Why Upstate New York Feels Unwelcome in its Own State

SecessionChris Denton
Attorney, Elmira, New York


The New York City Daily News treated Upstate New York to one of the most condescending editorials imaginable the other day. Chris Denton offers a reply.

In the New York Daily News on March 4th, 2019 the following editorial appeared:


“Something must be off with the water upstate. Several Republicans in Albany are offering dopey plans to split the big city and its environs, which pay the bills and provide the entertainment, from the rural stretches. One senator wants an economic impact study of a rupture (easy: we get richer, you get poorer). One assemblyman is pushing a separation referendum. Another clueless duo seeks one senator per county (dozen for upstate, five for the boroughs), even though it violates the US Constitution. This much we know: Our water, which comes from upstate, is great. In any divorce, we get it. They are all wet.”

Here is the upstate reply:

Dear Editor:

Let’s start with a few questions about the consequences to NYC if upstate leaves:

Where are you going to get your energy?

Governor Cuomo is shutting down your Indian Point Carbon-Neutral Nuclear Power Plant.  Mayor deBlasio is shutting down city power plants. Your Governor Cuomo has stopped the building of pipelines upstate that would have allowed gas hook-ups in Westchester and Long Island, but which now are not possible due to lack of pipelines to deliver it.  Your Governor Cuomo has stopped all natural gas drilling, which the new state will allow.


The 1976 New Yorker cover that never grows old

The new upstate will allow drilling.  Upstate will have very cheap energy.  And can sell it to Massachusetts and NYC at a price high enough to assuage their collective Environmental Guilt.  Upstate generates twice as much electricity as it uses, nearly all of which comes from the four nuclear carbon-neutral power plants and Niagara Falls carbon-neutral hydroelectric power plant. Upstate doesn’t need solar or wind for its energy needs or for its environmental conscience.        

The destruction of upstate hill tops from Industrial Wind Turbines and the destruction of forests and farm land from Industrial Solar Gathering Sites will cease.  Upstate will no longer suffer from infrasound, flicker, bat kills, bird kills, eagle kills, wake and electromagnetic interference from Wind Turbines. NYC and its environs will pay three times as much as upstate does for its energy.  You are going to need that money of which you spoke.

What about entertainment?  We have museums (Corning Glass Museum, Cooperstown, the Soaring Museum, the Boxing Museum, Watkins International Speedway, the Adirondack Museum, Women’s Rights Museum, hundreds of local museums, and the museums in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse); and the Broadway shows which cost hundreds of dollars to attend in NYC cost far less when traveling on the road. Performing Arts Centers and symphonies are in every major city upstate and even in the small ones.

Sports? We have all anyone would ever need: Hockey: Buffalo Sabres and American Hockey League teams. Football? Buffalo Bills, Ithaca College, and Syracuse University. Basketball?  Syracuse basketball draws more fans per home game than any NYC NBA team. And upstate every town has adult leagues in something: hockey, soccer, softball, volleyball, and on and on.

Gambling?  Does NYC even have a casino yet?  Upstate has more than five. And Saratoga hosts horse-racing of the highest caliber. And the Lottery money will finally all go to education as originally promised, instead of 2/3rds of it going into the general fund.

Colleges?  Ivy League Cornell University, the entire upstate SUNY System outside of NYC, a host of top notch private colleges, way too many to name. How many NYC teams have won National Championships?  Syracuse lacrosse has many NCAA titles, Syracuse Basketball has one, Cornell, Union and Clarkson have NCAA hockey titles.  Elmira College has numerous NCAA women’s hockey titles.  These are just a few.

Alcohol and Drugs? Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries all by locals who excel at their craft in a lake district with cool clear waters (600 foot deep Seneca Lake).  And why would we need to legalize recreational marijuana.  We will simply grow it for downstate.  You get the addicts, we get the profits.

