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Andrew Cuomo

MIKE ZAGATA: New York Not So Great Lately, Either

Column by Mike Zagata, September 28, 2018

New York Not So

Great Lately, Either

Mike Zagata

‘America was never that great.”
That’s an amazing quote from a man who’s had nothing but opportunity his entire life. Yes, he’s made the most of it, but that’s not the point. The point is that, because America was great, he had the opportunity to succeed.
Before moving to the point of this article, I thought it might be useful to look at the media via a historical perspective. Thus, I offer the following quote:
“Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse.”
Any idea who wrote it? No, not President Donald Trump. It was one of the most revered of our early writers – Mark Twain. If you’re following the path of the current nominee to the Supreme Court, it should ring true.

According to that same media, Governor Cuomo is concerned that the recent revisions to the federal tax code will unfairly cost New Yorkers $16 billion in lost deductions. Another way to interpret that concern is that the federal tax code revisions put the spotlight on the “Blue” states – states governed by Democrats – by pointing out that that we are paying too much in taxes. In our case too much is about $16 billion.
According to the governor: “We have high local property taxes and a relatively high income tax.” Is that news to any of us reading this article? About a million folks have figured this out since he became governor and left.
Each time someone leaves New York due to its high taxes, what impact does that have on those of us who remain? By definition, if we expect the same level of government “services,” our taxes must go up.
It’s interesting, the governor chose to lay part of the burden for high taxes off on the local governments by mentioning high property taxes. However, what he neglected to mention is that the county’s obligation for half of the state’s portion of Medicaid drives up local taxes.

Turning Point USA, a conservative campus group, posted this graphic on its website after the governor’s remark.


If I remember correctly the county’s bill for Medicaid was about $11 million. That amount is roughly equal to the money collected from county tax payers. We are being forced to run county government on sales tax revenue and state aid. Our local property taxes go to pay for Medicaid. New York is the only one of the 50 states that does this.
If the government continues to give out money as “candy,” our taxes must go up even more. Some would argue that money leads to local economic growth – I would argue that we need to be certain that it does. Getting a $10 million grant and then using much of it to pay the consultants who oversee it is not a suitable return on investment.
When we read, “Oneonta just received a $250,000 grant and it didn’t cost us anything”, do we take a moment to stop and think about that?
Where does government get its money – from us in the form of taxes, fees and licenses.
This particular project may not have been funded with money from taxes collected from Oneonta residents, but a grant to some other New York community very likely was funded by tax dollars from Oneonta residents – the money all goes into the same “pool.”

However, what’s even more troubling is that a governor, who took an oath to uphold the law, has come up with a scheme to circumvent the law (an attempt to get out of that spotlight). His scheme would have enabled taxpayers to contribute to tax-deductible charitable funds set up by the various local governments which would then provide tax credits to the donors equal to 95 percent of the donations value.
As one might expect, the IRS said “no”. Beyond the scam aspect, think about the impact this could have had on the state’s charitable organizations by diverting funds that might have gone to them to local government as disguised taxes instead.
Even more troubling is the mindset that says, “If I don’t like it, I’m not going to abide by it.” Today, it’s all about “me” and how I can scam the system to improve my lot at the expense of others.

That has to change if we’re going to make America “GREAT” again. To me, what made America great was having pride in our country and being willing to work hard to make it, and thus our lives and the lives of others, better.

Mike Zagata, a former DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and an environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

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Molinaro Drops By, Talks To Merchants

EN ROUTE FROM BOILERMAKER

Molinaro Drops By,

Talks To Merchants

Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive and Republican candidate for governor this fall against Andrew Cuomo, could be seen on Main Street, Cooperstown, a few minutes ago. Here, accompanied by Hartwick Town Republican Chairman Joe Marmorato, he chats with Andrew Vilacky, proprietor of Safe At Home Collectibles, who said he was favorably impressed by the GOP standardbearer. The candidate said he stopped by en route home from Utica, where he ran in the annual Boilermaker this morning. He said he’ll be back in the county Aug. 1 as keynoter at the county Republican Women’s Club annual fashion show at The Otesaga. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
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Online Poll Results

Online Poll Results

These are the results of the poll ‘If the race for NY governor were today, would you vote for: Chris Gibson or Andrew Cuomo.’

chris_gibson

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Program Helps NYS&W Reduce Emissions, Costs

Program Helps NYS&W

Reduce Emissions, Costs

By SAM ALDRIDGE • for www.AllOTSEGO.com

rail logoCOOPERSTOWN – The worldwide movement of climate change awareness has come home to the New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad.

