Monthly Archives: December 2014

Outline of Amendment, to NYS Constitution, to divide NY State into Upstate (New Amsterdam) and Downstate (New York) Regions.

Outline of Amendment, to NYS Constitution, to divide NY State into Upstate (New Amsterdam) and Downstate (New York) Regions.

While the approval of both Congress and State Legislature is needed to divide NY into two states, an amendment to our New York state constitution is all that is needed to divide our state into two completely autonomous regions which is almost the same as being separate states. Since Congress is unlikely give the Northeast two more US Senate seats a new state would require; the two autonomous regions plan, with a token state government, is more likely to succeed.

The New York Region shall consist of the counties Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens Richmond, Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester. New Amsterdam Region consists of the rest of NY State’s the counties.

This Amendment creates two fully autonomous regions. The token state government is needed to comply with the US constitution is kept small by limiting its taxing power to a three (3) percent sales tax; with all other taxing power to transferred to the regions. The token state laws are limited to those related to Executive (for the state only), Indian, Legislative (for the state only), National Guard, Retirement & Social Security, State Administrative Procedure & State Finance (for the state only), Civil Service (state employees only), Court of Appeals, State Court of Claims, State Judicial Conduct. All rest of the laws, which are about 3/4 of NY laws, become regional laws of each region and are deleted from the state code. Each region can then independently modify them.

Regional Senators from both regions will also serve as the New York State Senate; Regional Assemblypersons from both regions will also serve as the New York State Assembly. The regular sessions for regional Legislatures are limited to January, February, and March. Fiscal years of each region will be from March 1 to last day of February. The State Legislature regular session is limited to April and May; The State fiscal year, from May 1 to April 30.

Each region shall have an elected regional governor, regional lieutenant-governor, and regional secretary of state. The token state government will keep an elected-governor, lieutenant-governor, and comptroller. In order to prevent opposition the transfer of state departments/agencies/employees to regional departments/agencies/employees is explained in detail in the amendment and the pension system remains at the state level unchanged. The New York region would still pay for its residents attending New Amsterdam’s regional colleges and vice versa. Local Governments ownership rights are not affected by this Amendment so the City of New York retains ownership of its water system.

Most of the powers of the Court of Appeals powers are transferred to each newly created Regional Superior Court which has final say on ruling on its region laws. Felonies can only
be enacted under regional law. Judicial departments are adjusted so they do not cross
regional boundaries.

Cop Union to de Blasio: Stay Away From Police Funerals

Funeral Held For NYPD Officer Injured While Investigating Fire In High RiseA funeral for a police officer in April. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Jillian Jorgensen and Ross Barkan | 12/12/14 New York Observer

You’re not even welcome at my funeral.

That’s the message the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is asking rank-and-file cops to send to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who the union has insisted are rolling out anti-cop policies and have not supported the police force.

“DON’T LET THEM INSULT YOUR SACRIFICE!,” a bold red message on the union’s webpage reads. “Download and sign a request that Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito stay away from your funeral in the event that you are killed in the line of duty.”

The form itself, which allows an officer to fill in their name, gets more specific for the reason behind spurning the presence of the officials.

“Due to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito’s consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve, I believe that their attendance at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer’s memory and sacrifice,” the form reads.

A filled out version can be delivered to an officer’s union delegate, the website advises.

Mayors and other top city officials routinely attend funerals for police killed in the line of duty, which are rare but somber occasions in New York City. Mr. de Blasio delivered remarks at the funeral of Dennis Guerra, a police officer killed in a fire set by a bored teen at a Brooklyn housing project, in April.


Mr. Lynch has been outspoken critic of Mr. de Blasio, particularly in the wake of the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died on Staten Island as a police officer tried to arrest him. Mr. Lynch has been a strong defender of the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, and said Mr. de Blasio’s remarks about his son’s interactions with police left officers “thrown under the bus” by the mayor.

The union leader and others have repeatedly slammed the mayor’s police policies—part of Mr. de Blasio’s efforts to bring police and community closer together—as endangering and insulting police. Ms. Mark-Viverito, meanwhile, has been openly critical of a grand jury’s choice not to indict Mr. Pantaleo.

The mood does not seem to be getting less divisive: after weeks of protests in the city’s streets against police officers—and two more set for this weekend in Washington and in New York—cops are now planning their own pro-police rally next week.

The PBA is also locked in a contentious contract negotiation with the city, which has moved on to binding arbitration. It was not one of the eight uniformed unions accepting a contract deal this week.

In a joint statement, spokesmen for Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Mark-Viverito called the petition “incendiary” and “deeply disappointing.”

