From Chaos, Often Comes Change
The chaos in the State Senate has ended for now, but Republican hopes that the Democrats are so dysfunctional that they will once again slip and give control to the GOP may well be justified. The vast majority of people, from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the general public, are fed up with our state legislators. Many citizens would go even further and say that they are fed up with politicians in general and especially local politics and politicians. What they need is a New York State Constitutional Convention that will change the way politicians do their monkey business in this state. The first step the convention should take is to bring term limits to our state legislators. Eight and out! Then, a special independent citizens' commission to redistrict the state without regard to political considerations. No more districts drawn to guarantee the election of an important incumbent. No more districts drawn to guarantee the election of one political party. No more districts drawn simply to guarantee the election of a minority. No more splitting natural communities into two districts. No political considerations whatsoever. The only consideration should be the number of people who live in the district. Third, change the legislature from a bicameral body to a unicameral body. There is no need for both an Assembly and a Senate. When the Federal government was drawn in 1789, the small states mistrusted the large states, and refused to sign off on the Constitution unless there was a body that encompassed some form of equal representation for small and large states alike, and so the bicameral legislature was born. We mimic the federal Congress, but there is really no need to do that, and a change to a unicameral legislature would save citizens both time and money. It would be much easier for one body to pass necessary laws, and the process would be much more transparent. Those changes are necessary, and they can be made only by a Constitutional Convention. Governor Paterson has called for a convention to address a much more limited agenda. Does he have the political clout to do what is necessary? That remains to be seen.