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Heyl: When Western Pennsylvania becomes a separate state

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Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 11:24 p.m.

Matt Drozd apparently dwells in a state of delirium.

That's evident by the Allegheny County councilman's desire to have most of you reading this dwell in a newly formed state composed of Pennsylvania's western counties. Drozd introduced legislation calling for the formation of the nation's 51st state at Tuesday's council meeting. The proposal died soon after, in a 13-2 vote against. Only Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, joined Drozd.

The independent from Ross would have called the new entity Western Pennsylvania. Bad move. That's been the region's moniker for so long that people might not realize we morphed into statehood. Think how much confusion that could cause when it's time for folks to file tax returns or order new license plates.

Perhaps in selecting a state name, we should opt for originality while still honoring Western Pennsylvania and not taking up too much room on official government stationery. Those goals could be accomplished by naming the state Westania.

Drozd, who leaves office at month's end and whose cell phone mailbox was full when I called on Tuesday, cites several advantages in seceding from Pennsylvania in his bill. He contends Westania would benefit by keeping within its borders its various natural resources, which he presumably believes are being pilfered by philistine Philadelphians.

Drozd also asserts Westania would keep a greater share of its tax revenues, which he believes provide disproportionate benefit to the state's eastern counties. His bill compares our situation to colonial times, when perceived taxation inequalities led to a relatively obscure military conflict historical buffs refer to today as the Revolutionary War.

I hesitate to label Drozd's proposal ludicrous, and not just because “silly” essentially says the same thing in one fewer syllable. I hesitate to do so because it's intriguing to consider the questions that would need to be answered if Westania became a reality.

For example, what shape would it select for a nickname? Westanians no longer could claim to be part of the Keystone State. I suppose the three diamondlike shapes in the Steelers' logo could be appropriated, but “The Hypocycloid State” isn't very sexy. Anyone know if “The Hexagon State” is taken?

Like other states, Westania also would need to adopt a variety of official state items, symbols and slogans. Although only tourism officials and trivia enthusiasts would remember what they are, Westania quickly could forge its own identity if it adopted the following:

• Nickname: The Hypocycloid State.

• Flag: Black and gold colors, of course, with a feral pigeon picking at the three hypocycloids in the Steelers' logo.

• Bird: Feral Pigeon.

• Animal: South Side drunkard.

• Plant: Jagger bush.

• Sandwich: Primanti Bros. cheesesteak.

• Dog: Pit bull that's really very gentle ‘n'at — unless yinz move suddenly or look at it.

• Slogan: “Welcome to the official UPMC-Dick's Sporting Goods Westania Slogan.”

• Motto: “Liberty, Steelers, Cold Brews 'n'at.”

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or

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