Long Island As The 51st State
Talk of seceding from the less than perfect union to form our own state abounds once again, this on the heels of the MTA bailout and constant grumblings of LI not receiving its fair share from Albany.
The Suffolk County legislature has sent a so-called "home rule" message upstate.
Why, there's even talk of setting up a commission to study the pros and cons of statehood for Long Island.
The Nassau County legislature is not likely to take up the cause, a product, we surmise, of its own malaise and ineptitude rather than thoughtful abstinence.
Haven't we bantered about statehood for Long Island in the past?
Of course. Why, just last year the Suffolk County Comptroller (do you even know his name?) suggested a State of Long Island, arguing that the billions the island sends to Albany should stay on Long Island. Actually, he's been pinning for statehood since 1991.
But what about the billions Albany sends to Long Island, for the rails, the roads, the schools, the state parks?
True, at most Long Islanders see only 10 to 25 cents on every tax dollar paid to the state returned to the island, but does anyone really believe we could do better fending for ourselves?
With businesses fleeing -- or simply shutting their doors -- and the sales tax base in serious decline -- where do you think the money will come from to operate Long Island's 900 some odd (okay, mostly odd) special districts, 60 villages (or is it 90? We forget), two cities, a multitude of towns, and, oh yeah, 127 separate school districts?
Ah, that would be you, John and Jane Q. Public.
Just imagine the county legislature -- fielder's choice for Nassau or Suffolk -- taking on the role of state legislature. If you think we have dysfunction now...
More power to the towns and villages? We don't think so.
And wait. It gets worse. Tom Suozzi and Kate Murray vying for Governor? Bring on the Libertarian candidate!
Bottom line: Long Island, as messed up as it is as two of New York's largely forgotten counties, would not be sustainable, economically or otherwise, as an independent state.
Study it all you want, folks. Or not. Just don't spend a single tax dollar of ours in the process.
Long Island as the 51st State? As they say in Brooklyn (which, technically, is a part of Long Island), fugetaboutit!
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Suffolk home rule message eyes seceding from state
BY REID J. EPSTEIN
Suffolk legislators approved a home rule message Tuesday calling for a study and referendum on the merits of Long Island seceding from a "tyrannical" New York State government, though they are unlikely to be taking up muskets for an armed revolt.
The dormant Long Island secession movement awakened by presiding officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), who, angered by the regional payroll tax imposed by state lawmakers to fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority bailout, called for a vote on the matter to register his anger about the new tax.While Lindsay said the vote was as a publicity stunt, some of his colleagues were less subdued.Legis. Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham), the body's GOP leader, called for a revolt on Long Island against the state.
"The actions that have been taken by those in Albany on the part of Long Islanders are tyrannical," he said. "We are at the point of revolt. . . . Long Island needs to stand up and take whatever action is necessary to throw off those shackles of the tyrants up in New York State."
State lawmakers won't consider Suffolk's Long Island secession request unless Nassau County passes its own home rule message. Nassau presiding officer Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) said she won't consider the issue.
Secession would have to be approved by Congress and state lawmakers, who have shown no inclination to be receptive to requests by Staten Island to leave New York City and the East End to part with Suffolk County.
No U.S. state has been created from an existing state since the Civil War, but that didn't stop Suffolk officials from holding an often-hyperbolic debate on the topic. "It's become a matter of economic survival," said Comptroller Joseph Sawicki, who has pushed Long Island statehood since 1991.
The bill passed on a 12-6 vote.
Legis. Brian Beedenbender, who voted against the measure, called the taxation-without-representation talk foolish."This is taxation with poor representation," he said. "We have representatives. They stink!"
There was some concern that the debate would brand Suffolk legislators as time-wasters or worse.
"Is there going to be an impression that the Long Island delegation, that they're wacky, that they're wackos?" asked Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville). The home rule message supports state legislation sponsored by Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemb. Fred Thiele (R-Sag Harbor) that would create a task force to study Long Island secession. It also calls for a nonbinding secession referendum in 2010 in Nassau and Suffolk.
Losquadro said the matter is serious enough to attempt to bypass Albany lawmakers.
"By its definition, an act of secession is a revolt and it doesn't necessarily adhere to all the laws," he said. But Losquadro, like Sawicki, said his belief in Long Island secession stops short of armed revolt.
Staff writer William Murphy contributed to this story.
Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.