Get ready for “Staten Island Secession: The Sequel.”
State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) next month will introduce legislation to separate the Island from the other four boroughs and make it into the second-largest city in New York State.
“It’s something I really believe in,” said Lanza, who is putting the finishing touches on the 2,115-page bill, which he said would likely be the most voluminous piece of legislation submitted next year aside from the state budget. “I always thought [secession] was a good idea.”Lanza’s effort comes 14 years after Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver killed the borough’s first secession movement in 1994 by refusing to allow his members to vote on the question. In November 1993, 65 percent of Island voters had supported a split.
From the tortuous effort to close the Fresh Kills landfill years ago right up until today’s attempts to get a fair share of Health and Hospitals Corp. funding, Lanza said that “being part of New York City works against Staten Island on all the issues we care about.”
“Staten Island’s voice is diminished in this big, bureaucratic system that we pay a lot of the bill for,” he said. “No one can deny that we have been short-changed for decades.”
Lanza said that a financial study included in his legislation shows that the Island could raise enough of its own tax revenue from homes, businesses and payrolls in order to be self-sufficient.
He said that revenue generated by the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook and the solid-waste transfer station at Fresh Kills would also boost the Island’s bottom line.
Lanza said that other “unexploited” economic-development opportunities could be pursued if the Island were no longer part of New York City.
“Being the second-largest city in the state would give us a lot of clout,” Lanza said. “We’d have the second-biggest seat at the table.”
With an estimated population of 481,613, the Island would also rank among the top 35 cities in the U.S.
Secesson fever had cooled since 1994 with Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg paying closer attention to the Island, a key part of their political bases and the borough that provided both men with their mayoral margins of victory.
Lanza acknowledged that the relationship between the Island and City Hall has been “better than it’s ever, ever been,” but added, “It hasn’t changed to the extent that the Island has an adequate voice at the table.”
Said Lanza, “It shouldn’t be left to chance. We shouldn’t have to hope that the next mayor will care about Staten Island.”
Silver, of course, is still in charge of the Assembly and as he showed during the recent congestion pricing battle, is still more than willing to smother legislation by keeping it off the Assembly floor.
In 1994, Silver said that a home-rule message from the City Council was required in order for the Assembly to vote on secession.
Lanza today said that a home-rule message was not required under the State Constitution, and that he would go to court if the same roadblock is thrown up again.
— Reported by Tom Wrobleski
For more on the local political scene, read Tom Wrobleski’s Polit.bureau blog.
Read this article on the Staten Island website at https://www.silive.com/news/2008/12/politician_planning_to_relaunc.html