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Great Lakes Compact

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The Trio


"So picking up from last week, when was the Last Legislature? Michelle?"

"It was in 2035. They all got infighted."

"Close! It was in 2035, and a majority of them were indicted for corruption. The HSR contracts and their secret stockholdings made it look really bad for them when the project collapsed. The prosecutors got the lists of who'd been given what. The New York State Legislature had no clear process for replacing all of those people, and couldn't conduct business."

"Anyone know what happened next? Samuel?"

"Governor Yerkes had a convention."

"That's right. Instead of electing a new legislature, voters elected delegates. Those delegates gave up completely on the legislature and gave us the Trio instead. Can anyone tell me how the Trio gets chosen?"

"We pick one every three years. But they can't live too close together."

"That's right, Marcy. Members of the Trio have to have three million people between their homes, and they have to have lived in those homes for at least ten years. They can't move around to run from a different area. Can anyone explain what the Trio is in charge of? Joel?"

"The Trio makes state law, runs the bureaucracy, and acts as the top court in the state."

"Are you reading that out of your textbook? No? All right, that's correct. The old functions of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches are concentrated in these three seats. Each one directs different parts of the government, but they all have to come together to agree on a budget. How do we keep them from getting too powerful? Michelle?"

"They have to take a year off the Trio when their term ends. Only two have ever gotten back on, I think."

"Well, we may see a third this November, but yes, that's right. Between the distance rule and the one-term rule we've had regular changes of power."

"Yeah, but Upstate only gets in once in a while."

"Joel, I didn't call on you that time."

"I know, but why do they have to do that to us? Why did they only say three million people apart when the state has 25 million people?"

"That question won't be on the test, Joel."

The ghost of Nathan Miller


Albany, NY - In the New York Governor's race, voters narrowly supported Democrat Ricardo Wagner, who ran a nostalgic campaign promising the same kind of government that his great-great-grandfather Robert F. Wagner Jr. had given New York City in the 1950s. Wagner won 48% of the vote on the Democratic and Working Families lines, while Republican James Rivington fell short with 46%. Conservative Party candidate Charles Griffin received 6% of the vote.

The race had been seen as an Upstate-Downstate battle until late in the race, when Griffin ran a series of ads questioning whether Rivington was "really from Upstate? Really real?" and briefly catapulted himself to 25% in the polls. While Griffin fell back quickly as the election grew closer, Rivington spent much of the rest of the campaign explaining just how much time he had spent on the family farm outside of Palmyra and why he had chosen to go to college in New York City, staying there for a decade while he began his medical career.

Wagner began the race burdened by the scandals of his predecessor, Burton McKinsey, under whom he had served quietly as Lieutenant Governor. His refusal to condemn several long-time friends after their indictment had raised concerns that he would continue his predecessor's practices, though Wagner's insistence that accounting errors rather than misconduct were at issue may have soothed nervous voters.

Rivington, in an unusual move, made his concession speech under a projected portrait of Nathan Miller, Governor of New York from 1921 to 1922, and the last Governor from Upstate. While congratulating Wagner for his victory, he called on "Upstate voters to recognize the damage they have done to themselves time after time, failing to support their own candidates of either party and ruining their ability to participate in New York's political conversation."

Farewell to a Giant


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.

Free Niagara


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.

Niagara Falls

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.


Taking sides on Prop 19


BATH, NY, June 3, 2050--The Northeast Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan announced today its full support for the extension of so-called NY Proposition 19 (A/S 273218), due to sunset at the end of 2050.

"Do not repeal this law," urged Assembly-Senator Farley Kuhn (RTL-53/136), Exalted Cyclops of the Central New York Chapter of the Klan, in a YouTube address. "It has successfully closed our borders to the illegal aliens who threatened our way of life for so many years."

The Klan is only one of many well-funded groups who have lobbied Albany in favor of the extension. On the other side, a smaller but equally vocal group of agriculturalists and BigBox™ spokespeople met last night with Speaker-Leader Joseph Bruno III to review statistics on the losses they claim to have incurred since the law first passed in 2026, with a clause that allows it to be revisited every four years.

Bruno will, of course, have the final say on whether the law receives its sixth extension.

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