New York and the three state solution – Rob Hoffman – Medium
If you think you hate New York now, just wait until it’s three states.
When you live in a state where the government of that state has consistently been voted the most dysfunctional and corrupt in the entire country, (That means we are consistently more dysfunctional than California and Florida, and more corrupt than Virginia and South Carolina, what a legacy!) you can’t just rest on your laurels. If you want to maintain your less than stellar reputation for buffoonery when it comes to how not to run a state, you either have to lead, follow, or get out of your own way. Fortunately, we are if nothing else here in the Empire State, creative, and thanks to the expediency of one-party rule, if some legislator in the New York State Senate or Assembly who’s in the majority proposes something, it has a pretty good chance of being signed into law.
In this case, an idea has been floated (Although by the minority) that many have discussed, but few have ever attempted to put into action, and that brainstorm would be? Well if you said dividing New York state into two sections, one consisting of New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland Counties, and then the rest would be made up by everything else, you’d be wrong by 33%. Instead it would appear that the idea being researched as you read this missive is the suggestion that New York State should be broken into three sections. Before you gasp, think of all of the opportunities this would provide the citizens of what used to be called New York. All three of these areas would need its own legislature, so now every single person in what was formally known as New York State will have the chance to be a senator or an assemblyman. “Honey, can’t talk now, I’m off to legislate!”
It’s such a grand structure, you’d think only good things would happen here. However, when it took many more years and much more money to complete than originally planned, that was probably a harbinger of things to come. I would also add that most part-time employees don’t get to work in such an austere setting. (You Tube)
You may be wondering what and even who is driving this movement towards the disintegration of America’s “taxiest” state. Well this idea has been kicked around officially and unofficially for years, but this time it would appear that it is being taken at least a little bit more seriously. The proposal was unveiled by Republican Assemblyman David DiPietro who represents East Aurora, New York. (If you don’t know where East Aurora is, then maybe you can understand why some people wish to see New York state separate since you obviously can’t miss what you weren’t aware of. By the way, if you wish to get to East Aurora, you go to Aurora, and make a right.) Why does Assemblyman DiPietro wish to see New York State broken up? Well according to the assemblyman, he wishes to “finally unshackle the regions of New York that are subjected to decisions and rule from New York City,” You know, I had a feeling New York City was at the root of all of this.
DiPietro’s idea is novel in that it’s not really creating three states out of one, New York State would still be counted as one state on the federal level. It would instead create three regions, each with its own governor, legislature, and judicial system. Since it doesn’t involve secession, the plan wouldn’t require federal approval. While this particular plan may in fact be somewhat novel, New York is hardly the only state to toy with changing its status. Illinois recently floated the idea of making Chicago its own state, and California, perhaps inspired by how smoothly “Brexit” was sailing through the British Parliament explored the idea of actually attempting a “Calexit,” with California, a state with an economy bigger than all but eight other nations on Earth, and possessing 12% of the United States’ population seceding from the Union. Can’t we all just get along?
This is Republican Assemblyman David DiPietro, and I’m not sure what he’s been smoking but he sees three New Yorks where hopefully most of us see one. (You Tube)
As a person born in New York City and raised in North Massapequa, a Long Island suburb of New York City, I’ve always been acutely aware of the rest of the country’s negative attitude regarding the city. However, it wasn’t until I attended school in Upstate, New York, Oswego to be precise that I became privy to the fact that even the rest of New York State doesn’t feel enamoured with New York City. (Many people who live in New York City hate it also, but that’s different, they’ve earned the right.) I can still recall people at Oswego who I went to school with who were from places like Syracuse or Rochester arguing with me that their cities compared favorably with the “Big Apple.” They would claim that “SU” sports, or Syracuse University athletics provided just as much entertainment as what we had down in New York City. I was so aghast by all of this I could barely get down my 30th chicken wing. Some were even indignant when I referred to New York City as simply, “The City,” as if you actually have to explain which city you were talking about. “The city, you know, Poughkeepsie.”
