If there was any doubt about the wisdom of holding a New York Constitutional Convention (ConCon), the front-page story in the May 30 Gazette should settle that question.
All along, my reason for the ConCon was the incompetence and corruption of our New York state Legislature. Now another area of corruption was exposed on The Daily Gazette headline, “Lulus feed culture of scandal.” Eight senators have fraudulently received tens of thousands of dollars for positions they did not hold.
A lulu is a payment of taxpayer money that the state Legislature leaders give to each other for any reason they can come up with. It has been an accepted way to pad their salaries.
The lulu payments are not chicken feed. The amounts given out vary from $9,000 for minority members on committees to $41,500 for the leader of the senate. Actually, nearly every senator receives some sort of bonus. Also, a majority of the 150 Assembly members also receive bonuses for leading committees and leadership positions.
It appears to be taxpayer money for nothing, needing approval only from the lawmakers themselves. A state law from the 1970s prescribes more than $1.3 million in lulus for the Senate every year and even more for the state Assembly.
John Flanagan, leader of the Senate, argues that the payments of stipends are consistent with the state constitution and legislation. But lulus potentially lead to a corrupt and self-serving institution and this highlights the need to change the New York constitution.
In November, voters can elect to have a constitutional convention. This opportunity comes only once every 20 years.