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Columns

JEROME: What The ‘Plus’ In PolioPlus?

What’s The ‘Plus’

Of PolioPlus?

By MICHAEL JEROME • Cooperstown Rotary PolioPlus Chric

Thirty years ago, Rotary International made a promise to the children of the world – we will eradicate polio worldwide. This pledge launched the PolioPlus program, the first global initiative to provide mass vaccinations to children. Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have made great strides in their sustained effort to end polio forever despite many challenges over the years. Rotary remains optimistic and committed to the final push towards a polio-free world.

Michael Jerome

Since then, polio cases have dropped by 99.9 percent, from 350,000 cases in 1988 in 125 countries to 33 cases of wild poliovirus in 2018 in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2019, health officials celebrated the three-year mark of the last reported a case of wild poliovirus in Nigeria – a major milestone that makes it possible for the entire African continent to be certified wild poliovirus-free – a remarkable achievement!

The benefits of the PolioPlus program go well beyond the eventual end of polio. Early in Rotary’s efforts to vaccinate every child against polio, community and tribal leaders in some areas said their villages had matters more critical than polio that needed to be addressed first. Issues like clean water, proper sanitation, and education to name a few. Rotary responded by providing grants to dig wells, install toilets, build schools and vocational training facilities among other efforts to address these needs. As projects were completed over the years, the leaders realized Rotary cared; and they allowed health workers to come in and provide the vaccines. In many parts of the world, access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene, and a basic education are available thanks to Rotary International.

Other pluses of the PolioPlus program include the utilization lessons learned, systems designed, and infrastructure established for polio eradication in other situations. An example can be seen in northeastern Nigeria, where malaria kills more people than all other diseases combined. In 2017, the World Health Organization, one of Rotary’s GPEI partners, used the polio eradication staff and infrastructure to deliver antimalarial medicines along with the polio vaccine to children there. It’s reported that this campaign reached 1.2 million children.

Additionally, in 2014 health workers in Nigeria successfully used the surveillance systems and processes developed for polio eradication to locate infected people and prevent Ebola from spreading beyond the initial 19 reported cases. Here and elsewhere, health workers use surveillance systems and processes developed for polio immunizations to combat other health crisis.

As a result of the PolioPlus program, now healthcare workers who provide basic care to families, routinely give children preventative care such as Tdap and Vitamin A before giving polio vaccines. According to a recent study, 1.25 million deaths were prevented by providing Vitamin A to children at the same time as the polio vaccine.

The lessons learned from the PolioPlus campaign, the research facilities built for disease analysis, and the surveillance systems designed to locate infected persons are successfully being used to prevent other diseases from spreading. Rotary has a right to be proud of all that we and our GPEI partners have accomplished because of the PolioPlus program.

Rotary’s 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries have been actively raising funds for this cause for decades including more than $60,000 contributed by the Rotary Club of Cooperstown. To complete the final immunizations and defeat polio, Rotary is committed to raising $50 million annually over the next three years. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match Rotary’s commitment 2:1.

Without full funding, this paralyzing disease could return to previously polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk. According to specialists the final one percent is the most difficult for this very contagious disease. If we do not stop it now, new cases may re-emerge in countries where the disease was once eliminated, and many more children may be at risk.

The Rotary Club of Cooperstown will mark the historic progress toward a polio-free world with activities in recognition of World Polio Day. The Mayor of the Village of Cooperstown, Ellen R. Tillapaugh, has issued a proclamation proclaiming October 24, 2019 as World Polio Day in Cooperstown and encourages all residents to join her and Rotary International in the fight for a polio-free world.

Several events have been planned, including the following:

Cooperstown Dines Out to End Polio – A week-long event during which local restaurants will contribute a percentage of their net sales to support Rotary International’s Global Eradication Initiative.

Purple Pinkie Project – Students from the Cooperstown Central School chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) will celebrate World Polio Day with presentations in the elementary school to raise student awareness of polio and the need to eradicate this paralyzing disease. NHS members and Rotary Youth Exchange students will paint their classmate’s fingernails purple in exchange of a donation towards polio eradication. In countries where polio still exists, a finger stained purple indicates a child has received a polio vaccination. A flyer about this project will be sent home with the elementary school students soon.

End Polio Now Table at the Farmer’s Market – Rotarians will offer to paint fingernails, provide information on the polio eradication initiative and accept donations to the Eradication Initiative on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Please stop by our table.

Rotary members, students and area residents will join millions who are working to raise awareness and funds to end the debilitating disease of polio, a vaccine-preventable health risk that continues to threaten children in parts of the world today. I urge you to reflect on your good fortune to live in a polio-free county and contribution to support the global effort to End Polio Now.

To make a direct contribution, readers are welcome to contact me at mjerome@stny.rr.com

ATWELL: She Would Have Loved That Smile

A FRONT PORCH PERSPECTIVE

She Would Have

Loved That Smile

Editor’s Note: Jim Atwell penned this column on Aug. 30, 2001, when he and Anne were still living in Fly Creek.

By JIM ATWELL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

I can’t do justice in words to an incident last Saturday. It was too rich with meaning. But the moment was so wondrous that I’ll still try to tell you.  Read the words, please; then make up for their shortfall from your own life’s experience.

The Olde English Musical Cottage lives on.

      Last Saturday was a great day for our hamlet; our annual community yard sale brought hundreds to Fly Creek.  Many started the morning with our Fire Department Auxiliary’s breakfast (the best such meal around, I think.) Afterward, the big crowds moved among some three dozen family yard sales, and then they gathered back at the Grange for the Historical Society’s lunch of barbecue, salads, and homemade desserts.

       Like many Fly Creekers, Anne and I had rummaged through attic and basement, barn and garage, thinning out our stuff.  Before moving to Fly Creek, each of us had closed down a house in Annapolis, and so there was plenty of stuff to cull.

A widower, I had moved up here alone almost 10  years ago. Before the move, I had had to empty the house my late wife and I had shared for 18 years.  Gwen had made it a beautiful home; and, to a grieving husband, dismantling her decorating felt like treason. But what else could be done? I held a half-dozen sales down there, selling off elements of share shared life.

A lot of stuff, however, ended up traveling north with me – either because I ran out of time or just couldn’t part with it. And in Fly Creek, much of it stayed in boxes stowed in attic or basement.

Then, after I’d been alone in Fly Creek for five years, Anne and I married; and that poor girl had to wedge her own extra goods into those already stuffed spaces.  But she did it, as you’d expect, with good grace and humor.  And now, four years later, we were plunging into the combined piles, sort for the yard sale.  To use the great local expression, we’d taken on “hoeing out.”

As we hoed, I came across items I hadn’t seen since I’d packed them, down south.  Many were decorative items that Gwen had once chosen with great care, or items so closely associated with her that, back then, I just couldn’t let them go.

If you know my Anne, you won’t wonder for a moment how she reacted to those relics of my life before our shared life.  As I turned them up, I explained each to her; and that fine woman listened and understood.  And she comforted me with something she’d said many times before: She’s glad for my past happy marriage; it bodes well for ours.

I don’t know how I lucked out, getting a second wonderful woman in my life.  But I’m very grateful.

Anyway, a lot of items rich in personal history went into the yard sale. I was now ready to let them go.

We set up the sale on the shady lawn outside Anne’s office. While I spent most of the morning down at the Grange, helping with sales there, Anne handled the customers who tramped up our driveway to appraise the wares.