Labor market?  The pension system for NYC employees will fall on NYC’s head.  You are going to need the riches you claim to have.  Upstate will start with a clean slate.  Right to work state.  Rent our prisons to NYC et al. No defined benefit pension plans to drain the life out of the tax payers. Minimum wage can reflect our economy, not NYC’s.  The lack of mandatory prevailing union wage scale for all government projects and the end of unfunded mandates will save us billions.

Subsidies for utopian projects?  The tax draining subsidies for solar and wind which upstate doesn’t need will save us more billions. You are welcome to assuage your environmental guilt at your own expense and to put in as many wind turbines as you can cluster in Long Island Sound, in the Atlantic off Montauk Point, off the Hamptons, off Fire Island and Far Rockaway, in Central Park, and on top of buildings. 

You are welcome to put solar panels on every square foot of Central Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Jamaica Bay, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Rikers Island, City Island, Governor’s Island, Fire Island, Shelter Island, etc.  No exceptions for politicians and the rich, which you will now be free to tax at 70%. Gee, I wonder what part of the old New York State they will move to?  And once upstate is free of the NYC driven social agenda of driving out Amazon, it will be welcomed upstate. And you can have your own socialist state and become an open borders sanctuary state at your own expense.

What about the Great Outdoors?  Let’s see ……..  upstate will get the Adirondacks, Lake George, the Thousands Islands, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, the thousands of Glens with their hidden waterfalls, the Finger Lakes, the Susquehanna fishery, the Delaware River and Fly Fishing, and too many other natural wonders to list.  The tourist dollars NYC people pay will not go to NYC or its environs. If you are lucky you might get Harriman Park and the Palisades.

One more thing.  In NYC only the gangs carry guns – mostly to hunt defenseless people. Upstate we carry guns for hunting game and for defense against gangs.  Upstate men, women and the elderly shoot back.  In the meantime, anyone who shares the values of the upstaters who Cuomo called “unwelcome” in New York State, regardless of race, color, greed, national origin, etc, you are welcome to live and work upstate. We are the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, Women’s Suffrage, the first all-female four year degree college (Elmira College) and we are darn proud of it.

What about industrial development?  See All Above.  We are next to Canada and you are next to the polluted Hudson and New York Bay.  You will pay for your bridges and tunnels. The governor will be quartered in NYC not Albany.  No escaping responsibility. Upstate will have its own court system, no raiding the upstate judges for downstate overloads.  No public employee unions.  Upstate will be like a southern state north of NYC.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg of upstate wonders and possibilities.  Welcome to real competition.  Secede? You bet your sweet bippie.

Very Truly Yours,
Christopher Denton
Elmira, New York

Editor’s Note: What Chris is addressing, here, as I see it, is the cocky “you need us” New York City attitude that supposes the world depends on the condescending folks who live there, when the exact opposite is true. New York City cannot exist without the rural areas that supply its food and make its energy. It is wholly dependent on imports, in fact, and Upstate New York could survive quite nicely without it. It wouldn’t be poorer, but richer, because it could sell its products without having to bear the unbearable burden of New York’s wasteful spending and high taxes. Secession is less the point than understanding these facts. Indeed, I might have titled this post “If you think you’d benefit by a secession, we dare you!”

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62 thoughts on “Why Upstate New York Feels Unwelcome in its Own State

  1. A home run! Great writing, Mr. Denton! We don’t need that socialist experiment at the western tip of Long Island. They have caused so much financial hardship upstate it is unfathomable. Our children get educated here, then leave the state. Cuomo and his troglodyte environmentalists from the NRDC, Catskill Mountainkeeper, et al. will then become a non – issue once upstate is free from their stranglehold on our land. Here’s a great link about the Moutainkeeper and their plans for a Catskill Park – http://catskillparkcoalition.org/catskill-park-coalition-gathers/ It becomes clearer by the day why Cuomo banned drilling. After all, it’s no coincidence that he appointed Joe Martens of OSI / Mountainkeeper to be his DEC hit man. They even brag about killing the drilling and the Constitution pipeline – https://www.catskillmountainkeeper.org/victories Once the ink dried on the ban, old Joe went right back to OSI. Then Cuomo picks another elite, Basil Seggos of the NRDC to follow in Martens’ footsteps – https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/243.html What is so sickening about all this is: where’s the news media? No curiousity about why Cuomo is getting these land – grabbing folks from these groups? This U.S. Senate report explains the whole tawdry mess – http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/6ce8dd13-e4ab-4b31-9485-6d2b8a6f6b00/chainofenvironmentalcommand.pdf Interesting that the fed report mentions NRDC no less than 50 times. Derelinquamus from NYC!

