Staten Island officials revive call for the borough to secede NYC
Staten Island officials this week said they will push forward plans for the borough to leave New York City, reviving a fight partially won over 25 years ago. As first reported by the Staten Island Advance, Republican Council Members Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo, who represent the borough, plan to introduce two pieces of legislation that would create a committee to determine the logistics and costs of the secession, as well as a commission a study to look at the feasibility of designating county governments within the city. In 1993, Staten Island residents voted to leave the Big Apple, but the measure never went further after failing to pass in Albany.
“If the city wants to continue going in a radical progressive direction, please just leave us behind!” Borelli, who recently lost an election for the city’s public advocate position, told the New York Post. “The city is fighting a war on the cars we need to drive and loathe police officers–many [of whom] live here. Why wouldn’t Staten Island want to secede?”
Borelli’s legislation, which is being co-sponsored by Matteo, would create a committee “to look at what kind of government the Island would get if it were to secede and how much the effort would cost” and “form a similar commission to study whether it is feasible to form county governments within New York City,” according to the Advance.
State Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat who represents the North Shore, will reportedly introduce a similar bill to state lawmakers. The Advance also reported that Democratic Assembly Member Michael Cusick said he is “willing to explore” secession.
A non-binding referendum passed in 1993 that would permit Staten Island to secede from New York City, with about 65 percent of the borough’s residents approving the charter. Then Gov. Mario Cuomo said the referendum must be approved by the state legislature, which ultimately sealed its fate that year.
But the idea for the “forgotten borough” to secede comes to the surface every few years, including in 2009, 2011, 2015, and most recently in 2016, which was put forth by Borelli, as Gothamist reported.
In his most recent effort, Borelli told the Advance that his plan would create a government with a county executive, a mayor, and a local council, which is similar to the one mapped out in the 1993 study. Other questions remain about the plausibility of a Staten Island secession, from figuring out how to fund the borough’s free ferry to the capital debt it owes the city for various projects. The complicated plan would require approval from both the city and state.