ALBANY – The leaders of the Republican, Conservative and Working Families parties all have come out against the referendum to hold a state constitutional convention.
Now, the head of the state Democratic Party has joined them.
“I am not in favor of a constitutional question because many of the rights we are afforded in the constitution I’m just concerned will not have the appropriate protections” during a convention, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said.
Brown is also Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handpicked chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Brown said the executive committee of the statewide Democratic Party has not taken a position on Proposal 1. But he echoed Cuomo’s public comments about the proposal. The governor has said he favors the idea of a convention but is concerned about the delegate selection process – which would not occur until the fall of 2018 if the convention plan is OK'd. The fear is that it would result in a gathering dominated by “current elected officials.”
“Initially, the governor was conceptually in favor of a constitutional convention if the delegates were independently elected and independent of the Legislature, along with other changes that he recommended to protect many of the important rights our constitution presently affords us,’’ Brown said in an interview.
Those ideas did not happen, and Brown noted that Cuomo, after initially including money in the 2016 state budget for part of the convention, dropped the funding in the 2017 budget.
“Reforms could be put in place in a constitutional convention, but if not done right with certain protections, not only would those additional reforms potentially not happen but we could lose some of the really positive things that are in the constitution,’’ Brown said
He cited age discrimination, the eight-hour workday, minimum wage protections, collective bargaining rights and public employee pension obligations.
The leaders of the Republican, Conservative and Working Families Party – for different reasons – have joined a no vote effort on Proposal 1.
“I am not lending my name as party chair, but as mayor of the city of Buffalo I have made it clear that I am opposed,’’ Brown added.
Story topics: Political notebook