People’s Convention to Reform NY
April 29, 2010
Hicksville, NY – Is Albany working for you? That was the question Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) asked to open a Town Hall meeting he convened this evening with his Long Island colleagues, Assembly Members Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown), David G. McDonough (R,C,I-Merrick), Tom McKevitt (R,C,I-East Meadow), Michael Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head), and Andrew Raia (R,I,C-East Northport). Leader Kolb and the Members discussed their support for 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 could also be considered as part of a People’s Convention. Kolb and his colleagues also discussed, and took numerous questions from attendees, about their non-partisan legislation, “The People’s Convention to Reform New York Act,” Assembly Bill A.9157. If enacted, the bill would put the question of whether New York should convene a People’s Convention on the 2010 ballot; by law, this question automatically goes before voters in 2017. The non-partisan measure would move up the opportunity for reform by seven 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 back their state government– it begins by convening a People’s Convention, which is the first step toward restoring accountability,” said Kolb, who noted that over 2,000 people have already gone to www.reformny.org and signed the on-line petition in support of a People’s Convention. “Who holds the key to a stable, responsible, transparent state government? The people of New York do,” Montesano said. “That’s why we must initiate a People’s Convention to Reform New York. The average, middle class, hard-working individuals will unite as one voice and make tough, realistic decisions to get our government back on track.” “Taking control out of the hands of politicians and putting it into the hands of the people is just what New York State needs,” McDonough said. “We have let the dysfunction in Albany go on for way too long. A People’s Convention to Reform New York is just the change that the State Capitol needs.” “This idea of a People’s Convention to Reform New York would be a non-partisan group of citizens working together to fix the ongoing struggles of our state,” McKevitt said. “It is obvious to the people that what’s happening in Albany is not getting the job done.” “The people of New York State need to step up and unite with the common consensus that our state cannot continue to operate the way it has been,” Raia said. “We need to put a stop to tax increases and wasteful spending. It is time for Albany insiders to hear the real voices; the voices of the people.” “The question of whether a Constitutional Convention should be convened to open up the New York State Constitution to change is worthy of discussion and debate,” Fitzpatrick said. “As with any major undertaking – and opening the New York State Constitution would certainly qualify as one – there will be pros and cons. Today’s discussion has shed light on these issues.” The Town Hall meeting was held today from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus in Hicksville, which is located in Montesano’s 15th Assembly District in Nassau County. McDonough and McKevitt also represent parts of Nassau County. Fitzpatrick and Raia represent parts of Suffolk County. Kolb’s 129th Assembly District is located in the Finger Lakes region and contains Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, Ontario and Seneca counties. For further details on the People’s Convention to Reform New York, go to www.reformny.org and follow Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb on Twitter and Facebook.