March 2017 Issue
March 28, 2017

New website offers tools to defeat ConCon referendum

Author: By Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT United

new york state constitutional conventionThis is the sixth in a series about key reasons why an upcoming referendum to hold a state constitutional convention must be defeated. The series, "Open the state constitution? Heck, NO," examines topics — collective bargaining, public pensions, forever wild provisions, public education and social welfare obligations — that would be at risk if a state constitutional convention was held.

NYSUT is launching a new website to help members and like-minded activists turn the tide against the Nov. 7 referendum on a New York State constitutional convention.

NoNewYorkConvention.org provides dozens of documents and links to arm regular folks like us with the information to write effective letters to the editor, to speak to groups large and small, and to dominate social media.

Even more importantly, tools on the website can help you know what to say in those one-on-one conversations that occur at work, at home, on the ball field or the beach, at the grocery store or the dog park.

"Polling shows that many New Yorkers don't know what the constitutional convention is about," said NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale. "The most effective way to communicate the risks and follies of this multi-million dollar boondoggle for political insiders is face to face, and one on one."

It's not always easy, however, to know what to say — and how to say it persuasively and effectively. Resources at NoNewYorkConvention.org can help.

For example:

Your uncle says: "We can do something to fix education policy if we have a constitutional convention."

The Point/Counterpoint document on the website suggests you say: "The constitution already has strong protections for public education. What fixes do you think delegates would put in place to make it better? I'd rather have education professionals who are teaching our students make the decisions instead of some convention delegate, wouldn't you?"
In addition to the Point/Counterpoint tool, the website features:

  • "Pandora's Box" — everything you need to know about a constitutional convention — in a single-page handout and in a PowerPoint format.
  • A sample letter to the editor.
  • A collection of articles and other handouts that make the case against the referendum.
  • A poster you can download to post in a visible place.
  • Convenient "Why in 5" palm cards that present five reasons why a constitutional convention is a bad idea — for one, many of our rights would be vulnerable.
  • An order form for "Vote NO!" buttons and car magnets.
  • Links to engaging videos, helpful articles and dozens of other helpful websites.

"In this 'off-year' election, the referendum on the constitutional convention will be the most important box on the Nov. 7 ballot," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta. "Turnout will be down, and that means when we get our members and friends to get out and vote … we win. It's on all of us to have those conversations, convince people to vote, and to vote NO on this wasteful proposed party for politicians."

What you need to know

  • The constitutionally required 20-year referendum to propose a constitutional convention will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
  • If it passes, three delegates per state Senate district and 15 at-large delegates — 204 in total — would be elected at the next general election, in November 2018.
  • Delegates can include members of the Legislature or other elected officials, as well as political party leaders — and they can hold both positions, collecting both salaries and double pension credits.
  • The convention would meet in Albany in 2019 for an unspecified duration, and then publish its suggested amendments.
  • Any proposed changes are submitted to voters for approval separately or as a group for another public referendum.
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