“This is deeply disappointing. Incendiary rhetoric like this serves only to divide the city, and New Yorkers reject these tactics,” said Phil Walzak, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, and Eric Koch, a spokesman for Ms. Mark-Viverito. “The mayor and the speaker both know better than to think this inappropriate stunt represents the views of the majority of police officers and their families.”

Two-thirds support upstate separating from downstate

Rochester Business Journal
December 4, 2009

Two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say Upstate New York should try to separate from downstate and become the nation’s 51st state.

The idea is not a new one, but it has been given fresh impetus by legislation introduced this year by state Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, and several other upstate lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly.

The bill would allow each county throughout the state to place a non-binding initiative on its ballot asking whether the voters of the county would support the division of New York into two separate states. A memo attached to the Assembly bill says it is needed “to separate the distinct social and political concerns between upstate and downstate New York.”

Currently, top statewide elected officials are all from the downstate region.

More than 1,010 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Do you favor the division of New York into separate states for the upstate and downstate regions?
Yes: 67%
No: 33%

Here are some readers’ comments:

Divorces are always about cash and/or custody. I suggest upstate keeps subsidy/tax support and in return downstate is free to date other states, such as CT and NJ. Upstate keeps the infrastructure, state name, state bird, Yankees and rights to license the name “New York.” Downstate keeps the legislators, state flower, Buffalo and the Mets.
—Ian Cunningham

This is something that should have happened long ago. Upstate New York has never held any political clout as compared with downstate. I am all for it!
—David Wagner

We all love to hate downstate, but it would be a bad deal for us. The increase in taxes for us to maintain our standard of living would be unbearable. One simple example: We have a lot more roads to maintain. Why can’t our politicians do some basic research before proposing such shortsighted ideas?
—Solon Barnard

As a much smaller state, we would still have two senators for federal representation and a much lower debt, providing the current state’s debt is divided equally. With the rapidly growing Finger Lakes wine region, western New York State would become a nice tourist destination.
—Al Schnucker

New York City will never let us go. They are the lords in their castle, we the poor serfs tilling the fields that surround them, doing the work and generating the money they need to live as they do. Some things never change.
—Fred Lucas, Duffy Rath System

This is the most ridiculous proposal yet. We need to financially restructure the entire state in order to become efficient and fiscally strong. There are strengths and weaknesses in all our geographic areas. What will be next, a Finger Lakes State? The state of Rochester?
—Nancy May, Alliance PPC

We are completely unrepresented both in state and national politics, and although it is not by any means ideal, the only solution to this problem is separation.
—Todd VanHouten

Upstate New York would thrive without downstate. The new state could eliminate the many mandates that the downstate legislators have imposed upon us. This would reduce the cost of government, schools, etc. Rochester could be the next Charlotte, N.C. The new state could become a low-tax haven for people and businesses. The economy would thrive and grow. In fact, we would probably attract many companies from the newly separated downstate area. Also, there is substantial support in downstate for the split. A few years ago, Peter Villone was president of the NYC City Council. Along with 20+ more City Council members, they supported a split. Let’s end the occupation of upstate by the downstate monarchy now.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.

This is ridiculous. Analysis has actually shown that we benefit more from the tax dollars generated downstate than they do from the tax dollars we generate upstate. If this is all Robach is doing for us, it’s time for a new senator.
—Rick Corey, Penfield

Bravo. The best idea I have heard in years. It is about time.
—Vanessa Capogreco, Rainbow Talent Agency

I am proud to be from the same state that includes the great city of New York. However, New York City and its surrounding counties (Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland) have very different infrastructure requirements and have the ability to support very different taxation methods as compared with the remainder of New York State. By eliminating these disparate situations, I believe that separating upstate from downstate would allow our state government to operate much more effectively.
—Peter A. Pizzutelli, Parkside Professionals

Downstate is Democratic, and upstate is Republican. Downstate is so dominant, that upstate almost always gets the short end of the stick. I often refer to “Unshackle Upstate” as “Un-Shekel Upstate.” Being the 51st state would make for lots of new jobs for flag makers, new state employees and the construction jobs to build the wall to keep the downstaters out except during the fall foliage season. I’m also partial to numbers divisible by three (51 states).
—Clifford Jacobson,

You should poll a representative sample from all counties and publish results backed up by article pointing out pros, cons and alternatives. Could the current system be modified to get a better balance? The state’s main problems stem from flawed welfare system, continued deficit spending and non competitive total tax rates (when compared with other states).
—Ray McClure

