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N.Y. Lawmakers Give Staten Island Right to Vote for Own City

From the Washington Post

Residents of Staten Island, which bills itself as “the forgotten borough,” awoke Saturday morning to learn that the state Legislature had unexpectedly approved a referendum to allow them to vote on whether to secede from New York City.

The referendum, which could be held as early as November, 1990, emerged from an all-night session in Albany as lawmakers struggled toward adjournment. Gov. Mario M. Cuomo said Saturday he had not decided whether to sign the bill.

Secession fever has been running high among Staten Island’s 400,000 mostly white, middle-class residents since the Supreme Court struck down the city’s powerful Board of Estimate in March. The court found the board’s structure unconstitutional because it gives the same voice to boroughs of widely varying population.

Staten Island has just 5% of the city’s population. A charter revision panel that is drawing up a new form of city government has voted to abolish the Board of Estimate-which controls the city’s budget, zoning, land use and contracts--and redistribute its powers.

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