The railway company, based in Cooperstown, has partnered with the state Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) to install four anti-idling engines on their locomotives to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.  The Utica-based Mohawk Adirondack and Northern is also participating.

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Andrew Cuomo 2016 State Of The State Address

Governor Cuomo Speaks

’14 Proposals’ Will Be Detailed In

State Of The State & Budget Address

Governor Andrew M Cuomo
Governor Andrew M Cuomo

Today at 12:30pm, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will deliver his annual State Of The State & Budget Address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. The speech will be streamed live on the Governor’s website. There you can also find previous addresses as well as more information about the Governor and this particular address. We have included a link to the live stream below. 

 

Click To View Live Stream Of Speech

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Jubilant Local Fracking Foes Shift Focus To Renewables, Pipeline

Jubilant Local Fracking Foes

Shift Focus To Renewables, Pipeline

By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Editions of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 25-26, 2014

COOPERSTOWN

Next, renewables, Lou Allstadt, a Sustainable Otsego mainstay, tells celebrants at the Cafe Ommegang Wednesday, Dec. 17, after Governor Cuomo declared fracking will be banned in New York State.  In the back, from left, are Nicole Dillingham, Kim Jastremski, Larry Bennett, John Davis and Marion Carl. (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman's Journal)
Next, renewables, Lou Allstadt, a Sustainable Otsego mainstay, tells celebrants at the Cafe Ommegang Wednesday, Dec. 17, after Governor Cuomo declared fracking will be banned in New York State. In the back, from left, are Nicole Dillingham, Kim Jastremski, Larry Bennett, John Davis and Marion Carl. (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman’s Journal)

Today, Albany. Tomorrow, Kalangadoo, Australia.

While local fracking foes were elated by Governor Cuomo’s Wednesday, Dec. 16, announcement that he plans to ban the controversial practice in New York State, they were already looking beyond.

The widest-reaching is Lou Allstadt, the retired Mobil executive vice president, whose short-term plans include appearing on a Jan. 12 panel at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. Fellow panelists will be Angus Gillespie, a Shell vice president from The Hague, and Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board chair.

“I hope we don’t spend the whole time on (fracking),” said Allstadt, who for the past year also has been active in the Citizens Climate Lobby, which is asking Congress to enact a fee at the mine head and the drilling pad to encourage customers to move away from fossil fuels. “The whole big picture is renewables, and how do you transition to that.”

As fracking foes gathered at Cafe Ommegang within hours of the governor’s announcement to celebrate their victory, discussion – and subsequent interviews – turned to a number of outstanding issues:

• A ban on the spreading of sometimes radioactive brine from fracking operations in northeast Pennsylvania on Upstate roads to reduce dust. Dumping of other kinds of fracking waste in Upstate landfills is also a concern.

• Halting the “fracking infrastructure,” as Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham put it, including the Constitution Pipeline through Delaware County and a new compressor station on the existing Dominion Pipeline at Minden, Montgomery County, 10 miles north of Cherry Valley.

• Quality-of-life initiatives to position Otsego County for an era where fossil fuels play less of a role. Dillingham mentioned promoting organic farming, the breweries and farmers’ markets. Bob Eklund, New Lisbon, said the Butternut Valley Alliance hopes to encourage solar energy, and promote its towns as artists’ communities.

In June, Allstadt was on Capitol Hill with 600 individuals affiliated with the Citizens Climate Lobby who in a few days were able to discuss the fee idea with 507 of the 535 senators and congressmen.