Although emotionally appealing, the idea of splitting off from New York City and the three abutting counties downstate would be financially disastrous. Just one example, is where would upstate get the resources to reimburse the existing state for all the infrastructure, roads, dams, power plants, canals etc. that the state now owns? Where would the revenue come from to cover all the services all of us have come to expect without the help of downstate? What makes anyone think that the remaining non-downstate counties could reach any sort of consensus on anything? I’ve traveled to every county in the state, and I can say with certainty that rural, urban and suburban interests are not unilateral. It seems to me we can learn a great deal from the way five counties (New York City) have learned to function as a single entity to consolidate and cooperate for their common interest. Before we mindlessly run off a cliff to oblivion, maybe we should figure out how to make the government we currently have work better.
—Frank Orienter, Rochester

The proposal to split New York State is fundamentally wrong for several reasons. The first is that it is a gimmick that would be a distraction from solving the real problems of our state. We need to focus on reducing the cost of government, improving our business climate, and bringing our mid-20th century policies into the present. This is a tall order, and Albany needs to be focused if we are to have any chance of restoring our competitiveness with other states. The second problem is that Albany suffers from too much political theater and polarization already. Our politicians need to learn to cooperate and resolve differences, and this proposal would only result in more polarization and dysfunction in Albany. All states, and indeed all large organizations, have major differences. A successful organization recognizes differences and leverages the strengths of those differences. Unsuccessful organizations fight over differences. The third problem is that the entire upstate/downstate divide is greatly exaggerated. Upstate politicians who bash downstate want to create the image that upstate and downstate are two distinct homogenous regions. The reality is far different. In reality, there is as much difference between rural Southern Tier towns and upscale Rochester neighborhoods than there is between upstate and downstate. Downstate is also quite diverse, with the needs of Montauk being vastly different from those of Manhattan. It is impossible to find a dividing line between two distinct regions, because cultures morph continuously throughout the state. The fourth problem is that downstate (even in the depths of the recession) is an economic powerhouse that cross-subsidized upstate. We need greater ties to the business centers of downstate, not a severing of those ties. We need to face the reality that downstate is not holding back upstate. The failings of upstate leaders and the dysfunction in Albany are holding us back. We need to focus on resolving our problems. We can’t afford to distract ourselves with a tired and discredited proposal to balkanize the state.
—DeWain Feller

This question must arise from a discussion on the imbalance of revenues and costs of the state with a disproportionate share of costs going to the lower part of the state while a higher portion of revenues comes the higher. First, we need to be very careful in how we analyze those revenues and costs. We’ve a strong history as a state and we, like a lot of other states, are going to embark on tough times. I don’t believe we should do something rash. Secondly, NYC is the financial capital of the world. Why would we upstaters wish to separate ourselves from that? It has always benefited us in one way or another. Thirdly, we need to start thinking of how to make government more efficient, more productive and less costly. That will require some radical thinking like consolidating town and county governments. The duplication of costs is atrocious. I find it hard to believe that the creation of a new state will help us become less costly and more efficient. After all, it’s these same legislators we have today that would like to be part of the new state tomorrow. I believe we need to have a much clearer understanding of the goals of this creating a new state and the plan to achieve its success before we start voting on a non-binding initiative.
—Dyke Smith, Dyke Smith and Associates

I do not know all of the ramifications, but from what I see and hear, that could be a good thing. Can we leave the New York legislature with upstate and start a new one for ourselves? That has exciting possibilities!
—Emily Neece

While my heart says YES, my mind needs more information to see if it is feasible. Conceptually, it appears money inflows to downstate exceed outflows, but does Upstate New York have the ability to financially stand on its own. It would be a great test case though to start a new state and hopefully have the ability to shed many of the burdens that have built up in “Old” New York. Maybe we could be a pilot for many suggested reforms needed at the State level.
—Peter Short, Pittsford

Clearly upstate interests do not get adequate, fair representation based on the flow of resources. Some will say downstate provides commensurate inflow, but it would be interesting to see the facts and figures, especially in these years of lean time for Wall Street.
—David Lamb

A separate state will not solve the problems faced by upstate. The real problem facing NYS is an entrenched culture and practice of governance that has led to the creation of thousands of overlapping taxing and regulatory authorities. Despite the obvious inefficiencies and corruption that have resulted, more unified and cost-effective models of governance have failed to gain traction here or elsewhere in the state. If governance culture and practice remain the same, a new state will make little difference.
—Harry Merryman, president, Management Insight and Development

Give them Albany.
—Ron Johnson

We will never achieve representation that is meaningful while all the top elected officials are from downstate. Their issues are not the same as ours and I believe that upstate is not seriously taken into consideration when “our” top representation is from one of the largest metro areas in the world and doesn’t have a clue or doesn’t care about us.
—Jean Berry

Wow, I feel like a secessionist! Will I be hunted down by the downstaters? I hope we get to be blue and not gray! I sincerely feel it would be in our (upstate) best interest to form the 51st state. NYC is just too big, and too dominant in our easy-to-be-dominant-in State political scene. They get their way, and we suffer. Let’s secede!
—Hutch Hutchison, In T’Hutch Ltd.