  2. Chris
    All excellent facts that need to be talked on the Tucker Carlson, John Hannity, and “The 5” I am sure the people of NYC are good people who just have the unfortunate entrapment of living under the rule of wicked people who control with fear mongering. I don’t want to see the division of the state but it’s what Cuomo has done. I think the state should have an electoral college system where each county has 1 vote. Force who ever wants to be governor into servitude for all new yorkers.

    • Forget the right wing cable news celebrities……this needs to be taken to MSNBC where the lefties will hear about the sad destruction of the upstate NY economy and disregard for its citizens. Those who watch FOX already know this.

    • Thank you! I agree with the electoral system – I’ve been talking that for some time now We need it. NOW! I don’t know about andy’s dad, but andy won 14 counties out of 62 the last 2 elections. Before that I don’t know. His “safe act”, an unconstitutional “law” stuffed down our throats with NO DEBATE and NO Law Enforcement input, woke me up to his true intentions.

      Taxes? WOW no one in the US compares except for California. Now they say we can kill full term babies, but we can’t use plastic bags. I’m at a loss for words.

      These “laws” are ungodly and open the doors for our young people to get the idea that it’s ok to kill full term babies. If I know how life works, if I were Andrew Cuomo I’d be very concerned about the message I sent my daughters.

      Albany is a despotic tyrant. It’s teeth have just begun to sink into us compared with where they want to take us, I’m sure. DeBlasio is a self proclaimed communist. Where to begin.

      The Declaration of Independence is very clear. Throw off an oppressive government when it’s abuses become intolerant. It is our DUTY!

  3. Tom hit the nail on the head. My intent in the post was not to propose secession, but to show, in an irreverent and qausi-humorous way, how Upstate, unburdened with the restraints placed on its people by Metropolitan legislators, would blossom, as it once did. We have all the resources -financial, natural, human, and academic to have a robust economy and fulfilling lives, but not the legal right to use them effectively. The arrogance of the Daily News is reflected in the arrogance of the governor and his Democrats in the Assembly and the Senate. All I would ask is that they govern for ALL the people of the State, not just New York City.

    • Chris, as former resident of NY, secession of upstate ny is no longer not an option. As it stands right now, NYC and buffalo ensure that extreme left wing rule will continue in NY, because they keep them in power which keeps the tail wagging the dog format in NY alive. NYC takes much more than it gives, it sucks upstate resources and money while driving those of us who don’t like how things are going or the high taxes out of the state. This has to change.

      • Secession is the only option. We Libertarians ran an excellent candidate for governor, and he got a pittance of votes. The political solution is no longer viable. Separation is the path forward.

      • But you’re right, Lee, that it’s definitely cities vs rural in New York. The people in the cities keep voting for higher taxes, more regulations, and less freedom.

        • I for one am all for a secession from southern part of the state. however I think the state line should be pushed about 40 miles north of Albany. say glens falls n north. we have industry, tourism, education, and so much more. I for one am tired of these socialist dems cancelling out our northern conservative vote. we would like a republican as a governor. plenty of my friends n family feel the same way. by all means lets do a separation of the state. we gladly will take it. all we produce up here is ours.

          • Don’t leave out Saratoga County. We are conservative and we are the most prosperous County in upstate. We hate the Dems and what they’ve done also.


      • I agree with Lee Jones. I live in the Upper New York State and see so many businesses and stores vacant in my area. Where once it was booming, the businesses are gone, people have left their homes and moved to another state, increase in property and school taxes, poor road conditions and it resembles a ghost town. So sad.

