Isolation was a recurring theme in this quadricentennial year of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in the valley that now bears his name. In October, in synchrony with the crumbling fortunes and impending collapse of the North Country GOP, the Crown Point Bridge spanning Lake Champlain was condemned by state inspectors. Before the year ended, the bridge was brought down by explosives, the direct descendant of the black powder Champlain first introduced to the Crown Point shore in 1609.
Without a bridge, egress to Vermont for many Adirondackers will be more difficult for years to come. Earlier in the year, new rules at the Canadian border made New York’s northern escape route more complicated.
Which begs the question: Why on earth would anyone want to escape the Adirondacks?
Or anywhere else in New York State for that matter.
2009’s most notorious billionaire tax refugee, B. Thomas Golisano, relocated to Florida to pursue a new hobby: paralyzing New York State’s legislature.
As engineered by Golisano’s amanuensis Steven Pigeon, the defection of two state senators from the Democrats tenuous majority brought government to a standstill. For five weeks between the 8th of June and July nobody really knew who was in charge.
Sensing an opportunity, upstate Republican senators wasted no time in condemning the corruption, deception and ineptitude of the Democratic leadership, before taking time out to testify in federal court in the political horse-trading trial of former majority leader Joe Bruno.
Senate Democrats, for their part, showed a real knack for adaptation to their unfamiliar majority offices—making little effort early on to reform the spoils system instituted by their predecessors. By year’s end they were even picking on gays and lesbians.
Sadly, for an upstate region that over coming years will feel—disproportionately—the pain of deferred cuts in state government funding, the only clean-up on the Hudson River took place well north of Albany.