I disagree with Keen Berger. I see little chance of the Constitutional Convention taking away people’s rights. It will be dominated by Democrats even if the vote for delegates splits, as per the existing Senate breakdown. A majority of the districts are Democratic, plus 15 are elected statewide. Plus, whatever they do requires a majority approval in a referendum. (Hillary won New York by 2.5 million votes.) The worst we would wind up with is nothing—same old, same old. But, if a bunch of progressives get elected—and there will be a strong, organized push to do that if there is a ‘Yes’ vote for the Constitutional Convention—then we could accomplish a lot. There is not a single poll which shows public interest in taking away free speech, public education, or public employee pensions.
When I supported Bernie Sanders, people said, “No, it will split the party and open the door to the Republicans.” Bullshit. Doing nothing opens the door to Republicans. New York has the 46th worst turnout for elections in the U.S., worse than “voter suppression happy” North Carolina; it has a 42% average turnout, while we have a 29% turnout. Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi have higher voter turnout rates. New York also has the most political leaders convicted of crimes than any other state in the U.S. You may consult the list for the last seven years, below.
Do we need to preserve this kind of system? I urge my neighbors to vote ‘Yes’ for a Constitutional Convention.
—Arthur Z. Schwartz
New York State Officials
- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) was convicted of taking over $5 million in bribes (2015). A retrial is pending.
- Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, Dean Skelos (R), was convicted of federal corruption charges (2015). A retrial is pending.
- Deputy Majority Leader of the New York Senate, Tom Libous (R), was convicted of lying to the FBI (2015).
- Minority Leader of the New York State Senate, John L. Sampson (D), was convicted of obstructing justice and making false statements (2015).
- Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, Malcolm Smith (D), was found guilty in federal court of conspiracy, wire fraud, bribery, and extortion for trying to bribe a Republican Party official to place him on the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral race (2014).
- State Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa (D) was sentenced to a year in jail for entering into a sham marriage in order to gain U.S. citizenship (2014).
- State Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. (D) was convicted of bribery (2014).
- State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D) was found guilty of bribery, conspiracy, and other related charges (2014).
- State Assemblyman Nelson Castro (D) was convicted of perjury (2013).
- State Senator Shirley Huntley (D) was convicted of mail fraud. She was sentenced to one year and a day in prison (2013).
- State Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez (D) was fined $330,000 after groping, intimidating, and manipulating young female staffers (2013).
- Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Pedro Espada Jr. (D): On May 14, 2012, a federal jury found Espada guilty of embezzling money from federally funded healthcare clinics. After 11 days of deliberation, he was sentenced to five years in prison (2012).
- State Senator Vincent Leibell (R) was found guilty of felony bribery, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice charges related to $43,000 in cash kickbacks which he took from 2003 to 2006 (2012).
- State Senator Nicholas Spano (R) pleaded guilty to a single count of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 12 to 18 months in federal prison (2012).
- New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi (D) was convicted on charges surrounding a “pay to play” scheme regarding the New York State Pension Fund, and was sentenced to one to four years in prison (2011).
- State Senator Carl Kruger (D) resigned from his seat and pleaded guilty to charges of corruption and bribery (2011).
- State Senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. (D) was convicted of fraud and embezzling $400,000 from the West Bronx Neighborhood Association Inc. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison (2010).
New York City Officials
- New York City Council Member Ruben Wills (D) was convicted of fraud (2017).
- Mayor of Mount Vernon Ernie Davis (D) was convicted of federal misdemeanor tax evasion (2014).
- New York City Council Member Dan Halloran (R) was convicted of taking bribes and orchestrating payoffs (2014).
- New York City Council Member Larry Seabrook (D) was indicted on 13 counts of money laundering, extortion, and fraud. Seabrook was convicted on nine charges (2012).
- Former President of the New York City Council, Andrew Stein (D), was convicted of tax evasion regarding a Ponzi