Around lunchtime I dropped home to find that Anne, predictably, had been doing a great job. Lots of stuff, hers and mind, had been sold and was gone.

As I sat down with her behind the tables, though, one remaining item caught my eye.  Still there was a simple oblong jewel case made to look like a thatched cottage.  When one raised the hinged roof, a mechanism played, “An English Country Garden.”

A dear friend had given Gwen the box on her last birthday, her 47th, three months before her death.  Gwen loved it, kept it at her bedside. And as I sat by her through the last desolate days and nights after coma seemed to have smothered all consciousness, I’d sometimes open the box, hoping that somehow she’d heard that delicate refrain. . .

Well, last Saturday, a family came up our driveway – young parents, a happy baby boy, and his big sister. The little girl, about 5, was beautiful: perfect features, honey-blonde curls, eyes of purest blue.

I looked at her and then at the music box and knew at once what must happen. I beckoned the little girl over to the thatched cottage and raised its lid. When the lilting melody began, her eyes widened. Her face glowed with wonder.

I caught Anne’s eye. She understood (of course) and nodded slightly. Then I spoke to the little girl.

“Would you like to have this special box?”

“Oh, yes,” she whispered.

“Then it’s yours, as a gift.  Keep your treasures in it, won’t you?”

“I will,” she said. And cupping the little cottage in both hands, she held it to her ear, the better to the melody.  Her distant, luminous smile just then – well, you’ll have to imagine it, friends. I don’t have words for it.

That box, as my dearest Anne understood, could not be sold. It had to be given.

And that girl’s smile – how Gwen would have loved it!

Jim Atwell, retired college administrator and Quaker minister, lives in Cooperstown.

McEVOY: County Manager, Certainty; Energy, Pot Still Up In Air

THE McEVOY MEMO

County Manager,

Certainty; Energy,

Pot Still Up In Air

Editor’s Note: Chad McEvoy, the Otsego County Democratic Party’s communications director, emailed this memo Oct. 1, alerting county Democrats they are one seat away from winning a majority on the county Board of Representatives, and what it means if that happens.

By CHAD McEVOY • OCDC Communications Director

In 2019 the political stars are aligning just right to give Democrats the best shot yet at capturing an outright majority on the Otsego County Board. Building on the work we did in 2017, we are now just one district pickup away from flipping the county legislature blue for the first time in history, as far back as anyone can remember.

Chad McEvoy

This could be huge for the future of our community, so why does it seem like no one has really noticed?

Certainly people tend to pay less attention to local races. We all also worked really hard in 2018 on state and congressional campaigns and we might understandably be a little burned out. Perhaps, however, there is such an ingrained assumption that we live in a Republican-dominated area that even dedicated Democratic activists can scarcely imagine an Otsego County where the agenda is being set by a Democratic chair.

In meetings earlier in the year, when we first began to see the opportunity before us, we were almost shocked to realize that a majority was within grasp. Were we doing the math right?  What had we missed? What would it mean if we actually won? For years the possibility of a Democratic majority seemed so inconceivable that we were not even practiced in formulating the question. This, I think, is the real reason for the awkward gap we are seeing between the very real possibility of victory and the seemingly anemic level of enthusiasm on the part of the normally engaged Otsego County Democratic activist base. People just can’t quite envision it yet.

In an effort to answer this question about what we would actually do if we won, over the last several weeks I have had focused conversations with some highly engaged Otsego Democrats, each of whom came with different sets of interests and subject matter expertise.  I spoke one-on-one with them about their visions for what the county could be in a world where Democratic policies and principles are actually setting the political agenda and not constantly being stymied.

Everyone I talked to agreed that Otsego County needs to create and fill some form of a county manager role.  In order to revitalize county administration we need to take the burden off the 14 part-time politicians and vest an individual professional with the authority to manage many aspects of county business with an executive function. A good manager, appointed by a Democratic majority, could bring new energy to the county bureaucracy, perform a structural reorganization of its staff, streamline government functions, and be a singular advocate for the needs of our communities when aggressively pursuing grants and funding.  As Democrats, we support the idea that competent government professionalism should be nurtured and can provide great dividends.

Everyone I talked to also agreed that a Democratic majority could finally pursue critical green initiatives, with the goal of protecting our natural and agricultural land, increasing our appeal to tourists, and doing our part to fight climate change.  Ideas for what we could accomplish given the power to do so included things like smart invasive species control, improving energy efficiency in government buildings, pushing the county to use more renewable products, curtailing the overuse of carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides, continuing to resist fracking and other extractive land uses, supporting and promoting organic farming, keeping XNG trucks off roads where they don’t belong, and exploring the idea of selling carbon offsets to fund reforestation projects on county land.

Personally, I am motivated to win in 2019 by the idea that a Democratic majority will be able to push our part of the world to do what it can to prepare for and resist the coming destabilization of the global climate.  With a majority at our backs, a whole menu of environmentally positive initiatives moves into the realm of possibility. Under continued Republican leadership, however, nothing like this seems remotely feasible.

A number of other ideas on a wide range of topics surfaced over the course of my conversations.  One commonality, however, was a sense that these ideas could never come to full fruition if we continue doing political business as usual in Otsego County. We discussed the idea of an Otsego community college, various infrastructure improvement projects, beefing up the planning board, developing long-term capital improvement and economic development plans, improving county constituent services, and dramatically improving how the county communicates with its citizens. The problem of rural EMS availability came up several times, as did housing issues and support for animal shelters.

A favorite of mine is the idea of establishing a land bank with the mandate to buy up blighted properties. The properties would be cleaned up, historically important structures stabilized, and wetlands, farmland, and forests rehabilitated. These properties would eventually be resold at a higher price; all of this would stimulate our economy and tax base, remove unsightly messes, preserve our architectural history, and help us do our part for the natural world.  It is an idea that could make a huge difference in our community, but again, nothing like it is even conceivable under the status quo.

There are also several areas where there is a diversity of thought on the Democratic side about how to proceed—for example, on the specifics of how fossil fuel infrastructure projects should balance economic interests with environmental concerns or whether we want to roll out cannabis production and retail sales locally in a post legalization New York.  We may not always have 100% consensus, but we do have a shared understanding that we would much rather entrust these decisions to Democrats than to the Republicans who have clearly been making the wrong calls, and for the wrong reasons, for decades.

There is a fundamental sentiment that current and past leadership has done little more than manage the slow senescence of our region. Our current economy is a reflection of the ills of decades of declining population, unhealthy demographic trend lines, and systematic underinvestment in our physical, energy, information, and human infrastructure. If tax cuts, penny-pinching, and government inactivity were the real paths to prosperity, that would be plainly evident by now.  Instead we need to bring in new energy, new ideas, and new decision makers who will take positive, proactive steps toward revitalizing our region.

My purpose here has not been to prescribe all the possible things a Democratic-led county could finally accomplish, but to try to get people to start their own ideation on the topic.  What would you like to see happen in Otsego County? It’s now time to start dreaming big.

Why do we think we can win?

Because of our success in 2017, the Democrats are now in a tie with the Republicans in terms of board seats, with a total of seven each.  Yet we are denied the chair of the county board (and everything that comes with it) because of the way the votes are weighted by district. The reason that 2019 provides such an opportunity is that there are only three contested seats.  Two of these seats are currently held by Democrats, and we expect them to be fairly easy to defend.

