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I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to give Schuyler Livingston's eulogy - and even more surprised to learn that it was at his request. We last spoke ten years ago, a painful parting at the end of a struggle in which he was forced out of MorganChaseCiti. Since then, New York City and State have suffered terribly from the problems he thought he had defeated when he was Governor.
Given Schuyler's reputation for hounding his bosses and most of a Legislature out of their jobs, it may be a surprise that Schuyler didn't have a mean streak. He just said what he meant compulsively, which regularly lost him friends among people who preferred to keep the truth at a safe distance.
I've known Schuyler since our first day at Groton, though he only stayed there for a year - his father filed, quite dramatically, for bankruptcy, and Schuyler finished his schooling at Bronx Science. We both went to Columbia, where he originally planned to be a doctor, but somehow we both wound up at Cornell Law School. Fortunately, his brilliance made all of these schools want him as a student.
His early years on Wall Street were remarkable, a rise fueled by his warnings that various kinds of transactions carried consequences the firm wouldn't want to face later. He was repeatedly sidelined and then brought back and promoted, as warning after warning came true. He reached the boardroom after his predecessor was hauled away in handcuffs for a complex scheme that boiled down to bribing an accounting firm's partners to okay a series of transactions. His father's bankruptcy had left him incapable of tolerating corruption, especially financial corruption.
That lack of tolerance for corruption also left him deeply concerned about New York State. Perhaps hoping to distract him, his peers on Wall Street helped him to a seat on the 2024 State Financial Investigative Commission. After a few meetings, he rapidly changed course, and by 2029 had decided to run for Governor. He won the 2030 election by a tiny margin against an incumbent who had disgraced himself repeatedly.
His first few years were rocky, to say the least. The Legislature considered him sanctimonious, to put it mildly, and refused to cooperate with his strivings toward a balanced budget. They called him the Pope, mocking him for both his religious beliefs and his politics. His first term was pretty much a fiery trainwreck - I believe I'm allowed to say that, since I was his chief of staff.
I suspect you're all hoping that I'll have something to say about Saratoga, perhaps even something new. Schuyler had warned me not to share anything more about it until he was gone, but now I can safely tell you that it was the most carefully planned scandal in history, combining his fondness for practical jokes with his need to create a public sense of scandal about a system that had been broken for centuries without anyone much caring.
If he were to be a Pope, we decided, he should be a Renaissance Pope.
Since the Legislature had been behaving more and more scandalously for decades without consequence, Schuyler decided it was time to create a scandal on the Governor's side, one that would demand public attention but quickly reflect badly on the Legislature. Schuyler's squeaky-clean reputation would insure that there were plenty of shockwaves, and the timing had to fit perfectly with the 2034 election.
Saratoga was our opportunity - specifically the Speaker's Ball, at the close of the August 2034 racing season. Speaker Dalton sent out his usual invitations for 1200, including fifty invitations sent somewhat grudgingly to the Governor's office for distribution to the Executive Branch. Rather than giving them to department heads, of course, we contacted Marina Tariva, the proprietress of Albany Elite Escorts, and hired 47 of her finest escorts for the Ball. (She was apparently interested in retiring in any case.) They were only there to escort - it was a perfectly legal transaction.
About an hour into the Ball, I escorted his wife into the event, which brought over a few photographers wondering what was going on. Schuyler, as you doubtless know, came in a few minutes later. He was acting rather strangely, bringing 47 beautiful women to a dance attended by many of their regular clients. I'm sure that you've all seen the videotape of the resulting mayhem when the Governor presented them to the Speaker, calling "their graceful presence an appropriate gift to the Legislature for the quality and nature of the Legislature's work, a true reflection of how things get done in New York."
Bad taste, indeed. The media had no idea what to make of it, except to suggest that the Governor had gone mad. The Legislature went berserk, as we'd hoped, setting up impeachment proceedings that we encouraged with generously planted leaks. We had chosen the Governor's guests carefully - I'm still not sure what had enraged Ms. Tariva so severely and made her so interested in cooperating with us - and the scandal grew and grew. Their early rush to impeach the Governor for his insult proved a terrible idea, as the subsequent trial made the Legislature look terrible, in ways that made for attention-grabbing headlines.
That November proved that the electorate could understand a joke, throwing out the worst of the Old Guard, and we finally had a Legislature we could work with. We were happy to hear that there were unexpected rockslides on Bear Mountain on election night, a sign that the world was really changing.
