Thursday, October 29, 2009

Psst! Have We Got A Proposition For You

Actually, We Have Two Of Them

Unbeknownst to most voters (and even those in the know often have trouble finding them on the ballot), there are two (2) Propositions on Tuesday's ballot, both to amend the State Constitution. [No, they're not proposing to eliminate the State Legislature. How unfortunate.]

Proposal One is essentially and land swap, which would give National Grid the right to erect and maintain power transmission lines on land that runs through St. Lawrence County. The State gives up 6 acres of preserve, and will get 10 acres of forest land from National Grid.

Proposal Two would essentially allow State prisoners to volunteer their time at not-for-profit organizations. Why not? This would appear to be a win-win for everyone. The nonprofits get volunteers to assist in their important work in the community, while the inmates have the opportunity to give make to the community. [Call this an amendment that allows the incarcerated to make amends!]

From the Nassau County League of Women Voters:


FORM OF SUBMISSION (how the proposal will be presented to you on the ballot):

Amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, in relation to the use of certain forest preserve lands by National Grid to construct a 46 kV power line along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County.

The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to convey up to six acres of forest preserve land along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County to National Grid for construction of a power line. In exchange, National Grid would convey to the State at least 10 acres of forest land in St. Lawrence County, to be incorporated into the forest preserve. The land to be conveyed by National Grid to the State must be at least equal in value to the land conveyed to National Grid by the State. Should the amendment be approved?

What will this amendment do if approved by the voters?

The “Forever Wild” clause of the NYS Constitution prohibits any development in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, including the building of power lines, unless the constitution is specifically amended to allow it. A constitutional amendment requires passage by two separately elected state Legislatures and then approval by the voters. This amendment has been passed unanimously by the Legislatures that took office in 2007 and 2009, and is now being presented to the voters on the November, 2009 ballot.

This amendment will make constitutional an action that has, in fact, already taken place. The NYS Power Authority, with the involvement and agreement of the interested environmental and municipal groups, approved the building of a back-up power line through forest preserve land to protect the health and safety of the residents of the Village of Tupper Lake. The line was built and activated in May of 2009.

What is the background on this proposal?

Before this new power line was built, the village of Tupper Lake had frequent power outages caused by damage to its single electrical supply line, principally from falling tree limbs in forested land along its route. There was no back-up line in the event of power failure, and during the winter alternative shelter had to be provided to village residents. This was considered an urgent situation that could not wait for the completion of the constitutional amendment process for relief, since it affected the health and safety of the villagers. The most environmentally friendly route for the new line traverses about two miles of Adirondack Forest Preserve land, affecting a small number of physical acres. While the new line could have been detoured to avoid forest preserve land, the detour would have involved a six mile cut through old-growth undeveloped forest and wetlands, endangering the habitat of wildlife.

The chosen route along an existing road through previously cleared preserve land was judged to be more ecologically friendly. National Grid, the builder of the line, will compensate for the loss of existing preserve land by conveying new forest preserve land to the State. This new land must be of equal or greater value than the land that was lost. Environmental and civic organizations are supportive of this remedy to what was a serious and persistent public health and safety issue. Since the amendment is specific to this situation, it does not give broader constitutional permission to other such solutions; each would require another constitutional amendment.

Given that the underlying "taking" by National Grid is a fait accompli, and the swap of 6 acres for 10 favors the public, The Community Alliance supports the proposed amendment, and encourages voters to VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION ONE.

Proposition One is supported locally by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.


FORM OF SUBMISSION (how the proposal will be presented to you on the ballot):

Amendment to article 3 of the Constitution, in relation to authorizing the Legislature to allow prisoners to voluntarily perform work for nonprofit organizations.

The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to pass legislation to permit inmates in state and local correctional facilities to perform work for nonprofit organizations. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

What will this amendment do if approved by the voters?

The NYS Constitution currently prohibits labor performed by prisoners in state or local correctional facilities to be “be farmed out, contracted, given or sold to any person, firm, association or corporation”, except the state or any political division of the state and its public institutions. This means that prisoners cannot perform work, even voluntarily, for nonprofit organizations, such as churches, charities, social service agencies or educational institutions. If passed by the voters, this amendment will remove this constitutional impediment, and will authorize the Legislature to allow these inmates to voluntarily perform work for nonprofit

What is the background on this proposal?

The sponsors for the legislation proposing this constitutional amendment argue that prohibiting prisoners from voluntarily performing work for nonprofit organizations denies these often under-funded organizations access to a willing labor force for tasks such as grounds-keeping. They say that many localities have requested that the prohibition be removed. They also say that allowing inmate work crews to provide labor to these organizations will help fill the gaps in funding them, and will give the inmates a sense of “giving back” to the community.

The sponsors also make the point that passing this amendment would only give the Legislature authority to pass a law allowing inmates to do such work. This “enacting legislation” could include restrictions, in the interest of public safety, on which inmates would be eligible to perform this work. Two separately elected Legislatures passed this constitutional amendment with near unanimous votes in favor.

The Community Alliance supports permitting prisoners to voluntary perform work for nonprofit organizations, as set forth above, and encourages residents to VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION TWO.

Again, scour that ballot carefully for these Propositions. They are easy to miss!

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. VOTE!

Click HERE for the Nassau County Voter Guide


  1. Im not thrilled about prop 1 because the line would traverse two miles of adirondack park land but in the end it benefits us all.

    hell no on prop 2. let these mammalukes serve out the max-if you cant do the time,then dont do the crime.period.

  2. I'm voting "No" on both especially, "PROPOSAL NUMBER TWO", let those born-again-Republicans pay for their church labor I can bet it was a Republican who thought up this form of free labor.

    As for, "PROPOSAL NUMBER ONE" forever wild means just that. This seems like a foot-in-the-door approach that the Republicans would love to use in the future to their own advantage in their quest of raping the land.

    Both of these amendments appear to be Republican messing with the Constitution if it suits them but yet they're alway yelping if they think anyone else would tread on "their" Constitution.