The fee would raise the price of fossil fuels, discouraging their use, and the revenues generated would be distributed to Americans to use as they wish, he said. At-border fees would prevent foreign companies from unfairly competing with U.S. concerns.

“Just doing away with fracking doesn’t help you unless you reduce total fossil-fuel use,” said Allstadt, who has received queries, in addition to Kalangadoo, from anti-frackers in Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Poland and Bulgaria, and provided them primarily with scientific studies that support the cause.

Allstadt declined to predict when legislation will be introduced, saying the Citizens don’t wish to see that happen until a clear bipartisan majority of support is achieved. “This is not a liberal or conservative issue,” he said. “We all have to deal with climate change.”

While it is supporting fight against the “fracking infrastructure,” already filing testimony in Schoharie-based Stop the Pipeline’s legal challenge, Otsego 2000 is also moving on, said Dillingham. It organized its second Glimmerglass Film Days in November, and is proceeding with its historic preservation awards and programs to help farmers.

The fracking ban, though, “removed a cloud that has been hanging over our region,” allowing people buy homes, move their families here and start businesses without worry, she said.

Since the fracking decision, U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, has visited the county, and told a Sustainable Otsego delegation meeting in Cooperstown that he will introduce a resolution recognizing climate change and the need to combat it, according to SO Moderator Adrian Kuzminski.

In some ways, it will be harder to combat multiple manifestations of “fracking infrastructure” than promoting the single focus of the ban, said Kuzminski, whose listserve was able to turn out hundreds of anti-frackers on short notice.

Still, “it reaffirms some kind of belief that the system is not totally broken, politically, that big money will carry the day,” said Kuzminski, a philosopher who has written such books as “Fixing the System,” a history of population. “Coming up against the largest industry on the planet, it turned out they couldn’t turn the trick because of grass-roots resistance.”

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To Frack (Rock)? Or Not To Frack (Hard Place)?

To Frack (Rock)? Or Not To Frack (Hard Place)?

Editorial By Alan Chartock, Capital Connection

For The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 11-12, 2014

When politicians take money for their campaign coffers, they owe something back. That’s because there is honor among, well, politicians and lobbyists. If you see tons of money going to politicians from the real-estate industry, you’d be foolish not to think that the people who own hotels and other big buildings want something back for their bucks. As Festus Haggen used to say on Gunsmoke, “Don’t you see?”

Now everyone is waiting to see whether Governor Cuomo will allow hydrofracking in New York State. Cuomo is brilliant at both political strategy and fundraising (about $45 million for the last campaign) but he is caught up in a huge pincer movement between those who hate the idea of potentially polluting our water and further despoiling our air and those who want to make a buck from fracking.

My hero, legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, put it to Cuomo this way: “Your father was perhaps the best governor New York State ever had. And if you take the money that they want to give you for going along with fracking and injuring people for generations to come, you will go down as perhaps the worst.” Those were pretty powerful words and I suspect they left Cuomo reeling.

Fracking puts Cuomo between a rock and a hard place. He doesn’t know what to do. As a result of this predicament, the governor’s top people were almost certainly told to stall. So first, the commissioner in charge of environmental conservation studied the problem to death, then transferred the ball to the health commissioner who eventually resigned and went elsewhere. It’s tough to be a medical professional of first rank and have to carry a governor’s political water.

Many people speculated that once Cuomo got through the election he would call for a modified fracking plan for New York, whereby localities that voted to allow fracking would be allowed to “Drill baby drill” under strict supervision. They suspected that the Solomon-like Cuomo would attempt to cut the baby in half. Once the cork was removed, however, the genie would be out of the bottle and fracking would become a reality in the Empire State. But not so fast – there are some intervening political realities.

Cuomo has lost many voters on the left wing of the Democratic Party. Having styled himself as a social progressive and a pro-business fiscal conservative, the governor is getting beaten up by the more progressive members of his party. Fracking is no exception.

A recent Pew poll showed that fracking is getting more and more unpopular among Democrats. So now the rock and the hard place are even closer together. After all, Cuomo got a million fewer votes in the last election than he got the time before. Many of those lost votes were those of angry Democrats who just stayed home. Since Cuomo is much smarter than I am, he’s got to understand that by accepting the money and not taking Pete Seeger’s advice against advancing fracking, he will lose even more of his natural voters.

