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These Are the Six Questions on Your NY Ballot Tuesday

Friday, November 01, 2013

WNYC

UPDATE: Voters approved 5 of the 6 referenda on yesterday's ballot. The one initiative that didn't pass would have raised the mandatory retirement age of judges; the retirement age will remain 70, with the possibility of three two-year extensions.

To hear WNYC's Brigid Bergin explain Tuesday's ballot questions click audio player above.

When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, there will be more than just candidates on the ballot. There are also six ballot questions – SIX! This may also be a good time to mention that the upcoming election will be conducted using paper ballots and optical scanners (i.e. no lever machines). On the front of the paper ballot, vote for candidates. But make sure to flip it over for six proposals that would in some way change the state Constitution.

 

Exact wording for each one is at the bottom, but here are the basics:

1. Vegas, baby, yeah! (APPROVED)

Proposal 1 would allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos in New York State. The first four are planned for upstate New York. Then after seven years, lawmakers could vote on whether to open a casino in New York City.

Opponents include an odd assortment of unlikely bedfellows: liberal New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), NYS Conservative Party Chair Mike Long, plus a handful of conservative and religious groups that see gambling as a societal scourge that acts like a regressive tax on poor New Yorkers.

Among the supporters, there’s Governor Cuomo, the casino industry, a coalition of labor, education, and business leaders, and both New York City mayoral candidates. They say casino gambling will bring jobs to beleaguered upstate cities while sending millions of dollars in revenue to the school system – basically everything short of motherhood and apple pie.

2. Points for Vets (APPROVED)

Proposal 2 would give veterans with combat-related disabilities extra points when competing for civil service promotions. This proposal has gotten the least attention because there’s very little controversy over it. The League of Women Voters, which puts out its own non-partisan voter guide, noted it couldn’t find any opponents of the measure (h/t to Ballotpedia.org).

3. “Clean water and sewage free rivers.”

That sounds good, right? That’s why the Watertown Daily Times supports proposal 3, which is actually already on the books. By voting yes, you are simply voting in favor of allowing cities to continue to spend what’s needed to build and maintain their sewage facilities. The original amendment was passed back in 1962 and has been renewed every decade since. No one has actively campaigned against it.

4. Mildly controversial Adirondack land swap (APPROVED)

Proposal 4 attempts to fix a boundary line dispute in the tiny hamlet of Raquette Lake. Proponents say a lack of documentation concerning ownership of the land has made settling the claims in court difficult, expensive and unpredictable, according to the League of Women Voters.

Opponents say this would establish a bad precedent for other private land ownership disputes in the Adirondack Park and argue that similar land disputes have been resolved via the judicial system.

5. Controversial Adirondack land swap (APPROVED)

Proposal 5 would allow the mining company NYCO to expand its drilling operation 200 acres into state land in exchange for roughly 1,500 acres of land that would be added to the state’s forest preserve. The measure is opposed by a coalition of environmentalists led by the non-profit Protect the Adirondacks!, Inc. The group argues that the land that would be mined is home to "old growth forest." The Sierra Club and NRDC also opposes the proposal, as do the Albany Times Union and the Lake George Mirror.

But it's supported by two other green groups – the Adirondack Mountain Club and the Adirondack Council.

6. More time on the Bench (NOT APPROVED)

Proposal 6 raises the mandatory judicial retirement age to 80 years-old. Supreme Court Justices are currently required to retire when they hit 70, but can continue to perform their duties if elected and with special approval until age 76. Judges for the Court of Appeals are required to retire the year they turn 70.

One of the proposal's top proponents is Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman who argues the current age limit is outdated. He tells The New York Times, “It’s an anachronism in the year 2013 to have a constitutional presumption of senility at age 70.” If passed, Judge Lippman has pledged to send some of his older, seasoned judges to help clear the backlog in overburdened court houses.

On the other hand, Governor Cuomo has expressed “reservations” about the proposal. The good government group Citizens Union also opposes the measure because it only extends the retirement age for certain judges.

Here’s how the questions will read on the ballot:

Proposal One - Authorizing Casino Gaming

“The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purpose of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?”