  1. This leaves just District 3 (covering the towns of Otego and Laurens) as the likely swing district that will determine the political fate of the county. And while Republicans have a moderate numerical advantage in District 3 by registration numbers, there are several factors that make us feel extremely optimistic that we can take this seat:

  2. We already almost did! In 2017 the Democratic candidate came up only 17 votes short in the absentee ballot count.

  3. The longtime Republican incumbent is retiring, leaving this an open race.

  4. We have an extremely hardworking and dedicated candidate in Caitlin Ogden, who has been knocking on doors in her community for months, already laying the groundwork for an effective get-out-the-vote blitz in October and early November.

  5. We have already proven we can outwork the other side. A dedicated group of activists mounted a write-in campaign in the primary this summer to challenge the Republican on the Independence Party line and won. It wasn’t just a victory. It was a blowout, with Caitlin garnering 88% of the vote as a write-in against someone whose name was actually printed on the ballot.

How do we win?

We simply have to significantly outwork the other side.  Small, local elections like this hinge on so few votes (see 2017) that the side that tries the hardest is virtually assured victory.  This is why I am saying that a Democratic Otsego County is ours for the taking—if we work hard enough for it.

Of course, we will use every technique and tool at our disposal as well.  The core group of volunteers on the Ogden campaign have extensive professional experience running local- and state-level campaigns.  We are already applying battle-tested best practices around voter communications, field operations, and data collection. But we don’t yet have enough support or resources to execute a campaign plan commensurate with the size of the opportunity before us.  Quite simply, we need more money and more volunteers.

What can you do to help make this a reality?

  • Start dreaming big about what a Democratic future in Otsego County will look like.

  • Sign up to volunteer to write postcards, make calls, and knock on doors up until election day. Basically nothing in campaign tactics has ever proven more effective than an engaged volunteer with a big smile knocking on people’s doors and reminding them to vote.

  • Follow Caitlin’s campaign on Facebook and invite your friends to “like” it too. Sign up for her campaign emails while you are at it.

  • If you know anyone who lives in Laurens or Otego, PLEASE tell them about the District 3 race and how important every single vote will be on November 5. Get them to commit to vote.

  • Get involved with the Otsego County Democratic Committee. We are all deeply strapped for time and always need volunteers. We also currently have about 60 open seats across the county, and we welcome new voting members.

  • We also need to hold on to the other two currently Democratic-held seats that have challengers in 2019. Michele Farwell in District 2 (Pittsfield, Morris, and Butternuts) and Jill Basile in District 14 (Oneonta Wards 7 and 8) will need our support. If you live in those districts, please make sure every Democrat you know votes this November.

  • And, of course, please donate. Contributions will be used to fund materials, events, and advertisements to help us reach more voters. Remember, your political dollar goes miles farther at the local level than anywhere else. You simply cannot get a better return on investment in terms of actual impact on your life as an Otsego County resident than you can by helping us flip the whole of the county blue with a District 3 win. Giving $100 to your favorite 2020 presidential candidate is but a drop in the ocean, but in this race it could very well be what makes the difference in winning control of our entire county.

In working for this victory, we are also doing our part to further the rebuilding of the rural Democratic Party infrastructure, which has been nearly catatonic throughout areas like ours for decades—ignored by both the party establishment and the opposition. A strong county means a stronger base for our congressional candidate, which means a stronger national Democratic Party.  We may live in the hinterlands, but what we do here really does matter. In fact, as citizens of a purple county in a purple congressional district, what we do here matters more on a macropolitical level than perhaps anywhere else in the state.

Sincerely, 

Chad McEvoy

Chair of the Communications Subcommittee of the Otsego Democrats
Communications Director, Committee to Elect Caitlin Ogden
2017 Otsego County Board Candidate, District 6
2018 New York State Assembly Candidate, District 101
Voting Member of the New York State Democratic Committee
Sustainable Otsego PAC Board Member
Treasurer, Clark Oliver for Otsego County Board
Treasurer, Rural Majority PAC

Two more things you should know about voting in 2019:

  • For the first year ever, we will have the opportunity to vote early in New York State. Even if you don’t need to vote early, please do.  The opponents of early voting will be sure to capitalize on low turnout rates the next time the issue is up for funding. The details are here.

  • In 2019 there will be two Democratic candidates on the ballot for New York Supreme Court. These seats come up just once every 14 years. You will have the ability to vote for three candidates.  However, do not use your third vote for one of the Republicans. The three Supreme Court seats will be filled by the top three vote-getters of any party, and Democrats giving their third vote to a Republican could mean that no Democrat wins at all.  Your two votes will still count if you abstain on the third vote. Please spread this information to every Democrat you meet between now and election day.

 

  MORGAN: Fracking Bust? Or Fracking Boom?

MONEY MATTERS • Column

Fracking Bust?

Or Fracking Boom?

By TOM MORGAN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

 Who you gonna believe?

When people argue over contentious issues today they often follow a predictable pattern. He cites a scientific study that says blah blah about climate change. She cites a scientific study that claims the opposite.

Oh yeah? He says her study was published in a junk journal. Oh yeah? She lists the scientist’s credentials. And claims his scientist has the wrong degrees.

Oh yeah? He says her scientist is sponsored by oil companies. Oh yeah? She says his scientist is paid by government grants that pretty much require compliance.

They Google in their sleep to bolster their arguments. They greet their partners good-mornings with snarls. “By god I’m right. Her so-called scientific expert worked at a Mobil gas station in high school.”

All of this opens a can of worms. The chief worm is the question: Can you believe what you read or see or hear on a contentious issue?

Here is an example of what I mean.

Governor Cuomo banned fracking in this state. After six years, his environmental department backed him up with several reasons.

Fracking could and did pollute. With particulate matter. And with methane and organic chemicals.

Fracking could and did contaminate drinking water. With methane and fracking fluids. Because of improper wells.

Fracking contaminated soils and water by way of surface spills. It also caused earthquakes.

A fancy institute weighed in by pooh-poohing the so-called economic boom fracking brings. The promised jobs don’t come in the number that frackers promise. Studies that describe the boom are flawed.

Meanwhile….comes another study published in a big science journal. Its results are the opposite of what New York’s environmental officials declared.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Geological Survey. Researchers from Penn State studied 21,000 water samples from areas near gas and oil wells in their state.

They found virtually zero methane contamination of the water. (Methane occurs naturally in lots of the state’s groundwater.)

The same researchers earlier studied 11,000 samples of water. From near 1400 gas wells in just one county. They found no problems. Actually, they found the opposite. There were trends of improving water quality in the county. Despite all the fracking.

“Since 2010 two dozen independent studies have not found any systemic impact caused by the 110,000 oil and natural gas wells in the U.S.”  This from the Heartland Institute.

Our EPA spent $29 million and 6 years to find fracking has little or no effect on groundwater.

How about the boom that wasn’t? One consumer group estimates the lower gas prices saved Pennsylvania folks and businesses $31 billion over ten years.

Economists from three big universities say the average household in Pennsylvania gets up to $1900 per year in benefits from fracking. They cite healthy rises in average income and wages. They credit fracking with a 10 percent increase in jobs in the state.

A big Chamber of Commerce study estimates fracking added $13 billion to the state’s GDP. And $7 billion in new wages.

Heartland cites other studies that debunk the “myths” that fracking pollutes water or air. It assures us that major fracking states of Pennsylvania and Texas have lower rates of asthma, birth defects and cancer than many states that have no fracking.

And the institute cites studies that claim earthquakes in fracking areas are of little significance.

I imagine some readers are Googling away already. They want to prove or disprove one side of this issue or the other.

