Letter: A Staten Island secession is easier said than done

Photo by Max Touhey, via Wikipedia Commons
The North Shore of Staten Island with the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge in the distance.

To the editor:

Richmond County Republican Joe Borelli’s plans to introduce legislation for initiation of a process to afford State Island the ability to leave New York City is nothing new. The idea was first proposed by the late Staten Island Republican State Senator John Marchi decades earlier. It is easier said than done, but reminds me of the great idea put forward by the team of Norman Mailer for Mayor and Jimmy Breslin for New York City Council President in the 1969 Democratic mayoral primary. They proposed making New York City the 51st state. Consider the historic imbalance of tax dollars going to both Albany and Washington versus how much state and federal assistance accompanied by excessive unfunded mandates and requirements for spending the funds received in return, Big Apple residents would be better off keeping funds sent to Albany. Two U.S. senators could ensure a more equitable return of federal assistance to New York City. The same could be said for residents of Richmond County becoming its own city.

Residents of eastern Long Island have long wanted to leave Suffolk County and form Peconic County. Residents of Nassau and Suffolk County have wanted to leave New York State. Staten Island citizens have periodically dreamed of departing NYC. Peconic County, Long Island or Staten Island have much in common. Unfortunately for everyone, we all needed a favorable home rule message which required the support of former liberal lower Manhattan Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver to initiate the process of secession. He and his predecessors have consistently denied this request for liberty. Silver controlled 100 or more of 150 votes in the State Assembly. He ruled as boss via control of funding for pork barrel member items, salary bonuses for chairing legislative committees, release of bills out of committee for a full vote, district office budgets for staff and mailings along with control of the 2002 and 2012 reapportionments. The same is true under Bronx Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie. He controls 108 of 150 votes and future 2022 reapportionment of district boundaries.

Residents of Staten Island, Peconic County, Nassau and Suffolk counties will never achieve political independence without the removal of Heastie as Assembly Speaker. This can only be accomplished by Republicans regaining control of the State Assembly. The last GOP State Assembly Speaker was Perry Duryea who served from 1969 to 1974. The resignation of President Nixon as a result of Watergate created a tidal wave in the 1974 election resulting in Democrats gaining control of the State Assembly which is now going on 45 years.


Larry Penner

Great Neck, Long Island