Supporters of plans to divide up New York State into three regions say they see an opportunity, as support for divvying up big states into smaller states or regions grows across the country.
Tuesday night's meeting at the VFW Weber Post in Lackawanna was yet another of meetings going on across the state, looking to break down the centralized nature of New York and instead create powerful regions, with New York City and its five boroughs one of the regions.
"There are more people (in New York City). We have no voice here," said Bob Dubil. "They almost got to build a program similar to the Electoral College and give us some kind of voice."
The charge is being led by Divide New York State Caucus and State Assemblymember David DiPietro is the face of the movement. He is a Republican sponsor for legislation to make the shift to a more regions rights New York, which will cut costs and taxes, he said.
"Once we start controlling our autonomy and we start cutting back, one of things we cut back: Do we need to give every single welfare benefit that the federal government has in their control, when the average is that there are 35 different types of benefits?" DiPietro said. "The average in the country is about 12-14. Why are we giving every one? We're one of the only states that does that. So now we cut that back, we start controlling our costs."
DiPietro said if the other two regions control and cut costs, the rest of New York will no longer need the billions of dollars New York City now puts into the tax system to be funneled across the state.
DiPietro said voters putting Democrats in control of all three power sources in Albany is a driver of the decentralization movement.
"A lot. I tell people this bill would not have stood a lot of chance if we still had divided government," DiPietro said, "but you are watching leftist agenda on full display right now, which does not equal what most of the state represents. Most of the people outside of New York City do not want what New York City is selling."
DiPietro said it is a values issue, with Upstate and Downstate values very different.
Kevin Aleong is a Niagara County representative and Western New York regional coordinator for the Divide New York State Caucus. Aleong said economics are at issue.
"Economic. At lot of it has to do with our values. Out here in Western New York we are more like Midwestern than elsewhere," Aleong said. "Another thing too, tonight's event, this not a GOP, conservative Republican lovefest. We have Democrats on board. This is non-partisan."
Dean Kroll said the regions could turn around Upstate economically.
"One of the fundamental things that politicians don't understand is there are two things that free flow across borders. One's human capital. The other one is financial capital," Kroll said. "If we create an environment which is more accomodating to both human capital and financial capital, they'll come here. It may take time but they'll come here."
State Sen. Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) said there will be regional management.
"You are going to have, no doubt, bureaucracy to administer anything, certainly," Ortt said. "I think if the result, though, is policies that fit the people who live there, if it's policies that are better for the business folks that are there, if it's better for gun owners, if it's more representative of that part of the state, then I think people are willing to at least look at that."
Supporters said it will not be easy, but say New York City-centered legislation this year and anticipated next year in Albany will bring others to their program or drive them out of the state.