It is a pity that it is impossible to find the truth in this and other vital matters. After all, a lot of up-staters would love to see an economic boom. Even if it was half what Pennsylvania’s is. The only booms upstate has experienced lately come during hunting season.

My grandfather reckoned the truth was usually half-way between the opposing arguments. Maybe that is where it is.

In the future maybe we will use artificial intelligence computers to resolve such issues. One side will input its data. The computer will spit it back as bull-tweedy. It will proclaim the other side’s argument worthy of five stars.

Yeah, but you can’t trust that robot. It was made by XYZ Company.  Its pension fund owns energy stocks!

From Tom…as in Morgan.

Tom Morgan, retired Oneonta investment counselor and nationally syndicated writer of this column, lives in Franklin.

BENNETT: Poverty: It’s All Around Us

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER • Column

POVERTY

It’s All Around Us

Editor’s Note: Larry Bennett of East Meredith, Brewery Ommegang’s recently retired creative director who is much active in community causes, joins The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta in this edition as a regular columnist.

By LARRY BENNETT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

poverty summit Saturday, Oct. 5, that the nation’s working
poor are the largest growing class in the U.S., which is “dead last” in labor mobility. (Jennifer Hill/AllOTSEGO.com)

Last Saturday, Oct. 5, 200 people attended a forum in Oneonta, “Living with Dignity and the Crisis of Poverty in Otsego and Delaware Counties.” Over three hours, a
dozen topics were discussed, but the speakers focused on three important actions we can all take:

1. Help raise awareness of poverty in our counties.

2. Try to understand and respect the dignity to the poor.

3. Personally commit to assisting those in need.
Here’s some of what I learned. One-third of Oneonta (population 14,000) lives in poverty. One sixth of Otsego and Delaware counties (combined population 102,000) live under economic duress.

Single mothers are 38 percent of the poor in Otsego County; they are 54 percent in Delaware County. Take a moment and try to imagine a single mother living in poverty – trying to keep a job while housing, feeding, educating, and looking after the health of her children. Surely this is not a blueprint for success.

I know some think poor people are lazy, alcoholic or drug addicted, people who make bad choices and sponge off others. Sure, a few game the system, but most do not.

Some lost jobs through no fault of their own, or became too ill to work. Some are permanently disabled, or are simply too old to work. Some have mental health issues. Some have simply given up after years of fruitless struggle.

It’s clear that economic stress can lead to poor health, divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, and even suicide, yet being poor also means a loss of human dignity, making everything worse.

Poverty can also lead to seclusion, fear, and anger. The poor become invisible to the rest of us. Communities shun them. Businesses turn them away.

As we go about our own busy lives, it’s too easy to overlook others’ needs for shelter, food, clothing, and health care.

One thing we should try to understand is that poor people are much like us. Except, for them, life may have never gone right, or may have recently gone terribly wrong. We still need to pay attention and respect their human dignity. This is an important step to providing real help.

What about government programs? The truth is they help, but are at best a makeshift bridge to hopefully better times. Federal and state assistance, SNAP benefits, and other programs can keep the bottom from falling out, but they are certainly not a step up the economic ladder. Beyond government – federal, state or local – we as individuals need to step up.

First, resolve to treat all people with respect. Don’t make quick judgements. That young guy in old jeans and dirty sweatshirt, taking tickets in the parking lot, may be a future Congressman like Antonio Delgado. That teenaged girl with hostility, anger issues and no apparent future may be a future college professor, like Dr. Karen Joest. One thing is certain – no one thrives by being disrespected.

There are many tangible ways individuals can help. Many towns have food pantries. Volunteer to staff them or deliver food to people who can’t drive. Many churches offer free meals. Help cook, serve, clean up.

Locally, our schools already provide free meals to 48 percent of Otsego school children and 63 percent of Delaware children. But even then, it helps feed children for only nine months out of 12.

Community centers may offer programs for the poor, the very young, or old. Volunteer to help staff their programs.

Habitat for Humanity has an Oneonta office (607-432-7874) and needs volunteers for management jobs, for construction, for providing lunches, and more.

Finally, consider mentoring a child who needs attention, and be assured you will both benefit. If you understand, respect, and help others all our lives will be better for it. Please give of your time and your heart wherever you can.

MORRIS: Feather, Circle Represent Search For A Better World

PRESIDENT MORRIS’ INSTALLATION

Feather, Circle Represent

Search For A Better World

Editor’s Note:  This is an excerpt from Barbara Jean Morris’  Oct. 5 inaugural address at her installation as SUNY Oneonta’s eighth president.

Dr. Morris and the feather and circle symbol. (AllOTSEGO.com photo)

You might have noticed the symbol of a feather in a circle on my inaugural invitation, the cover of today’s program, and the banners behind the stages.

The Native American symbol of the circle best illustrates my desire for a community that is based on mutual understanding, respect, communication, and a shared commitment.

The feather is a tribute to my father. It is often described by native cultures (Source: Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemaker) that “Part of the role for the two-legged beside whom Red-Tailed Hawk flies is that of Guardian of the Earth Mother and her children.

“These individuals possess an astute awareness of the concept of the interconnectedness of all things and will have an inner reverence for all life. They are the souls who are involved in making the world a better place, whether locally or globally.

“Red feathers are not easily given and must instead be earned over time. Thus, the beauty and depth of the Spirit that shines brilliantly forth will be both an inspiration and guidance for others who may be just beginning or in the process of their own awakening.”

On the day and in the place my father passed, the red-tailed hawk laid its feathers. In honor of my father, I offer this adapted Cherokee poem by Bonnie Rae:

O’siyo Father

A moment in time is gone forever.
The wind is stirring,
My hair is blowing gently in the wind.
As I sit here on this highest hill,
I look into the valley below.
I see the herd, and the stallion in the lead,
His tail blowing free behind him
and his mare keeping pace beside him,
Mane flowing in the wind
as he races across the valley floor.
Softly, I hear a whisper in my ear –
O’siyo father, I hear you.
Welcome!

I know you are here beside me.
It has been awhile since last we talked.
I have missed you.
Your wisdoms and the stories of old,
I have longed to hear them once again.
Yes, they are beautiful, the horses below,
they are free as we once were, in the long ago.
The stallion has the spirit of the fire and
the swiftness of the wind.
Also the wisdom of mother earth to
lead his herd far from the dangers to grazing
that is pure and untainted.
He too must remember the camp fires
that used to glow in the night,
When our people and his kind
shared this beautiful land.
The time of peace and harmony.
Soon father, I will join you.
We will cross this land and remember
Ah, yes, I see brother hawk in
the distance.
He too longs for those days as well.
Father, must you go soon?
I will wait for your return.

As father faded from my sight,
trees stir and I felt his touch upon my brow.
His words echoing in the wind –
Be well my child,
remember who you are…
Cherokee Earthkeeper,
As a feather drifted to land at my feet…

ATWELL: Mother Steadfastly ‘True North’

Column

Mother Steadfastly ‘True North’

Jim Atwell

I’ve just spent an hour upstairs in, so far, a fruitless search. The search was for an object about as round as a half dollar, and it weighs not much more. Olive drab, its metal case has a cracked glass face. Inside it, a needle trembles on a center post. The needle, as it has for over a century, points true north.

You can’t fool that needle by turning the case so that the printed face below it doesn’t match correct directions. That compass needle knows what it is supposed to do.

