Speakers at rally in Albion seek to split New York into 2 regions
ALBION – Upstate New York is outnumbered in the State Legislature, and the dominating influence of downstate drives up costs for upstaters, and leads to social policies outside community norms for Upstate, speakers at a rally in Albion said on Saturday.
The Divide NYS Caucus, Inc. wants to create two autonomous regions with the New York region consisting of the counties Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.
The rest of the state would be the New Amsterdam Region, consisting of the other 53 counties in the state, including Orleans.
John Bergener, Jr., one of the leaders of the Divide NYS Caucus, said the group is pushing for residents to support a Constitutional Convention in 2017. The goal isn’t to create two different states, but to divide the state into two autonomous regions. That effort would not require Congressional approval and can bypass the NY Legislature through a NYS Constitutional Convention, Bergener said.
Every 20 years, New York residents have an opportunity to vote on whether to hold a NYS Constitutional Convention. The convention would focus on the State Constitution only. The next opportunity for a convention vote will be November 2017.
Bergener and the Divide NYS Caucus said the state has very diverse population with the majority of the counties small to medium sized communities set in a rural and suburban climate. Those communities tend to be conservative with their values. The state also is home to New York City and the surrounding counties that are far more liberal than Upstate. The divergent regions make it difficult to govern the state.
For more on the Divide NYS Caucus, click here.
New York Revolution formed soon after the state passed the SAFE Act in January 2013, a controversial gun control law. Zarpentine said the group is focused on fighting for Second Amendment rights, but sees other problems in the state encroaching on the rights and lifestyle of upstate residents.
“The SAFE Act got many of us involved,” Zarpentine said. “But this is much more than a Second Amendment issue.”
The downstate influence in the State Legislature and governor’s office has driven up costs for businesses and taxes for residents, making Upstate uncompetitive for many businesses and driving away people.
“Albany does not care how we feel, how we live and will just continue to push forward their agenda,” Zarpentine said. “How is upstate being served by a downstate governor and a downstate controlled legislature?”
Zarpentine said Albany politicians continue to be mired in scandal, with no end in sight. The governor and Legislature haven’t enacted ethics reform, she said. This month the former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were both sentenced to prison for corruption.
Zarpentine, a Holley resident, said she was encouraged by the different groups that attended the rally in Albion. The groups are trying to build support for the Constitutional Convention.
It was a fairly small crowd at the Albion rally, which was held with rain, gusty weather and temperatures in the 50s. Zarpentine said she met people from Jamestown, Saratoga and other parts of the state. They are determined to have a state that preserves residents’ rights and works for solutions for attracting and keeping businesses and families.
“A small number of people can make change,” Zarpentine said.
Pastor Earl Wallace of Liberty Christian Fellowship spoke on the Biblical basis of the Bill of Rights. Wallace said the Founding Fathers were influenced by the Bible, especially the 10 Commandments, and historical documents such as the Magna Carta from 1215 that treat citizens according to Biblical principles.
Kathy Sapeta of New Yorkers United for Kids wants to repeal Common Core in schools.
Stephen Aldstadt, president of SCOPE, discussed the SAFE Act and NY regulations that make New York the highest taxed state in the country.
Zarpentine said the groups will make their feelings known to state legislators.
“Our representatives are not advocating for us to the full extent that they should be,” she said.