Monday, November 3, 2014

Tenants PAC says Vote NO on Proposal 1

The Nov. 4th ballot contains three proposals for approval or rejection by the voters of New York State. Please note that the three proposals are on the back of the paper ballot, so you need to turn it over to vote on them.  The following is a description of the proposals, with a recommendation from Tenants PAC on how to vote on Proposal 1.

Proposal Number 1, an Amendment: Revising
New York State's Redistricting Procedure
The proposed amendment to sections 4 and 5 and addition of new section 5-b to Article 3 of the State Constitution revises the redistricting procedure for state legislative and congressional districts. The proposed amendment establishes a redistricting commission every 10 years beginning in 2020, with two members appointed by each of the four legislative leaders and two members selected by the eight legislative appointees; prohibits legislators and other elected officials from serving as commissioners; establishes principles to be used in creating districts; requires the commission to hold public hearings on proposed redistricting plans; subjects the commission's redistricting plan to legislative enactment; provides that the legislature may only amend the redistricting plan according to the established principles if the commission's plan is rejected twice by the legislature; provides for expedited court review of a challenged redistricting plan; and provides for funding and bipartisan staff to work for the commission. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Tenants PAC urges you to vote NO
. While this constitutional amendment put forward by Governor Cuomo and the legislative leaders in Albany sounds good on the surface, it contains loopholes that would allow the legislature to do what it does now: draw super-partisan district lines to protect incumbents and to protect the majority parties from having to face competitive elections. A state supreme court justice forced the NYS Board of Elections to delete the word “independent” in the above language describing the proposal, ruling that the proposal could not be called independent from the state legislature when the legislative leaders appoint the members of the commission, and because the commission must submit its proposed lines to the state legislature for approval. This is a cynical power-grab in the name of reform, and is opposed by editorial boards all over the state as well as by numerous civic groups including Common Cause New York, NYPIRG and EffectiveNY. No fake reform – vote NO.

Proposal Number 2, an Amendment: Permitting
Electronic Distribution of State Legislative Bills
The proposed amendment to section 14 of Article 3 of the State Constitution would allow electronic distribution of a state legislative bill to satisfy the constitutional requirement that a bill be printed and on the desks of state legislators at least three days before the Legislature votes on it. It would establish the following requirements for electronic distribution: first, legislators must be able to review the electronically-sent bill at their desks; second, legislators must be able to print the bill if they choose; and third, the bill cannot be changed electronically without leaving a record of the changes. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Tenants PAC has no official position on this proposal, but it is the only one of the three that is not controversial. It would allow the state legislature to distribute bills electronically instead of printing them and piling them up on legislators’ desks, the current constitutional requirement. This will save the state $52 million per year in printing and paper costs, and spare more trees. Seems like a no-brainer.

Proposal Number 3, A Proposition:
The SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014, as set forth in section one of part B of chapter 56 of the laws of 2014, authorizes the sale of state bonds of up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) to provide access to classroom technology and high-speed internet connectivity to equalize opportunities for children to learn, to add classroom space to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, to replace classroom trailers with permanent instructional space, and to install high-tech smart security features in schools. Shall the SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014 be approved?

Tenants PAC has no official position on this proposal. Some support it as a way to improve our under-funded schools with better equipment and classrooms, as well as security. Others oppose it as an expensive substitute for what the legislature and governor should be doing, which is to fund our public education system adequately out of the state budget. Proposal 3 is supported by the United Federation of Teachers.


The polls are open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm tomorrow, Tuesday, November 4, throughout the state.

To locate your polling site in New York City:

To locate your polling site outside New York City:

Michael McKee
Tenants Political Action Committee

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