This is a very poor idea. New York City is the only remaining economic engine in this state. Whether we like it or not, over time we get substantial subsidies from the city because of its robust financial industry. It would be a far better idea to adjust the costs of doing business (like taxes and workers compensation) for upstate and western New York to reflect our relative lack of economic opportunity.
—Rob Brown, Boylan Brown

Years ago I thought this was a good idea. (See: Then came 9/11 and it was clear we had bigger problems. Today it would be impossible to achieve, because far too many people in upstate (teachers, unions, lawyers, politicians, etc.) have a vested interest in the status quo. Best solution for business concerns is to seek “business friendly states.” The solution for our retiring population is to seek “retirement friendly states”. New York State will soon be bankrupt and thus, will have to extract dollars from anyone who has it.
—Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M., CPIM Advanced Purchasing Technology, LLC

Though a long time in the coming, this is an effort whose time has come. With no disrespect intended, those in downstate truly live in a dramatically different world than those upstate. Different politics, different economics, different cost of living and lifestyles, different employment dynamics, different housing styles and land use, and different transportation realities. It would be a godsend to have a political boundary that enables Upstate NY to speak—and be represented—with a unified voice across our state without the tensions of trying to force-fit our decisions based on how “the other half” functions.
—Christopher Burns, Rochester

Aw, come on now! Mr. Robach is obviously not taking his meds in the proper dose. The state is broke now AND we are getting more upstate from downstate than they are from us. Just where does Mr. Robach think the money would come from to support us if we divorced from downstate? We can’t do it ourselves. Of course, if Mr. Robach thinks Arkansas, Mississippi or W. Virginia look like good role models, I guess we would do just fine. Getting serious for just a moment, we would need a plan to overcome the lopsided content of the legislature just to consider the proposal and then, develop a plan to finance it. As it is now, the proposal can’t be taken seriously at all.
—Rick Bradley

This discussion is a red herring. It’s a simple, clear-cut solution that entire avoids all the complex issues that exist in our state. This discussion invites us to occupy our minds and waste our efforts pursuing an effort that isn’t viable, and to neglect the actual problems in this state. Like fast food, we pursue this effort not because it’s good or healthy, but because it seems easy.
—Perette Barella, Devious Fish

Yes. Yes. Yes. Immediately, we free ourselves from the “downstate” control of the state capital. Such alone is worth all of the downside. We would gain two U.S. senators. Because of politics, Albany refuses to get its act together. It is time for the Rochester area to subscribe to a new play at a different theatre.
—Jay Birnbaum

As long as Sheldon Silver and his cronies live and breathe, Upstate New York will merely be a fiefdom to the New York City power hierarchy. The cost of government imposed by the downstate powers and their Wall Street tax sources cannot be sustained by a normal working class society like that which exists upstate.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield

I should say I support looking into the pros and cons of this idea. Upstate NY does seem to get lost in the needs of NYC and should benefit from the separation. Would like to understand better the state revenue and expense flows geographically, this could be a case of be “careful what you wish for.” The downside for downstate is that no pro football team would actually play in that new state, unless of course they annex New Jersey.
—Kevin Weckesser

This is a distraction. We in upstate are still spending way too much on Medicaid and education without getting the results. Let’s address those problems first.
—Doug Lyon, Lyon Capital Management

For years, counties other than Monroe and the five Boroughs of New York have benefited from the corporate and personal taxes generated by those six entities—how would this proposal change that? Secondly, if this were to pass someone (taxpayers) would then spend billions of dollars to take apart the current New York State to create the states of New York and Not New York. Mr. Robach and his colleagues would better spend their time cleaning up their own houses as the first step to “fixing” the problems of New York.
—John F. Hurley, Web Seal Inc.

One of our big complaints upstate is school tax, which are some of the highest in the nation as a percentage of value. Thirty-one percent of all state aid goes to New York City, and 13 percent goes to Long Island. The reason? Downstate politics. We have no clout upstate when it comes to “revenue distribution” or controlling unfunded mandates. We have half the programs in our schools and twice the tax rates because the school aid formulas are tainted towards downstate revenue enhancement. Cut them loose I say and let them generate their own revenue. If not, the feds can bail them out like they do everyone else.
—Rob Bick, assessor, town of Clay

Although this is a good idea, and would definitely help upstate “unshackle” itself from the megalopolis NYC, and would economically benefit upstate in a million ways I’m afraid it could set a precedent across the U.S. as healthy states would try to shed loafing big cities. In corporate America, large corporations often spin off “loser” divisions in order to fix the bottom line. This is a tough choice. I’m afraid we (America) would wind up with a collection of welfare mini-states. They’d now be funded at a national level, and there you go—you’ve shifted the tax burden to all of America. Hey, on second thought, that’s not such a bad idea!
—John Malvaso, president, FSI Systems Inc.

