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It's becoming obvious that New York State is broken. Certainly the part considered upstate. Upstate didn't do it. Albany and downstate did it.

Late budgets playing havoc with school and municipal budgets, costly state-mandated programs, troika leadership and legislative muscle heavily concentrated downstate -- 70 percent of New Yorkers living in 10 percent of the state -- leaves upstate with weak muscle.

The crushing realization is that if the state covered Erie County's (and other counties) Medicaid costs, there would be no county property tax.

Maybe it's time we seceded from New York and became the 51st state, "Western New York," the New Frontier State.

In the 1999-2000 Legislature, bills were introduced in the Senate (S.2332) and Assembly (A.4l33) dealing with separation into two states. Seventy percent of legislators ignored them until they expired Jan. 1, 2001.

It's nothing new. In 1729, South Carolina left Carolina, joining the Union in 1788 with North Carolina joining in 1789, because of cultural and agricultural differences. In 1861, Virginia seceded on the slavery issue. Opposed, 40 western counties in 1863 seceded, rejoining the Union as West Virginia. In 1889, Dakota Territory voters decided two states better reflected their views, split and joined the Union.

I can hear the bleating of naysayers: "wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't!" "Can of worms!" They'll sound like those ridiculing "Clinton's Ditch" (the DeWitt one, a.k.a. the Erie Canal), or those who thought the Wright brothers were a few spokes shy of a wheel. How could we do it?

The State Association of Counties provides liaison between the 62 counties and the state on common problems affecting them and the state (it would seem not effectively enough). The 10 most westerly counties (commonly called "Western New York") could call for a joint resolution for all counties north and west of Albany (some 43) to hold local referendums on secession, and if successful, could create a state of some 5.6 million.

That's about the Union's 5 million-plus average, ranking between Indiana and Massachusetts, with the "old" New York in 4th place with about 13 million.

Another option would be for the Western New York counties (10 from Rochester south) to hold special county referendums and together push the movement east through intense media exposure. I'm sure it would make the "Today Show."

There must be a host of Chamber types and clever professionals who could maneuver the minefield. What about the Kevin Gaughans, Joel Giambras, Tom Golisanos, Tom Reynoldses and area bankers, doctors and lawyers?

A new Constitution would be easy. Just add up all New York's mistakes and do the opposite. And the first paragraph should call for the automatic impeachment of the governor and the leaders of both legislative houses the day after a budget is not approved on its due date. The rest would shout to the marketplace: "We are open for business! Try the New Frontier State!"

David Warsocki is a retired General Motors manager and a freelance writer.

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