Proposal Two – Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post-Appointment

“The proposed amendment to section 6 of article 5 of the Constitution would entitle a veteran who has received civil service credit for a civil service appointment or promotion and subsequently is certified as disabled to additional civil service credit at a subsequent appointment or promotion. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”

Proposal Three – Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities

“The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 5 of the Constitution would extend for ten years, until January 1, 2024, the authority of counties, cities, towns, and villages to exclude from their constitutional debt limits indebtedness contracted for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”

Proposal Four – Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve

“The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to settle longstanding disputes between the State and private entities over ownership of certain parcels of land in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County. In exchange for giving up its claim to disputed parcels, the State would get land to be incorporated into the forest preserve that would benefit the forest preserve more than the disputed parcels currently do. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”

Proposal Five – In Relation to a Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals, Inc.

“The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to convey forest preserve land located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, to NYCO Minerals, a private company that plans on expanding an existing mine that adjoins the forest preserve land. In exchange, NYCO Minerals would give the State at least the same amount of land of at least the same value, with a minimum assessed value of $1 million, to be added to the forest preserve. When NYCO Minerals finishes mining, it would restore the condition of the land and return it to the forest preserve. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”

Proposal Six – Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can Serve

“The proposed amendment to the Constitution, amending sections 2 and 25 of article 6, would increase the maximum age until which certain state judges may serve as follows: (a) a Justice of the Supreme Court would be eligible for five additional two-year terms after the present retirement age of 70, instead of the three such terms currently authorized; and (b) a Judge of the Court of Appeals who reaches the age of 70 while in office would be permitted to remain in service on the Court for up to 10 years beyond the present retirement age of 70 in order to complete the term to which that Judge was appointed. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?"

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Comments [30]

Hungry Man from 10510

The wording of Prop 5 is confusing, and it only describes the land in question as "forest preserve land located in the town of Lewis, Essex County", obscuring the fact that this affects the Adirondacks, which it conveniently fails to mention by name. I would also like to know what magical powers NYCO claims to have that can turn a strip mine back into a forest, and why they haven’t utilized this ability to restore all the other decimated woodlands in the world.

Nov. 05 2013 05:51 PM
Jeffrey from Manhatan

Why is WNYC constantly mentioning nyco giving 1500 acres for 200. There is nothing on the initiative 5 that says that they have to give up any more than the same amount of land they take or land worth 1 million dollars. Sounds like a bad deal.

Nov. 05 2013 04:14 PM
Ericka

think that casino's bring prosperity? spend more than 2 hours in atlantic city, look past the boardwalk.

Nov. 05 2013 03:39 PM
Macie

For anyone concerned about precedent,there is specific language in this bill that explicitly prevents it from setting any legal precedence. Under Section 9-1901 (Legislative Purpose and Intent), lines 22-28, you'll find the following language:
"...THE TITLE DISPUTES ASSOCIATED WITH TOWNSHIP FORTY CONSTITUTE A UNIQUE SITUATION, FOUND NOWHERE ELSE IN THE STATE, AND THAT CONSEQUENTLY IT IS EQUITABLE AND APPROPRIATE FOR THE STATE TO RELINQUISH ITS CLAIM OF TITLE TO DISPUTED PARCELS WITHIN THE TOWNSHIP. THIS RELINQUISHMENT OF CLAIMS TO TITLE SHALL NOT BE DEEMED TO SET PRECEDENT FOR THE RELINQUISHMENT OF CLAIMS TO TITLE WITH RESPECT TO OTHER LANDS OWNED BY THE STATE."
(Sorry for the caps, it's just written that way. Haha)

If you'd like to peruse the the rest of the bill, feel welcome to check out the link below:
http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld&bn=S04809&term=2013&Summary=Y&Text=Y

Also, if you're concerned about the legitimacy of the claims of the private property owners, I urge you to read up on the history of these titles. You can read about the lengthy history here: http://twp40.com/history.html

In essence, much of the land only ended up being claimed by the state due to three ILLEGAL tax sales in 1875, 1881 and 1884. Meaning that the state never in fact had a legitimate claim to these lands.

In fact, of the 10 cases that have gone to court regarding Township 40, only two were won by the state and they involved lots that were historically empty so the private property owners could not prove continuous adverse possession of the land. These court cases of course coming at great expense of the owners as well as the state.

Nov. 05 2013 12:50 PM
gene from NYC

WHO WILL RUN THE CASINOS?

