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Constitutional convention in NY could bring trouble

Screengrab of a YouTube video form the Nassau

Screengrab of a YouTube video form the Nassau County PBA. Why you must vote "no" to a NYS Constitutional Convention on November 7, 2017. Credit: YouTube / Nassau County PBA

Newsday blithely dismisses as myth that public pensions and collective bargaining could be threatened by a state constitutional convention [“Myths and realities of a state constitutional convention,” Editorial, Oct. 15].

Perhaps the editorial board has not followed the attacks on labor and pensions going on in our country. Dark money interests have permeated politics at all levels, especially directed at labor.

As the editorial pointed out, the right of public workers to a pension was codified at a constitutional convention in 1938. This, however, is 2017, and labor has suffered serious setbacks in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri and more.

As a public pensioner, I’ve endured the arguments that my hard-earned pension is a burden to the economy and undeserved. The “con-con” process can only hurt labor interests, it certainly won’t help them.

Mike Ferguson, Malverne

Newsday’s editorial board is obfuscating the facts.

The editorial board seeks to persuade average voters that a constitutional convention would give more control in the political process to the people. That is clearly not the case.

A convention is unnecessary because the amendment process works — besides the constitutional convention question, there are two amendments on the Nov. 7 ballot. The issue that angers most voters is one of them: eliminating pensions for politicians who are convicted of felonies.

The last convention, in 1967, was dominated by politicians and their cohorts. The average person can’t afford to spend months traveling to Albany to take part, nor does he or she have the resources to run! The same people will make the decisions.

Patricia Costell, Port Jefferson Station

Editor’s note: The writer is the political action chair for the William Floyd United Teachers.

Newsday’s editorial board uses an overly optimistic stroke to rebut the myths. Some examples:

1. Although it’s unclear what the rules were in 1967, there seemed to be quite a few names of known elected officials who served as delegates. Why would a new convention be different?

2. The board states, “GOP control of a constitutional convention is unlikely.” If the 2016 presidential election has taught us anything, it’s that you should never write off the unlikely.

3. The board also believes “modern technology should make this the most transparent convention in state history.” Again, see the 2016 election, which continues to prove that not all is as it seems. Special-interest money will still find a way to influence this effort at nearly every stage. That is among the biggest frustrations of a majority of voters.

I’m in favor of a “con-con” in principle, but I also hold a lot of skepticism. Newsday’s arguments need to be more basic and realistic for 2017 if you really want the heated rhetoric, rather than the truth, to be the victim.

Denis O’Driscoll, Westbury

We already have a constitutional right in New York to clean air and water.

Article 14 of the state constitution reads like a manifesto of environmental consciousness. Far more than merely a “forever wild” clause, Article 14 broaches the value of natural resources in the broadest sense. We would stand to lose valuable environmental protections if even just a few words were tweaked and if anti-conservation forces got their way at a constitutional convention.

Not only would a convention be risky, history tells us it would be a waste of money. The last time New York held a convention, in 1967, when it came time for a public referendum vote, New Yorkers voted down all the suggested amendments. Nothing was changed.

It’s best to stick with what history has taught us works: an individual amendment process taking on one issue at a time.

Guy Jacob, Elmont

Editor’s note: The writer is conservation chair of the Nassau Hiking & Outdoor Club.