Speaking to the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours get-together hosted at Foothills this past week, I delivered the following message and I would like to share it with everyone.
As I enter into my sixth year as director this summer, I’d like to thank the Oneonta community and the entire region for their support in 2018, which was our best year ever.
I am proud to report that we hosted a record 321 events which included everything from music (Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Deana Carter, Thompson Square), comedy (Amy Schumer and The Not Too Far From Home Comedy Tour), a Wedding Expo, live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, local dance companies, local theater groups, weddings, private parties, to business and organizational conferences. And the list goes on.
The Big Idea of the Green New Deal, now widely supported among Democrats, is to deal aggressively at once with the twin crises of climate justice and social justice.
The Green New Deal (GND) seeks to combine the progressive goals raised by Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election (single-payer healthcare, free college tuition, taxing the rich, and breaking up big banks) with a wholesale public infrastructure program for an immediate, full-blown transition to a renewable, clean, greenhouse-gas-neutral, energy-efficient economy.
Conservatives, who have no solutions to these problems, are either apoplectic (out of fear that it might succeed) or scornfully dismissive (out of bravado that its absurdity will turn off voters).
When we left Cooperstown to move to Ohio, a good friend told us in no uncertain terms that we would never know the history of our Ohio community as well as we know the history of Cooperstown and its environs.
And while we would most heartily concur with this assessment, during our relatively short time in Ohio we feel we have managed to add to our knowledge of Knox County in which Mount Vernon is located.
There is no doubt that we learned a great deal about the history of industry in the county by reading the “Ariel-Foundation Park” book. But we have also found the local daily newspaper, The Mount Vernon News, has run stories about the history of the area which have also added to our newfound knowledge of the area.
In fact, the Feb. 19 edition of the paper included a supplemental section entitled “The Looking Glass.” As we understand it, this supplement to the paper appears annually and covers a wide variety of articles on the history of the area.
One of the articles, “Tragedy Strikes Old Kenyon in 1949” covered a part of the history of Kenyon College of which we were already familiar, namely at fire in the Old Kenyon dorm which unfortunately killed nine students. Old Kenyon, which was the first permanent structure at the college, was rebuilt and is still in use today as a dorm.
We found another article, entitled “Centerburg Public Library: A Storied Past,” to be of interest. In it we learned that the public library in Centerburg, a community in the western part of Knox County, was started by the Alpha Club. The club was a women’s club founded in 1900 in response to all the men’s social clubs in the community at the time. It was in 1924 that the Alpha Club decided the community needed a library and proceeded to raise the necessary funds.
This, of course, reminded us of the time when the public library in Cooperstown, in danger of closing, was taken over by the Women’s Club of Cooperstown. The club managed to keep the library open until such time as the village saw fit to take over its operation.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of Mount Vernon history was found in the article, “Steel finds its place home following WWII.” It seems that after the war, the government’s control of steel prohibited the Chicago Vitreous Co. from building structures for gas stations and other commercial buildings. But they were allowed to build much-needed housing.
As a result, the company, which eventually opened a plant in Columbus, Ohio, undertook building Lustron homes, one of which, No. 2526, can still be found in Mount Vernon. And while the home is currently unoccupied, there is an ongoing campaign to save it for posterity.
And having driven by the Mount Vernon house, we can attest to the fact that it is indeed in need of some tender loving care.
(Editor’s Note: There is also Lustron home, unheralded, on Oneonta’s Union Street.)
The local energy debate shows little sign of dying down. On the one side are opponents of any further development of fossil fuels, including natural gas, and on the other side are advocates for expanding the natural-gas infrastructure in our area
in hopes of luring new industrial development.
Most people, however, are somewhere in the middle. National polling suggests that majorities now see climate change as a growing threat
we have to do something about, which ultimately means getting off fossil fuels, including natural gas.
Climate change statistics continue to relentlessly worsen, while the costs of mitigating pollution and dealing with disruptive events like floods, hurricanes, and unreliable weather patterns keep rising. These external costs are borne by taxpayers, consumers, property owners, and the general public.
A number of years ago now we mentioned in the column that each year in Danville, Ohio, not far from where we now live, the Lions Club holds a raccoon dinner.
This year, according to the local newspaper, the dinner will be held on Monday, Feb. 4.
In addition to the raccoon entree, for which almost 500 pounds of raccoon are prepared, the dinner will include mashed potatoes, dressing, raccoon gravy, mixed vegetables, and cake as well as homemade cornbread.
We must admit that we are somewhat intrigued by the dinner, and so were somewhat disappointed that having a take-out meal does not seem to be in the offering.
I feel it is safe to assume that people who buy electric cars do so because they feel that doing so will help protect environmental quality and slow climate change. Is that really the case?
Based on the 2015 Paris Agreement, there will need to be a 50-fold increase in electric vehicles worldwide. With current technology, that means a huge increase in the use of lithium-ion batteries. Their manufacture uses natural graphite, cobalt and nickel.