  4. Amen. So sick of seeing people say we upstaters depend on NYC money…..idiots don’t realize we could kill rules, regulations, laws that don’t make sense for and/or burden Upstate.

    • we need to be governed by a sane person in upstate NY how dare he pass that abortion act and now he wants to legalize pot but screams about the opioid crisis we have a great police force up here in our city who arrest the criminals but Cuomo wants them all out of prison he needs to go we did not vote for him up here above Albany he got his votes from the Spanish population in NY city due to him screaming about going to go and fix Puerto Rico but he never offers to fix things in his own state I vote for the split and yes our water is fine we have spring water up here

      • Marijuana and opioids are not the same,not even a little bit,I personally am all for legalization of marijuana,with that being said I am also for secession and would definitely want a Governor who abides by the Constitution and is not willing to murder babies or continuously violate our constitutional rights.

        • Years of working in detox as a RN has proven one thing, not all pot users abuse opioids, but all heroin users smoked pot or used “prescription painkillers”. Too general for you? there was a reason it was unlawful to use in the first place. This has nothing to do with the topic. I agree with the rest, let NYC and Long Island become their own state. While we are at it lets get rid of the UN at the same time.

    • I’ll tell you what aggravates me. We , in the Adirondacks, which is NORTHERN NY, by the way, are at the mercy of NYC voters, who have absolutely no clue of what we need. NYC should be a state all by itself. You want produce? New Jersey , the Garden State, is right next to the city. We have other needs…land management, infrastructure, tourist attractions, etc. Really, we don’t need NYC, and they don’t need us, or know us, so they really don’t care about our needs.

  5. Outstanding piece, Mr. Denton.

    You may be aware that there is a rapidly growing, nationwide movement to implement your generally stated policies which you have focused on upstate New York.

    (30 second glance at the 2016 county level map of the US presidential election results screams volumes).

    Counties in New Mexico and Washington have formally stated – through their elected sheriffs or county governments – that they are ‘Santuary Counties’ in regards to newly passed, unconstitutional gun laws.

    The looming ‘Boulder Bill’ – designed to decimate Colorado’s thriving hydrocarbon industry – is fracturing that state’s body politic this very moment.

    Downstate Illinois residents are in the early stages of a realignment as the corrupt Cook county continues to implode the entire state.

    Northern California/Southern Oregon may offer you folks the most advanced status of these movements as the Great State of Jefferson is concretely emplacing parallel structures to put forth as the insanities of Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles bring this once great state to its inevitable ruin.

    Good luck, Godspeed, and Best Wishes to you and all your hard working compatriots as you continue down this path.

  6. Developing gas and oil resources upstate creates wealth. Wealth can be used for political power. Areas of development tend to be rural conservative folks. Cuomo will never let this happen.

    Cuomo is about Cuomo, he has no interest in the people of NY

    • I agree.We need to do it safely and cleanly though.Outdoor tourism and recreation for the locals brings money and fun.

  7. Interesting before 2013 splitting up NYS was never an issue. We now have representatives/public servants from all sides that have not accomplished anything. Are they all that blind to the mass exodus from this state? Or are they just afraid to stand up to the chief public servant Cuomo? We only hear from them 3 months before election . It seems they are more look at me community organizers for state funded feel good projects. Do we really need representatives while Cuomo rules?

  8. When I travel to other States. and people ask where I’m from I always have to add.
    No… I’m from the real New York!

  9. Chris has the right of it. But more than wasteful spending and high taxes are the regulations that the leftists in New York City impose on us. You can’t hear anybody propose doing anything without Albany wondering how they’re going to regulate it. It think the Libertarian governor candidate Larry Sharpe had the right of it: regulate cannabis like onions — that is, not at all.

    If we’re freed of that boat anchor, we can start removing regulations. Will that hurt some people? Sure it will, but it will help a lot more people, and those people can (as people always do) help those who are hurting.

