What is Proposition 4???

Next Tuesday is election day in NYS. It’s an off-year for national elections, so it’s probably kind of a yawner for most people. Our local city council is up for grabs, so it is not unimportant. I have a lawn sign for my favorite candidate. We do have a state referendum on casino gambling, which I plan to vote against. If it weren’t for a lawn sign in the neighborhood asking me to vote yes on proposition 4, I would have thought that was all there was to it.

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What is proposition 4? I thought maybe that was the casino referendum. Not so. A quick google search showed me that the casino thing is proposition 1. There are actually six referenda on this year’s NYS ballot! Wonderful! Time for some learning.

I perused several websites offering opinions and information about the referenda. Have you noticed that whenever someone is arguing for their particular position, it sounds like there is no other reasonable way to think about the issue? The writer of Proverbs 18:17 illustrated this: “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” So, it took me a while to find what I felt was a balance of information. I particularly like the site put together by the League of Women Voters of Bedford Lewisboro North Salem. The thing I like about it is that they’ve taken the trouble to search out the arguments both in favor of and in opposition to each of the referenda. Since proposition 4 and 5 have to do with land use and land ownership in the northern part of the state, the arguments for and against would be hard for me to obtain, here in western NY.

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It turns out that Proposition 4 is a proposed amendment to the NYS Constitution. That sounds pretty important! Apparently there are a number of properties in the town of Long Lake, in the north country, that have been in disputed ownership for the past 100 years. The state and the current occupants both claim ownership. Title to the lands is unclear, and the courts have been unable to resolve the issue all these years. The NYS constitution declares large portions of northern NY (The Adirondack “Park” area) “forever wild.” The disputed lands are within the area governed by this part of the NYS Constitution. Apparently the wording of the NYS Constitution has prevented the courts from resolving this. So, this proposition has been drafted, with input from both parties, apparently, as an out-of-court settlement to this long-standing dispute. According to the research conducted by the League of Women Voters, opponents of Proposition 4 think that settling land disputes with legislative action and a public referendum sets a bad precedent. They think it will open the floodgates for lots more disputes to be settled in this way.

I love the fact that finding and digesting information like this is relatively easy in this age of Information Technology.