Of course it does, and the needle has been turning to true north, no matter how many times the case is turned. It’s behaved that way for over 100 years. The compass belonged to my mother, herself dead now a half-century. She first used it on Girl Scout hikes when she was 10.

That skinny little girl must have been enchanted by the compass – seen something in it that echoed a core value in herself. It was fidelity. Throughout her 67 years of life, that little girl would always first determine the right direction, and then unswervingly point herself towards it.

And then she would hold herself faithful to it.

As I write this, I glance across the room and above my desk. There hangs a grand picture of that skinny little girl, though at age 18. She looks calmly back at me from under the lacy brim of a hat as wide as a barrel lid. Oh, stylish! But nothing shallow about the steady eyes and quiet smile. This young lady still knew whom she is, where she is heading. It was, and always would be, true north.

And still somewhere in her possession was her Girl Scout compass! I’m sure it had become a talisman, a symbol that never ceased to speak to her. It may have been tucked away in her handkerchief drawer, but I’m betting she called it up in imagination at any time of deep decision.

As she surely did when saying yes to Pop’s proposal. The two had been working side by side as tellers in Annapolis’ State Capital Bank. Mr. Thompson, the gruff manager, knew he had two pleasant employees in them and noticed that customers gravitated toward their windows. “These two are comers,” he thought to himself. “They’ll be moving up here.”

But the two had developed plans of their own. They’d sensed a deep set of shared values that soon begot deep love as well. And, just as the Great Depression came crashing down, they threw caution to the wind, got married, and soon had a first child, my brother. No second child for six years, till the one Pop always called “Our surprise baby.” Me.

That phrase long ago convinced me that I was the product of mischance, of passion that overwhelmed prudence. “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” said the two of them. And, bless their passion , they brought me to be.

Of course, Mother had to quit work then, cutting their joint income and her activities. But the change in no way turned her away from “seeking true north,” identifying, in any given situation, the apt and just, and aiming for it.

This approach became obvious to all Mother interacted, whether neighbors, friends, members of church or social groups. Women especially sensed her as a gifted confidant.

“Jimmy, you head upstairs and play while this nice lady and I visit.” I would sit on the landing near the top, just out of sight, and wonder at the sound of the visitor downstairs sobbing on my mother’s shoulder. Mother’s calm voice would be comforting her, but not quelling the sobs. She knew they needed
to come.

There were other, more direct ways she sought out true north. She took food to the ill, visited the elderly and housebound. And even as she herself aged, she kept on doing physical tasks that were now beyond doing by enfeebled relatives.

Now as grown man, I tried to discourage this work, but she smiled and said, “Now, you go on, boy!”
and would not be turned away from true north.

On the hot July day she died, she had spent the morning mowing grass for a hospitalized spinster great aunt. Then she’d been up and down a stepladder, taking down living room curtains long overdue for washing. They were down in our cellar, soaking in the stationary tub.

And so that dear woman lived out her life. My father put the Girl Scout compass into the safe deposit box where, for 10 years, it undoubtedly kept true to its mission, even in the silent, total darkness.

And when I surely find it again, I know exactly where its needle will point, as Mother’s life did. True north.

Jim Atwell, Quaker minister and retired college administrator,
observes Cooperstown from his
Delaware Street front porch.

KUZMINSKI: Reconsidering Impeachment

Column

Reconsidering Impeachment

This writer was happy to see the Democrats initiate a formal investigation into impeaching President Trump. Impeachment is a legitimate Constitutional mechanism to address pressing issues of conduct in office, something we desperately need.

Elections are our normal mechanism for sorting out political differences, but there is no way in the long periods between elections to resolve serious tensions like those we have now. In the meantime, we get an endless stream of experts, panelists, commentators and pundits, pontificating on radio, television and the internet, with little or no reality check on their opinions.

Even worse, the fierce partisan views they articulate are absorbed by the rest of us and recycled as opinion in the echo-chambers of our own social networks. This is a recipe for mindless, inconclusive debate, in which each side self-righteously digs in its heels.

The Founders, we’re usually told, saw impeachment as a last resort, confined to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But maybe it’s time to broaden our understanding of it.

Instead of seeing impeachment as a rare and arcane ritual, we might think of it more like a vote of no-confidence similar to what we see in parliamentary systems. Even in those countries it’s hardly an everyday occurrence, but it is routine enough to providea way to resolve contentious political disputes in a timely way, something we lack.

If a majority of the House of Representatives – arguably the most democratically representative body in the federal government – loses confidence in the president, for whatever reason, then a simple majority (218 votes) can initiate formal impeachment, to be resolved by a vote of the Senate.

What really matters is not the reasons for impeachment – vital as they may be – but the fact that those reasons be credible enough to persuade a majority of Representatives to act on them. An impeachment proceeding, if allowed to unfold, would replace the endless speculations and distorting propaganda of the media with a public process in which arguments and evidence would be presented in a systematic fashion, and a final decision would be rendered by duly elected members of the Senate, one way or the other.

The impeachment process may be our best hope of resolving our current political divide. In fact, we might do well to put more faith in impeachment than in elections to sort out deeply polarized issues. Elections remain essential, but suffer from corruption by campaign donors, PACs, gerrymandering, media propaganda and narrow party interests. In recent decades they seem, sadly, to have exacerbated rather than relieved controversial issues.

However, impeachment differs significantly from a vote of no-confidence in that the former necessarily involves some degree of criminality, whereas the latter can be about honest policy differences as well as crimes. The Constitution states that federal officials, including the president, “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Misdemeanors, in the English Common Law tradition, are low rather than high crimes, but crimes nevertheless.

Unlike the other crimes of which he is accused – collusion with foreign governments to subvert American elections, obstruction of justice, emoluments, tax evasion – Trump’s environmental policies arguably qualify as an even greater crime: a crime against humanity.

He has denied the climate change crisis and systematically and purposely obstructed all attempts to remedy it.

Crimes against humanity were first articulated at the Nuremburg Trials, where they were defined as systematic harmful actions taken by organized forces against a general population. These include, it is important to note, not only the atrocities we usually think of, but other high crimes such as political repression, racial discrimination, and religious persecution.

In the face of overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are accelerating global warming and putting millions of people at risk for property and life, the deliberate insistence by the Trump Administration on fossil fuels at the expense of renewables not only exacerbates the threat; it needlessly puts the planet, and therefore humanity, in serious and potentially fatal danger.

Depriving current and future generations of a viable future, which is what Trump’s climate policies are doing, would seem to quality as a crime against humanity. His climate policies are arguably more harmful to humanity than any of the other accusations he faces. This is what youth activist Greta Thunberg and many others are beginning to point out.

An Oregon case currently in the courts, Juliana v. United States, seeks to establish a clean environment as a fundamental right. If upheld, it would give powerful support to impeachment for harmful environmental practices like Trump’s energy policy.

“Crimes against humanity” sounds ominous, but the penalty under impeachment is simply removal from office. A disgrace, to be sure, but perhaps sufficient for the purpose.

Further personal punishment risks resentment and backlash and is likely to deepen rather than moderate our political polarization.

Future generations in particular are being willfully deprived, by people in power who should know better, of any opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That’s a taking of the highest order, if not (yet) an atrocity. Trumpian climate policy ought to be recognized for the criminal enterprise against humanity that it is.

Adrian Kuzminski,
retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.

Revisiting Clinton Playbook

Column

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Revisiting Clinton Playbook

Think back to the days of the Clinton Presidency and the words “I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman.” Stains on her dress would seem to indicate otherwise – but it was her fault because she was a woman.

