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Gotham Gazette

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Bill Samuels

Bill Samuels

  • 10 Bold or Bizarre Proposals for a New York Constitutional Convention

    voting constitutional convention


    When New York voters head to the polls on November 7, Election Day, printed on their ballots will be the question, “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?”

    A "yes" vote would trigger a state constitutional convention process that could lead to major changes to the New York constitution.

    While the first New York Constitution dates back to 1777, the version used today was adopted in 1894, with significant modifications made following the 1938 constitutional convention. Of those in support of a

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  • Constitutional Convention Absent from Cuomo’s 2017 Agenda

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Governor's Office)


    Though he has expressed support in the past for a “yes” vote for a constitutional convention on this year’s ballot, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s newly revealed 2017 agenda and 2017-2018 budget provide no indication that such support continues.

    Last year, Cuomo backed a constitutional convention in his lone State of the State speech, which was combined with a budget presentation, and he included $1 million in his spending proposal for a preparatory commission. Yet, this year, the issue is notably absent from Cuomo’s

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  • Justice Department Decision Boosts Push for Private Prison Divestment

    GEO stock


    A recent decision by the federal Department of Justice to scale back and eventually end the use of private prisons indirectly impacted New York City’s pension funds, reducing holding values by millions of dollars and leading to renewed calls from activists for the city to divest from the for-profit corporations that operate these prisons.

    Earlier this month, the Obama administration took a major step against an industry that has long been criticized for its culture of violence, secrecy, and the devaluation of human life: private

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  • A Post-Budget Test of the Governor’s Commitment to a Constitutional Convention

    cuomo desk legislation signing

    Cuomo signs legislation (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    In terms of the state’s nearly $150 billion budget, $1 million isn’t a lot of money. But for reform advocates the $1 million Gov. Andrew Cuomo had committed in his executive budget plan for a commission to prepare for a constitutional convention was both functionally and symbolically crucial to their belief that the governor and the Legislature would actually commit to reforming state government - or at least giving “the people” an opportunity to do so.

    The funding

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  • Amid Further Ethics Scandal, What Can Cuomo Do Now?

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: @NYGovCuomo)


    Last March Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Now, a little more than a year later, both legislative leaders have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of federal corruption. Surrounded by scandal, it isn't immediately clear what the governor can or will do next. One thing that is sure, though, is that the worse Albany looks, the worse Cuomo looks.

    After

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