“What will an independent Greater Western New York Region look like to you?” That was the question posed at the first-ever Greater Western New York (Virtual) Town Hall Meeting held the evening of Thursday, July 15th.
Theme music by mansardian courtesy of FreeSound.org under Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Chris Carosa, publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, hosted the event that was co-sponsored by several newspapers in the Western New York District of the New York Press Association, including the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Sentinel, the Alfred Sun, The Batavian, Neighbor-to-Neighbor newspapers (including the Arcade Herald, the East Aurora Advertiser, the Springville Journal, Warsaw’s Country Courier, and the Franklinville Mercury-Gazette), and the Johnson Newspaper Corp’s western New York papers (The Daily News and the Livingston County News). The event was free and open to all residents of the Greater Western New York Region and more than one hundred people signed up in advance to register to attend the event.
Keynoting the event were Assemblyman Stephen Hawley of Batavia, who is sponsoring a bill that would give New York voters a chance to vote “yes” or “no” on a two-state model, kicked off the event. He said becoming a separate state offers a permanent solution, albeit one that requires both State and Federal agreement. Senator George Borrello of Jamestown is sponsoring a bill to split New York into three separate autonomous zones. While this plan does run the risk of being reversed by Albany, it has the advantage of not requiring action by the federal government. Rounding out the three keynoters, Buffalo author and attorney James Ostrowski, explained how nullification, which was successfully employed against the SAFE Act, represents the easiest path because it requires neither State nor Federal action as it relies solely on local elected officials. He explained that this non-violent form of protest has demonstrated far more consistent success than violent demonstrations.
The two biggest questions from the Town Hall Meeting attendees to the panel dealt with how Greater Western New York could afford its independence and how, even if it became a new state, how would it address the “dictatorship of the majority” population-based representation that has led to much of the big city dominance over rural citizens.
At the end of the event, the attendees voted for their preferred option. The separate state option was twice as popular as the autonomous zone option, which in turn was two times better than the nullification option.
The meeting proved so engaging that participants were eager to know when the next one will occur. Carosa promised the Sentinel would host another Greater Western New York Town Hall in October, and added there were other events and activities people might choose to get involved with if they didn’t want to wait until October. These are outlined on GreaterWesternNewYork.org.
We want to thank Mark Kluge, Jimmy Butera, Gary Hustus, and John Tubridy for their assistance in this effort.