Most of the graphite comes from China and in order to get one ton of natural graphite, 1,250 tons of earth must be mined. About 60 percent of the cobalt mined comes from the Congo and most of the nickel mined comes from Russia. The constituents that make up a lithium-ion battery don’t just appear. They must be extracted via mining and most of that mining is done in remote areas of countries with far less stringent regulations than mining companies in the U.S. would operate under. Extracting the materials used to make the batteries that power electric vehicles is nasty business.
If the goal of the Paris Agreement is met, electric-vehicle manufacture will comprise 90 percent of the lithium-ion market by 2025. Is that good for the environment? Scientists now know that electric vehicles can generate more, not less, carbon emissions than gas or diesel-powered vehicles.
How can that possibly be? While actually driving the vehicle can result in emission reductions, the other
parts of its life-cycle – mining the raw
materials, processing the mined
materials to extract the desired components, transporting them from remote areas to the location where the raw materials are combined into the manufacture of a lithium-ion battery, manufacturing the batteries and the subsequent recycling of the batteries – are very carbon intensive.
Producing an electric vehicle contributes about two times as much to climate change and uses about two times as much energy to produce as a comparable combustion-engine vehicle.
The batteries have about a 10-year effective life (when they produce enough energy to power a vehicle). That’s about how long it takes for an electric-powered vehicle to break even with a
traditional combustion engine – the problem is that most people only keep a car for 5-7 years.
Thus, not only did electric-car drivers actually contribute more, not less carbon, to the climate change phenomenon, they actually made a poor financial investment, i.e. they never recaptured the incremental cost of the electric vehicle over the gas- or diesel-powered version via a savings in fuel cost.
What about recycling the batteries at the end of their “useful” life? Because of the rarity of the metals involved, recycling is essential. The problem is cost.
Recycling a lithium-ion battery costs five times as much as it did to mine the material. To get one ton of graphite, 28 tons of batteries must be recycled. However, if they aren’t recycled, someone, either the vehicle owner or the manufacturer, will face the cost of hazardous waste disposal.
Are we really saving electricity by using electric vehicles? The dirty little secret that no one likes to talk about is that the vehicles have to be plugged into a source of energy to recharge the batteries. This is often done at night for two reasons.
First, daytime is the period when the cars are being used for transportation. Second, it’s cheaper (an economic decision) to plug them in at night because you’re billed at a cheaper “off-peak-power” rate.
But the real question is this – what is the source of the electricity? Is it a nasty old coal-fired power-plant or a solar plant? Since solar panels don’t work at night, it’s most likely coming from a coal-fired plant. Whoops!
As we collectively seek energy sources that are capable of meeting our needs, are “environmentally friendly” and cost effective, it is important that we not engage in symbolism over substance. There is no one “silver bullet”, but there are options that allow us to use combinations of currently available energy sources that minimize environmental impacts.
In closing, I’d like to quote one of my fellow authors for this series. In an earlier column focused on Populism, he stated, “for there can be no political independence without economic independence.” I submit that it is not only the “evil” large corporations that can stifle independence.
Consider, for example, those groups or individuals who, based on their biases either for or against certain forms of energy, deprive others in our community from economic opportunity.
Mike Zagata, a former DEC commissioner
in the Pataki Administration and an environmental
500 companies, lives in West Davenport.
Editor’s Note: Here the summary of findings of an inspection of the former Oneonta Hotel conducted by code inspectors on Jan. 15. The city Board of Public Service declare an “emergency” at the building on Jan. 5, 2017, after an inspection. On Oct. 5, 2017, the board declared the apartment house “unsafe.” With the latest finding, City Attorney David Merzig is due back in county court, seeking an order to final have the building vacated. Here is a summary of the latest findings code inspectors filed with the City Clerk’s Office
Many of the code violations noted in the original report still exist throughout the building.
► A licensed plumber has made plumbing corrections throughout the building. Though the piping was
installed correctly, many of the vanities and cabinet units in the apartments still require replacement due to deteriorated condition and water damage.
Painted As Figure Of Fun, Susan B. Anthony Went On To Make History
Editor’s Note: Here is The Freeman’s Journal Feb. 9, 1855, account – in prose and poetry – of Susan B. Anthony’s appearance in Cooperstown, to be commemorated with a State Historical Marker that has just arrived at the village’s First Presbyterian Church. The tone marks the flippant attitude in some quarters at that time.
Your readers should be apprised that last Friday was a great and eventful day in the history of human events. It was one of these epochs whereat Time pauses to set down a stake from which after generations may measure his further flight.
Henceforth, let it be noted in Phinney’s calendar that the 9th day of February, 1855, was the day when the memorable “Woman’s Rights Convention” was held at Cooperstown! – and let the mothers of Otsego, in all coming ages, teach their children to revere its anniversary, as the day when “the strong-minded women” gave the horn of liberty such a rousing blast among the echoing hills of our county.
…A gentleman was called to the chair, and a secretary and two vice-presidentesses were appointed. The president, after a few appropriate remarks, introduced to the audience, Miss Susan B. Anthony, who took the rostrum.
