Resolutions On Hot Current Issues
Blunted, Or Sent Back To Committee
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Partisan perspectives led to lively debates this morning at the February meeting of the county Board of Representatives, but the three related resolutions were blunted or failed to reach the floor.
- First, a resolution – to chide Assemblyman John Salka and state Sen. Peter Oberacker for a bill specifying New Yorkers can refuse the COVID vaccine – was watered down into a neutral statement asking the state Legislature to do what it could to expedite inoculations. It passed unanimously.
- Second came two warring resolutions on violence – the Republican one decrying the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol AND violence at Black Lives Matter protests over the summer; the Democratic one decrying just the Jan. 6 assault. Both failed to garner sufficient support.
FIRST, SALKA, OBERACKER CHIDED
The first resolution, proposed by Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, the Health & Education Committee chairman, accused Salka and Oberacker of “supporting legislation that will decrease vaccinations in Otsego County,” and asked them to support measures to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, pointed out that Salka’s bill, later supported by Oberacker, sought to ensure “no one should be made by law to take the vaccine,” as Governor Cuomo was threatening. Since, it appears court decisions bar such a mandate, which makes the issue moot.
“The way it’s written,” Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, said of the resolution, “misrepresents the intentions of our assemblyman and senator.”
But Rep. Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, who is also county Democratic chairman, agreed with Stammel.
He was taken on by Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, who quoted now-President Biden as saying last September that “he supported vaccines, but not one that was readied by Donald Trump. Let’s put out a message without the politics. We can do that.”
Said Oliver: Salka and Oberacker “happened to be our representatives at the state level.”
“This happens to be our president,” Wilber replied, referring to Biden.
In the end, County Attorney Ellen Coccoma edited the resolution to add the county’s other three assemblymen – Brian Miller, Chris Tague and Joe Angelino – and asked all five of them to do what they could to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Coccoma also recast the resolution’s concerns in the passive voice, taking onus off Salka and Oberacker.
The revised resolution passed unanimously.
CAPITOL ASSAULT AND/OR BLM RIOTS
Then came two battling resolutions, Late Resolution G and Late Resolution H.
Because the resolutions had not gone through the county board’s committee system, each required a two-thirds vote to be introduced.
G, which decried the attack on the Capitol AND the violence during the riots that followed George Floyd’s death while in police custody, was approved by all the Republicans present – Kennedy, Frazier, Wilber, Chairman Dave Bliss and Representatives Rick Brockway, Jennifer Mickle and Keith McCarty – and opposed by all Democrats.
H, which focused solely on what happened at the Capitol, won support of all the Democrats present – Oliver and Stammel, and Representatives Michele Farwell, Adrienne Martini, Danny Lapin and Jill Basile, plus Kennedy, the board’s sole Conservative – and was opposed by all Republicans.
Both resolutions failed to marshal the necessary two-thirds vote, and each failed.
In the discussion, Wilber said, “You need to recognize that it’s all connected. We have an anger problem in this country that needs to be addressed. Both sides of the aisle need to tone it down.”
Oliver said the reps should pass a resolution without “ifs, ands and buts … There’s an inability to put blame where blame belongs.”
Lapin decried a “false equivalency” he sees in the Republican resolution: On the one hand insurrection; on the other, fighting for civil rights.
In the end, Chairman Bliss and Stammel agreed that, depending on how resolutions were crafted, the board could conceivably approve two resolutions, one on the Capitol, another on the riots.
He referred the issue to the Administration Committee, chaired by Kennedy. If Admin introduces two resolutions at the county board March meeting, each could be passed – or rejected – by a simple majority.