Ballot Cry: Just Say “No”

DSCN1606.JPGFearing an end run by opponents of abortion and gay marriage, a coalition gathered at New Haven City Hall Thursday to urge a “no” vote on a constitutional convention.

With all the attention focused on the presidential election, civil-rights groups are concerned that a lesser-known question on the Nov. 4 Connecticut ballot may slip by without most voters knowing about it.

The question is whether Connecticut should hold a constitutional convention.

Mayor John DeStefano joined statewide representatives from a coalition called “Vote No: Protect Our Constitution” at the Thursday afternoon event to call attention to the question and to make a case against it.

The coalition includes Planned Parenthood, a host of progressive labor unions, and advocates of same-sex marriage. The coalition previously held a similar press event in Hartford; another’s planned for Stamford.

The ballot question’s supporters say they’re promoting democracy. They want to amend the constitution to allow for citizen-created initiatives to appear on state ballots, the way they do in states like California and Massachusetts. (Massachusetts’ three measures on this fall’s ballot would ban the income tax, decriminalize marijuana, and ban professional dog racing.”

“Unlike many other states, Connecticut does not have a public referendum process. This means there is no ordinary way for citizens to have their voices heard on critical constitutional matters,” argues a post on the website of the measure’s main organized advocates.

“The only opportunity Connecticut residents have a real impact on the state Constitution is a vote every twenty years on whether to hold a Constitutional Convention. This is a rare and unique opportunity to allow voters to contribute to the constitutional process and to advance their values.”

The opponents gathered in New Haven Thursday argued that the measure represents the opposite of democracy. They argued that such constitutional conventions are composed of hand-picked “insiders” and are generally controlled by “special interests” pushing measures that lack popular support and otherwise would never be passed by the legislature.

In this case, the opponents said, the measure is a stalking horse for people who want to ban abortion and overturn last week’s State Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. One of the measure’s top supporters is the Family Institute of Connecticut; the anti-gay rights group identified this ballot measure as the next front in trying to stop same-sex marriage in the state.

DSCN1599.JPG“Ballot measures end up being about extremes and anger,” argued Mayor DeStefano (pictured). He said debating proposed initiatives through the legislature’s “deliberative process” works better. He said he sees no “urgent and compelling reason” to “change a document [the state constitution] that works and serves us well… If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Civics Debate

WTNH’s Mark Davis challenged DeStefano by citing one of the mayor’s pet issues: property tax reform. Wouldn’t you support a ballot initiative to bring about property tax reform? Davis asked him.

No, DeStefano responded.

“I’d vote against it,” he said. “I don’t think you can answer these questions on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question” on a ballot.”

For instance, a ballot initiative might simply pose the question of whether or not to eliminate the property tax, DeStefano said. Addressing the issue responsibly requires a more nuanced discussion of the varying forms of property tax (on real estate, cars, equipment), how much the state should rely on each, and how to account for lost revenue.

DSCN1626.JPGAnother speaker, Gary Holder-Winfield (pictured), argued that in tough fiscal times, the millions of dollars needed to run a constitutional convention would be better spent on addressing pressing state needs. Holder-Winfield, who was representing the American Association of University Professors, is the Democratic candidate for state representative from New Haven’s 94th General Assembly district.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell this week came out in favor of the ballot question, but against the idea of trying to overturn the court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz reported Thursday that the number of voters registered in Connecticut has surged to over two million. Close to 220,000 people have registered since January.

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posted by: Jillian on October 16, 2008  6:48pm

The war on drugs is a joke! When will it be won?? ..when there are no drug users left in America? That will be NEVER!!!

There are fifteen million marijuana users alone and more people pick it up every day. Do prohibitionists honestly believe they can eliminate the demand for marijuana entirely. What nonsense!

Prohibition is a failed policy. Just look at what it’s done to alcohol and marijuana! While prohibition is able to eliminate legal supply it has virtually no effect on demand. This demand when coupled with zero legal supply draws criminals into our communities seeking to make quick, and substantial, profits. And profit they do!!! Their presence in our schools and communities puts our children at risk and endangers public safety.

Legalization of alcohol virtually eliminated the accessibility of minors to alcohol and rid our communities of bootleggers. Applying the same laws to marijuana will do the same thing to drug dealers!!

