On Sunday, August 30, a number of groups will join together in protest of the horrible affliction of sharing a state with New York City, and express the desire to form a whole new state—or be granted the right to join Pennsylvania. Shade!
Capitol Confidential, a Times-Union blog, reports that the "Secession Movement Rally" will be attended by members of pro-secession groups like Americans for Restoring the Constitution, Divide New York State Caucus Inc., Oath Keepers, Upstate New York Towns Association Inc., and others. A website for the Divide New York State Caucus encourages visitors to sign a petition dividing the state into a "New Amsterdam" region and a "New York" region, with New Amsterdam comprising all of upstate New York. The reason for the divide, detailed in the petition, is:
It is inequitable to both upstate and downstate residents to share a representative government; the vast differences in lifestyle and aspirations demonstrate that both downstate and upstate should have their own autonomous governments so as to more effectively serve their constituents interests.
The website Niagara Falls Reporter has a harsher take, describing the rally as an opportunity for groups "to talk about Upstate New York residents ultimately freeing themselves from the domination of that socialist and anti-freedom entity known as New York City."
There are reasons to pursue secession beyond "we don't like her" that relate largely to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's efforts to ban fracking in New York state. The Post-Standard reports:
The Upstate New York Towns Association feels pushed to the limit by high property taxes, low sales tax revenue and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. This combination has driven them to research whether leaving New York to become part of Pennsylvania is a realistic possibility. "The Southern Tier is desolate," Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch (R) told WBNG. "We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground."
The push for secession has been going on for a long time, but was most recently spurred by the fracking decision. Capital New York reported back in February on the Upstate New York Towns Association, a group representing 15 towns in New York, which saw how much better life was in Pennsylvania:
In towns like Conklin, with just a few thousands residents and far fewer jobs, it's hard to see how their neighbors in Pennsylvania who live atop the same geology have thrived, he said. “Everybody over the border has new cars, new four-wheelers, new snowmobiles,” said Finch, a Republican. “They have new roofs, new siding.”
To join Pennsylvania, the pro-secessionists would need permission from New York and Pennsylvania. To become New Amsterdam, the group would have to go through a constitutional convention. There will be a vote on whether or not to even hold a constitutional convention in New York in 2017 — so far, there have only been nine in the history of the state.
This is not the first time part of New York has tried to ditch the rest of New York. Former New York State Senator George Winner wrote back in 2010 that "one of the time-honored flare-ups in New York State politics, and it seems to have been reignited most often throughout the past century when things (especially the economy) turn especially volatile, is the call for secession."
If the rest of New York leaves us, we're joining Hawaii.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.