While I am tempted to say yes to this question, I would rather see us work together to form a better equality plan between upstate and downstate. Additionally, New York State has to learn how to control spending better and start making some hard choices. Money spent should be an investment in the States future not “business as usual.” Having said that, I believe under the present administration, we can’t get there. It is time for a change all around.
—Grant Osman

I dare say it is not as simple as making two states. Downstate carries the burden of being a welfare “state” and the advantage of housing some of the richest people in the United States. The tax burden for the welfare portion is legislated by the relatively rich downstate legislators and largely paid by those upstate. The nation needs to embrace the issue of poverty and its myriad causes and address it as a priority. The draconian welfare laws perpetuate some of the poverty. The incarceration of addicts, the tax loopholes, the failing schools, etc. etc. need to be addressed. Splitting the state is a rallying cry that holds little promise other than passing the problem around. Consider real non-partisan reform—that is what I consider the legislature’s duty.
—Donna Cullen

This is an issue that needs further study and may prove to be necessary over the long term. The perception of Upstate NY residents is that taxation and benefits are not equitable with NYC/Long Island area taxpayers. A thorough analysis of the state budget would need to be conducted to actually proven this theory out. As an alternative to this move, a statewide mandate to have a consistent property tax assessment cycle (say every two-three-five years) and a standard calculation formula enforced by all NY state communities would remedy the inequities that exist. According to a recent presentation by Tom Golisano regarding this subject, he states that upstate communities perform annual property tax assessments and adjustments while downstate communities perform this same task much less frequently (like every 10 years). Another step toward balance and equity would be to have mandatory separate regional budgets for each region. Each region would have a balanced budget where taxation and benefits would need to be equal within each region.
—Scott D. Upham, president & CEO, Valient Solutions Market Research

I suspect this is too costly and would be a distraction from more important issues.
—Craig Epperson

We already have too many bureaucracies in New York. What we need is to eliminate government organizations. New York has 62 counties, each with dozens of towns, each with county boards, city councils, town boards, school boards, multiple police organizations, water boards, etc. What we need is to streamline New York. It is the only way to reduce taxes. New data released by the Census Bureau shows that over a three-year period (2005 to 2007) taxes paid by homeowners in New York and New Jersey counties were the highest in the country.
—Sergio Ruffolo, JR Language Translation Services, Webster

Rather than double the dysfunction, let’s put energy toward solving the issues in this state. Solutions are clear (cut spending, reduce size of government, increase transparency, benchmark against known best practices). The only piece lacking is courage amongst our elected officials.
—Dave Vanable

This is just another delay tactic. What needs to be done is to get all the politicians together 1) teach them civility. 2) Teach them what budgeting really is (revenue = expenses!). 3) Right size the government and its agencies for the current population of NYS both upstate and downstate. 4) Establish incentives and disincentives to getting the budget done. 5) Educate ALL of NYS stakeholders (businesses, people, institutions) about budgeting (revenue = expenses). We need downstate as much as they need upstate. It’s time to stop all the divisiveness. It’s wasteful of our time, our tax dollars, our politician’s time, and provides another us vs. them mentality that we don’t need.
—Donna Hickling, Wordeconomy, Inc.

Absolutely the areas should be split, and the decision is long overdue. I’ve lived on Long Island, and in the Capital District and in the Rochester area. Upstate has no commonality of need with downstate, and will always be whip-sawed by downstate politics and finances, have no voice in presidential elections, and be an “after-thought” of minimal bones thrown to quiet the growls and whimpers. Upstate especially lacks clout to effect the change so sorely needed in Albany. Congratulations to Joe Robach for having the courage to bring the issue to the forefront!
—Diane C. Harris, president, Hypotenuse Enterprises, Inc.

This is a ridiculous question. What would it be like if everyone who could not work out their problems wanted their own state or seceded from the union? We have established means of changing our government. It usually fails because the voters, you and I, do not have the courage to change it by voting out our elected representatives. We also do not insist that meaningful laws are passed either through our own representatives or through petition and special ballots. You should also remember that all elected representatives get there by MONEY. So if the party or its representatives do not do what you want DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM OR FUND THEM. The recent proposal of a constitutional convention was a good one but has stalled now. If we have on we should have representatives attend that are our elected representatives PLUS those outside the parties. Now, do you have the will to make a change in NY at the ballot box or by continually petitioning your representatives? If you don’t bug them enough, they think you don’t care and then deal-making starts. Everyone should get mad and force a change using our own due processes. If you don’t it won’t matter how many states you have because you have not changed the process.
—Bob Stein