We care about our children and we work hard to raise them well. We believe they deserve a better future than what prohibition can offer. End the prohibition and apply the *same* laws to marijuana that are used to control alcohol!

posted by: Absent on October 16, 2008  7:41pm

I voted Wednesday.  On the Constitutional Convention question, I considered 1) the cost, and 2) an insurgent conservative agenda.  We are only allowed to do this every 20 years.  (Funny, John D was all for Charter revisions a few years ago, when he forced an all or nothing package, and lost.) Costs rise.  It will only cost more in the future and I am sure we will hold one sometime.  Also, if we are in a longterm downturn, the cost of State borrowing may go up. On the Conservative question, I have put my trust and faith in the 2009 Legislature.  Yes, that’s right.  Speaker Merrill and Majority Leader Donovan, I trust, will lead a process that ensures the wishes of Connecticut’s reasonable and fair minded majority, not it’s talk-radio-drunk minority, will prevail when rules and process are established and delegates and agenda are set.An area I hope to see changed? Any constitutional barriers to swiftly and punitively punishing those found guilty of public corruption. 

posted by: frank o'gorman on October 16, 2008  8:31pm

The Rights of Women, African-Americans, Latinos, Immigrants, People Living in Poverty, Public Employees, Ex-Offenders, Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay people would likely All be Under Attack if Ballot Initiatives come to Connecticut.

A Partial List of What’s At Stake Under Ballot Initiatives:

Abortion Rights
Emergency Contraception for Rape Victims
Affirmative Action
Anti-Poverty Programs
Judicial Discretion in Sentencing
Public Education Funding
Comprehensive Sex Education
Human Rights to Housing & Employment for Transgender & Gender Non-conforming People
Healthcare, Social Services, & College Assistance for Immigrants
Collective Bargaining
Binding Arbitration
Healthcare & Retirement Benefits of Public Servants
Same-Sex Marriage

Don’t be fooled on the Con Con.
Vote NO!

posted by: Tim on October 16, 2008  8:47pm

Is the Mayor is agaisnt it, it must be a good thing. I cant wait to vote for it Nov. 4th.

posted by: Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut on October 16, 2008  9:33pm

Plaese jion me in voting yes for a Constitutional Convention November 04, 2008 by the grace of God.  We the people need more of a voice in the political process on the local and state levels.  And what is more important than maintaining our first ammendmend rights in a country of, by and for the people founded on moral principles under God? 
  Ya, I want a say on wheather to teach Same Sex marriage to children K-12 in the puplic schools on the local level.  I want a say on an abstinence-only education curriculum on the local level, state and federal AO funding and getting Planned Parenthood of Connecticut approved sex-ed curriculums out of my districts local public school system, targeting youth as their future clients for birth conrol and surgical abortion when the contraceptives fail and all for profit on their part toboot.  I want a say on parental notification laws outside the pulic schools as well minors under eighteen obtaining a SA.  I want a say on defunding PPC through Title X Family Planning (Husky I and II, and SAGA) and and state paid Medicaid Family Planning state tax dollars.
  These are not minor issues left to the Permanent Commision on the Statis of Women’s radical pro-abort lobby, liberal left legislators and the State Supreme Court Judges only.
  Let’s get with the fellowship folks. 
  PPC donating 5K and the State Teachers Association Union donating 40,000K to defeat this Constitutional Convetion amendment question on the ballot is reprehesable.  Talk about PPC and STAU pushing their own agenda’s when they already have a bird in the hand with the legislture on their side.
  PPC is bad for Connecticut and is the problem and not the solution.

posted by: Matt in New Haven on October 16, 2008  10:26pm

As to the comment by “Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut”:

I can excuse typos and grammatical errors as I will undoubtedly have a number of my own; however, I cannot excuse the egregious falsification of facts that you engage in.

Time and tiredness prevent me from addressing each error point by point at this time but I will point out a few of my favorites.

1)“Ya, I want a say on wheather to teach Same Sex marriage to children K-12 in the puplic schools on the local level. I want a say on an abstinence-only education curriculum on the local level, state and federal AO funding and getting Planned Parenthood of Connecticut approved sex-ed curriculums out of my districts local public school system, targeting youth as their future clients for birth conrol and surgical abortion when the contraceptives fail and all for profit on their part toboot.”