  10. A very good rebuttal. Upstate New Yorkers are tired of supporting New York City! I’ve lived in Upstate New York all my life between the Lake George and Mohawk Valley regions. Our families are struggling while paying more taxes than many other states in our country. We are taxed and taxed on every purchase. Stop strangling us NYC! Well Done!

  11. We live Upstate. Excellent rebuttal and thank you for sharing this on the internet. One added benefit: we wouldn’t have the RHA!!!!

    • The devil is in the details as they say. There are a number of disproportionate expenditures in entitlements, transportation, et al. Moreover, the larger discussion was that the far leftist policy mandates coming from our capital reflect the needs and wants of the large cities (the author mentioned NYC and Buffalo) where excessive costs for transportation, entitlements, and more have become the foundation of a society that depends upon the government which is exactly what the “big government” dems want despite the fact that those disbursements are financially unsustainable.

      Again, the author’s point is that if a secession were to take place (which I doubt) conservative, business friendly, rational voters in upstate would once again have a voice and could restore our state to the ecenomic stalwart that it once was before leftist ideology became so pervasive that it destroyed our future.

  12. What I find humorous is the Daily news is in deep financial difficulty, having to layoff much of its staff. So they are in a position to lecture others about value? Puuuulese!
    Of course, having a Chicago based parent may be the reason for their disconnect from reality.

    BTW, Clarkson Women have won last two and 3 of last 5 Division 1 NCAA hockey championships.

  13. Well written. Makes the point upstate New Yorkers have always known. We’re slaves, somehow looked down on as lower citizens by the majority of the city. They don’t understand that they depend on us out here to produce their power and they’re dinners. When they need a new Tappanzee Bridge… Our taxes pay for that. When they need power… We provide it. We would save/make billions off a power and transportation (goods) infrastructure that already exists. Will this happen? Doubtful. Should it? You bet.

  14. Bronx native and North Country resident here. While I agree with the analysis and evidence presented, Chris overlooks the unpleasant reality that the politics of upstate are increasingly coming to resemble those of the city too. While there are a lot of former NYC residents “escaping” to upstate and bringing their pernicious politics with them, the more ominous problems is the brainwashing of the next generation of upstate natives–at least those that haven’t moved away for lack of opportunity.

  15. Secede? Go for it! Become part of the real United States again instead of being part of Cuomo’s socialist hellhole. NYC is a place that needs to be on its own and subject to paying for its costs with its own resources. Upstate has for more than a century had its needs subordinated to NY City. It is time, and long past time, for that to stop.

  16. I grew up in Upstate NY back in the 60’s and it was a great place to live and work. Over the years, NYC politicians drove the taxes up and industry out and the wonderful place I grew up has disappeared. Those relatives of mine who still live there (I left a long time ago) lament the idiotic politicians who still represent and govern the state. Mr. Denton makes a lot of valid points and if Upstate can ever re-invent itself, it will have to shed the heavy hand of NYC politicians who could care less about Upstate.

  17. Great reply Mr. Denton, the only thing I would add is downstate would have no where to dump their garbage, hauled in by tons and tons each day to Chemung and surrounding counties.
    We are bound to deals with the devil made with private waste companies’ because upstate counties’ needed a source of revenue to pay for all the unfunded mandates pushed down on us from Albany.
    If we could ever find a way to stop the flow of trash to rural New York and PA. that would get the attention of downstate real quick. It is the only possible leverage we have right now but it is significant.
    We are good enough to take their trash, but not good enough to enjoy economic prosperity.

  18. Rural America is powerful, can’t be contained, and can’t be understood by urban elite. They are afraid of what they don’t understand, so they seek to silence it…

    A culture almost entirely responsible for the food, manufacturing and water resource..

    Poking the sleeping giant — never a good idea.

  19. Great article.
    The folks in the NYC “Greater” Metro area have ZERO in common with the folks upstate.
    NYC slickers can be heard, when driving the more rural roads of upstate NY, ” how can anybody live here?” “What is there to do here in the middle of nowhere?”

    And NY State is not the only state that needs to divide itself to provide better and more fair political representation.