Can we force New York City to keep Albany?
—Andy Vaughan

Upstate New York will never be able to survive if we are to keep on subsidizing for anything that New York City and its boroughs want. We just do not have the population to override their wants nor will be ever be able to have a majority in our Legislature. The following counties New York, Queens, Suffolk, Nassau, Bronx, Kings and Richmond should have their own state.
—John D. Coy, director of operations, We Serve It For You Process Serving Agency, LLC

To whatever degree the failure of NYC to levy enough tax to be self sufficient, that failure adds to the onerous tax burden of Upstate NY, without any of the related benefits.
—Joe Fabetes, Rochester

It’s a stupid idea. Maybe those who want to separate should join Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and form their own country and leave us altogether.
—Pete Bonenfant, Fairport

I used to think that the two separate states idea wasn’t a good one because at the time we were getting more tax dollars into upstate than we were putting into the kitty. However, upon reflection, it’s clear to me that the welfare and entitlement mentality emanating from NYC has been disastrous for the state as a whole and upstate in particular. As a separate state, we could establish rational tax rates and tie our entitlement expenses to the average of the 10 highest paying states instead of being the highest in the nation. We could break the hold of the trial attorneys on the state (through Sheldon Silver) and establish sensible liability laws. We could also reduce the power of the public employee unions and get rid of absurd “prevailing wage” laws. We could elect representatives who would actually represent us instead of acting as our rulers. I don’t think any of these things are achievable with the current stranglehold NYC has on the state as a whole.
—George Dounce

No! No! No! Nothing would change, except creating some more politicians in cozy jobs with public health options (mostly Republicans!). Upstate problems are mostly homemade, right here in upstate, and nothing would change. As far as the problems in Albany are concerned, upstate politicians are willing and sometimes eager co-conspirators. I think that upstate, including the Rochester area, would be better served by replacing the same-old/same-old thinking with revolutionary new-new. After all, the American Revolution was based on new thoughts, replacing old ones. Can’t we go back to those roots?
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting

Is this a joke? Why waste our time with such a silly question? All states have diversity in regions…and it’s probably a good thing. Adding more complexity in government is just plain stupid.
—Andy Burke

It’s not the geography, it’s the politicians. This is the best solution for what? Getting the budget under control? We’ve been hot and heavy after every fairy tale project under the sun. We’ve wasted millions thinking of projects. Conducted studies, paid architects, and drew up the plans. For projects the public doesn’t need or want. Not to mention the current upside down ones, or just plain failed ones. WE are part of the NYS’s problem. Imagine what our politicians are doing, going on statewide! That’s the problem! This is just another playground for politicians. More Senators, Congressmen, staffs, stipends, lobbyists, and the world goes round. We don’t need another Governor; let the one in office cut the spending like he wants to! And I’m not a democrat! I’m a taxpayer. If you can’t get the job done, rat out the bad guys or step aside. This is spin for incompetence.
—Lou Romano

Interesting idea (again). A caveat to where the line is drawn defining “upstate.” Westchester and north, what about Nassau and Suffolk?
—Mark Davitt, ConServe

I think every major city should be on their own. Why should states be required to subsidize the out-of-control cities. Large cities have extra voting power.
—Gregory Clyde

I Love New York … all of it!
—Phil Beckley, SPLASH Marketing

It is a myth that more upstate tax dollars go downstate than downstate tax dollars go upstate. What we need is better/faster transportation to downstate so that commuting is an option for workers upstate and downstate residents can more easily vacation upstate. We need to unite, not divide.
—John Magee

Joe Robach’s idea of a referendum on this question is a complete distraction from the budget issues that the Senate is failing to address. This is an example of the lack of leadership on the part of the rank and file Senators and their failure to revolt on behalf of their constituents. The issue will never get out of a committee, won’t have a matching bill pass the Assembly, and economically a false premise. This is one of the ways Joe and other upstate legislators can try to distance themselves from the downstate clowns in charge of the legislature. Nice try Joe but your move is very transparent. This lack of attention to what’s vital and urgent for the Legislature on behalf of NY’s citizens and taxpayers is the reason Joe and all incumbents will not get my vote next November.
—Bob Volpe, Highland Development Services

An independent committee that would establish the assembly and senate districts plus a significant reduction in political fund raising would help shift the power from downstate to upstate. Given the population and economic mix, the creation of an upstate would not work.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results

No, not the way you have mapped it in the question. Long Island should still be part of New York State, but the city should be a District, like D.C.
—Briget Grbic, CS Stars

Upstate needs real focus and investment. This will not happen in a dysfunctional Albany that is dominated by downstate politicians. In addition, a new state would give us two US senators dedicated fully to the region’s interests.
—Brian Kane

