In an article by Tom Rivers on legislators calling for caps on spending, we find this interesting passage about Assemblyman Steve Hawley's musing on secession:
Hawley last month sent a letter to seven universities in the state, asking them to consider the potential political and financial pitfalls of separating upstate from New York City, and creating two different states. The divergent interests of rural upstate and the city of 8 million people makes it difficult to govern the state, and create laws and regulations that work for both regions, Hawley said.
He isn’t necessarily pushing for an upstate-New York City separation, he just wants some facts on the long-simmering issue. He knows many upstaters would like to divorce NYC.
“Can there be a new New York and a New York? I don’t know,” Hawley said. “But it would be foolish to introduce some legislation without knowing the impact.”
He sent letters to universities across the state, from the University at Buffalo to Columbia University in New York City, seeking their help with the study.
Now, secession in New York is an old idea, but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. If Hawley's requests for information and studies are answered, the information would certainly be useful. It could be the nail that closes the coffin on talk of breaking apart the state or it could nail a revolutionary manifesto to the door of every town hall in Upstate and Western New York.
Bill Kauffman is expected to have a book out in the spring on secessionist movements in the United States. Here's an article along those lines from a few months back. Kauffman writes:
Some of the contemporary secessionists are puckish and playful; others are dead serious. Some seek to separate from the main body of a state and add a fifty-first star to the American flag while others wish to leave the United States altogether. Some proposals are so sensible (the division of California into two or three states) that in a just world they would be inevitable; others are so radical (the independent republic of Vermont) as to seem risibly implausible—until you meet the activists and theoreticians preparing these new declarations of independence.
My sense is, that while many in the state outside of The City, are dissatisfied with the direction of government and have a long list of complaints -- from unequal services to high taxes to overregulation -- there's no sense that splitting the state will mend any of the people's grievances. On the other hand, it contradicts the flow of history to assume that today's boundaries and political alignments will remain indefinitely as insoluble marks on maps . Somehow, someway, things will change someday. The question is, will we be masters of our destiny or victims of historical fate?
The longer we wait to repair the mounting problems confronting New York, the less control we will have over the final outcome.