Here is an expanded version of the second item from my “Albany Insider” column from Monday’s print editions:
A coalition of more than 100 groups from across the political spectrum has formed to oppose a convention to develop possible changes to the state Constitution.
New Yorkers Against Corruption is made up of an array of labor unions, liberal and conservative groups, and environmental organizations.
The coalition will run a “multifaceted” campaign starting with digital ads this week, a spokesman said.
Among the groups involved are the state AFL-CIO, the city and state teacher unions, the state Rifle and Pistol Association, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, the state Conservative and Republican parties, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Environmental Advocates.
“I experienced the Constitutional Convention in 1967 and it was a disaster,” said state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long. “Establishment politicians and Albany insiders will hijack the process and abuse their power as delegates.”
Many of the interest groups say they fear a constitutional convention could result in changes that hurt their respective causes.
“A constitutional convention would give well-funded special interests the ability to control a process that can negatively impact those rights including the right to organize, funding for education, and care for injured worker,” said state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento.
Tom King, president of the state Pistol and Rifle Association, expects a constitutional convention would result in an assault on gun owner rights.
“Corrupt politicians and their friends and family members will end up being elected as delegates,” King said. “I am sure their first goal will be to attack our rights.”
Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates, said would expect forces to try and roll back environmental protections won over the decades.
“Through a constitutional convention we could lose everything we worked so hard for and the nation would lose our leadership,” Iwanowicz said.
Every 20 years, including this year, New Yorkers are asked to vote in a public referendum whether to hold a constitutional convention.
Supporters of a convention view it as the best way to fix many of the problems in Albany, including ethics.
The public would have to vote on any recommended changes developed at a constitutional convention.