Then Hillary runs for the presidency and she and the DNC hire a foreign agent to work with the Russians to dig up dirt on her opponent – Donald Trump.

After losing the election, they claimed the President colluded with the Russians to affect the outcome of the election – in other words, they tried to blame the new President for doing exactly what they had done – attempt to impact the election outcome.

When folks started to look at the origin of the fake dossier, the Clinton playbook kicked into action – blame someone else and deflect attention away from you.

Guess what, my fellow readers – former Vice President Joe Biden may be using that same play – deflect attention away from your perceived or real wrongdoing by attacking someone else. The person being attacked is, and this should be no surprise, President Trump.

You see, the former vice president is on record that he used his position to threaten the Ukrainian government with withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees if that government didn’t fire the prosecutor who was investigating corruption of the leadership of Burisma Holdings – a very large gas company owned by a Ukrainian official.

His son, Hunter, was placed on the board of that company and paid $50,000 per month to do something – exactly what no one seems to really know.

This was happening at the very same time Joe was serving as the Obama point-person on the Ukrainian government assigned to root out corruption. That’s a no-no and “Joe” bragged to his colleagues about having done it by stating, “I said: ‘We’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Mr. Biden recounted at a 2018 event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, … he got fired.”

Whether or not his threat was the actual cause for the prosecutor being fired and whether or not his son was the target of the investigation, we’ll likely never know. What we do know is that if it looks like
a skunk and smells like a skunk, it likely is a skunk.

To deflect attention from even the perception of wrong-doing, the former vice president went on the attack, accusing President Trump of an abuse of power for allegedly asking the new Ukrainian minister to investigate if there was any wrongdoing with regards to The Biden Affair. It is no surprise the media jumped at the chance, bolstered by cries of “fowl” by the Democrats, to attack the president.

However, before choosing sides on this, let’s dig a little deeper. There were at least a dozen people listening in on that phone call. Our president may be a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.

Do we really think he would ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent with that many people listening in – especially after being dragged through a two-year investigation over alleged “collusion”?

A few days after the feeding frenzy in Washington, we’re learning the “whistle-blower” didn’t actually have first-hand information – he wasn’t on the call. Could it possibly be this person has an axe to grind – maybe an agenda involving starting yet another investigation to distract both the Congress and the president from working on behalf of the American people?

As a taxpayer, I’m fed up with the waste of time and money. There are things that need doing, and it’s time the Democrats work with the president on things like infrastructure, the drug epidemic, violent crime and illegal immigration. Enough is enough.

Beyond that, however, I am ticked off that our media and politicians assume the American public is that gullible. Let’s be sure we do our homework before going on the attack or agreeing with the media – and that applies whether it’s a Democrat or Republican that’s being accused.

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

CHARTOCK: It’s No Fun Jousting With Another Cuomo

Column

It’s No Fun Jousting

With Another Cuomo

Governor Cuomo at Manhattan’s Battery Park.

It’s fun to watch Andrew Cuomo. He knows that his father lost his try for a fourth term in office. To be fair, he didn’t lose by a lot and it was a very Republican year.

Alan Chartock

On the other hand, Andrew has to worry that people can get tired of having the same guy in office year after year. So, Andrew is on the warpath.

I have been speaking with him a lot lately on the radio and I’m here to tell you the guy gets angry when he is challenged. Nothing gets by him.

If someone is mad about having to pay $25 for a new license plate and is blaming him for it, he doesn’t turn the other cheek. Nope, he says that the very people in the Legislature who are blaming him for the fee are the ones who put the new “tax” in place and they are welcome to change it. A lot of people are thinking that it might take an Andrew Cuomo to get in Donald Trump’s face in 2020. They remember Hillary’s inability to do that and don’t have a lot of faith that any of the present contenders will fare any better.

When Chris Cuomo got into a fight over being called “Fredo” by a troll, Andrew went after a columnist for a local Albany paper and he didn’t pull any punches. He made news on my radio show, going after that columnist two weeks in a row.

The truth is that he has been making a lot of news on the public radio station that I run. My press colleagues often forget to mention my name, however, even though I was asking the questions that prompted his angry responses. Ah, well – you can’t have everything.

So how did this all come about? After all, Andrew was apparently so angry with me on a private matter that he wouldn’t talk to me for his first two terms (eight years) in office.
Then one day, there was the WAMC news director, Ian Pickus, knocking on the door of our studio while I was on the air, telling me that Andrew wanted to come on that very day. We were delighted, and he made such big news that even the New York Times credited me by name.

I try to be as tough on the guy as I possibly can. I recently received a letter asking why I was so rude to the governor. Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior advisor (he was once my student) got hot under the collar when someone referred to Cuomo and me as “pals.”

Azzopardi reminded the letter writer that I had opposed Cuomo in columns during his recent primary campaign and further reminded him that when Andrew decided to run against Carl McCall for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination quite a while ago, I really objected to the fact that Andrew was taking on a wonderful man who just happened to be the first African-American to have a shot at being governor of New York – not exactly a pal.

The governor did ask me, I suspect tongue-in-cheek, to accompany him to the New York State Fair in Syracuse.

He demanded an answer and I said “no.” It was pretty funny.

Some of you might remember that I had a weekly radio show with Mario Cuomo that played all over New York and as far away as Boston. That show was on the air for a long, long time. Mario was both articulate and one of the funniest men I have ever known. Now I see that Andrew’s apple has not fallen far from Mario’s tree.

As for me, I will continue to ask him the toughest questions I can, and I have to believe that, at some point, he’ll have had enough and call it quits. In the meantime, I’m having the time of my long life.

Alan Chartock is president of WAMC, Northeast Public Radio, which beams into Otsego County. This column was reprinted from Berkshire Edge, Pittsfield Mass.

 

 

PALUMBO: ‘We Were Told, Don’t Worry… …And Then, We Were In Legal Jeopardy,’ Supervisor Declares

Column

‘We Were Told,

Don’t Worry…

‘…And Then, We Were In Legal

Jeopardy,’ Supervisor Declares

At the Monday, Sept. 23 comp plan public hearing, Richfield Town Supervisor Paul Palumbo, center, reads the statement reprinted below. Other Town Board members, from left, are Rex Seamon,
Larry Frigault, Fred Eckler and Kane Seamon. At right is Town Clerk Maggie Young. (JIm Kevlin/www.AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: Richfield Town Supervisor Paul Palumbo read this assessment of the town’s proposed comprehensive plan and zoning code at a public hearing Monday, Sept. 23.  Palumbo and Town Board member Fred Eckler want to delay approval; Town Board members Larry Frigault, Rex Seamon and Kane Seamon, want to vote at 7 p.m. next Monday in a meeting in the school cafeteria.

By PAUL PALUMBO • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

You are probably asking yourself, how could a document that supposedly represents the desire of the residents and what is best, compiled over several years be so controversial here, at its final stage? A very good question, so I will summarize how we got here.

A few years ago, it was recommended the Town of Richfield should have a “Comprehensive Plan Document.” Although we already had a land-use ordinance, we were told that if we wanted to be seriously considered when applying for grants, it was much better to have additionally a Comprehensive Plan, in the proper format.

READ ARTICLE ON MONDAY’S HEARING

Fair enough, being better positioned to receive grant money sounded like a good thing. However, even at that time there was a bit of skepticism, folks wanting to know what else this effort might bind us to do.

