No Need to Open Up NY’s Constitution

No Need to Open Up NY’s Constitution

By: Hon. Arthur ‘Jerry’ Kremer

New York State voters need many things to improve their quality of life. They want better-paying jobs, affordable housing to keep our young talent from fleeing to other states, better roads to keep us safe and solutions to other critical needs.

What New Yorkers do not need, however, is a constitutional convention.

A Nov. 7 ballot would start in motion the calling of a constitutional convention in 2019. Ballot amendments normally don’t get much attention, which is why this year voters should turn over their ballots and cast a no vote on a constitutional convention. Besides being costly, voters should know that the last thing the state needs is another political gathering that would look like a copy of a state legislative session.

There are two major ways to change our state constitution. One is by a required vote every 20 years to decide whether to call for such a meeting. The second is for the State Legislature to pass ballot amendments, which voters cast votes on. There have been only two successful constitutional conventions since 1894, and both were called when the nation was in crisis. There might be a lot of political angst today about how our leaders are dropping the ball, but there is no legitimate reason for a state convention in the next two years.

New York’s constitution is a pretty good document. It protects the right to privacy, bars discrimination, preserves the environment, supports a series of worker protections and ensures help for the needy through medical care, homelessness and educational opportunity.

Somehow well-meaning convention supporters think that in four months, a 200-page document will create a new New York, free from crime, corruption, dirty air, complex laws and burdensome taxes.

The system works! In the past 200 years, voters have amended the state constitution more than 200 times. All of those changes were made at the suggestion of the legislature.

The last vote on a convention for our state took place in 1997, and it was soundly defeated. At the time of that defeat, respected groups that would have favored holding a convention urged its defeat and suggested that the pro groups begin a 20-year campaign to create a real agenda so that future voters would have a choice of whether to vote up or down. Twenty years later, there has been no real educational campaign, just random calls for reform by the “yes” side.

In 1967, I was a member of the Assembly and attended the 1967 convention as an observer. I saw what a fruitless effort it was to get the leaders of the convention to do anything other than protect the status quo. But don’t take my word for it. The groups opposing a convention this year are about as diverse as you could imagine. The long list of opponents, to name a few, includes the Conservative Party, the right-to-life movement, Planned Parenthood, civil liberties unions, the Sierra Club, every major union and the Adirondack Council.

There are also plenty of other reasons why a convention will not be free of politics. A person who wants to run as an independent delegate needs 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot, which means that a lot more are needed to stand up to any challenge. If you run as a major party candidate, you need only 1,000 signatures. That means any candidate backed by a political party is heavily favored to win.

There is no doubt that our political climate is toxic. That is no reason to accept a bundle of vague political promises by supporters with a real risk that the outcome won’t be a disaster.

Jerry Kremer is a former State Assembly member and is the co-author of “Patronage, Waste and Favoritism: A Dark History of Constitutional Conventions.”


To read the full article on Newsday, click here.



GOP chickens coming home to roost

GOP chickens coming home to roost

I have always believed that politics and the Bible must be linked together in order for the people we elect to public office to understand that there are consequences to their words and their actions.

My favorite passage from the King James version of the Bible is “whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap.”

The downward spiral of the Republican Party in this country is totally due to their statements and actions, which have succeeded not only in destroying the party nationally, but is very responsible for the public anger we see every day at elected officials.

Those of us who are close to politics felt that the election of Barack Obama seven years ago would be a sea change for the better. We silently wished that America would come together and we would get so many good things done, all with bipartisan support.

President Obama, to the disappointment of many of his supporters, hasn’t exactly been the leader we expected, but will be treated a lot better by future historians for the many things that he has done for the country.

Regrettably, from day one, the Republican leaders in Congress pledged that they would do everything possible to tear down the first African-American president ever to be elected. And day by day they kept their promise with obstruction, grandstanding and outright obnoxious conduct.

They kept their pledge by blocking any initiative offered by the President and even to this day, with mass slaughters of innocent people, the Republican Congress votes down legislation to stop terrorists from buying guns.

Read the full article here

Kremer’s Corner: GOP could lose war by winning battle – The Island Now: Opinions

Kremer’s Corner: GOP could lose war by winning battle – The Island Now: Opinions

The average voter doesn’t know very much about the process of electing a president.

They have heard about the primary elections and understand that the last man or woman standing gets the nomination and the chance to run for president in 2016.  But the difference between the primaries and the general election is the difference between night and day.

The Republican primary candidates spend their time romancing the most conservative voters hoping that by throwing out as much red meat as possible,they will get their approval.   When those primaries are over, Republican leaders hope that they have chosen a candidate who will do well in the general election.

But that’s the problem.

Read the full article: Kremer’s Corner: GOP could lose war by winning battle – The Island Now: Opinions

Can’t Cuomo and de Blasio just get along?

Can’t Cuomo and de Blasio just get along?

After a careful review of the bestseller lists over the past 10 years, I’ve found over a thousand books advising people how to get along when they’re under stress. There have been 412 books on the art of negotiating (not counting Donald Trump’s) and they’re readily available to anyone in need of help or advice.

The continuing feud between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has a historic basis, which most people ignore. Over the past 65 years, there has been a lot of battling between mayors and governors. As a member of the State Assembly, I recall watching Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor John Lindsay going at it on a daily basis.

Elected as a Republican, Lindsay eventually became a Liberal Party candidate, and the intense dislike between the two men was obvious to all. On one occasion, Lindsay was in need of help in Albany, and he asked Rockefeller to set up a meeting with the Long Island Assembly delegation. At the agreed-upon time, the mayor walked in, shook hands with the governor and, before we could all sit down, Rockefeller disappeared.

Life wasn’t any better with Gov. Mario Cuomo and Mayor Ed Koch. Neither man hid his dislike for the other, and there were few examples of any real cooperation between the two. The city did get mass-transit money and other benefits, but they were similar to the ones previously granted by other governors.


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2015 Legislative Successes

The year 2015 has already been a great success for Empire Government Strategies. We have developed a broad-based coalition of health care professionals to advocate for patients and community doctors.  Our team assisted the charter bus industry in defeating an unnecessary transportation fee that would have cost small bus owners millions.  We were also successful in helping to stop a regulatory proposal that would have affected the plumbing and utility industries to the tune of over $200 million.  Lastly, Empire assisted in obtaining important capital dollars for a local government on Long Island.  

“Empire is proud of what we have been able to achieve for our clients during the first half of this legislative session,” said Jerry Kremer, Founder of EGS.  “As a former Assemblyman, I know how challenging the government process can be, especially for its citizens.  Our goal is to unpack and simplify the process for the client and develop a clear strategy that makes sense and one that is focused on reaching their objectives.”