The CT Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the State of Connecticut prohibits discriminating against gay and lesbian couples with respect to marriage. It did not mandate “teaching same sex marriage” at any grade level. Also, when the polls show a majority of people in CT support the court’s decision, you may not want to bring curriculum issues on sex education to public referendum. Based upon your statements, you would have a different ideology than the majority of CT’s population.

2) PPC is bad for Connecticut and is the problem and not the solution.

I think we can all tell who your motivation was there. But we all knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was articulate. “Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut”, you’re not Ronald Reagan.

posted by: Gary Doyens on October 16, 2008  10:33pm

I support the Constitutional Convention. Those against it should not be so myopic and fearful of direct democracy. If there was a pattern and practice of elected officials listening to the people, it wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, there is too much lip service and rubber stamping and too little of the action we want and need. This is our second bite at the apple when those who rule us don’t lisiten and don’t act in our best interests. Does it mean we’ll have to fight against those who would try to use referendums to overturn same sex marriage or impose abortion restrictions? Sure - but it’s worth it.

posted by: robn on October 17, 2008  9:30am

I would love to think that voting on referenda would make our laws better, but history says otherwise. Years ago, California voted to cap property taxes (who wouldn’t love that???just pull the lever and all costs get frozen in time). Proposition 13 was an emotionally driven fantasy of getting roads, schools and services for free…it led to crushing deficits.

As far as democracy…we don’t live in a democracy; we live in a Republic. Our founding fathers were smart enough to know that a representative system would require laws to be made with thoughtful and considered deliberation…not a fiscal guillotine.

If you don’t like our laws, vote for a representative who will help change them.

posted by: robn on October 17, 2008  9:48am


Can you provide some documentation about the money you say has been donated by Planned Parenthood and the Teachers Union? Where exactly did this money go? Is it a media campaign or candidate donations?

The reason I ask is becuase the CT legislature voted for public financing in 2005 and this law dramatically lessened the sway of campaign donations.—campaignfinance1016oct16,0,2077736.story

posted by: JackNH on October 17, 2008  10:29am

Mayor DiStefano- for the first time in a long while, I am with you 100%.  Protect our constitution, which is a damned good one.  I’ve actually read it—have the rest of you?

posted by: Disgruntled Democrat on October 17, 2008  1:02pm

Since we live in a democracy and our only opportunity to exercise this right comes every 20 years, it would be foolish to pass it up.  Open discussion on matters that concern each resident of the State should be advocated and a “yes” vote encouraged.

While I am for most of the interests represented by those attending the press conference, one must question when an incompentent mayor, supported by unions, pro-choice advocates and members of the GLBT community say that a minority of voters can take away a majority’s rights.  That is not possible in a democracy.  What is possible is that a vocal minority can try to sway the silent majority to inaction, mostly by misinformation, thereby keeping the rights they have obtained, whether popular or not.

If a majority of the tax payers of this State deem any or all of the items in FO’G's post above relevant, then we should allow open discussion.  Generally speaking, we definitely aren’t getting proper representation from our elected officials locally, federally or at the state level, so we shouldn’t bypass this opportunity to have our voices heard.

posted by: RCKoC on October 17, 2008  3:41pm

VOTE YES. In this split decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court, four (4) people decided the issue of same sex “marriage,” usurping the General Assembly’s work and the civil union statute. This is a clear example of judicial activism by these 4 justices of the Supreme Court.

For those who support the decision, please do not try to tell me or many others of this state that this is an issue of rights. Because it is not. Same sex couples were given all the rights under civil unions.

This is about those who want to force a social agenda on the majority who find the practice of homosexuality as normal.

VOTE YES for the Constitutional Convention so that the justices will have enshrined in the Constitution the clear defination of marriage, as it has always been, between a man and a woman.

VOTE YES for the Constitutional Convention. Dont let the naysayers try to scare us away from this most important event in our state’s history. Let democracy work, let the will of the people be heard, and acted upon.

posted by: robn on October 17, 2008  5:12pm

VOTE NO for the Constitutional Convention.
This is the same right wing cr@p that went on in Florida in 2000…fake protests by shills who are pushing a right wng agenda that is far deeper than what it appears.

And if you don’t like our laws, vote for a representative who will help change them.

posted by: Fedupwithliberals on October 18, 2008  5:16am

“Vote No: Protect Our Constitution”

What a complete twist of thought and word! Voters consistently overruled by activist judges, and we’re supposed to take it? This is our only chance to take back the state. Get out and vote!!

posted by: Disgruntled Democrat on October 18, 2008  9:23pm

“fake protests by shills who are pushing a right wng agenda that is far deeper than what it appears.”

