People’s Convention to Reform NY Town Hall Meeting

December 16, 2009

PLATTSBURGH, NY – Is Albany working for you?

That was the question Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) asked to kick-off a jam-packed Town Hall meeting he co-hosted this evening in Plattsburgh with his colleague, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R,I,C-Peru) where they discussed their support for a “People’s Convention to Reform New York,” and described how it could deliver the positive change that New Yorkers of all political parties – and regions – have been demanding.

Duprey and Kolb’s Town Hall meeting had to be relocated from its original venue at the Plattsburgh International Airport’s community room to accommodate the overwhelming interest North Country taxpayers showed in the subject.

The People’s Convention to Reform New York is a grassroots, non-partisan reform effort to empower citizens so they can take back their state government and, in the process, chart a positive, new direction for New York. Some of the issues that could be considered during a People’s Convention include fiscal reforms like a property tax and state spending cap, debt reform, along with a ban on “backdoor” borrowing and unfunded mandates. Governmental reforms such as initiative and referendum, an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, term limits for Legislative Leaders, ethics reform and a succession plan for state offices also could be considered as part of a People’s Convention.

Duprey and Kolb also discussed and took questions from attendees about their non-partisan legislation, “The People’s Convention to Reform New York Act,” Assembly Bill A.9157. If enacted, the bill would put the question of whether New York should convene a “People’s Convention” on the 2010 ballot; by law, this question automatically goes before voters in 2017. Kolb and Duprey’s non-partisan measure would move up the opportunity for reform by seven years, accelerating the state’s ability to enact long overdue and much-needed changes. The legislation specifically requires that any elected official seeking to run as a delegate for, or serve in, the People’s Convention must first resign their office.

The People’s Convention to Reform New York Act has been co-sponsored by Mark Schroeder (145th District), a Member of the Assembly Majority, and 34 other Members of the Assembly Minority Conference. Additionally, 41 local municipalities throughout New York State have already enacted local resolutions in support of the legislation. The effort also has the support of nearly 1,700 New Yorkers who have visited and signed the on-line petition calling for a People’s Convention.

“There is a growing feeling among New Yorkers, that their state government has stopped working for them – that it’s grown too costly, unresponsive and disconnected from the lives of those it was supposed to serve. It is time New Yorkers took back their state government – it begins by convening a People’s Convention, which is the first step toward restoring accountability,” Kolb said.

“New Yorkers all across the North Country and throughout our state are speaking with one voice and demanding real change in how state government does the people’s business. The endless dysfunction, gridlock and special interest influence has fueled a reckless growth in government spending, led to some of the nation’s highest personal and property taxes, and created an uncompetitive economic climate that has all but shut off private sector job creation. Our state needs real change and a positive new course. A People’s Convention to Reform New York could be just the remedy we need to fix these problems and get our state government back in the solutions business,” Duprey said.

The Town Hall meeting was held today from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at PARC, which is located in Plattsburgh, Duprey’s North Country 114th Assembly District, which encompasses Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. Kolb’s 129th Assembly District is located in the Finger Lakes region and contains Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, Ontario and Seneca counties.