“Nothing else” we were told: This document is not a law, this document is just a guide or roadmap, it will not have any binding significance.

As the comp plan was being developed, the public was given occasional peeks at it. Many people were puzzled, as it seemed to be banking on farming being our entire future, even though few residents actually do it, or plan to.

But again we were told, don’t worry, you don’t have to go this way.

Agreed – a lot of work went into the plan by nearly a dozen people at one point. It was so well written in fact, it did win an award (not necessarily for its future outlook, but more its presentation and content). By the end of 2017, the plan was ready for approval.

Some board members and residents still had concerns, but again we were told “don’t worry”, and it was passed.

Then what seemed like only a matter of days later, we were informed that our land-use ordinance was so out of whack with the comp plan we just passed, that we were now in legal jeopardy, and must update our zoning immediately.

All of a sudden this benign, harmless comp plan became a serious driving force.

Then much to the public’s surprise, an updated 70+ page zoning document appeared almost overnight. But how, as the board hadn’t even appointed a zoning commission yet!

It was written in private meetings by a small subset of the comp plan committee, oddly before the comp plan was even approved! And when it came time to appoint the “official committee,” by a lopsided board vote, the people who had written the document in private were selected, and no new members were allowed in.

Yes, there were some minor personnel changes thereafter, but it ended up being only three people.

OK, enough of the troubling history. Not surprisingly, this zoning update is heavily weighted toward farming – just as the Comp Plan was.

It clearly states that yes, farms will be emitting odors, noises, bright lights, nighttime activity, traffic from vehicles, heavy equipment, general nuisances, etc.

Alright, we all know what farms are, and none of those comes as a surprise. But what is surprising, is that absolutely no other business can do any of those things, along with a laundry list of other restrictions.

Does that seem fair to you? To have one business type totally exempt from everything, while other businesses are tightly controlled?

For example, larger business activity will now be limited to a very small area of the town. Your customers cannot park in front, they must park at the rear or side. You can’t display your goods outside. Anything outside needs to be fenced, so that others won’t see it.

If you rent your home as a short term summer rental, you will now have a pile of new rules. If you want to do a larger solar project on your property, you can’t. Many uses are now prohibited. These are just a tiny sample of the many inequities.

Oddly, most of these new rules don’t come from the comp plan, many appear to be cut and pasted from other towns’ zoning laws. There is also minimal evidence that discussions occurred with people that would be affected by the new rules.

Tonight I am asking this board to truly listen to what the public has been saying to for a while now – they are just not on board with this, or how it was done! Does this update need to be totally scrapped? No, but it does need a good review from an independent group of residents, including folks that are effected.

Anyone not totally on board with this update is being called uninformed and misguided. But let’s not be misled again, as we have been multiple times throughout this process, by the name calling.

This update is just not equally fair to all property owners by any stretch, and needs some heavy duty revisions.

NORTHRUP: America, Conceived In Slavery? Bunk!

Column

MONEY TALKS

America, Conceived

In Slavery? Bunk!

By TOM MORGAN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

And you thought America was “conceived in liberty”?
That is what Abraham Lincoln suggested. Well I’m here to tellya that is bunk.
This country was conceived in wholesale medical cruelty. And medical malfeasance. So there!
Doctors of the 1700s treated illnesses by blood-letting. Got a pain? Slash a vein. Dysentery? Try an artery. Migraines? Let us drill holes in your skull. To allow evil spirits to escape. Your baby was born blind or retarded? Toss him in a river.
That is the evil that birthed this nation. Our Founding Doctors committed the unforgivable. Early Americans accepted and practiced their nostrums. This nation is stained with their evil from its conception.
Does this sound stupid to you?

Well, many prominent folks suggest the equivalent these days. They stand solidly behind the 1619 Project. The New York Times promotes this as its most worthy project. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris calls it a masterpiece.
The project is named for the arrival of the first 20 African slaves in the New World. It claims that from that sordid point onward America was
illegitimate.
Because its parents were sinful slave traders and owners.
This new reason to hate America is coming to a school curriculum near you! (It already has, in some form.)
Or so the 1619 Project folks dream. It certainly will come to
forums which influence policy-making in Washington.
In other words, please practice
hanging your head in shame over
slavery. There is plenty more self-flagellation on the menu for us. Your penance is to spit upon tributes paid to Washington, Jefferson and assorted Founding Fathers. They were a pack
of racist hypocrites. Everything they promoted and achieved was tainted with their sinful acceptance of slavery. America’s DNA is polluted with slavery.
Right.

Here are a few scraps on which the 1619 crowd might nibble.
Americans did not invent slavery. Hardly. From ancient Greece onward it was as normal as rain. All over the world people enslaved and bought and sold people. If we could time-travel to the 1700s, people would tell us we are nuts to say slavery was sinful. Lisbon, for instance, was 10 percent slaves in the 16th century.
By the way, only 5 percent of the slaves shipped across the Atlantic came to the U.S. Millions more landed in Brazil, Cuba and other countries and territories.
In America we had many freed black slaves. Guess how they harvested their cotton. They owned black slaves! That is how people thought in those times. Slavery was a normal condition. Just like leeches for scurvy.
The 1619 Project crowd despises a country because of its history with slaves? Then let us add dozens of countries to its hate list. And remember, America was late to the game.
The crowd claims the sin of slavery is in America’s DNA? Then let them
consider Africa’s DNA. Africans
from north to south built their nations on slavery.

Is this an attempt to excuse or dismiss the evil nature of slavery? No more than an attempt to dismiss the evil of slashing arteries to cure cancer. They both belong in eras of ignorance. We should view them in that context, period. And not in our relatively enlightened times.
Let us leave the 1619 Project crowd to wallow in what they feel are original sins of America. A few centuries ago docs would have drilled holes in their heads to release such evil thoughts.
Let us, instead, celebrate that Americans rose above such ignorance. Celebrate that Americans were courageous enough to declare to the world an ideal that was absurd in its day: That all of us are created equal. Celebrate that Americans fought a bloody war and other battles in pursuit of that ideal.
While slave-trading continued elsewhere. Indeed, there are 10 million people enslaved today.
From Tom…as in Morgan.

Tom Morgan, retired Oneonta investment counselor who writes a nationally syndicated column, lives in Franklin.

Poverty? Don’t Blame The Rich, But Ourselves

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Poverty? Don’t Blame

The Rich, But Ourselves

Talk about getting things backwards and exposing your political bias at the same time, while totally ignoring the facts – and you’ve identified Oneonta’s mayor, as reflected in a column he writes elsewhere.
We have poverty because of folks like him who deny reality when it comes to renewables vs. fossil fuels, who even fight renewables like solar and who do everything they can to keep industry that would create jobs out of Oneonta – witness the 2008 proposed biofuels plant farce.
For once, let’s put the blame for our economy where it belongs. It’s not with corporations but could lie with Gary’s disdain for the “rich” – the very people who create jobs.
Our economy didn’t turn south with Trump’s election – it has been there for decades.
There wouldn’t be a need for OFO if it weren’t for folks like our mayor and his allies – folks would actually have jobs and earn a living wage.
Remember, unemployment is at its near all-time low right now and Donald Trump is president.
With regards to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the mayor is right in that the U.S. withdrew. But it wasn’t President Trump who withdrew from the Kyoto Agreement – it was President George Bush and he withdrew, not for environmental reasons, but for economic reasons.
France is 80 percent nuclear when it comes to producing energy and President Bush knew the U.S. couldn’t compete economically because it would have been too costly for the U.S. to meet the stringent targets and not costly at all for France.
(We still have groups in the U.S. that profess a desire for clean air and oppose nuclear energy).
That situation hadn’t changed when the Paris Accord was proposed – the U.S. was still at an economic disadvantage.
But guess what happened in spite of the fact the U.S. wasn’t party to the Accord? The U.S. was the only country that met the Accord’s goals with regards to reducing carbon.
How could that be, you say. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it came about as a result of fracking and the tremendous increase in the availability of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas!
The mayor goes on to say that renewables, with the right subsidies, would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
He totally misses the point. It’s not the cost of renewables that makes them unable to compete with fossil fuels, but rather their unreliability.
Do you want to depend on the sun or wind to keep your pipes from freezing at night (sun’s not shining) and it’s 10 degrees below zero outside? The wind is generally calm on the nights when the temperature is coldest.
That’s the situation we face right now – today.
Is there research underway to help address the issues with renewables – yes. At some point I hope to be able to write an article proclaiming victory in our battle to find viable energy substitutes for fossil fuels.
But I can’t write that article yet.

