Seward's Home Rule Folly

Liberty or tryranny redux...from Tom Shepstone and Rachael Colley at EID Marcellus:

Any student of American history will recall Secretary of State William Seward’s deal to purchase Alaska, lampooned at the time as “Seward’s Folly.”  That deal vastly increased our access to natural resources and turned out pretty well in the end, but now another New Yorker of the same name, State Senator James Seward of Oneonta, has embarked on precisely the opposite course.  Ironically, Senator Seward seems bent on redeeming the false accusation hurled at his famous namesake by engaging in what can only be described as the Home Rule Follies.
 
We were present in Oneonta last month when Senator Seward and three of his fellow elected officials appeared before about 150 of his constituents who were there to question them about Seward’s bill.  The Senator, widely admired in most respects, seemed surprised to find his voters not at all happy about his introduction of legislation that would allow individual communities to supersede State law.  That bill would, in the name of “home rule,” selectively override the Department of Environmental Conservation’s regulations so as to prohibit natural gas development in one community and, thereby, potentially making it impossible to do in adjoining communities given that geology knows no borders.
 
Seward took it on the chin from constituents who had actually read the U.S. Constitution and understood the job of the State under a republican form of government -- protecting rights.  Listen and watch this performance as he says “I’m not sure I’m qualified” to interpret the U.S. Constitution (2:20).  This is the same U.S. Constitution he swore an oath to uphold:

This is a great post with more video segments from Oneonta and a map—do read the whole thing.

Bottom line:

Seward is a very dedicated and well-received member of the New York State Senate among both his colleagues and his constituents.   Why is he, then, buying into this campaign?  Because he apparently thinks it won’t amount to much and he can thrown a bone to his Cooperstown friends.  What he is doing, though, is sending a message, a message that New York State is closed for business, when it should be open.  While only small parts of his district may have natural gas, his entire district will benefit from his development of it.  Trying to play ball with both sides only enables the anti-gas special interests to maintain the pretense they are winning a status quo battle against the future.