Election 2017: Pros and Cons on the Three Ballot Questions

Office of the Governor

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos are among a slew of state officials whose convictions fueled calls for changes to pension rules. Both men have had those convictions overturned, for the moment.

In addition to voting to elect city, county, state and judicial officials on November 7, New York City voters will be asked to weigh in on three ballot questions, only one of which—the bid to hold a constitutional convention—has received any press. Here’s a quick look at the questions and some resources for deciding how to vote:

Proposal Number 1: Constitutional Convention:

Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?

The case for a “yes” is well argued here.

The case for a “no” is laid out here.

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Proposal Number 2: Allowing the complete or partial forfeiture of a public officer’s pension if he or she is convicted of a certain type of felony

The proposed amendment to section 7 of Article 2 of the State Constitution would allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

The case for “yes” is articulated here.

The case for a “no” … is something no one seems to be making publicly. But there could be a concern that once you create circumstances under which the guarantee of a pension can be withdrawn, it could expand to other circumstances and other workers.

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Proposal Number 3: Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes

The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of tress and vegetation. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

The case for “yes” can be found here.

The case for “no” … is something no one seems to be making publicly. Many environmental groups back a yes vote. One could raise an objection that forest preserve land is supposed to be protected from use, period, and that once the state starts eroding the protections around such land, new and less valid reasons to do so will be profferred.

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