Monday, May 15, 2006

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Lawmaker revisits NYC secession

By Chuck Bennett
amNewYork Staff Writer

May 15, 2006
New York City -- the 51st state. It's an old idea being revived once again in the City Council.

Months before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, New York City Mayor Fernando Wood proposed seceding from the state and creating the "Free City of Tri-Insula" to keep the lucrative cotton trade with the South alive.

A little over a hundred years later in 1969, writers Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin ran for mayor and council speaker on a statehood campaign.

And now Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. says he is "deadly serious" about having the Big Apple secede from the Empire State.

"The only reason we are in bad financial condition is because of Albany," he said, citing the $3.5 billion in taxes the city pays to Albany but isn't returned in funding. "We just want our own money back."

Vallone, an ambitious politicians and son of the former council speaker Peter Vallone, wants a citywide referendum to create a commission to study secession and the creation of a "Greater New York."

Personally, he likes the idea of calling the new state -- which would be the 10th largest in the union -- Gotham or just New York.

But to ever get there, secession would need approval voters, the Legislature, the governor, Congress and then the president.
Count me in on this one. It's about time New York City got the respect of statehood. We pay into the Federal and state governments far more than we receive back from either of them. With two Senators and twenty-someodd Congressmen, we'd finally be able to exploit our political muscle directly, rather than be told what to do by a state that you could squeeze the population of into a small corner of one of our outer boroughs.

We'd be able to have an income tax imposed on people who fled the city for "a better life" outside, while still sponging up our services when they come into work and take their paychecks home. As it stands now, we can't do that. We have to have our municipal budgeting, planning, and infrastructure approved by the state legislature AND governor. That's just silly: no body in Rochester gives a rats' ass about how many subway lines there are in Queens, yet they hold partial veto power over it!

Fifty-first state. We'd even get our own odd star....

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