of the 2016 legislative session, I encourage New Yorkers to become familiar with the Constitutional Convention process and its possibilities. Doing so would be a sign you will not accept blatant disregard for the principles this state and country were founded on— open and accountable government that puts people above politics. When the government is too weak to act, the people must show strength.
 
More information about the Constitutional Convention process and what it would mean in New York State can be found at http://www.newyorkconcon.info/.
 
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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