When I ran for the New York State Assembly way back in 1991, I ran on a platform of five changes, or
amendments, that needed to be made, in order to correct the problems that existed in Albany. Hence,
the term Pentamendments. In looking back upon them, I find that they are still needed today more
than ever. A short review of the basics of these Pentamendments follow.
1. Term Limitations
We need to limit the time our lawmakers can stay in the same office. People argue that this
limits choice. I argue that the powers of the incumbancy are very real and that they limit the
much needed, new ideas from coming into the system.
2. Campaign Finance Reform
We need to limit the cost of running for office so that we can again open up elections to the
common person. Limiting the amount of spending will also reduce the incumbent's reliance on PAC
money, which would reduce a corrupting influence on his behavior. Preferably, we would tie it to
"x" number of times the yearly salary that the position pays. After all, if we say that the
position is worth so much, then we can say that this is how much a person can spend to achieve it.
With this method, the amounts that can be spent would be adjusted automatically. We would also
let the non-incumbent spend one or two times salary more in order to make up for the powers of
3. Mailing Privileges & Compensation
We need to limit the time that our elected representatives can send free mail. Right now, it
seems that they only send it during campaign season, which amounts to free campaign literature
financed by the taxpayers. We should also limit the type of material to being questionaires, such
as what's on his constituent's minds, as there is no reason to get free mailings just to tell us
what he's up to. That is just image enhancement for his future campaign, and besides, we can read
the papers or listen to the news if we really want to know that. As for compensation, incumbents
can be reimbursed by salary only. No more "lulu's" or per diem pay would be granted.
4. State Mandates
Simply put, if the state government, or the state bureaucracy, mandates a program, state
government has to pay for it. No more shifting the costs of the program onto the local
governments. Our local and school property taxes are highly inflated by programs that our state
government demands, but won't pay for.
5. Proposition by the People
We need to put a system into place where the state residents can propose needed laws. If state
government fails its residents, the people should have recourse to fix the problem.