    PA needs to boot out SE PA (e.g., Bucks and Philly county) from Pa.
    Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon should split from their city slicker big city know-it-alls in the western portions of their respective states. .
    Illinois has been DESTROYED by the crooks running Cook County/Chicago and that state should also split and let Cook County/Chicago totally self destruct.

    The citizens of MD should boot out Baltimore as well.

    I am sure that other states have many citizens who believe that their states should dissolve.

    NY up-staters should take the lead and form The State of Northern NY and hopefully that will get the ball rolling across the USA.
    Enough of big city clueless power hungry zealots who think that food is grown inside of grocery stores and electricity and gas are produced inside the basement of hi-rise apartments.

  20. Pingback: Go ahead,NYC. « gregormendelblog.com

  21. This all sounds great, and I agree that it would greatly benefit Upstate. How are we going to get past Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution? The NYS legislature (controlled) by the Dems, won’t agree. Regardless of their arrogant posturing, they know the truth. And the Dems in Congress wouldn’t agree, because that would add two Republican Senators.

  22. This is all sorta weak reasoning.
    The “Corning Glass Museum”? If this excites you it explains why upstate people are looked at as rubes and freaks.
    They couldn’t SURVIVE without NYC funding, their own systemic corruption is just as much the problem with their “economy” anyway.

    • Ian’s response is exactly why most of the country hates NYC.Has nothing to do with jealousy.Just snooty pseudo cultural jerks.In fact, upstate Columbia and Washington counties have a higher % of people working in the creative economy than any of the 5 boroughs.

  23. Chris, good article. But northern NY secession from NYC would be just a start. I have long advocated, prior to the nat gas boom, that upstate NY, central and western Pa, and eastern Oh secede and start a a new state. Pa is overly dominated by Philly and its surrounding counties just like NYC dominates your state. Take in eastern Oh from Cleveland down to Zanesville and add in the northern panhandle of WV.

    These areas all face the same issues…empty factories, blight, brain drain, poor infrastructure because of the terrible policies of the dominate cities in the respective states.

    Been saying that for over 20 years. Strangely, that would correspond closely with the Marcellus and much of the Utica. If we had done so 20 yrs ago, it would be a wealthy state about now.

  24. I’m not for gas drilling anywhere in ny. Ifs a destructive practice. I love our natural wild lands and clean water.this idea is sure to fail

    • Jim H: You just proved you have no familiarity with the rural PA that is booming with jobs and gas infrastructure, most of which cannot even be seen. You want “all natural wild lands”? — go to the Adirondacks and start hiking. But off the established trails. And see how long that lasts as a thrill for you!

        • The industry is still.there, albeit sluggish, but there are many industrial jobs in North Dakota. The hone of Caterpillar for one. Lowest unemployment numbers and had a surplus i.think that’s not the case now. Beautiful open country, long summer semi arid climate, people that are friendly and that mid west vibe us hard to describe. I love north dakota. Not many people especially the shot ones in NY and I can drive 80mph and carry a gun aND smoke in a bar while playing black jack and pretty much anything I want. It’s a great state.

          • The #3 US town with the highest percentage of household millionaires is Williston (9.7%) with Dickinson taking the #24 spot (6.7%).

            Royalties from hydrocarbon leases being the main reason.

            Breathtaking images online of the new, world class high schools in Watford City and Williston.

  25. Pingback: Environmentalism Today Is Infected with Urban SmugnessNatural Gas Now

  26. What a sad article. I’ve traveled upstate several times. I enjoyed six flags indoor water park and was looking for a house upstate 13 yrs ago.

    One i was by west cosackie i believe and my car got stuck in a snow bank. Virtually every person offered to help me. My Fiancee at the time and our 2 children. One good Man even came back and got his rope to pull us out. Several offered us to use their cell phone since ours died.

    I respect upstate NY. I know NYC gives a lot of taxes to NY. Believe me i get taxed heavily.

    I would hate for NY to ever be divided. Also Long Island where i ultimately bought my house. Especially Suffolk County is heavily Republican.


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