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Sun., Dec. 28
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Worthy proposals

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On Election Day, New Yorkers are being asked to decide on six amendments to the state Constitution.

The amendments cover two issues in the Adirondacks and three technical changes to make the Constitution more flexible by removing old restrictions that have outlived their usefulness. Five of the amendments are sensible and deserve approval.

We will comment on the first proposed amendment, dealing with the expansion of gambling, in an editorial tomorrow. But in a nutshell, creating these casinos is not in New York’s best long-term interest; voters should reject that proposed amendment.

Readers will find the text of the other proposed amendments below this editorial. They are:

Proposal 2, Additional civil service credit for veterans with disabilities certified post-appointment: This amendment provides veterans additional credit on their state civil service ranking for a certification of disability credit granted after they had received their ranking. This one-time grant is only fair to veterans plagued by a disability and deserves a yes vote.

Proposal 3, Exclusion of indebtedness contracted for sewage facilities: Across New York, communities have built sewage management facilities to clean up the state’s waterways. The debt sold to finance these expensive public benefit projects has been excluded from the debt limits the Constitution imposes on local government jurisdictions. This amendment has worked well since 1962 and needs to be extended for another 10 years. A vote yes will assure New Yorkers that we will maintain our commitment to clean water and sewage free rivers.

Proposal 4, Settling disputed title in the forest preserve: The Associated Press explained the issue in the Times in early October as beginning in “the 1800s, when inadequate surveying, poor record keeping, clerical errors and mistakes by assessors and tax collectors left the state with nominal title to 216 lots covering about 1,000 acres in a 24,000-acre region known as Township 40. As a result, the lots were included as part of the forest preserve, leaving property homeowners without clear title. The parcels include private homes, businesses, a school, firehouse, waste transfer station and marina.” Approval of the amendment will result in acquisition of the Marion River Carry connecting Raquette Lake and Blue Mountain Lake. The amendment clarifies an ancient wrong and should be approved.

Proposal 5, In relation to a land exchange in the state forest preserve with NYCO Minerals Inc.: The amendment will preserve 100 jobs of open pit miners who are extracting wollastonite, a crystalline white mineral used in ceramics and paints as a safe substitute for asbestos. In return, the state will add 1,500 acres of forest land and get the 200 acres back in a decade once the pit is capped and vegetation restored. The amendment is a sensible use of New York’s underground assets and a positive expansion of the Adirondack Park.

Proposal 6, Increasing age until which certain state judges can serve: Judges on the Court of Appeals must step down at age 70. For some judges, that is right in the prime of their judicial careers. They have diligently mastered the nuance of the court, developed very high levels of expertise and earned respect from the lawyers who appear before them. This constitutional requirement dates back to 1869, and it is time for the state’s top judges to be treated in the same fashion as Supreme Court judges who, when properly qualified for competency, can serve three additional two-year terms. The amendment treats Supreme Court and Court of Appeals justices in a slightly different manner. Supreme Court justices certified capable of performing may now continue to serve. The amendment expands that limit to five two-year terms. In the case of the Court of Appeals, judges will be allowed to continue to fulfill their elected term or until age 80 if they are certified capable of performing the job. The current requirement deprives New Yorkers of the services of judges whose abilities are not impacted by age. There is no justification for a constitutional presumption of senility in New York State! The amendment should be approved.

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