Secessionists Rally In Bainbridge, NY

Aug 31, 2015

More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, secession was on the minds of protesters in New York this weekend. Hundreds turned out for a rally in Bainbridge in Chenango County. Many live within miles of the Pennsylvania border and believe secession could have a large economic impact on their communities.

Aiming at heightening  awareness and gaining community support, residents of several small towns in the Southern Tier are vocal about the idea of redrawing of border lines: seceding from New York to become part of Pennsylvania.    "I would describe it as a very spirited and enthusiastic rally and measure the success of it by the fact that people stayed, people didn't leave, and the crowd grew larger as the time went on."   That's Carolyn Price, president of the Upstate New York Towns Association. Proponents of secession argue the Empire State has the highest taxes and is the most overregulated state in the country. They say they want more freedom, tax relief and liberty for all. For them, shifting the borderline makes sense.

Price continues:  "That is allowed under Article IV, clause III, Section I of the United States Constitution. It does take approval by both states, by New York's legislature and by Pennsylvania legislature, and would have to be approved by the United States Congress."

So — definitely a long shot. But, secession has been successfully carried out in the distant past: what is now the state of Vermont was once part of New York. Price notes there is another option:   "Dividing New York State into two autonomous regions, upstate being named New Amsterdam and downstate New York, and there would be a limited state government, still a New York State government. And that is being recommended to go through the Constitutional Convention process, outlined in the New York State constitution."

Secessionists have, among other grievances, issues with the SAFE Act, Common Core and the fracking ban. Secession advocate Sandra Davis tells Time Warner Cable News:    "We'll be able to thrive, you know.  We'll see natural gas drilling which will make us independent on our own. We won't have to count on the state to help us out, you know.  We can be thriving on our own little entities."

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a statewide elected official, addressed secession on this week’s Capitol Connection with WAMC’s Alan Chartock, linking the movement to stagnant job growth.    "You know it is in many ways still the tale of two economies, particularly when you look at that kind of central swath of the state, you know from the Pennsylvania border on up through the North Country, you're still talking about a negative picture as far as jobs, and that, that's one reason why in many of those communities population is going down, and often what happens is the population left behind is older, often in need of more services, poorer, and that creates other kinds of pressures on local government, so some of that frustration is certainly reflective of the fact that not every region of the state has benefited from this stronger economy. What is the challenge for us in New York? Keep the recovery going, keep the jobs growing, but have that prosperity be more evenly distributed."

Governor Andrew Cuomo's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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