Murray councilman urges support for NY Constitutional Convention

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2017 at 9:41 am

Convention will be on the ballot in November

Photo by Tom Rivers: Murray Town Councilman Paul Hendel, right, speaks during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting while Councilman Ed Bower listens.

MURRAY – A Murray town councilman is urging the public to educate themselves on a state-wide ballot proposition in November – the New York State Constitutional Convention.

Paul Hendel, the Murray councilman, said he is voting for the convention and he hopes it leads to some changes on how the state is operating, especially with how it treats local municipalities with land use powers.

Hendel said he is concerned about the state’s growing clout in taking away “home rule” from local governments. The state has infringed upon local communities’ home rule or their power with local zoning and land use, especially with large-scale wind energy projects, Hendel said.

“We’ve already seen a pull back (in home rule) with energy systems,” Hendel said during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. “I am nervous the state will want to pull back that even more.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing a “Clean Energy Standard” that will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. That means more land, especially upstate, will be needed for those large-scale projects.

Sttae Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, has been promoting a “two New Yorks” proposal, where ultimately he would like to see New York City and upstate be separated. Hendel said he favors that secessionist push.

“I would never ask someone how they would vote but I would vote ‘yes’ on that one,” Hendel said at the Town Board meeting.

The Constitutional Convention comes up every 20 years on the state-wide ballot.

It gives voters a chance to hold a convention to change the state constitution, which was first crafted in 1777. If voters approve the convention, delegates are elected by the public in November 2018 and they would convene in April 2019.

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