In an election year where Americans are analyzed in terms of demographics (black or white, young or old, “educated” or “uneducated”), with candidates choosing which ones “matter,” depersonalization is the spirit of the times. In Myanmar, the government is pretending that hundreds of thousands of its cyclone-hit people are not really there, even holding elections in flooded towns while dead bodies are rotting not far away. Perhaps never before in history has there been such a densely populated globe where so many people are so invisible to such a powerful few.
As KAZ pointed out last week about the new “I Love New York” logo, there is an unsettling message (truth?) in the use of images of animals and overgrown grass to signify a vast and “wild” Upstate region where millions of people still live and struggle. Now the economic concerns of a big chunk of New York State are also set to become somewhat more depersonalized, with the erasure of “Upstate’s Man” — the position of Upstate Chair of the Empire State Development Corporation (currently held by Dan Gundersen).
A Rochester D&C article says Paterson loses good will in upstate New York with change (this piece quotes heavily from Unshackle Upstate’s press release.)
Citizen Power Alliance, a Finger Lakes-based blog, thinks Paterson would never have made this decision on his own.
A look at who exactly is advising Paterson to make this change.
Gundersen’s own dutiful statement of support for the decision has been drowned out.
The Paterson administration can word this decision as they like (saying that the new single ESDC chair would preside over two Upstate and Downstate departments, for example). None of that would change what has been decided on: an abrupt removal of equal authority from Upstate hands just barely a year after Spitzer had granted it, bypassing a corrupt and deficient Albany structure. Maybe Spitzer shouldn’t have cracked open that particular barn door and shouldn’t have permitted that authority, but he did. Now Paterson wants the door shut before the rats get in (or perhaps before the horses get out).
BuffaloPundit feels that the new approach wasn’t producing much and that all of Upstate needs to be turned into a single Empire Zone. That would still highlight that the state is not “one New York,” but divided into two badly unbalanced economies – one euphoric, the other wounded. It’s a stark truth that Gov. Paterson admits — but one he apparently isn’t willing to address on a blunt and direct political (and human) level, as Spitzer did with the appointment of an “Upstate man.” He warns that having two ESDC chairs could be confusing. (So how about changing ESDC’s mission to be concerned solely with Upstate economic development from now on? After all, for years it’s been a Downstate-centric mission…turnabout is fair play!)
Gov. Paterson told the Post-Standard: “If we do it this way (with two chairmen), we might have two governors and I think that would be a terrible idea.”
An oddly phrased statement of concern. But he said it, not me.