On the Ballot: Gambling, Vets, Judges

We urge a yes vote on four, no votes on two

    A mixed bag of seven statewide ballot propositions will greet voters on Nov. 5. We urge a yes vote on four, no votes on two.        
    Proposal 1 is the most controversial. It would authorize as many as seven new casinos. Reasons most heard in support of the measure are that it would bring much needed tax money to hard-bitten upstate regions, which would get preference in licensing, and that residents are gambling in other states anyway. We reject the latter as insufficient cause.

    Like the lottery, casino gambling tends to prey on those least likely to be able to afford it and brings a host of social and mental health problems that can ultimately be a significant cost to taxpayers and families. Opponents also argue that casinos create unfair competition for nearby smaller businesses. We think that creating jobs and tax revenue through harmful, potentially addictive behavior is unacceptable. Vote no.

    Proposal 2 would grant additional Civil Service credit for military veterans who are certified as disabled after they are hired or receive a promotion. The law now allows preferential hiring credits only if the disability is certified before someone takes a Civil Service post. The measure would close a legal loophole and help recognize the complex and often delayed diagnoses veterans receive, improving their employment opportunities. Yes.

    An end run around state constitutional debt caps, Proposal 3 would allow local governments to ignore payments for sewage-treatment plants in calculating the limits. We think that keeping sewage projects within spending caps is a good thing and protects taxpayers from runaway costs. No.

    Among the ballot measures, Proposal 4 has gotten support from the New York League of Conservation Voters. It would end a longstanding pattern of upstate land lawsuits and provide for additional acres for the Adirondack Park in Hamilton County. It has support from both sides of the State Legislature and from environmental and recreation groups. Yes.

    Proposal 5, which concerns a temporary land swap in the Adirondack Park for mining, has the support of the Steelworkers Union as well as the League of Conservation Voters. In return for the use of 200 acres — and its eventual restoration at little or no cost to the public — the mining company would give 1,500 acres of forest to the state, including two trout streams and access to Jay Mountain. Some environmental activists oppose this, saying it sets a dangerous precedent for the aggressive use of preserved lands. Taking such matters on a case-by-case basis, however, it appears that Proposal 5 is a good deal for New Yorkers, even if future measures of this kind may not be worthy of support. Yes.

    We are all for Proposal 6, which would raise the mandatory retirement age for state judges from 70 (76 in some courts) to 80. Not to denigrate the younger set, but there is something to be said for the wisdom of age. United States Supreme Court justices are allowed to remain on the bench until they themselves deem it time to go. So why not their Empire State compatriots? The New York City Bar Association backs the measure, calling it  a sure-fire way to assure judicial capacity for the foreseeable future. Yes.