We had to work quickly - New York was sinking fast. The crash in the dollar had weakened Wall Street's importance, and firms had been moving their operations away for decades. New York City's prestige as the center of media empires was withering rapidly, as the share of English in the worldwide market dwindled, and fashion just kept falling further and further behind. Poverty was up - the wealth needed to pay for social services was down. Schuyler's predecessors had already sold off - of course, I mean "outsourced" - many of the state's assets, from the former State University system to the Department of Motor Vehicles. There wasn't much left to work with, though no one had managed to sell off the Barge Canal successfully.
Schuyler poured money into education in ways the state had never seen. He couldn't recover the old SUNY system, but he built new tuition-free schools of finance in Lower Manhattan and Buffalo, schools of communications in Midtown Manhattan and Syracuse, a much larger fashion school in the old Garment District, and, to maintain some balance, schools of agriculture in Lockport and Poughkeepsie. Attendees could come from anywhere, if they met the admissions criteria - but they had to agree to work in New York State for the next five years, or tuition wouldn't be free.
The expensive gamble paid off - talent first poured into these schools as highly paid professors, and then students followed from all over the state, the country, and the world. The five-year rule ensured that companies would have a large pool of well-trained employees, and over time, more and more of these students chose to stay in a revitalized New York, all over the state.
He also got the Barge Canal operating again at a time when energy prices were climbing, though few people seem to realize how much that did to keep New York City going at a time when it was on the edge.
By the end of his second term, it was clear that his vision had made a difference, and by the end of his third term it looked like his eulogy might not even have to mention Saratoga. It was time for a new challenge, and Schuyler decided to head back to Wall Street, where he could focus more directly on a key industry for New York.
His return to Wall Street was rocky. Hailed as a conquering hero, he was quickly hired by the newly formed MorganChaseCiti as Chairman. The Board hoped that he could help create a cleaner image for a firm created out of necessity, as each member company had suffered major losses and scandals. For a while, it worked, and Schuyler was even able to expand their workforce in both New York City and Buffalo, taking advantage of the systems he'd set up.
Unfortunately, we all know what happened next. The National Bankruptcy led quickly to the Second Dollar Crash, and it was hard to take the United States seriously when 125 dollars suddenly bought a single Euro coin. New York State itself barely avoided bankruptcy, and the magic of the schools Schuyler had built dwindled as other places built competitors on similar lines, easily outspending us. New York City's collapse came more quickly than any of us anticipated, and the consequences Upstate were nearly as bleak. Businesses closed or left, leaving the remaining residents with shockingly little to do.
I'm not sure if Schuyler knew it was his last stand when he refused to move the company's headquarters to Shanghai, but it was clearly the end in any case. I stayed with the firm for a year wrapping up its departure before I left myself. Schuyler never forgave me for siding in the end with reality, however unfortunate, rather than with his visions.
He and Laura retreated here, to Tuxedo, and began work on this monastery. I fear that it may be Schuyler's final surviving monument, but it is a fitting conclusion to an extraordinary life, a heroic quest in the face of an imperfect world.
TOMPKINS - A state police report confirmed what residents of the area had long suspected; the incidence of gang violence, break-ins, and stolen vehicles is up 25 percent over the last decade, following the closing of all local high schools and their replacement by e-schools.
"We used to call the schools 'babysitters,' and now I know that was true," said Tompkins County Chief Luis Valeria in a SAT-interview. "At least we haven't given up on babysitting the littler kids, or we'd have a real mess on our hands."
E-schools were originally planned to mesh with internship programs to enable students to work at their own pace from home while learning a trade or profession. However, the internship programs were unable to keep pace with students' desires to learn cosmetology rather than, say, cosmology, and higher-level internships went without interns while students in lower-level internships found that no jobs awaited them on graduation.
In addition, e-schools proved a failure at instructing students in the foreign languages needed to obtain professional jobs. Hindi and Urdu were popular, but most students were unable to complete the difficult courses, and although thousands of students took Mandarin as their first language, regional dialects were apparently impossible to master without face-to-face contact and practice.
The result has been teenagers who are left alone all day with no place to go, in theory working electronically to complete coursework, but in reality roaming the towns in pairs, small groups, or gangs.
In a related story, former principal Varushka Knight was among the spectators as the wrecking ball hit Dryden High School, the last high school standing in the region. Because the building once also housed middle school students, it was spared when many other high schools were demolished. However, by 2048, decreases in rural population made it possible to move all middle school students into the new Central Dryden Elementary/Middle School.
