What's up with upstate?
Blogger is bloggered today, so there's no knowing whether this will see the light of day, but here goes: Go read NYCO. Now. Today. The piece starts out by revealing that Spitzer leads Pataki by 23 percentage points in a recent poll. The election may be 18 months (or so) away, but Pataki has a tough hill to climb between now and then, and it's getting steeper. She then segues into trying to make heads or tails out of upstate. Specifically, she mentions that, 50 years ago, Vermont was a lot like upstate is today. It was a cold, declining backwater that was hemmorhaging people. It sort of remained stuck in time until some intrepid metro types discovered how quaint it all was, and decided to turn it into the upper upper east side. She goes on to explain a thought-provoking theory she has; that upstate needs to change and reform, yes. But it needs to retain its values; its soul, if you will. What are upstate's values? What's so strange is that the rest of America is changing, yes. But is America becoming less like the America we used to know? Is upstate actually closer to the old-fashioned America of the past? She thinks, and I agree, that what New York just might need in 2006 is a governor with a reputation for fighting deception and corruption; two items not in short supply in Albany. Upstate is (or at least is perceived as) a cold, declining backwater that is hemmorhaging people. One glance at the phony tans, frosted & overdone hair, and acid-washed jeans at the Galleria Mall will clue you in on a certain anachronistic quality that upstate has. My take on it is that Albany is run by and for the tristate area. Just today, the Upstate blog reports on Silver's shenanigans viz. the budget negotiations. He wants a truckload of new spending for his constituencies, and he won't compromise unless he gets it all. And so it goes. I don't think we need a tristate vs. upstate discussion, because tristate is looking at fiscal trouble, too, down the road, whether they know it or not. The problem is that tristate has the tax base and resources to overcome a lot of harships that upstate can't. Not for nothing Oneida county has a 9.75% sales tax, which is routinely rounded up to 10%. (I'd be fuming about that) Downstate has NYC going for it, and it's the center of the universe. Upstate has...not a lot going for it right now. Farms aren't doing so well. Industry is in decline, or is leaving. Manufacturing is so last century. So what do we do? How do we fix it? We need fundamental reform in Albany, that's how. Right now, this state is run by four entities: 1. Pataki 2. Silver 3. Bruno 4. Lobbyists That's it. That is the real substance of your state government. Three goons, and a mess of pushy lawyers and ex-politicos make all the decisions that affect us all. They've been ruining upstate for decades. Let's face it, Rocky probably pushed upstate over the edge. Let upstate be upstate. Let upstate have a say in the mandates that come down from Albany. If NYC special interests want gold-paved streets, no reason Syracuse and Buffalo should have to follow suit. Loosen the noose so we can breathe again, Albany. Before the whole lot of us expire. [UPDATE: Also check out NYCO's post about how the MTA is being smart about convincing upstate legislators to support it. ]