I used to consider myself a Kennedy (JFK, not the drunk) Democrat, not the liberal/socialists that run our party now. 

If you want to look at an agenda that is much deeper than advertised, pull the 2008 Democratic Party Platform from the Denver convention and read all 94 pages.  Pages 40-42 where they are pledging to give an additional $62 billion annually to the UN really sticks out.  I haven’t heard anyone talk about it, but they figure that most people are too lazy to actually read their platform. 

Don’t know where this money is going to come from since I’m one of the 95% whose taxes aren’t going up, but we definitely should help out the world while our own country is going down the tubes.

Also the Kennedy bill that will get rid of secret ballots in union elections.  This got shelved til after the election, since it and the “Fairness” bill aren’t too popular and might cause them to lose votes if they pushed it beforehand.

These are things that should scare people, not the fact that the majority of residents of this state should have a say in what our laws actually are.

I don’t have to look for any hidden right wing conspiracies as long as my party keeps moving towards socialism.

posted by: Julie on October 18, 2008  10:39pm

Let’s learn from the mistakes of our closest neighbors (Massachusetts) and some far away (California) and VOTE DOWN THIS PROPOSITION.

As a public school teacher I get bombarded by propaganda from the CEA (CT Education Association, the state teachers’ union) and typically view most of it with a jaundiced eye. Sorry but I want FACTS not special-interest-group slant on my information. But when I saw that Dick Blumenthal along with the League of Women Voters were against the notion of a Constitutional Convention I woke up and changed my tune.

There is something to be said about these folks taking a good, hard look at the proposal and deciding that in the long run it is a bad fit for our state. These folks are the ones that we, the citizens of CT, elected to be the experts and look out for our best interests.

I agree with Mr. Blumenthal - let’s allow the state constitutional amendment process do its job. Let’s not allow capricious changes to be made to our government’s foundational document according to the whim of the most monied and powerful special interest groups in our state.

posted by: Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut on October 19, 2008  12:13am

Attention Robn,
  According to Peter Wolfgang of The Family Institute of Connecticut, “Vote No Campaign has raised $830,000 and has already spent $660,000.  Biggest donors: NEA: $325,000,  CEA (CT teachers Union): $315,000, Aft: $105,000.  Where the money’s gone: $550,000 to Media Strategies, a Colorado group for the TV adds, $90,000 to Lake Reseach Polling , a WDC group, for the push polls.  They’re outspending us by a vast margin.”
  In Christ Who is the Author of All Life from Fertilization to Natural Death,
Mary Anne

posted by: RCKoC on October 19, 2008  12:44am

VOTE YES. LET DEMOCRACY WORK. Help us control judicial activism.

Shrills who wrap themselves in the human rights banner, when they refuse to acknowledge the dignity and right to life of the unborn.

Our elected representatives worked out a law that respected the will of the people of Connecticut, that marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN. Civil Unions provided the same sex couples all the justice to protect them. The minority who want to force a social agenda on the majority, especially the accpetance of same sex “marriage” as normal, have now forced a Constitutional Convention.

ROBN thinks this is shrills forcing a right wing agenda on people. I would argue that it is a left wing liberal community that is forcing their agenda on us all with their fake protests and annoucements that this act of a democracy will somehow threaten the balance of the republic. Please, grow up.


posted by: Walt on October 19, 2008  6:24am

“If you don’t like our laws,  vote for a representative who will change them.”

In many cases, that will not work as the change could be interpreted as contrary to the Constitution, as were the current laws re marriage, by the same 4 judges.

Thus a binding solution requires change of the Constitution itself.

Vote “yes”.

posted by: John on October 19, 2008  11:22am

The thing is, though having a constitutional convention allowing individual legal queries on a ballot is quite literally the definition of democracy, it is not necessarily equivalent with a functional and useful democracy. In this situation, regardless of whether voters have a direct say in these issues, the ones with control are the ones who choose what questions are ballot-worthy and how to phrase them. Certainly our state constitution is not perfect, however, at this stage without a more defined and nuanced plan on how to govern the ballot choices, adding direct democracy on the state level is *not* the way to ‘fix’ it. Living in a town with direct democracy on the town level, I recognize that most people don’t even bother using it—or if they do, it’s to support a particular politician’s pet viewpoint, not to make a choice on an issue.

posted by: robn on October 20, 2008  9:27am


Hate to break it to you, but Kennedy’s New Frontier was born of the New Deal Democrat…accused by right wingers as socialistic it was a sound economic policy based upon progressive taxation , market regulation, and Keynesian stimulus (govt spending on infrastructure). The right wing has spent the last 30 year dismantling progressive taxtation and market regulation, and the resulting system collapse has led to SURPRISE, government ownership of banks. So who’s the socialist?