 

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Alas, Dear Citizens, Perhaps Some Of The Fault Is In Ourselves

Alas, Dear Citizens, Perhaps Some Of The Fault Is In Ourselves

Edition of Thursday-Friday Nov. 13-14

 

It’s such a cliche we won’t even say it directly: all-ay, olitics-pay is-ay ocal-lay.

Yes, such was certainly the case in the race for Congress in the 19th, the district that stretches along the Hudson River, then hooks over to, eventually, Otsego County.

The incumbent running for his third term, U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, was everywhere. And even after he soundly defeated Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge on Election Day, he kept going, the energizer candidate.

Take a look at his schedule since he was reelected on Nov. 4. He took the 5th off, but on the 6th he had events in South Kortright, Hudson and Kingston. On the 7th, West Sand Lake. Over the weekend, Catskill, Woodbourne, Poughkeepsie, Troy, Rock Hill, Eagles Nest. Look at the map: These places are all over the place.

On the 10th, Webutuck, back to West Sand Lake, then Hyde Park. And on the 11th, Veterans Day, he dashed from a parade in Kingston to the Focus Rehabilitation & Nursing Center (the former Otsego Manor) for Catskill Area Hospice’s annual “Salute the Veterans” ceremony, handing out certificates to 18 residents there.

That’s a lot of handshaking and constituent-meeting, and it characterized Gibson’s whole campaign, and the previous two years since redistricting brought Otsego County into his district in 2012.

Eldridge was an engaging candidate, too. He just didn’t engage enough. Given his connections to Facebook and its reach, it’s probably no surprise that he might have been over-enticed by the relative ease of a virtual campaign. If so, it just didn’t work.

Plus there was the carpetbagger stigma – Eldridge went district shopping, and moved to Shokan, on the southern edge of the 19th, just in time to run for Congress. The stigma was is hard to shake, as proved by his winning just four of the county’s 48 precincts, only four of Democratic Oneonta’s six.

“The old days of having to be a native and lifelong resident don’t hold anymore,” said Tony Casale, Cooperstown, the retired assemblyman from Long Lake. “But you have to move in and settle down before you run for office.” Even a couple of years would have helped, Casale said.

Perhaps he could have made up that deficit by shaking hands, but he was too-little present, at least in these hinterlands. Gibson proved what Eldridge couldn’t do can be done.

Alas, poor Andrew, where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Our governor certainly looked pretty peckish as, accompanied by his partner, always-on Sandra Lee, he cast his ballot in Westchester County.

His victory was never in doubt and, embattled from all sides, he nonetheless won 53.9 percent of the vote to Republican Rob Astorino’s 40.6 percent. Why all the crepe?

Here’s why: According to an analysis by the Syracuse Post-Standard, Governor Cuomo lost 43 Upstate counties, including Otsego, and won only eight this year. In 2010, he won 37 Upstate counties, including Otsego, and lost only 13.

This, despite three balanced budgets in a row, tax reductions we all say we want, the realization of the long-promised Nanotechnology Revolution, Start-Up NY, the economic development councils, the tourism promotions, the four pending casinos. Oh, my.

Still, he was whipsawed. The Frackivistas, sore he hadn’t banned the debated gas-extraction method, vowed “no pasaran,” and threw their votes, first to Zephyr, then to the less-enticing Howie. So there went the center-to-left.

The SAFE Act, pushed through in Cuomo style in the wee hours a few days after Sandy Hook, infuriated the center-to-right, while failing to win back the single-focus anti-frackivists, many of whom would normally have warmed to his gun-control plunge.

Upstate, vigorous, across-the-board policymaking turned out to be a lose-lose. Downstate, New York City predictably went with the Democrat, and that carried the day.

The election didn’t matter to the governor’s New York State career, but it certainly dimmed his prospects beyond.
Perhaps that’s the lesson, dear Brutus: New York elections can be won, but the state is ungovernable.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103