May 16, 2019

Sidebar: Splitting The Empire

In three recent posts (here, here and here) I've talked about plans that are out there to address the great divide that exists, in many people's minds, between upstate and downstate New York.

Upstate counties are red, upstate cities are blue. Downstate - the vast mess that is New York City and her neighboring counties -  might as well be completely blue. And, "they don't care one bit about upstate," the thinking goes. That sentiment has been compounded now that the Dems control all of the state government.

So, is all of this talk of splitting the state to gain more representation for upstate new?  Hardly. According to this article that appeared on the New York State Senate's official website in December 2009, they've been talking about this for a long, long, time.
Legally, it would be years in the making. Financially, it might not make sense. But the gut reaction to what's going on in Albany, at least for some Republican lawmakers, is to take upstate and run away. 
"We're completely overwhelmed...by the policies of New York City," said state Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece. Robach is sponsor of a bill that would allow counties to put this question to voters: "Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?"
Ah, 2009. That was an interesting time for the Senate. I would have thought Robach would have been overwhelmed with the stench of bad government unfolding before his very eyes, at the hands of his own party, no less, than by the policies of New York City.

That was the 'coup' year, you see, when the Republicans sold their souls to gain back control of the Senate, helped by a handful of ethically challenged Democrats. I covered some of that mess back in the day, and reviewing those old posts today makes me feel just as embarrassed and angry as I was ten years ago when all of this was going on.

Back to the article, though - because this 'us vs. them' stuff has been around even longer (emphasis added).
The idea has been around the state Legislature at least since 1991 but has never left committee and is opposed by the current Legislature leadership, making it unlikely to reach the floor for a vote. "Senate Democrats do not believe in dividing the people of this state and recognize our efforts are best spend growing our economy by lowering the tax burden on homeowners and businesses and investing in a 21st-century infrastructure that includes high-speed rail," said Travis Proulx, spokesman for the Senate majority, in a statement.
 "New Yorkers don't want gimmicks," he said, "they want ideas and progress that will help every region thrive."
Robach said he "couldn't disagree more" that this was a long shot back then, apparently ignoring that if it got on the ballot in all 62 counties, it was a non-binding referendum anyway. And he also apparently felt that an act of Congress to create a new state would be an easy thing to achieve, at a time when the President was Democrat and the Dems also had a majority in the Senate.

The argument could have been made back then in 2009, and even back in 1991, for that matter, that all New Yorkers need adequate and equal representation, and that strictly using a population based district map doesn't give everyone either an adequate or equal voice.

It's an argument that can be till be made today, because we still don't want gimmicks, we still want ideas, and we desperately want progress and a thriving upstate. But the way to do it is not what Robach and other 'splitters' suggest.

It's not about separating us - it's bringing us together.

It's one Senator per county.

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