Separating from downstate would significantly improve upstate’s economy and lower our taxes, but it will never happen because downstate has been enjoying upstate’s money for far too long to ever give it up.
—Bill Wyatt, Fairport

It sounds “cool” to want this, but with the mass exodus of business from Western New York, there isn’t a sustainable economic base to support independent statehood. This is the same conclusion Quebec came to when they thought they wanted to secede from Canada: They didn’t have a large enough tax base to provide the same level of services they currently had, and I fear Western New York would be in much the same position.
—Scott Ireland

Cuomo’s Pyrrhic Victory

Friday, 05 Dec 2014 By George J. Marlin – Newsmax

Despite a national Republican tsunami in 2010, Democrat Andrew Cuomo was elected governor with a whopping 63 percent of the vote.

Armed with that mandate, with the White House in his sights, Cuomo initially governed from the center and began to fix the fiscal mess created by his three immediate predecessors, Govs. George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer, and David Paterson. This approach to governing did not last. By the end of his first term, he managed to infuriate plenty of voters.

On the one hand, his anti-fracking, anti-gun, anti-traditional-marriage stands — not to mention his tax increases — energized opposition among suburban blue-collar conservatives and upstate rural Republicans. On the other, the angst he caused in New York’s bluest quarters forced the extremist Working Families Party to publicly condemn him, to make him beg for their nomination and to agree to expend his treasure and time on electing a Democratic state Senate.

Also, Cuomo’s overall attitude didn’t help. His contempt for retail politics and his micromanaging and bullying alienated most of New York’s political establishment.

Despite these woes, to keep his White House hopes alive — just in case Hillary doesn’t run, or she somehow falters — Cuomo’s main goal this fall was to best the 65 percent his father earned in his 1986 second-term victory.

To achieve that end, Cuomo’s campaign spent millions on negative advertising falsely portraying his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, as a felon. The campaign also limited Cuomo appearances to small, totally controlled, invitation-only events, and discarded those promises made to the Working Families Party.

This approach backfired. Cuomo was re-elected with only 53 percent of the vote, receiving 1 million fewer votes than he did in 2010. It was the lowest count for a Democratic victor since Franklin Roosevelt in 1930, when the state had 12 million people. It has 19 million today.

Upstate, Cuomo carried 13 counties, down from 37 in 2010. On Long Island, his margin in Nassau County was down 8 percentage points, for a total of 52.5 percent. As for Suffolk County, 4 years ago he garnered 58 percent, this time 47.5 percent.

Most interestingly, Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — whom Cuomo tried to knock off the party ticket in 2010 — humiliated the governor by leading the statewide ticket with 2.104 million votes. DiNapoli was re-elected with 60 percent of the vote and topped Cuomo’s total by 180,000.

Cuomo’s strategy depressed the Democratic turnout and helped Republicans pick up three Congressional seats — 25 percent of their national gains — and secure outright control of the state Senate. And Astorino, who ran a respectable campaign on a shoestring budget of $4.8 million, received 41 percent, the highest GOP total for governor in 12 years.

After analyzing the results, The New York Times rightly proclaimed on Nov. 5, “Cuomo wins a second term, but his aura of invincibility is gone.”

The next four years will not be happy ones for our governor. Vengeful Democrats, led by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and labor union bosses, will be plotting comebacks, counting the days until the Cuomo era ends. Republicans will strive to build on their gains and will block Cuomo’s leftist agenda at every turn.

There are two things you can bank on. First, there will be no third term for Cuomo, who is smart enough to know that in his weakened position, he’ll face a serious primary challenger in 2018. He also knows, from his father’s experiences, that third terms are not fun.

Second, Cuomo will devote most of his time to settling scores. He’s a man who never forgets or forgives a slight. He mastered the role of hatchet man during daddy Mario’s 12 years in office, and doesn’t fear utilizing those skills.

Expect plenty of gubernatorial theater in the next four years, but few accomplishments. Cuomo’s second term will resemble many gubernatorial third terms – marking time, and lackluster at best.

George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., is the author of “The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact.” He also is a columnist for and the Long Island Business News.

New York’s Plot to Gut the Second Amendment

December 2, 2014 By Michael Filozof

On Dec. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear oral arguments in the case of Nojay v. Cuomo. At stake is nothing less than whether the Second Amendment grants substantive gun rights to American citizens, or is meaningless rhetoric that allows the government total control over what firearms citizens may or may not possess.

On Jan. 15, 2013, New York passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, commonly known as the SAFE Act. The SAFE Act is beyond question the most draconian gun control passed in the history of the United States – and a cornerstone of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated plan to make New York “the progressive capital of the nation.”

