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New York StateIn New York, voters don’t get to go to the polls and cast ballots on marijuana, gay marriage, and affirmative action.

State Senator Joseph Robach, a Greece Republican, has long wanted the state’s residents to be able to hold referendums. He submitted a bill outlining such a process. People would be able to propose laws and reject laws passed by the legislature:

For an initiative or referendum measure to appear on a
ballot, a petition setting forth the proposal must be filed with the
State Board of Elections and be signed by electors at least equal in number to 5 percent of the votes cast for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election. Such signatures must include at least 5,000 signatures from each of at least three-fifths of the State’s congressional districts.

The measure passed the senate in 2011, and was referred to committee in 2012. Robach submitted his bill earlier this month and it was referred to committee and the attorney general for an opinion.

Supporters of initiatives and referendums say they encourage voter engagement and give government mandates to do the people’s bidding. Opponents argue they weaken the power of elected bodies and allow politicians to avoid making tough decisions. Another argument against them is they can be used by the majority to deny rights to a minority, as we have seen with gay marriage votes.

Do you think New York should allow initiatives and referendums?

Links of the Day:

– Federal probation and a Colorado contractor appear to share blame for an accused murderer’s dismantling of his ankle monitor.

– The Bills want 128 more Sheriff’s deputies on game days patrolling the stadium. 

– There seems to be more news coverage of the FBI dog killed in Herkimer than the people.

– A Tax Foundation study found New York has among the highest taxes in the nation in almost every category.

Check out this virtual tour of Rush Rhees Library.


Links of the Day:

– Minors in New York State can get body piercings in “places the sun don’t shine” without parental consent, reports the New York Post:

New York has a minimum age to receive a tattoo: 18. And to drink alcohol: 21.

You must be 18 to legally purchase a pack of smokes. At 16, you may apply for a learner’s permit to drive.

But the minimum age to get your skin, mouth or private parts breached by a potentially infection-causing needle:


State Senator Joe Robach referred to the report in legislation he submitted last week to require parental consent. Robach also supports a bill restricting minors from using tanning beds.

– Why do education reformers refuse to discuss integrating schools? It’s the only thing proven to help close the achievement gap.

– A Pittsford man’s cell phone won’t stop ringing. He is a likely victim of “spoofing.”

– Jim Boeheim earns more than Syracuse University’s chancellor and got a 33% percent raise in 2010.

Women basketball players earn 200 times less than their male counterparts.

– The Kennedy curse? It’s how they treat women.

Here come the Canada geese!

SNL says goodbye to Kristen Wiig.

The Democrat and Chronicle reported today Assemblyman David Gantt would reintroduce his legislation giving Rochester’s mayor control of the school district.

This is not a surprise, as it has already passed the assembly. The bill has powerful allies in Gantt, Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy and the business community. But the state senate is a lot trickier, as senators Joe Robach and Jim Alesi have expressed strong reservations.

Meanwhile, a lot has changed in the two years since then-Mayor Duffy campaigned for control of schools.

  • We have a new mayor who may not want the job as badly as his predecessor. Tom Richards  never talks about mayoral control unless prompted and doesn’t do so with any depth. While Richards has expressed support for mayoral control, I find it hard to believe Albany would hand over control of a $700-million-a-year, 32,000-student district to a man who lacks any outward passion for taking the reigns. There’s still time for Richards to show he wants control of the district. So far, he hasn’t laid out any vision.
  • Opposition to mayoral control has grown among area residents. The 2011 Voice of the Voter poll shows 50 percent of respondents oppose and 38 percent support mayoral control. In the 2010 poll, only 30 percent opposed mayoral control.
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s record on education has been knocked in polls and gains in test scores under his leadership were nearly wiped out.
  • The Rochester City School District is no longer run by mayoral-control-friendly Jean-Claude Brizard.  The district is in a state of relative calm compared to the turmoil of the last few years. Is it time to rock the apple cart as the school board searches for a new leader – one who may already be in the position? Maybe it’s the perfect time, if you want to install the mayor as chief.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government, in a report called “Giving and Getting,” found New York State’s downstate residents pay far more in taxes than they receive in return. The study was first reported by Gannett News Service.

New Yorkers pay more than $80 million in taxes and fees.

Excerpt from report:

Upstate residents often believe they subsidize generous social welfare programs that disproportionately benefit Downstate;


New York City and the Downstate Suburbs “give” far more to Albany in taxes and other revenues than they “get” in state-funded expenditures. The Capital Region and the Rest of State, by contrast, get significantly more than they give.

The study finds New York City gives 45 percent of the state’s income tax revenues, but gets back 40 percent. Downstate suburbs give 27 percent, but get back 17 percent. Upstate, excluding the Capital Region, gives 24 percent and gets back 35 percent.

State Senator Joseph Robach has advocated making Upstate New York its own state. This report suggests Upstate would lose out on serious revenues.

“I don’t know if those numbers are right, but New York City drives the policies that we spend money on,” said Robach, who would like to see a referendum on secession and other issues in New York.