On the back of your ballot Tuesday, you'll find six questions being asked of all New Yorkers. They're proposed amendments to the state constitution, and we think it would be wise to vote yes to all of them except the first.
Vote no to Proposal 1, which would let the state Legislature approve up to seven commercial casinos, which are currently outlawed in our state except for those run by Native American tribes and a few other entities. This might be a tough call if we were just weighing the pros and cons of casinos - tax revenue and jobs vs. gambling addiction and crime - but we're also looking at who's asking, why and how. Gambling interests, have given $361,500 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's election campaign war chest and more than $1 million to those of legislators in the last two years. They did this to get something, and this summer, those politicians rewrote the ballot question's neutral language into something touting how wonderful the casinos will be for jobs, schools and local government. This is corrupt, and state leaders deserve a reprimand from the electorate to prevent them from trying this kind of thing again.
Vote yes to Proposal 2, which would let disabled veterans get their allotment of bonus credits for civil service employment even if their disability was certified after they first apply for civil service. As it is now, the state gives a non-disabled veteran 5 points plus 2.5 for a promotion. For a disabled veteran, it's 10 points plus 5 for a promotion, but if one applies and is later certified as disabled - let's say for post-traumatic stress disorder, which is often diagnosed late - they're locked in at the basic veteran level. That's a flaw we should fix.
Vote yes to Proposal 3, which would continue letting municipalities exclude sewer system rebuilding costs from their constitutional debt limits. They have been able to do so since 1962, and this would extend that for another 10 years. Sewer systems are essential, and no one wants them to fail.
Vote yes to Proposal 4, which would unknot a set of Raquette Lake property disputes that date back 140 years. Ever since a series of possibly illegal tax sales in the 1870s and 1880s, these parcels been doubly claimed by the state as well as by private entities that include homeowners, a fire department, a school district and a utility company. Never before has this mess been so close to being resolved.
Vote yes to Proposition 5, under which the state would give 200 acres of the Jay Mountain Wilderness in the town of Lewis to NYCO Minerals, an Essex County mining company, and get 1,500 acres nearby in return. NYCO would strip-mine the 200-acre "Lot 8" and then fill it in, replant it and return it to the state.
Vote yes to Proposal 6, which would raise the mandatory retirement age for state judges from 70 to 80. Of all jobs, this is one that requires wisdom and insight - qualities traditionally seen as increasing with age, as long as dementia or other ailments are held at bay. We know many 70-somethings who continue to have their act together enough to continue careers, and we see no reason to force them out to pasture. This is especially true now that people are living so much longer than in 1869, when the age cap was passed. Today's 70 is probably 1869's 55.