Upstate Senators Want a Divorce From Downstate

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Photo: Jed Egan; Photo: istockphoto

A band of renegade upstate state senators, peeved that everyone who has any power in this state is from the city or Long Island, are proposing a bill that would hold a referendum on whether to split New York into two separate states. In an ironic illustration of their grievances, Sheldon Silver and Malcolm Smith will likely never let the legislation onto the floor for a vote. But it doesn't matter anyway. This is simply the latest walkout threat in the state's perpetually acrimonious web of relationships. In 1969 Norman Mailer's platform for mayor included the secession of the city from the state, an idea that city councilman Peter Vallone has revived repeatedly in recent years. Suffolk County's comptroller, and this guy, have crusaded for Long Island to become its own state. Meanwhile, a Staten Island senator wants his borough to cut ties with the city (in 1993 Staten Islanders voted two to one to do just that).

But New York's various regions are truly interdependent. Upstate, face it — downstate, though bossy, keeps you running with its tax revenue. City, you need upstate's farms, electricity, water, and scenic getaways. And Long Island, your association with the city provides you some much-needed street cred; plus you would be the most despised state in the country if you went it alone. That's why, in a marriage fraught with strife, where everyone somehow claims to be getting the short end of the bargain, the union has still managed to tough it out all these years: In the end, we're still better together, flaws and all.

Senators ponder state split into upstate, downstate [Utica Observer Dispatch]