• Her theme – the wrongs that patient woman bears; To sew, to spin, to mop and darn her lot; To do the drudg’ry, while man takes the pay. She all the pangs of Eden’s curse endures, While man her pleasures shares, but not her pains. Give woman but the right of suffrage, she Will soon have equal laws, and what is wrong Will speedily set right.
And so it begins.
Day one of the new Democrat majority in the state Senate began, in many ways, as expected.
A new leader was elected (from just outside New York City) and immediately outlined the policies the Democrats would be pursuing in the coming year.
This is how a change in majority works, and I take no issue with that. However, I was deeply concerned on several fronts.
I have consistently voted for a permanent property tax cap, and I was pleased to hear the new leader mention that as a priority. The problem was that no other Upstate concerns were detailed, and that is a major disappointment.
Economic development is lagging behind in many counties outside of the five boroughs of New York City, but that fact is being swept under the rug by the new leadership regime.
I have previously outlined New York State’s population loss, and the news is filled with stories about Upstate businesses closing their doors.
We need to focus on policies that will cut taxes, eliminate burdensome government regulations, and lower the cost of doing business across the state. Those are the steps needed to create an environment conducive to job creation.
My Republican colleaguesand I have advanced a number
of initiatives in recent years to address our state’s economic shortcomings. We will continue to
The New York Times recently (Dec. 15, 2018) ran a disturbing article entitled “The Hard Truths of Trying to ‘Save’ the Rural Economy.”
The article documents what anyone living in Otsego County knows all too well: the increasing economic and cultural gap between affluent urban centers and poor rural areas like ours.
Rural areas have an ageing, shrinking, under-skilled population, with dwindling prospects for ‘good’ jobs.
According to the Times writer, Eduardo Porter, this is largely because the new, “tech-heavy” economy can flourish only in
big cities where a plethora of
companies can draw on a larger, better educated population
skilled in digital techniques and applications.
The cheap labor that rural America once supplied to industry is now found in China, and the new American urban digital economy has little need for unskilled workers.
“Factory jobs,” Porter tells us, “can no longer keep small-town America afloat.”
We have long known that, when it comes to many things, we can undoubtedly be classified as a first-class dinosaur. This is particularly true when it comes to current technology. We will admit to being able to send and receive email. We can also, to a certain extent, manage to look things up on the Internet.
However, we made the decision long ago to abandon Facebook. And we must admit that we are clueless about exactly what is what when it comes to social media. So we decided that perhaps a bit of research on the subject just might be in order.
We started with a definition of social media which read: “websites and
applications that enable users to create and share content or to
participate in social networking.” That leads us to wonder just what the websites and applications might be.
Those who oppose using fossil fuels to provide the bulk of our energy needs without offering viable alternatives are depriving this and future generations of job opportunities. When our country attempts to keep our illegal immigrants seeking to enter our country illegally in pursuit of jobs, Nancy Pelosi and those aligned with her call it “immoral”. What should we call doing that to our own citizens?
When those opposed to fossil fuels argue against them, they point to their environmental impacts, especially their contribution to “climate change” and laud renewables as being “pure” when it comes to the environment. Is that really the case?
Our columnist was prescient: Adrian Kuzminski’s 2008 study of populism, “Fixing the System,” foreshadowed Bernie Sanders’ and Donald Trump’s populism by eight years.
Since 2016, we’ve had an explosion of political upheavals around the world – all widely described as populist: the Brexit vote in Britain, Trump’s election, and the rise of separatist and nationalist parties in Europe and beyond. We can also include the “yellow vests” in France and movements in places like Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and the Philippines.Back in 2008, at the time of the financial crisis, I published a book about the history of populism called “Fixing the System: A History of Populism, Ancient & Modern.” It didn’t make me famous, but it did aim to understand the rising political phenomenon of populism – something which since has morphed into a global tidal wave.
Populism is easily misunderstood. It can be found on both the left and right of the political spectrum. It’s not about how liberal or conservative you are. It’s about the failure of the system to provide economic and social security for a large part of the population.
Although we do not normally make any New Year resolutions, we must admit that we did this year, as there are times in life when we tend not to make the best choices, leaving us needing to make some changes.
And such seems to be the case when we chose the name “From the Wilds of Ohio” for our current writings. Since doing so, we have discovered there is actually a place in Cumberland, Ohio, which is called “The Wilds.”
From their website we learned that “The Wilds is a private, non-profit conservation center located on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed mine land in rural southeastern Ohio. It was created as the conservation center of the future by a group of civic leaders, political leaders and zoo professionals who believed that a serious scientific approach was required to find solutions to environmental concerns.”
We understand, from those who have visited The Wilds, that it is well worth the trip.
We all share a concern about our environment and what forms of energy to use in order to maintain our lifestyle and position in the global economy.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable and thus the day will come when they are gone. Energy companies know this and realize that, in order to remain viable, they must look for renewable alternatives.
However, there isn’t a magic switch we can turn on to allow us to go from a dependence on fossil fuels to relying solely on renewables. We need a bridge to get us to that point, and natural gas is that bridge.