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

IN TIME OF TRUMP, DiPERNA ASKED: ‘How Did American Stray So Far From Its Ideals?’

COLUMN

IN TIME OF TRUMP, DiPERNA ASKED:

‘How Did American Stray

So Far From Its Ideals?’

Editor’s Note: Paula DiPerna, the author and global strategic environmental policy adviser who ran for Congress in 1992 for the 23rd District, which then included Otsego County, has a home in Cooperstown. This is an excerpt from her latest book, “Travels in the Time of Trump.”  DiPerna will be giving a book talk at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Green Toad Bookstore, Oneonta.

By PAULA DiPERNA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

“Travel in the Time of Trump” is on sale at the Green Toad Bookstore.

“Let facts be submitted to a candid world,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, leading off the extensive list of grievances the American colonies had against King George of England. That candid world watches still today.
Since Donald Trump’s election, I have traveled all the continents except Antarctica, meeting countless persons who had just one question for me, “How could America stray so far from
its ideals?”
Implicit in the question and what touched me so deeply was the extent to which America, our democratic values and quest for a more perfect union, had put us on a pedestal worldwide.
And, the extent to which the Trump Presidency has shaken the fragile house that is the American system of checks and balances, and normalized reckless Presidential behavior that other nations, much more despotic, now may think acceptable.
So, reflecting Jefferson, I present these facts, excerpted from my book, “Travels in the Time of Trump”:
►He, President Trump has refused his “Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,”
►By interfering with ongoing legal actions, such as through the summary firing of the head of the FBI, who was in a position to uncover facts that might have illuminated illegal actions taken or permitted by the President;
►He has likely obstructed the Administration of Justice by the above and, in addition;
►He has interfered with the free press, prohibited by the Amendment I of the Constitution, by proclaiming publicly and repeatedly that the media, the vehicle of the free press, do not love their country and are an enemy of the people most often because the press had commented negatively about him.
►He threatened to close down the government of the U.S. if the Congress did not vote funds to support a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, an explicit undermining of his oath since protecting the U.S. Constitution means to protect the United States government.
►He has egregiously put the Republic and the world at risk of nuclear war by taunting and threatening foreign governments able to conduct such nuclear war, including at the United Nations where, without prior authority from the Congress, he declared that the United States would have no choice but to totally destroy another nation, a blatant and unprecedented abuse of power that, in any case, could not be undertaken without an Act of War declared by Congress;
►And, in a flagrant, public and illegal attack on the people’s rights to free speech as protected
unequivocally and without reservation in Amendment I of the Constitution, he has explicitly called for punishment of protesters who chose to kneel
during the U.S. National Anthem to protest racial injustice, stating that such protesters should be fired from their lawful positions, thereby violating outright the letter and spirit of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a violation of the President’s Oath of Office, clearly an impeachable offense.
To travel in the time of Trump is to witness the degree to which the world’s dedication to democracy is being eroded.

The ORIGINATING Sin

Column

FRONT PORCH PERSPECTIVE

The ORIGINATING Sin

By JIM ATWELL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

I’ve been driven out of the house to the peaceful shade of the front porch by television news. The programs are crammed with vitriolic volleys between this faction and that, one candidate and another. Pushing the mute button wouldn’t quell the stridence. It would still be there in the images – puffed up pols and preachers and pundits, each mouthing their one and only truth.

There’s one old bozo who nearly makes me gag. On his way to dotage, he’s still devious and malicious, and still wields outrageous power over the Senate. His heavy-jawed face and glassy eyes, floating on my TV screen, brings to mind a big Atlantic mullet, smacking lips over a small fry it’s just swallowed.

And so I have pushed not “mute” but “off” and have fled to the porch. Out here, a cooling drink in hand, I’m thinking about humankind’s primal sin. I don’t mean Original Sin; I’ll leave that nut for others to crack. I mean humans’ original sociological sin, whence all other such have been spawned.

I mean tribalism. Early in our species’ history, this trait embedded itself in our developing brain, probably parking right next to the fight-or-flight impulse. And it’s with us still today. (Does “Stranger, danger!” sound familiar?)

In tribalism, your only true safety rests in your immediate and extended family, then in your tribe. And watch out for anyone who wanders into those circles who dresses differently, has different build or facial features, smells oddly or speaks a different guttural language. Or is of a different skin color. . .

Such an “unlike” one frightens, is immediately seen as a threat. Better, then, to throw stones and roar at him. Or, for real safety, to kill him.

The stranger (in present parlance, “the other”) still triggers uneasiness, a sense of threat, even rising anger. Watch any film in which an unknown person walks into the neighborhood bar. Sudden quiet. Stares. Even glares. A stranger. Maybe danger.

Or look instead into our own lives and the ways in which be find comfort by gathering into groups of the like-minded.  Even as we do this, we may quietly denigrate other similar groups. Rotarians, for instance, will speak kindly of Lions and Civitan members and even work with them on joint projects. But in their hearts, Rotary members (and Lions, and Civitaners and probably the Independent Order of Red Men) believe that their own is the best of civic or fraternal organizations.

Or consider nations. The history of every one is bloody with strife, for everyone has spent resources and lives trying to vaunt its essential superiority or expand its territory. Think of their colonial adventurism and pious belief in “manifest destiny” that justifies slaughter of all who block their way.

And never mind religions!  I wonder if dear Jesus wrings his hands over the destructive conflicts that smolder among – and even inside – faith communities that draw their name from the Prince of Peace.

My education in tribalism started early. For grades one through three, I attended tiny Holiday School, literally just beyond the fence of our back yard. And there, after pledging allegiance to the best of all nations, we tots would lustily pipe, “Oh, Holiday, we think you’re grand, the finest school in all the land!”

And later, after high school, I joined a Catholic religious order founded in the 17th century to educate the poor, whose education then was non-existent. For 16 years I wore the uniform (black habit, white collar) of the order and bore the name that was mine as a monk: Brother Denis Andrew.

“Hey, Andy!” Sixty years later, if someone behind me calls that out, I’ll turn right around! So are the abiding bonds of tribalism.  Some, like this one, are admittedly beautiful.

Others, like mindless racial tribalism, are fiercely destructive. The evidence for this is tragically all around us, and fomented, God help us, from the highest level of our blessed nation’s government.

More about that next time.

Jim Atwell, a Quaker minister and retired college administrator, lives in Cooperstown.

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