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On the Road: Should New York State Be Split?

January 2, 2010
by Lawrence Gulotta

Click here for the full article in the NY Times  by Sewell Chan

In the unlikely event “Upstate” would become the so called 51st State, it would begin its political life as a “failed State.”

I recently heard Professor Fred Siegel, author of “The Prince of the City: Giuliani and urban expert refer to “Upstate” beyond Albany as “Appalachia.”  On the platform with Siegel was former Governor George Pataki, Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch and billionaire businessman James Tisch, CEO of the Lowe’s Corporation.

Former Gov. Pataki countered that under his watch, he had spearheaded a high tech research and development center outside Albany which created numerous new jobs and scientific-technological breakthroughs.

There is no doubt that “Upstate” needs numerous new jobs and scientific-technological breakthroughs if it is going to avoid the fate of Appalachia, let alone become a separate, failed State of the Union.

Incidentally, politically, “Upstate” has been represented by the Republican Party, in the State legislature, since the Civil War. What has the Republican Party done for Upstate?

Dozens of our States are facing hard times and fiscal bankruptcy. What magical plan does Mr. Robach propose, besides “feel good” legislation, to bring economically disadvantaged “Upstate” into the 21st Century? The other question is, “Does Upstate wish to join the 21st Century?”

During a period of domestic and international Recession, how does Mr. Robach propose that Upstate compete in the global economy? Something very profound is missing
from this proposal.

Rust belt cities have shown that they can turnaround and become engines of economic change and prosperity, again. Pittsburgh is a prime example of a rust belt city that has re-emerged as an economically and culturally dynamic metropolis.

Our great Upstate universities and the SUNY system need to pool their intellectual resources (form a “brain trust”) to propose solutions to the huge problem of 21st Century economic development in Upstate NY.

I fear it may be too late already; that simple-minded hatred, Wall Street greed, and partisan politics will torpedo our Empire State and its future.

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