My wife who is from Jamestown, New York came from a family that wasn’t exactly enchanted with NYC either . Her uncles, or at least some of them would love to trash-talk New York City to me, and even discussed secession, claiming that they were sick and tired of seeing all of their tax dollars go straight to New York City. Of course as a respectful and gracious young man, I didn’t argue, instead I simply stated that on behalf of all denizens of New York City, thank you and keep the money coming. One of her uncle’s in particular really enjoyed trying to bait me regarding New York, but he quickly moved on from this subject when my wife unfortunately put it out there that I was an atheist.
Let’s be honest, much of Albany’s splendor comes from being the capital of the Empire State. Relegated to being a capital from one of the three regions of what used to be New York State doesn’t quite carry the same gravitas, even if it’s the birthplace of Kirsten Gillibrand, one of 172 people running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. (You Tube)
Many people who live north of Westchester County have trouble seeing the advantage of being part of a state where they feel they are not fairly represented, and are forced to use their tax dollars to supplement things that obviously favor New York City like its many bridges, tunnels, and its massive mass transit system. I’ve also been told by certain individuals who I won’t mention by name that they don’t like the idea of having their hard earned money given to all of the poor folk in New York City who are on public assistance. However, is this true? Do they have a fair argument? Are those who don’t live in either Long Island, New York City, and/or Westchester or Rockland Counties left with no voice, and no funding for their needs? Would they actually be better served under Assemblyman DiPietro’s plan?
Well first, let’s take a closer look at this idea that New York State can neatly be sectioned off into three different sections. The three sections being proposed under DiPietro’s plan would be as follows:
- New York City — This would of course include the five boroughs or counties which make up New York City. They are as any good-hearted New Yorker should know; Brooklyn or Kings County, Manhattan, Queens, Richmond County or Staten Island, and the Bronx. (It’s always “the Bronx,” why not, “the Queens?”
- Montauk — This section of what used to be New York State would include the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland. Does this mean that Yonkers would be its capital? Personally I would lobby for North Massapequa because you know, it’s the hub of the planet. By the way, how long under this arrangement would it take for Staten Island to beg entry into this suburban enclave? I’ll bet you every landfill in Staten Island that they are not going to love this arrangement.
- New Amsterdam — This designation would include everything north of Westchester County and that also means Western, New York as well. In other words, “Upstate.” How ironic that after all of these years of being outraged over being referred to as “Upstate,” a term that essentially refers to the fact that there is no differentiation to all of New York State north of Westchester, it is being proposed that we now codify what every “upstater” has objected to for decades.
I have a thought about all of this, or at least I have a gut reaction. It is as follows:
(Remember President Gerald Ford’s reaction to New York City’s financial woes in the 1970s by the headline in the Daily News: “Ford to NYC; Drop Dead!” I would warn against rejecting your own. You Tube)
It would be easy to push the idea that this is all upstate conservative backlash against New York City liberalism, or even the idea that there’s simply nobody to advocate for rural Upstate, New York. In fact, this might be hard to argue with. The governor’s mansion, the head of the New York State Assembly, as well as the New York State Senate are all controlled by downstaters. The last time any of these three austere positions were in the hands of somebody whose allegiance emanated from somewhere other than New York City or Long Island was when Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno stepped down from his position in 2008. (Of course he stepped down and right into handcuffs, but fear not, so did his replacement Dean Skelos, as well as his counterpart in charge of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, proving that corruption in New York State knows no party, boundaries or geographic location.)
While he was running the show however, Bruno made sure that in addition to padding his own bank account (Sort of allegedly) everytime a proposal to build something came his way in the New York State Senate for downstate interests, something equitable had to be provided here in the Capital Region. This is how Albany’s INTERNATIONAL Airport was rebuilt, as well as how the area received a nice new minor league baseball stadium known somewhat affectionately as “The Joe.” However, now that all of the gears of New York State’s government are controlled by downstaters, those days are all but over.