But the SAFE Act has – by design – implications far beyond the borders of New York. The law’s backers – an ultra-left-wing cabal that includes Cuomo, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, and State Senate majority leader Jeffrey Klein – know that if the law is upheld in the federal courts, it will be only a matter of time before the opportunity arises for Congress to pass similar legislation for the entire nation, effectively killing the Second Amendment forever.

The SAFE Act was rammed through both houses of the New York State Legislature and signed into law within 24 hours. Legislators were given the 39-page bill only fifteen minutes before a floor vote at 2 a.m., and Cuomo waived the state’s mandatory three-day waiting period for public input on new legislation so that the law could take effect immediately upon his signature.

The SAFE Act’s provisions are massive and breathtaking assaults on the Second Amendment.

The law entirely bans the sale of all semi-automatic civilian copies of military rifles issued anywhere in the world within the past sixty years or so. (Actual military-issue rifles are almost always fully automatic machine guns, and were already totally banned.) The ban covers the most popular target and competition rifle in the country, the AR-15 (the civilian version of the military M-16). It also includes civilian copies of military rifles such as the M-14, AK-47, H&K G3, Steyr AUG, and FN-FAL, and numerous others. The “assault weapons” ban is actually worse than what is in effect in some foreign countries that do not have a Second Amendment. Afghans, Iraqis, and Ukrainians are allowed to own AK-47s, but New Yorkers are not. Canadians, Italians, and Germans may own AR-15s (under significant licensing schemes), but New Yorkers – including those who live in counties where cattle outnumber humans – may not.

Prior to the law’s passage, Cuomo publicly announced that the state was considering “confiscation” of these firearms from the public, but the final draft of the legislation required existing owners to register their rifles every five years and forever banned their transfer within New York State. Upon the death of a registered owner, the banned firearm will be confiscated by police; the decedent’s estate must arrange to have it sold out of state, or it will be destroyed.

The law also originally banned all “ammunition feeding devices” capable of holding more than seven rounds, with an exception for police, with no “grandfather” provision for previously legal items. The limit within New York City is five rounds, so backers of the law thought they were doing the rest of the state a favor. (The only exception is tubular rimfire magazines – but the law prohibits putting more than seven rounds of ammunition into them.)

Beyond that, the law bans all ammunition sales except from a registered ammunition dealer, requires a background check for every sale, and requires a State Police database be kept on every single ammunition purchase – including .22 Long Rifle. The law bans all private transfers of firearms, except among parents, children, and spouses. The SAFE Act also allows any doctor or nurse to declare a gun owner unfit to own a firearm; police are then required to confiscate all of that individual’s guns. (The doctor or nurse making the allegation of unfitness is explicitly shielded by the law from civil liability.)

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, along with several other parties, sued the state – and suffered a resounding loss in U.S. District Court. On Dec. 31, 2013, Judge William Skretny (a 1969 Howard University Law grad and Bush 41 appointee) issued a decision upholding nearly all of the provisions of the SAFE Act. The only significant provision of the SAFE Act Skretny struck down as unconstitutional was the seven-round limit on ammunition capacity (but oddly enough, he held that a 10-round limit was not unconstitutional). Three other U.S. District Courts – in Connecticut, Illinois, and Maryland – have upheld similar “assault weapons” bans with reasoning similar to Skretny’s.

Now the case goes to the Second Circuit in Manhattan – right in the heart of gun control territory. It’s highly unlikely that the Second Circuit will strike the SAFE Act down (in fact, they could even reinstate the seven-round limit), but if they did, the case would then be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And that’s part of the plan. The law’s backers are calling the bluff of gun owners in a very high-stakes gamble. They are attempting to force the hand of the Supreme Court to rule that all Americans have a constitutional right to an AK-47 and a 30-round magazine, and they are confident that a court dominated by justices from liberal states with the strictest gun control laws in the country will vote “no.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor are all ultra-liberals from New York City, and Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy are from liberal Northern California. That could be five votes right there. Only one justice – Samuel Alito – has any military experience and any personal familiarity with the firearms in question. And Justice Scalia, a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment despite having grown up in New York, is getting on in years. If Scalia retires or passes on without ruling on the SAFE Act within the next two years, his replacement will be nominated by President Obama – and it’s curtains for the Second Amendment.

New York has long been known as the “Empire State.” When you think about it, it’s not an honorable nickname. Empires rule over subject peoples by force, against their will. The United States was founded in rebellion against an empire. The reality of New York’s nickname is that it reveals an imperious and arrogant attitude toward the rest of the country. The attitude of Cuomo, Bloomberg, et al. is, very simply, that if the ignorant yokels in red-state America refuse to give up their guns, then we’re going be the ones to force them to do it.

And they just might succeed.