Like all school districts, Dryden had long since stopped spending money on facilities for high school. "We saw the handwriting on the wall back in the late '20s," said Knight. "That's why the building was in such bad condition that it was ultimately condemned, luckily not until right after we made the move to CDEMS."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Upstate Family Alliance
22 Genesee Street
Rochester, NY 14611
585 555 9762
Upstate Family Alliance to Join Lawsuits Against State Brainwashing System
Rochester, NY, January 7th - Calling the "Curriculum for a New New York" a "brainwashing experiment on a gargantuan scale", the Upstate Family Alliance's President, Reverend William Stanton, announced that his group would lend financial and moral support to a series of lawsuits challenging New York's imposition of a single curriculum on all of its students.
"First, they came up with wicked testing schemes to deter homeschoolers," said Stanton, "and then they decided that computerized homeschooling would be a much cheaper way to educate children. Now that they have turned our homes into their government schools, their complete agenda is clear: brainwashing our children to clear away the inconvenient values of their parents."
The Upstate Family Alliance will join lawsuits already filed in various New York State Supreme Court jurisdictions, arguing that the new curriculum was created using a faulty procedure and is riddled with errors and biases, including:
Emphasis on New York City and its suburbs with scarcely a mention of Upstate after 2010;
Comments dismissive of religion's positive contribution in the histories of the United States, New York State, and the world;
Untestable scientific hypotheses presented as fact in the biology, physics, and economics sections;
Claims that current climate patterns are the result of excessive carbon usage during our state's economic peak;
Disparaging comments about three of the greatest U.S. Presidents of the last hundred years, Reagan and the two Bushes;
Excessively violent and sexual moments in video coverage of history, literature, and health;
Constant use of Spanish in contexts where English should be the only language in use;
Tests that expect students to regurgitate the false stories contained in the curriculum;
A complete failure to allow parents and students to opt out of this curriculum.
"We intend to see justice served," said Stanton. "Our children's future is much too precious to us to turn it over to a state whose interests plainly do not serve our children well."
About the Upstate Family Alliance:
The Upstate Family Alliance, formed in 2035, brings together a variety of community organizations and individuals to remind New York State and its citizens that New York City is not and should not be the sole arbiter of values in this part of the country.
My opponent will tell you that I found the idea of electing a negotiator to be a foolish one - that is, a foolish one until I learned of the terms he will accept, the limits he will accept on our sovereignty.
The boundaries of the states to be seem clear now, with the Hudson Valley and Catskills counties going with New York City and Long Island, and the Adirondacks, Mohawk Valley, and New York west to the Pennsylvania border preparing to become the brave new state of Niagara. Freed of that which was rotten in New York State, we will finally be able to find our own destinies.
In any separation there will be compromises. I understand that, and accept it. It makes sense that this new New York, centered on the city of that name, wants to ensure that the transportation corridors which nourish it will survive this change. And as deeply as I regret the loss of Delaware County, where I grew up and where many of my relatives still live, I recognize that New York City cannot bear to have its water supply in unsympathetic hands.
On a number of other issues, however, we must stand firm - and my opponent has proven himself weak. The division of existing debt, a very basic question, is slanted wrongly against us, and will hobble us unless corrected.
Looking to the future, maintaining works jointly, especially the university system, is an invitation to spend far more money than is wise. Of course we appreciate the universities, but we need the freedom to chart our own course.
Far worse, though, is my opponent's willingness to compromise the freedom of our fellow Upstate taxpayers in the Adirondack Park. His meek acceptance of plans hatched by environmentalists in New York City to retain and even augment the rules limiting development inside this ever-expanding park is a disgrace. We appreciate the Adirondacks, but must be free to help others enjoy them in the ways they want to enjoy them. The state's recent binge of purchases there was money poorly spent, aiming to prevent Upstate's economy from growing.
My opponent's acceptance of their plan for rapidly removing their prisoners from our prison system is another strike against him. We in Upstate have maintained a sacred trust in accepting their criminals in return for a shockingly small amount of money. While claiming to have built our economy, they have spent as little as possible on the prisons Upstate, pouring money and attention into the Downstate system for decades. Their sudden withdrawal of prisoners and the cash needed to sustain them would be an immediate blow against our economy, in the very period where we are still striving to build a new economy as we throw off the chains of taxation with which they have burdened us.
Our new state, our glorious Niagara, must not be forced to carry these weights of the past. Our future growth depends on freedom from the poisonous thinking downstate has forced on us for over a century, on our rights as citizens to set our own course without interference and disruption from a partner that has lost interest in us.
On Tuesday, vote for a free Niagara! With your vote, I will help freedom pour down upon our new state as water pours down the falls of our glorious namesake.
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