I don't see this addressed anywhere. Tribes? ORganized crime? Or is it both the same thing?

Nov. 05 2013 11:37 AM
FlyingDutchman

Prop 4 is not a land swap. It will be a gift to the state in exchange for the state giving up a QUESTIONABLE claim to privately held land.

Nov. 05 2013 10:36 AM
Leslie

Hey, Lee from Westchester: These are proposals to amend the NEW YORK STATE CONSTITUTION in some way and will be on all ballots throughout the State(which p.s. the article itself says)...Frankly, I don't think you should vote at all since you don't even know this but you have the right to ignorantly go in the booth and just bubble in whatever you want without even knowing WTF you're voting for in the first place...YAY 'Mercia..

Nov. 05 2013 09:16 AM
SPR from Staten Island, NY

Gambling will bring jobs to upstate NY just as The Wheel will bring jobs to Staten Island...but who needs it?

Nov. 04 2013 08:20 PM

According to various upstate news sources, Proposition 4 is supported by the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Landowners Association, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, Long Lake Town Council, Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks, the Open Space Institute, New York Snowmobilers Association, and former NY State Governor George Pataki, a great proponent of the Adirondack Park.

Nov. 04 2013 06:40 PM
stan chaz from Brooklyn

Let's set the retirement age for judges at 25. Sound about right to me.

Nov. 04 2013 03:43 PM

Regarding proposition # 4, I was surprised to see that your website referred to this proposed amendment as "mildly controversial." In fact, the amendment is supported by all four Adirondack environmental groups--The Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club, Protect the Adirondacks! and Adirondack Wild. Not a single environmental or good government group opposes it. It is also supported by the Town of Long Lake and Hamilton County. No local government opposes it. It is supported by editorials in Newsday, the New York Times, the Albany Times Union, and innumerable other newspapers throughout the State. No newspaper has written an editorial in opposition to it. So who opposes it? One person's opposition does not make an amendment "mildly controversial."

In a prior comment it was claimed that DEC was "required" to hold public hearings on Proposition 4. This is incorrect. DEC is not required to hold public hearings on legislation. Actually, it would be inappropriate for DEC to meddle in the legislature's business by holding hearings on pending legislation. It is up to the legislature to hold its own hearings on pending legislation, and this proposal followed the normal legislative process, going through various committees before being approved unanimously by both the Assembly and the Senate. Anyone interested in this issue has had ample opportunity over the last two years to contact their legislators.

Proposition 4 serves the taxpayers well. Passage of this amendment will save the taxpayers a considerable amount of money because the State will not have to pay a squad of attorneys and title investigators to litigate 200+ cases, many of which the State will likely lose, clogging up the court system in the process. More importantly, the legislation that implements the constitutional amendment states that the State must receive replacement land that is a "net benefit" to the constitutionally protected Forest Preserve when compared to the 200+ parcels that are now in dispute. Thus, the State will be getting better land than the land that it will relinquish its claim to, and the State won't have to pay anything to acquire this land--not one cent! This amendment is therefore a huge win for the taxpayers.

Finally, this amendment does not establish precedent for other land disputes involving Forest Preserve land: the implementing legislation specifically states that this amendment does not set precedent for other title dispute anywhere else in the State.

Nov. 04 2013 03:01 PM
Dorothy May

In reference to Proposition 4:
1. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is not required to hold hearings on a Legislative proposal. In fact, it would be inappropriate.
2. The title problems are unique and do not establish any precedent as stated in the legislation.
3. DEC and the Attorney General’s office are in agreement that litigation is not the way to go. Pursuing that route in the past has been extremely expensive for the State. In a recent case the attorney representing the Attorney General’s office spent 590 hours preparing just one case for presentation to a judge. There are over 50 unique title chains involving over 216 parcels. They include the school, the firehouse, businesses and homes. Over the last 100 years the State has proven title to 14 acres of land and lost over 400 acres.
4. The Amendment makes it clear that land of “net benefit” to the Forest Preserve must be ADDED to the Forest Preserve and that there is to be NO cost to taxpayers.
5, This land is not, nor has it ever been, State land. It is contested land.
6. Supported by six environmental groups, DEC and the Attorney General’s office and a YES vote recommended by Newsday, the NY Times, the Times Union, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat Chronicle and others, it is a win for all New Yorkers.

