By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA – Town Supervisor Joseph Gray says he believes if the proposition on next month’s state ballot allowing more casinos upstate is approved, it will not be good for the North Country.
“I believe casino gaming in the rest of New York state will be bad for our region,” Gray said, adding that casino revenues being spent elsewhere will deprive the St. Regis reservation of casino income, which supports a large portion of the tribal government. In turn, Massena and St. Lawrence County would lose out because it would mean smaller casino compact payments.
On Wednesday, a state Supreme Court justice rejected a suit to stop the casino vote. The New York Times reported that a bankruptcy lawyer from Brooklyn sued because language on the ballot refers to the measure as “promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes,” which the suit claims is overly suggestive and will unduly influence voters to vote in the affirmative.
With the voters set to decide on six proposed amendments to the state constitution on Election Day, Gray Wednesday night urged the public to educate themselves on the issues and get to the polls.
He said he feels the most important, aside from the amendment to allow seven more casinos to be built in upstate New York, is another that would allow state Supreme Court judges to serve until age 80. They currently must retire at 70.
Gray said “it’s nothing against anybody of that age, but if you’re 80 years old and you’re on the bench, it might be time to retire.”
“I will be voting against the two measures,” Gray said. “I want people to be aware of these referenda … people should vote their conscience.”
The other four measures on the November ballot are:
• To grant additional civil service credit to veterans certified as disabled after an appointment or promotion to a civil service position.
• To continue to allow counties, cities, towns, and villages to exclude from their constitutional debt limits indebtedness incurred for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities.
• To resolve competing claims of title between the State and private parties to land located in the forest preserve, in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County.
• To allow NYCO Minerals, Inc., a private company, to continue its mining operations in the town of Lewis, Essex County.
He said voters should be aware that referenda can sometimes be listed in hard-to-understand legal jargon. Sometimes they are listed on the back of the ballot, which can confuse some voters.
The state Board of Elections describes the proposed amendments in full at http://www.elections.ny.gov/ProposedConsAmendments.html.
The full story about the ballot lawsuit ruling can be read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/nyregion/judge-rejects-suit-to-block-c...