In Colorado today, 11 counties will be voting on whether or not to quit the state.
Rural counties, they are enraged by the dictates of a state capital that neither reflects nor respects them.
So they might quit.
They are symbolic votes, and nobody actually will be allowed to join Montana or Wyoming or hoist a North Colorado flag.
But they hope to make a point.
As an upstate New Yorker, I wish I could make the same point. I wish that on this Election Day people like me all across New York could vote, county by county, on whether or not to leave the Empire State.
I wish the governor and his cohorts in Albany could look at a map of the state’s counties and have to fear that dozens of them north of Westchester repudiate him and his kind at the ballot box.
If rural Coloradans are galled by the sensitivities of Denver being forced upon them, they should try being a rural New Yorker required to dance to Manhattan’s tune. The cultural and value gap between New York City and New York State is so great as to be incomprehensible.
They live one way and we live another way. The difference between us is that we’re fine leaving them to live the way they choose. That is not a courtesy, however, which they are willing to extend to us.
Issue after issue, year after year, the lunacy and arrogance of the Albany-New York City connection is crammed down the throats and up the backsides of upstate New Yorkers.
Like the New York Safe Act.
Frigging idiots in New York City, condescendingly condemning a lifestyle they’ve never experienced, tell us how many bullets we can put in our guns and what types of guns we can own. And starting next year before we can buy those bullets we have to go through a background check, each time we buy bullets, and we have to give the state a record of every round we buy, to include how many grains of gunpowder it contains and what type of projectile it fires.
This is the same state that tells us how many ounces of paint we can put in a can, bans virtually all types of personal fireworks, burdens us with the highest combined state and local taxes in the nation, has created the worst-ranked business state in the nation, and requires that we be taxed almost beyond our ability to bear to support a massive welfare system and some of the most misguided schools in America.
In upstate New York, our land is vast and our population is small, and we are forever the slaves of the numbers. Crammed up in the tenements of New York City, sprawling out on Long Island, the voters of the Big Apple give us the big shaft.
In the lopsided representation of statewide elections and in the city-controlled caucuses of the state legislature, upstate is voiceless and pointless, the little people over whom the city people lord. We are country cousins of city tyrants.
And I wish today we could vote as Colorado votes, for our freedom and independence.
I wish there was a series of county referenda in which each county across the state could vote to stand by itself, apart from the state, free of the state’s oppression.
Not that we want to tear New York apart, but to make the point that in upstate New York we feel like second-rate Americans and second-rate New Yorkers.
It’s not likely that more than five counties upstate – Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, Albany and Tompkins – would vote to stay in New York. The other dozens, rural home to rural people, would gladly sever ties with their urban masters.
Maybe if the governor had a map in which counties were color coded – stay or go – he would realize how little geographic purchase his policies have.
But it’s all a fantasy and a pipe dream.
Because our Colorado cousins, though beaten down by their big-city masters, are still freer than we. They have a form of initiative and referendum. They can decide what is on their ballot and what it is they vote about.
New Yorkers have no such power.
New Yorkers have no such freedom.
New Yorkers increasingly have no freedom period.
Thanks to an urban government imposing its will on a rural and suburban state.
No, Madame Mayor, you haven’t.
Yesterday morning, as Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner stood beside her police chief and talked about the senseless stabbing death of a city 17-year-old, she said of efforts to stem violence: “We have been doing all that we can.”
But that’s not true.
Syracuse hasn’t done all that it can. Neither has Rochester or most other cities across New York and America.
In the name of political correctness, Syracuse and other cities have purposely chosen not to do all they can.
They have chosen to leave one tool unused.
I’m talking about stop and frisk.
Not some racist romp, as described by anti-law enforcement activists, but a specific public-safety technique defined and authorized in New York law and upheld by judicial review.
A public-safety technique that, applied in New York City, took that city from one of the most dangerous in the nation to the safest American big city.
A public-safety technique that has the legitimate potential to save lives across town and across the country.
In Article 140.50 of New York Criminal Procedure it says: “A police officer may stop a person in a public place located within the geographical area of such officer's employment when he reasonably suspects that such person is committing, has committed or is about to commit either (a) a felony or (b) a misdemeanor defined in the penal law, and may demand of him his name, address and an explanation of his conduct.”
That’s stop and frisk.
Further, in cities the size of Syracuse and Rochester, New York law allows the information garnered during the stop and frisk to be entered into a computerized data base which may be used for law enforcement purposes.
Unfortunately, among liberals and progressives, stop and frisk has become a point of hysterical obsession. The Left has decided that stop and frisk is intrusive of people’s rights, and that it is an instrument of racial profiling, and shouldn’t be allowed.
That’s why it isn’t used.
Not because it’s unfair, biased or unconstitutional, but because the left has vilified it. The issue isn’t the truth of stop and frisk, it is the lies told about stop and frisk.
Police officers in New York City have broad range to stop individuals and frisk them. There must be a suspicion of criminal conduct, and there can be a few quick questions and a pat down, and then it’s done.
And New York City is safer for it.
The same thing would happen in Syracuse.
