On Monday, I Help Make New York History

Tomorrow morning, I and 45 of my fellow co-plaintiffs will sue New York State, Governor Paterson and a rogues’ gallery of co-defendants to stop the state from ladling out taxpayer money to wealthy corporations. Our attorney, the great James Ostrowski, Esq., will ask a state judge in Albany to order an immediate end to more than $1 billion in illegal state subsidies to private interests.

Our lawsuit is based on an amendment to the New York State Constitution, dating back to the mid-1800’s, prohibiting gifts to private firms. Article VII, § 8, paragraph 1 states:

“The money of the state shall not be given or loaned to or in aid of any private corporation or association, or private undertaking; nor shall the credit of the state be given or loaned to or in aid of any individual, or public or private corporation or association, or private undertaking, but the foregoing provisions shall not apply to any fund or property now held or which may hereafter be held by the state for educational, mental health or mental retardation purposes.”

I don’t even want to know why the state needs to spend money for both mental health and mental retardation purposes. The point is, nowhere in the state constitution does it say it’s okay give away money to private corporations for “economic development,” which our elected officials and their lackeys do all the time. The recipients of cash gifts from the taxpayers in the current state budget include IBM, Advanced Micro Devices, Bass Pro Outdoor World, and Stella D’Oro (Stellaaaaaaa!), just to name a few

With the state experiencing a major budget crisis and our governor and legislator scratching their heads over how to make ends meet, it seems a good start would be to obey our constitution.

Read our legal complaint here.

6 thoughts on “On Monday, I Help Make New York History”

  1. You do realize that going to our completely unbiased and fair justice system to resolve a dispute between you and the government is akin to going to my brother to resolve a dispute between you and I?

  2. Of course. I see litigation against the government as about as effective as voting — i.e., not very. But resistance is always preferable to surrender, regardless of the odds of success.

  3. Thanks for your support Jim.

    I am generally not a proponent of court action for political goals. But we have already succeeded in garnering lots of media and public attention. Plus there is a fiscal crisis in NY. Finally, like Heller, it’s hard to ignore the plain language of the constitution.

  4. This could be a double edged sword. When former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson (and his rubber stamp City Council) brought in a ferry service to run between Rochester and Toronto, the State couldn’t directly fund the private company established to run the ferry, Canadian American Transportation Services (CATS). Their solution was to create the Rochester Ferry Board, whose president was one of our City Councilmen, to relay money to CATS.

    If the lawsuit succeeds, the State may just start establishing a bunch of intermediary “boards” which are funded by the State to relay money to corporations.

  5. Russell Mollot

    Why not sue the governor and state senators and state assemblymen for violating the Constitution: “No state shall …make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts.” Yet they have permitted the Federal Reserve’s unconstitutional notes to flood New York State, with devastating economic consequences. Only gold and silver coin (and possibly silver certificates and gold certificates) may be permitted in this or any other state of the Union. Our state government has betrayed the Constitution and The People!

  6. Thursday’s New York Sun had a full article, not just a little blurb!, on the lawsuit. Bravo Jim for bringing this action!

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