He has the hair and the fists of a tough old-school political fighter, and you get the feeling even at age 90 he could still step into his old job as head of the New York State Senate and get the job done…provided he doesn’t end up in jail of course. (Times Union)
It has also been suggested that this push for New York State to be divided by thirds has a lot to do with the healthy Upstate opposition to our three-term governor, Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo began his governorship with record level approval ratings after winning a virtual landslide election back in 2010 by capturing 63% of the vote. While this constitutes a landslide by anybody’s definition of the word there were a few of New York State’s counties that voted against candidate Cuomo by rather prodigious amounts. In some sections of the state, particularly in the southwestern part of New York, or “Southern Tier,” Cuomo’s opponent Carl Paladino, (Imagine Trump, but somehow much worse.) received between 60–70% of the vote. Upon his third run for governor, Cuomo suffered little erosion in his popularity at first glance receiving 59% of the vote, however, geographically his popularity throughout the state suffered major blowback. Cuomo still won overwhelmingly in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland Counties, but he did suffer major defeats in practically every other county in the state.
As you may have figured though, like everything else, it’s not as simple as all of this. While many upstaters may feel that they’ve had enough of Cuomo and his liberal philosophy, splitting up the state based on anti-Cuomo sentiment is flawed at its core. Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo all voted in favor of four more years of Andrew Cuomo, so I’m not sure what a three-tiered New York State landscape would do to alleviate this issue for Upstate voters.
“Oh c’mon guys, don’t break up over little old me, I’m blushing.” (Times Union)
Many rural New Yorkers point to Governor Cuomo’s successful passing of a law called the NY SAFE ACT to explain their extreme displeasure with him and the lower part of the state. The law is actually called the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, and it was passed in the wake of the horrible Sandy Hook massacre in nearby Connecticut back in 2012. Upstate voters who hail from New York’s more rural regions believed this law was an assault on their 2nd Amendment rights, and believed that the governor had gone way too far. Cuomo has also embraced other progressive positions by pushing through legislation in order to ensure that women have the right to choose, claiming that he would sign legislation to allow undocumented drivers to get licenses, supporting same-sex marriage equality, and perhaps even legalizing marijuana. Interestingly, when Governor Cuomo decided that all of New York State’s problems could be solved by blaming everything on teachers, I didn’t hear a peep from anybody about splitting the state into three separate areas. I guess teacher-bashing is something that as New Yorkers we can all rally around,
Seceding over political outcomes that one doesn’t agree with may have a history of sorts here in the United States, but it’s hardly a healthy approach. However, while obviously downstate is going to have more pull than upstate due to the wealth and population that is centered in that part of the state, does it mean that Upstate, New York is not getting its fair share of the pie? Well, according to the Rockefeller Institute back in 2011, New York City contributed more than 45% of the state’s taxes and other revenues, but only received 40% of the money that the state passed out. In the same study it stated that upstate counties, not counting the Capital Region contributed 24% of the taxes and revenue, but received 35% of the money handed out by the state. These facts kind of poke a Howe Caverns size hole in the theory that Upstate, New York isn’t receiving its fair share. If Assemblyman DiPietro’s plan which would call for an Upstate area known as New Amsterdam to be formed, and have Buffalo as its biggest urban area, I imagine it would have a tough time making up that tax revenue in addition to all of the money generated by New York City tourism as well as the wealth generated by Wall Street.
I would like to think that after “9/11” all New Yorkers would like to embrace their city. (Getty Images)
As for downstaters, and particularly those from New York City, perhaps they aren’t as knowledgeable regarding the rest of their state as they could or should be. However, I do believe that when you’re the greatest city in the world, you tend to focus on yourself and let others spend their time thinking about you. Ever notice that the Yankees never worry about the Red Sox but the Red Sox are always obsessed with the Yankees? That should tell you something. All of New York State can take pride in New York City, the beaches of Long Island, the Adirondacks, Niagara Falls, the majestic Hudson River, the Finger Lakes, the Great Lakes, and even the comedy museum in good old Jamestown, New York. Think about it, you live in New York, you’ve made it there, therefore you can make it anywhere, and all New Yorkers should swell with pride over this fact.
Nobody is going to be singing the praises of Montauk, whatever that’s even supposed to mean, or New Amsterdam. Interestingly, New Amsterdam was the original name for New York City when it was settled by the Dutch. It should be noted that when the British invaded New Amsterdam in 1664, the people who lived their chose not to fight back or resist, which should tell you how much they enjoyed living in a place called New Amsterdam. Even Peter Stuyvesant when faced with inevitable defeat knew to leave well enough alone. If old “Peg Leg” could stomach living in a place called New York, perhaps we should leave well enough alone.