It’s been rather a while since I last wrote something here. I’ve been frantically busy at work. Until this year, I had exactly one instance where I had to pull an all-nighter (actually a bit more than that, as my all-nighters typically start around 7:00 am) in the service of my career. This summer, I had four. Such, it seems, is the way of the world….
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Recently, message boards have been installed in the subway stations that indicate when the next train is arriving. On the whole, it’s a good thing. But yesterday morning, I looked up and was reminded to ‘exercise my right to vote.’ It bothered me. If a friend reminds me to vote, it’s OK; if the League of Women Voters reminds me to vote, they’re doing their job. But when the people who run the subway feel the need to remind me to vote, I have to wonder what the racket is.
Alas, voting seems an exercise in futility. This year, NYC elects a mayor. The incumbent, Bill de Blasio, is almost certain to be re-elected, not so much for his stellar achievements, but because of a dearth of opposition. The Republican candidate, Nicole Malliotakis, doesn’t seem to have much of a platform other than that she isn’t de Blasio.
I don’t like de Blasio: he’s an echo of the leftist mayors of the past who ran the city into the ground in the 1970s and 1980s. On the other hand, other than his influence-peddling scandals, I can’t see that he has actually done anything terribly wrong. The wheels have not fallen off the city; crime is still at historic lows; we still have something that vaguely resembles prosperity.
But that’s hardly a ringing endorsement.
The other major item this year is a referendum to hold a state Constitutional Convention. The US constitution is short (20 pages, give or take), concise, and to the point. The New York State constitution runs to about 300 pages, and includes all sorts of things that should properly be in the domain of the state legislature. As a result, the actual state legislature is reduced to nibbling around the edges, and a legislature with nothing useful to do is truly the devil’s workshop.
One of the provisions of the State Constitution is that, every 20 years, there should be a referendum on whether to hold a Constitutional Convention. Such a convention could propose amendments which then would go before the voters.
There are many who are opposed to a convention. Civil servants, for example, don’t want anyone to change the provision that civil service pensions are sacrosanct: they can be increased at will (which the politicians will do when they’re feeling flush), but never decreased. And even if you believe that the State Constitution needs a kick in the pants, the Convention will likely not be much help, as it will be filled with the current political class, with a vested interest in the status quo.
Still, hope springs eternal. I made the effort and got to the polls in a driving rain. I voted for Nicole and for a constitutional convention, even though I know they’re both losing propositions. I got an ‘I voted’ sticker, something that has appeared in NYC voting places in the last few years:
I have to wonder what the point of the sticker is: my fascination with stickers started to wane… when I was six.