ALBANY—David Paterson is inching toward the idea of a constitutional convention by endorsing the efforts of potential general-election opponent Rudy Giuliani.
The former New York City mayor first floated the idea in an Op -Ed for the Times yesterday, citing the ongoing leadership crisis in the State Senate. The call was supported by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat, who has carried a bill authorizing the convention for a long time. The bill would put a referendum on the ballot to authorize such a convention. A referendum occurs automatically every 20 years, and was last on the ballot in 1997. It was defeated.
Giuliani has been toying with the idea of running for governor, and earlier this year said New Yorkers should be "ashamed" at the direction the state has taken under Paterson’s leadership.
Here's Paterson's statement:
"I want to commend former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the ideas he raised with respect to a State constitutional convention. Albany is in need of reform, and leaders should be working in a bipartisan way to achieve real progress for the people of New York.
"Some of the reforms Mayor Giuliani has raised are issues I also believe should be addressed. We need to reform the budget process by enacting a State spending cap so that government will live within its means just like regular New Yorkers. We need campaign finance reform and a government ethics commission that will restore the faith of the public in government. We need to take politics out of the debate over judicial salaries and I have submitted a program bill to do just that.
"One caution I would raise in moving towards a constitutional convention is based on experience from 1997 – the last time New Yorkers voted on a constitutionally-mandated ballot proposition on the subject. The same special interests that have come to dominate establishment Albany will once again attempt to influence the movement to a constitutional convention – just as they did in 1997. They will spend millions of dollars to affect the process and they will seek to elect delegates to a convention that comes from the same broken system.
"We need to bring real reform to Albany before we can move forward with a constitutional convention. This is the only way to ensure that the process will not be dominated by the same special interests that have caused the dysfunction and gridlock we are seeking to change. I look forward to working with Mayor Giuliani and others in a bipartisan way to bring real reform to the political system."