But as things are, with the pastors and the professors criticizing the police department’s every move, Syracuse is on pace to have the deadliest year in its history. With two months to go, Syracuse is already 60 percent above last year’s homicide total.
And the mayor, though earnest, is mistaken. She and her administration are not doing all that they can.
Instead, the interests of the residents of Syracuse are being made second fiddle to City Hall’s obedience to PC orthodoxy. The city would rather mollify the pastors and the professors than save the lives of young city residents.
Ironically, the pervayors of political correctness say that they are acting in defense of the interests of black people. It would seem, however, that they are actually doing just the opposite.
A failure to stop and frisk, and intelligently use the data base of information such a policy would provide, results in more urban violence, which overwhelmingly counts blacks as its primary victims.
How does stop and frisk work?
It drives guns from the street. Many of the frisks produce illegal guns, and those who would otherwise carry illegal handguns are dissuaded from doing so by fear of being found out and arrested.
Stop and frisk also allows officers to begin learning face-to-face the people of the neighborhoods they patrol. It lets the police learn the associations and habits of folks who may wander into criminal activity.
It breaks up feuds, it enhances intelligence gathering, it sends a message to the community that the police are large and in charge.
It makes people less likely to carry drugs or guns, and thereby avoid a significant amount of trouble. The data base is important when it’s time to investigate individuals or trends.
The bottom line is that stop and frisk keeps people alive.
And that ought to be worth anything.
Not by compromising our values or liberties.
But by applying common-sense tactics and good, old-fashioned police work.
It’s time to do all we can.
It’s time to demand more than a candle-light vigil and some platitudes from the politicians. It’s time to demand the police be used to the fullest of their ability.
It’s time to take back the streets, or all we’ll have is the grave yard.
I do not understand time.
I cannot comprehend its passing or the inexorable change it brings.
“What a friend we have in time,” John Denver sang. “It brings us children, makes us wine.”
I think he had it wrong.
I think time is our enemy, taking from us all that we have, exacting a counterbalancing price for each joy it brings us. Yes, tomorrow is replete with opportunity, but its cost is high. And you can’t go to the future without leaving the past, you can’t be in two places at one time, or in two times at one place.
But my mind can’t grasp that latter truth.
I stand where I stood yesterday and I don’t see how yesterday and today can’t meet and be one.
And I wrestle with the lesson of time and mortality, the lesson each person must face, if not learn. I instinctively and viscerally fight against it.
I ignore the evidence.
Like some photos in a box this weekend. The picture of my grandfather’s grandmother, a Civil War widow, sitting in a chair in the sun at age 90. A woman I never met but who loved people I loved and who sat under the same hot summer sun I sit under. The same hot summer sun she played under as a child, and which her grandparents played under as children.
While people come and go, ages come and go, like a tide that rises and falls, or the monotonous succession of waves against the shore.
Three score and 10 may be the age of a man or the blink of an eye, or it may be both.
There was also a booklet, from a small-town centennial of 40 years ago, with three pictures of my classmates, happy adolescents , as I remember them, as I wish to meet them again, the only way I can comprehend them. Little kids grown now to late middle age, the parents of children and the grandparents of children, frozen on the page and in my heart forever young.
I heard a sermon the other week wherein the speaker said in offhand fashion that we wrestle with time because it is not our natural element. That as children of a Father in heaven we are innately creatures of eternity, come down here into mortality as schooling and testing for the hereafter and ever after. He is now long since dead himself, the preacher, his sermon a recording from more than 30 years ago.
But I hope he’s right.
I hope sometime it makes sense.
I hope sometime the tension and conflict end.
By which I hope sometime we can go back. That then and now can somehow meet, that time is not a line, that the loves and laughters of once can be the loves and laughters of again. That my children can be young, my skin can be smooth, my mother can be alive.
That Ronnie and I can go down to the creek and fish, that I can choose right where before I chose wrong, that I can say the things I kept to myself.
That I might sleep peacefully again in the bed of my youth.
That heaven might be where I’ve already been.
The math plays on your mind at a certain point. As my young children crawl on the floor, I realize I may not see their young children born, just as they did not see my young siblings born. We are connected, by the transitive law, and by blood, and by some bond of the eternities, but we may well be strangers here.
Though they sit in that same summer sun or walk on the same forest paths. I have my great-grandfather’s Bible, my mother’s highchair, my son’s build. It’s a relay, after all, and the passing of the baton is a brief moment in what is really a long and difficult solo race.
But I go in my mind often where I’ve already been, where I may once have earnestly worked to leave, and I find it dear and sweet. And it kills me that I cannot go back again, that the same streets can’t take me to the same people, that the circumstances of then are severed from the now. And each moment of now I hold to and savor as it flies from my grasp, almost best forgotten so as not to be taunting from the irretrievable past.
Maybe that’s why we go senile, to dull our sensibilities and shield us as the toll of time takes the most from us.
So many gone, so many experiences that can’t be regained, so much to miss.
So much to be grateful for.
All pulled out of reach by time.
God’s cruelest invention, a temporary vexation that lasts as long as we live.
Old pictures in a box, lost and gone forever.