Nov. 04 2013 02:52 PM
Lee from Westchester County

Greetings & Salutations! Is this for New York City or New York State these proposals? I'm up in Westchester county and wanting to know?
thanks,

Nov. 04 2013 01:49 PM
Marrach from Brooklyn!!!

I'm going to Vote 'NO' on the Casino thing and a hesitant 'YES' on the Adirondack Questions.

Upstate Needs JOBS and the Drilling industry jobs are going to be better paying than the Casinos. When I think Casinos, I think Trump. And we all know Corporations like Trump does NOTHING for anyone else, PERIOD. And when a town has a casino-- it end up seeming like the Casino is the ONLY economic game in town...and if all the jobs associated with it as part-time/low wage/minimum wage, it becomes a dead-end for the locality. SOME of the People will be BARELY employed and still desperate. And everyone else will be inside the Casino throwing away what little financial future they have left.

But Industry from the land-use-swap thing can spawn all sorts of other economic activity up to and including Tech start-ups simply because there is MIDDLE CLASS MONEY floating around the Town.

Nov. 04 2013 01:31 PM
Zacqary Adam Green

Have our legislators completely run out of ideas on how to create jobs in upstate communities? Really? Casinos? This is the best we can do? Here, here's a bunch of stuff that I can just pull out of my ass that would be better job creators than a stupid casino:

- Building a hyperlocal manufacturing sector with 3D printers
- Low-interest loans for people starting worker-owned co-ops
- Coworking spaces in public libraries
- Hydroponic farms in empty storefronts and big box stores
- Municipal Internet access
- Putting solar panels on literally everything
- Public banking so that the state doesn't even have to spend money on any of this

I know that having an ounce of creativity isn't a prerequisite for holding public office, but come on. This is ridiculous.

Nov. 04 2013 11:54 AM
Alex. (in Park Slope) Barbier from Park Slope

An almost Pyrrhic choice, about a judge's age: NO, there should be no limit, but how must I vote? The logical choice methink is YES but it's not enough and it does not get my message across.
What else, about age? A minimum? 12 years old maybe? My 14-year old can pass pretty mature judgments! How about age limits on teachers, doctors, any government employee, etc...? I already feel plenty of ageism about the air of "human" resources offices! What are older people, subhuman?

Nov. 04 2013 11:51 AM
Malpractice from New York City

Gambling is bad public policy. Niagra Falls is not pretty but it is no worse than Atlantic City which has had the "advantage" of casino gambling for decades. Gambling creates minimum wage jobs at the expense of the paychecks of the working poor and those made poor by the casinos. Casinos hurt local businesses because of migration customers to the casino shops.
Ultimaely the revenues fall off due to increased competition. Look at the hughly successful Connecticut casinos now in bankruptcy.

Let those who need to gamble take the bus to Atlantic City or Ct or use the racinos. We do not need more opportunities to induce gambling.

I personally visit a casino once or twice a year. I do not mind the inconvenience of some traveling to keep them out of my locality. Ultimately this proposal will result in casinos in New YOrk City which will undermine the cultural life of the city.

Nov. 04 2013 11:44 AM
Roger Sarmuksnis from breezy Point NY

Brooklyn poll workers are being instructed NOT to tell voters to turn over the ballot and see the proposals.

Nov. 04 2013 11:41 AM
Robert from NY NY

I came into Brian Lehrer's show undecided on the gambling proposal, but having listened to it came away pretty certain that it's a bad idea. The anti-gambling fellow was far, far more convincing than the pro-gambling lawmaker, who never really answered the most basic questions, and just repeated the same illogical arguments over and over. Perhaps the pro-gambling folks needed simply a better messenger, but from what I saw here the choice is clear.

Nov. 04 2013 11:40 AM
Nancy Grosselfinger from Raquette Lake, NY

There were no public hearing regarding Prop 4 although the DEC is required to hold such public hearings to hear concerns from interested parties, to be take into consideration in their activities.
The enabling legislation http://open.nysenate/gov/legilsation/bill/A7860-2013 provides a convoluted process which includes offices of the Town of Long Lake, DEC and Legislature who have not YET implemented the last consitutional amendment approved land swap regarding Raquette Lake (water wells) after 5 years. Where is accountability to the voters and the private parties with a direct interest especially since the vast majority do not vote locally because these are their second homes.
Usually land disputes are settled in the courts and there is no justification for exception here, burdening voters with what is essentially a private matter en mass.
According to the implementing legislation, if all parties participate, approximately $600,000 will be collected to purchase land of 'greater net worth' to the Forest Preserve in exchange for relinquishment of 1,000 acres with a total assessed value over $3million. How much land can be bought for the $600,000 and what happens if the Town and DEC and Legislature cannot agree, where will the extra money come from, who will pay, when will this get settled?
This issue should go thru the courts which are more transparent and hold parties accountable.

