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Conservative Party votes to oppose constitutional convention

ALBANY — The state Conservative Party has voted to oppose a Nov. 7 referendum to hold a constitutional convention that could rewrite the state constitution and dramatically change how Albany operates, the party announced Thursday.

“The Convention held in 1967, which Chairman Michael R. Long participated in, was a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and if one was held now, it would cost taxpayers even more money and be controlled by the same special interests that already have a strong presence in the legislative process,” the party said in a statement.

Long, the state Conservative Party chairman, had joined most political leaders in Albany in personally opposing a convention.

“The permanent powers in Albany, whether liberal or conservative, all oppose the constitutional convention because they fear it could reduce their power,” said John Kaehny, executive director of the good-government group Reinvent Albany.

“Basically, if you’re already an insider and you have special access and influence, why risk changing anything?” Kaehny said. “They’ve spent years getting to a place where they can wire things to their benefit.”

Only one legislative leader, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua), supports a convention.

The Conservative Party also voted Wednesday to support two other proposed constitutional amendments that are more widely supported by politicians and interest groups.

The party urges voter support for a proposal to allow towns to use a “land bank” to use small amounts of otherwise protected wild land in the Adirondacks and Catskills when needed for public safety purpose, such as in building a bridge or road.

Conservatives also voted to support a measure that would take away the public pensions of policymaking public officials convicted of corruption related to their government jobs.

Under the state constitution, voters get a chance every 20 years to call for a constitutional convention.

The other two referendum questions are being placed on the ballot by the Legislature.


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