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Upcoming Forums and Events

De-Mystifying the 2017 Constitutional Convention Ballot Proposal


Academic II Recital Hall, Onondaga Community College, 4585 West Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY
Thursday, April 27, 2017
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

To register, contact Michele Charbonneau at (518) 443-5258 or e-mail michele.charbonneau@rockinst.suny.edu.

On November 7, 2017, voters will go into voting booths throughout New York State and, as they are every 20 years, will be faced with the constitutionally mandated question, "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same (N.Y. Const., Art XIX, sec 2)?" In only nine instances in New York State history, have we convened a convention to consider how the New York State Constitution might be altered, potentially changing how government in Albany works. In an effort to de-mystify the issues surrounding the 2017 constitutional referendum, this program will cover the New York State Constitution and the issues surrounding the upcoming constitutional convention.

Panelists include:

  • Laura Ladd Bierman joined the New York State League of Women Voters' staff as executive director in July 2008. She has been a member of the League for 30 years, with membership in four different local leagues in 3 states, and has served in a number of positions in local leagues, including study chair, editor of the newsletter, board member, vice president and president.
  • Christopher Bopst is the chief legal and financial officer at Sam-Son Logistics in Buffalo. Before that, he was a constitutional litigation partner at law firms in New York and Florida. He is the co-author with Peter Galie of the leading reference work on New York's State Constitution, The New York Constitution 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012), as well as numerous articles on the state constitution. He is also a contributor to and co-editor with Peter Galie and Gerald Benjamin of a volume of essays entitled New York's Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness (SUNY Press, 2016). In 2016 he was appointed to the Judicial Task Force on the New York Constitution, formed to advise Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the State of New York Court Janet DiFiore on issues related to the upcoming vote in 2017 on the holding of a constitutional convention.
  • Dr. Henrik (Hank) Dullea retired from Cornell University in 2005 as senior consultant to the president and was elected vice president for university relations emeritus by the Cornell University Board of Trustees in May 2006. Dr. Dullea has served in a wide variety of governmental and higher education positions in New York State. Most recently, he served from 1983 to 1991 as director of state operations and policy management for Governor Mario M. Cuomo, responsible for directing the day-to-day activities of New York State's more than 65 departments and agencies. Other state government positions held by Dr. Dullea have included service as assistant secretary to the governor for education and the arts in the administration of Governor Hugh L. Carey and as a legislative budget analyst for the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee. He is the author of Charter Revision in the Empire State: The Politics of New York's 1967 Constitutional Convention (Rockefeller Institute Press, 1997) and co-editor of Decision 1997: Constitutional Change in New York (Rockefeller Institute Press, 1997).
  • Dr. Peter J. Galie is emeritus professor of political science at Canisius College in Buffalo. He is the author of Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York (Fordham Press, 1996); with Christopher Bopst, The New York State Constitution, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012); and a co-editor with Christopher Bopst and Gerald Benjamin, of New York's Broken Constitution: The Crisis in Governance and the Path to Renewed Greatness (SUNY Press, 2016). Other publications include "The New York Constitution and the Federal System," in the Oxford Handbook on New York State Government (Oxford University Press, 2012) and numerous articles on state constitutional law. He was an expert witness retained by the attorney general of New York to prepare a report for the AG's appellate brief in Hayden v. Pataki "The Felony Disenfranchisement Clause of the New York Constitution 1821-1938: Background, Chronology, Origin & Purpose" (June, 2004), and co-author of an amicus brief submitted to the New York Court of Appeals in the case of Skelos v. Paterson (2009) on the question: "Does the Governor have the authority to fill a vacancy in the Lieutenant-Governor's Office by appointment?" In 2016, he, too, was appointed to the Judicial Task Force on the New York Constitution, formed to advise the chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals on issues related to the upcoming vote in 2017 on the holding of a constitutional convention.
The program will be moderated by Robert Bullock. Mr. Bullock is the senior advisor for external affairs for the Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York (SUNY), SUNY System's center for public policy research.

The Rockefeller Institute, the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, the League of Women Voters of New York State, and the Siena Research Institute have joined forces, often with partner organizations from around the state, to conceive and implement a multiyear campaign designed to ensure that each of New York's voters, made aware of this work, goes to vote with a clearer sense of what a constitutional convention could achieve. This Syracuse program is organized by the League of Women Voters-Syracuse Chapter, the League of Women Voters of NYS, and the Rockefeller Institute. The organizers would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of President Casey Crabill and Onondaga Community College for their hosting of this program.


What Can Prevent the Next Corporate Meltdown?


Jerome Green Hall, Room 106, Columbia Law School Campus, 435 W 116th St, New York
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Registration is requested but not required. To register, e-mail michele.charbonneau@rockinst.suny.edu or call (518) 443-5258


Two of the nation's pre-eminent experts, Ira and Jim Millstein, will discuss the role of active directors in corporate organization and governance, as well as the adequacy of current corporate and regulatory safeguards.

Ira M. Millstein, a senior partner in the international law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and founding chair of the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School, has spent more than five decades advising companies, nonprofits, and governments on various corporate governance issues. From the threat of bankruptcy and the ConEd blackout of 1970s New York City, to the meltdown of Drexel Burnham Lambert in the late 1980s, to the turnaround of General Motors in the mid-1990s, Millstein was at the center of each of these matters — and continues to counsel boards, management, and government officials to actively govern their corporations and constituencies.

Recently, Mr. Millstein played a key role in the reform of New York State's numerous public authorities, including serving at the request of Governors Pataki, Paterson, and Cuomo, as chairman of various task forces charged with overseeing the successful implementation of the new public authorities' laws.

In his latest book, The Activist Director: Lessons from the Boardroom and the Future of the Corporation (Columbia University Press), Ira Millstein argues some of the worst organizational meltdowns over the past 60 years can be traced to passive directors who favored operational shortcuts over quality growth strategies.

Jim Millstein served as the chief restructuring officer at the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the recent financial crisis, where he was responsible for the oversight and management of the government's largest investments in the financial sector, including AIG and Ally Financial. After leaving Treasury, Jim founded a financial advisory firm, Millstein and Co., focusing on sovereign and corporate restructuring transactions, now with more than 40 professionals in offices in Washington, DC, and New York City. Among the engagements in which he has been involved at Millstein & Co. have been the representation of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the development of its fiscal adjustment plan and a plan for the restructuring of its $70 billion of institutional indebtedness, representation of US Airways in its acquisition of American Airlines out of Chapter 11, and representation of Caesars Operating Company in its Chapter 11 restructuring. Prior to his government service, Jim was global co-head of corporate restructuring at Lazard. Throughout his career, Jim has counseled numerous corporate boards of directors and officials of various government organizations.

The Millsteins recently established the Millstein Fellowship at Columbia Law School to encourage graduates of the Law School to pursue careers in financial regulation in the federal government.

The conversation between the Millsteins will explore whether "activist directors" are an essential element of effective corporate governance, helping management focus on the creation of long term shareholder value or are simply yet another source of pressure on management to maximize short term profits at the expense of long term investments in innovation and growth. Given the newly elected federal administration's announced policy to rollback regulatory oversight of the financial sector, the Millsteins will also discuss the balance between competition and regulation in protecting the stability and dynamism of the country's financial sector.
The program is free and open to the public. To ensure a seat, registration is strongly encouraged.

The event is co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York (SUNY), the Government Law Center of Albany Law School, and Columbia Law School and its Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership.