Wow . . . He really "did" Utica!
Kudos to Mr. Arcuri, Mrs. Destito and the others for inviting Congressman Ackerman to the area and rolling out the welcome mat. . . and kudos to Mr. Ackerman for being a good sport and accepting the invitation to our snowy city.
Hopefully there was some educational value to all this.
On a person to person basis, Upstaters and Downstaters are really not all that different from each other . . . but there are significant differences in needs based on where we live. Those differences must be discussed and understood to produce sound policies. Prior to the reapportionment of the State Senate in the 1960s, a dialogue existed. The needs of both Upstate and Downstate were fully aired (in the Senate and Assembly respectively), were reconciled with each other, and the laws/policies that resulted caused all parts of the state to grow. Following the reapportionment of the State Senate in the 1960s, Upstaters' needs have generally gotten lost. The result is what we see: a growing Downstate and a dieing Upstate.
Short of a court challenge that causes the US Supreme Court and our own Court of Appeals to revisit some old decisions and allow our State Senate to be reconstituted as envisioned by the State's Founders (the Supreme Court has corrected its wrongs before) Upstate's needs likely will continue to be lost in the shuffle. Personal contacts and friendships, however, while no substitute for reorganized government, may provide an avenue for at least some of Upstate's differences to be taken into account.
Hopefully some kind of dialogue on Upstate-Downstate differences was opened today. If the schedule did not permit, this should be followed up upon as soon as possible while a friendly glow from the trip still shines. While commitments cannot be expected, and Congressman Ackerman must please his constituents first, a little sensitivity to our needs could go a long way.
For example, a dialogue might lead to an acceptable resolution of the NYRI issue. It would be helpful if Mr. Ackerman understood that our Upstate economy, primarily based on manufacturing, was built on cheap power and that the loss of cheap power has harmed us much more than his region. Although no one likes to pay more for power, arguably it did not harm his region because it still grows.
Hopefully that would lead to an understanding that the Federal NIETC designation of our region for more power lines threatens our existence by thrusting us into the NYC energy market while leaving us out of the NYC economy. Mr. Ackerman needs to understand that this destruction of Upstate could be avoided by developing a federal policy that favors creation of power generation facilities close to where the need exists rather than power lines to bring it in from afar.
Following such a policy would satisfy Downstate's power needs with locally made power, satisfy Upstate's needs by avoiding more power lines, and satisfy the National interest by ensuring that everyone has power. I cannot believe that his downstate constituents would intentionally visit harm on us just to satisfy their need for power. NYRI seems to be more the result of businesses rushing to fill a need that takes the path of least resistance rather than people discussing how to mutually satisfy their needs.
If Upstate cannot have a large voice in government, it at least can have a lot of friends. What other option do we have?