Nov. 04 2013 11:28 AM
Flatbush/ East Flatbush


Look at how many LOTTERY / GAMBLING products are currently offered by the state now.

The initial offering was that there would only be one state lottery to pay for education.

Worse than criminal bait & switch...

This is all nothing less than The State, Stealing from the poor...

Nov. 04 2013 11:15 AM
S D

Singapore wants to do means testing on gamblers, Simple enough to mandate and implement.

S Korea bans citizens from it's casinos so they suck in money from abroad rather than suck locals dry, also easy enough. If we are worried about locals getting sucked in then just ban residents of Ulster county fron gambling in the Ulster county casino unit.

Find a compromise.

Nov. 04 2013 11:14 AM
Ming from brooklyn

- why aren't we talking about under this law, if this ballot proposal does NOT pass, gambling would be authorized at up to four new video lottery gaming facilities.

Nov. 04 2013 11:14 AM
Kellyn from UPSTATE & HARLEM

Who are we kidding? This is a delivered deal from the law offices of DONE, DONE & DONE! Take a look at Pine Street in Niagara Falls New York. If NOT for upcoming Casinos the city would continue to rot like an incomplete amputation. Keith Wright is correct, David (whom I love) needs to get upstate and try that chatter in Town Hall meetings. Hint, bring donuts :-)

Nov. 04 2013 11:10 AM
ebethnyc from Manhattan

First of all, thank you for this program, Brian Lehrer!

Listeners, if you're on the fence about the Casino question, listen to this: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/466/blackjack?act=3 - specifically, the segment about the woman who sues the casino.

Nov. 04 2013 11:04 AM
Border Flatbush East Flatbush from Flatbush East Flatbush


Regressive tax on the poor.

The state is loosing.

People gamble because they've lost faith and hope in a decadent regressive system that bleeds them dry.

Upstate communities need to have a reason to be there.

People have to have a reason to invest in the system.

Gambling steels from people and gives back nothing - only takes money....

Nov. 04 2013 10:58 AM

If Aqueduct and Yonkers Raceway are throwing off in excess of 30 million a month net why do we need more casinos, hit them with an excess earnings tax to get more money. That's just two racino's results.

Nov. 04 2013 10:55 AM
flatbushfred from Brooklyn

I'm not a gambler, and don't go to casinos. However, I support the proposition. People from New York board buses every day, bound for Atlantic City and Connecticut to gamble, generating income for those areas. Why shouldn't that money be spent here?

Nov. 04 2013 10:03 AM
Alice McMechen from Warwick, NY

I just heard the report on the six amendments NYS residents will be voting on tomorrow. Regarding amendment #4, the reporter stated that all sides are in favor of the amendment.

This is not so, according to the Voters Guide prepared by the League of Women Voters. I quote: "Opponents of the amendment argue that a legislative settlement would establish a poor precedent for other private land ownership disputes in the Adirondak Park, inviting an endless stream of private bills and constitutional amendments. They argue that similar land disputes have been resolved via the judicial system and that that is the appropriate vehicle to settle such disputes because it provides transparency and an independent authority, which they say the proposed process does not. In addition, they claim that the fees to be collected from the occupants is greatly less than the accessed worth of the land and will not be sufficient to acquire comparable or better land to be added to the forest preserve, thus delaying the private parties' clear land title until the town government and state government can agree upon a land purchase."

Nov. 04 2013 08:50 AM
Raquette Ranger from Sea Cliff ny

- It's rare for an issue in the Adirondacks to have unanimous support of environmental groups, local governments and state lawmakers in Albany, but that's the case with Proposition 4, a constitutional amendment that will be on the Election Day ballot Tuesday.

Nov. 02 2013 07:22 PM

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