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  New York Needs a Constitutional Convention
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Parent(s) Candidate 
ContributorJason 
Last EditedJason  Jul 10, 2009 05:28am
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CategoryOp-Ed by Candidate
AuthorMario Cuomo, Gerald Benjamin
MediaNewspaper - Wall Street Journal
News DateFriday, July 10, 2009 01:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionFor the past month, the New York State Senate has stopped working entirely. The Senate is not dysfunctional -- it is nonfunctional. The problem is that neither the institution nor its members are accountable to "We, the people." Instead members concern themselves with personal and partisan agendas. More and more New Yorkers are asking: What can we do?

Let's recall a similar question Thomas Jefferson asked in a 1787 letter to William Smith: "[W]hat country can preserve its liberties, if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?" We in New York can act on Jefferson's warning. We can demand a constitutional convention.

There are two ways to amend the New York constitution. First, state legislators may identify problems with the political system and propose changes to the people. Second, if politicians benefit from the system's imperfections (as now) and are unlikely to change it, the constitution provides that every 20 years the people can propose necessary revisions. This is where a convention comes in.

Our next chance to have one will be in 2017. That date is frustratingly far off given the spectacle in Albany. But it is within the legislature's power to gain back an iota of respect. It should admit its failure and give the voters the chance to protect themselves against further governmental breakdown.
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