Remember the flurry of interest this summer in a New York state constitutional convention from politicians and voters? The voters may be climbing down from the threat, but Rick Lazio is still ready to capitalize on it in his race for governor.
The man best known for losing to Hillary Clinton in her first Senate race tells The Empire Page he wants a convention, leading to a unicameral legislature. “I compare the situation in Albany to a leaky roof,” he says. “You patch it five, ten times and it still leaks.” Also, “The City of New York and almost every municipality and county is governed by a unicameral legislature…” And we see how well that’s worked out…
Another Republican and convention supporter, state senator Joseph Griffo, promotes the idea of a single six-year term for the governor, whereby “whoever is elected governor will be able to focus on getting the job done the right way from the minute he or she assumes office.”
Even some local politicals elders, like Mario Cuomo and Rudolph Giuliani, are sympathetic to the idea of a convention, at least. But the Los Angeles Times tells New Yorkers, “Californians have been there, done that and lived to regret it. Current calls for reform in California focus on exactly the opposite: loosening term limits, restraining the initiative process and giving a simple majority of legislators the ability to raise taxes.”
The hopes for such a convention really depend on whether voter outrage can be exacerbated over a long enough period of time to get the cumbersome machinery in place and defeat all fears of fundamental change, which is no snap. Alternately politicians can just talk about it and show they’re on the side of The People. What the hell — once in office they can always get it undone.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 13, 2009