VOTE NO for the Constitutional Convention.

Its a right wing trojan horse for more profiteering and irresponsible governing.

And if you don’t like our laws, vote for a representative who will help change them.

posted by: CatholicKoC on October 20, 2008  12:45pm

Dont tell us to elect people who will represent us to change the law, we did that already.

Our representatives acted and our governor signed into law civil unions that gave same sex couples the necessary protections under law.

In an act of judicial activism, 4 justices usurped our elected officials and the legislative process. It was a split decision of the Supreme Court to redefine marriage as it has always been, between a man and a woman.


posted by: Deuce on October 21, 2008  9:16am

I’m voting YES.

posted by: robn on October 21, 2008  9:25am


There is a mechanism in place for State Constitutional amendment: that is a 3/4 majority vote in Legislature and then a ballot vote for ratification. Its perfectly democratic and has been used to amend the State Constitution 30 times, as recently as the year 2000.

VOTE NO! Its a waste of time, money and is a right wing ploy to take advantage of mob mentality.

posted by: CatholicKoC on October 21, 2008  10:01am


Your sophmoric vulgarity apparently has missed the editor. But I guess it just reveals where your heart is.


Robn, who is trying whip up a mob mentaliy? Seems like you are with your predictions of a collapse of all by a right wing mob. Why do you fear democracy in action?

A Constitutional Convention will allow the will of the people to be heard rather than just the 4 justices, who decided to change the defination of marriage and going against the Civil Union.

Our representatives were usurped by judicial activism, so it is the people who must correct this.


posted by: robn on October 21, 2008  1:14pm


Sorry about that! I’m a horrible misspeller. maybe you should chnge your pseuedonym though…

Your insistance that Civil Unions give equal protection is just patently false….what you’re asking voter to do is to vote away the Equal Protection clause of the Connecticut Constitution.

posted by: Disgruntled Democrat on October 22, 2008  8:40pm


I believe that it was Reagan who removed the flat tax and made it “progressive.”  All that did way make more money for those with LLMs in taxation as it took a higher degree to wrangle through the Code.
It was Barney Frank, in 2003, that stated that Fannie and Freddie didn’t need to be regulated, and at the bottom of all of this fiasco, the greed of Johnson and others running these departments are what led to this mess. 

Greed and fear are the major influences in investing.  Of course Wall Street would try to capitalize on the marketplace, but if the loans weren’t made in the first place, or if higher standards were used when making the loans, then none of this would have happened.

Since you seem to be well read, why don’t you check and see who received the largest donations from these two entities.  It is available, but if you don’t feel the need, the names are Dodd, Frank and Obama.  When it comes to mortgages and malfeasonce, Dodd seems to be the man.

In answer to your question, Obama is the socialist.  If you want to refund payroll taxes paid by those making low wages, but not take it from the payroll taxes themselves, but from other revenue, or to give money to those persons not paying taxes, that is a redistribution of wealth, which by its definition, is socialism.

posted by: Disgruntled Democrat on October 22, 2008  8:42pm

Bar Stool Economics
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar
every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers, he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.
But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100%
savings) The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four
continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant the men began to compare their savings.
‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,‘declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,’ but he got $10!’
‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man.
‘I only saved a dollar, too.
It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!’
‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man.
‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’
‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get
anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

posted by: alexis wilcox on October 23, 2008  10:15pm

RCKOC wrote: “The minority who want to force a social agenda on the majority, especially the acceptance of same sex ‘marriage’ as normal, have now forced a Constitutional Convention.”—um… a constitutional convention isn’t being forced. it comes up for vote every 20 years…

posted by: alexis wilcox on October 23, 2008  10:20pm

For those interested in seeing the 30 things that have been amended in the CT constitution, click here.
Oh, and VOTE NO ON 1 when you hit the polls on Nov. 4.