That was the question Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) asked during a Town Hall meeting March 3 at the Wayne County Courthouse with his colleague Assemblyman Robert Oaks (R-C-Macedon). Leader Kolb and Assemblyman Oaks discussed a “People’s Convention to Reform New York,” and described how it could deliver the positive change that New Yorkers of all political parties – and regions – have been demanding.
The People’s Convention to Reform New York is a grassroots, non-partisan reform effort to empower citizens so they can take back their state government and, in the process, chart a positive, new direction for New York. Some of the issues that could be considered during a People’s Convention include fiscal reforms like a property tax and state spending cap, debt reform, along with a ban on “backdoor” borrowing and unfunded mandates. Governmental reforms such as initiative and referendum, an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, term limits for Legislative Leaders, ethics reform and a succession plan for state offices also could be considered as part of a People’s Convention.
Kolb and Oaks also discussed, and took numerous questions from attendees, about “The People’s Convention to Reform New York Act.” If enacted, the bill would put the question of whether New York should convene a People’s Convention on the 2011 ballot; by law, this question automatically goes before voters in 2017. The non-partisan measure would move up the opportunity for reform by six years, accelerating the state’s ability to enact long overdue and much-needed changes. The legislation specifically requires that any elected official seeking to run as a delegate for, or serve in, the People’s Convention must first resign their office.
“There is a growing feeling among New Yorkers that their state government has stopped working for them – that it’s grown too costly, unresponsive and disconnected from the lives of those it was supposed to serve. It is time New Yorkers took their state government back – it begins by convening a People’s Convention, which is the first step toward restoring accountability,” said Kolb, who noted that several thousand people have already gone to www.reformny.org and signed the on-line petition in support of a People’s Convention.
Oaks suggested that a constitutional convention could help push though reforms in the state Legislature, from tax and spending caps to mandate reform and independent redistricting. He noted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said reform is a priority, but Oaks said, “We don’t know if that change is going to happen or not.” A convention, he suggested, could be an opportunity to improve state government.
Kolb said the Assembly Minority Conference will hold additional Town Hall meetings throughout 2011. For further details on the People’s Convention to Reform New York, go to www.reformny.org