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Columns

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.

ELLSWORTH: Year After Moving To  Ohio, Reflections On Cooperstown

COLUMN

WHERE NATURE SMILES

Year After Moving To  Ohio,

Reflections On Cooperstown

By CATHE ELLSWORTH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

It was a year ago last week that we left our home of 36 years in Cooperstown to move to a new home in Mount Vernon, Ohio.  We left behind the house which the he-we’s grandparents built for $5,000 in 1912.

Though the years, four generations of the Ellsworth family lived at 105 Pioneer St.  But now the family has indeed taken Horace Greeley’s advice and has gone west.  And while we had anticipated it might well be a difficult move to make, that has proven not to be the case.

Granted, the move has meant adjusting to all sorts of new things, like medical care, shopping opportunities and, most importantly, restaurants.

We have traded the Cooperstown Diner for the Southside Diner.  Hunan Gardens has replaced the China Wok. Toscano’s has become Mazza’s, while the Hawkeye Bar & Grill has fallen to either the Stein Brewing Co. or the Alcove Restaurant. We cannot make up our mind about the best replacement for the Hawkeye.

And when it comes to pizza, Mount Vernon has a plethora of possible pizza parlors. Unfortunately, we have yet to find one that comes even close to having the delicious pizza we always so enjoyed from Sal’s.

For grocery shopping, instead of Price Chopper and Tops, we can choose from Walmart, Kroger, Aldi and IGA, a grocery store we had long thought no longer existed.  Of course, we don’t ever actually go to any of these grocery stores, as we discovered early on that the wee-we, who is not so wee anymore, loves to grocery shop.  And far be it for us to stand in his way of doing something he loves.

When it comes for social opportunities, we also find ourselves well positioned.  Perhaps our favorite undertaking is the monthly book club meeting held at Paragraphs, Mount Vernon’s independent bookstore.  As was the case in Cooperstown, we have found being in a book club means that we read all sorts of books which we might not have chosen for ourselves.  And that is a very good thing.

We also enjoy the monthly potluck dinner, weekly jigsaw puzzle gathering and card playing at the condo community’s clubhouse.  Plus, the added attraction in the summer of a heated-to-86-degrees swimming pool next to the clubhouse is not to be overlooked.

In addition, we must note that our access to dramatic productions, music concerts, art shows and lectures at Kenyon College are all available throughout the college year.

Plus, we have the opportunity to attend presentations at our granddaughters’ elementary school as well as their dance and gymnastics recitals.  So, we do not lack for all sorts of outside activities. And we cannot stress enough how very much we have enjoyed being close to the wee-wee’s family.

Of course, the changes we have encountered in terms of dining and shopping are not the only changes we have noticed.  In fact, we are tempted to say that the changes in the cost of living has been the most remarkable. For example, in 2017 the property taxes on our Cooperstown home totaled $8,448.  However, our 2019 property taxes on Ohio came to $2,537.

And while it is the case that the assessment on the condo in Ohio is less than was the assessment on the house in Cooperstown, it also seems that the governmental entities in Ohio manage with much smaller budgets.

As an example, in 2016 New York State spent an average of $22,366 per public school student.  In Ohio, the amount spent per student is about $11,953.  And as far as we can tell, with one granddaughter in fourth grade and the other just entering kindergarten, the education seems to most satisfactory.  At least we have not heard any complaints from the either parents or the students.

Likewise, it seems that the overall cost of living in Knox County, Ohio, is less than it is in Otsego County, N.Y.  And our thinking seems to have been confirmed by an article we read online that listed, according to 24/7 Wall Street, what $1 is worth in all 50 states.

It seems that in NYS,  $1 only buys 87 cents worth of goods, while in Ohio $1 buys $1.12 worth of goods.  It quite makes us think that by moving to Ohio, we increased our income by about 25 percent.  And that is something with which we will not argue.

Consequently, we must conclude that our move to Ohio seems most satisfactory except for one thing, namely the fact that we left so many dear friends behind in Cooperstown.  Many of them we had known for all 36 years we were in Cooperstown. Others we had met more recently.

And for some, the Ellsworth family shared generations of friendship with other families.  It was indeed hard to have left that Cooperstown feeling of friendship, trust and loyalty behind as we firmly believe that the only real thing of importance in any community is its people.

Yet, although it will never be the same as Cooperstown, we are indeed delighted to have learned that the people we have meet here have been equally willing to share their friendship, trust and loyalty.  And for that, we are eternally grateful as well as very glad that we have managed to bloom where we are now planted.

Cathe Ellsworth, “She-We” in “Where Nature Smiles,” the column she wrote for decades locally, moved from her Pioneer Street home a year ago to be nearer to “Wee-Wee,” son Christopher, his wife the their two children.

 

 

Firefighter Who Found Business Card At Scene Felt George Morell’s Calm Spirit

CHRONICLES OF 9/11

‘He Did Not Suffer’

Firefighter Who Found Business Card

At Scene Felt George Morell’s Calm Spirit

George Morell, Cathy Raddatz’s brother, is memorialized on the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s portrait wall among the 2,996 victims. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: Cathy Raddatz of Cooperstown, sister of 9/11 victim George Morell, read this letter of reassurance from a firefighter to Morell’s widow Robbie at the Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company’s 5-10K commemorative run Saturday, Sept. 7.

Cathy Raddatz addresses the Fly Creek Fire Company’s 9/11 commemoration.

Dear Mrs. Morell:

First, let me say I know your family has suffered a devastating loss, you have my heartfelt condolences and prayers. While I cannot know your grief on a personal level. I sincerely offer my sympathy, compassion, love and respect.

I have been a firefighter for nine years now. I have seen what I thought was some of the worst things that any one human being could do to one another, until Sept. 11. I do not know the reason why I found your husband’s business card that Friday, Sept. 14.

Ever since that day I have felt I needed to find someone in Mr. Morell’s family to let them know how I found his card, where I found it and when I found it. To also let his family know that I felt an overwhelming presence and a calming feeling.

I knew this man did not suffer.

KUZMINSKI: Refocus $500M From Pipelines To Renewables

VIEW FROM FLY CREEK

Refocus $500M

From Pipelines

To Renewables

By ADRIAN KUZMINSKI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

I attended a hearing recently in Binghamton on rate increases proposed by NYSEG for a number of projects, including a nearly three-fold expansion in the capacity of the DeRuyter gas pipeline serving Oneonta.

The hearing was run by the Public Service Commission (PSC), a New York State agency which is supposed to regulate utilities like NYSEG.

The atmosphere wasn’t very promising. The deserted streets and empty storefronts of downtown Binghamton were a reminder that the city, like much of Upstate, is a shadow of what it once was. The brutalist architecture of City Hall, where the hearing was held, evoked a prison rather than a civic space.

ATWELL: But What’s Her Name?

FRONT PORCH PERSPECTIVE

But What’s Her Name?

By JIM ATWELL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

I’m at ease on my front porch on a beautiful afternoon, admiring the perspective up tree-lined Delaware Avenue. As the long last block heads toward Chestnut Street, curbs and sidewalks seem to draw together, trees conspire more closely over the street, and the two rows of handsome house fronts, bedecked with flags and hanging planters, draw closer till the last ones opposite each other almost block sight of traffic flashing by on Chestnut.

But now, heading toward me down the sidewalk, is an old friend of my own age. She’s being led along by her leashed dog, Bijou, who, spotting me on the porch, speeds up, tail wagging. The old friend also sees me and waves. Defying perspective, she and Bijou grow larger and clearer as they approach.

I wave back, smiling. How good to see her!

SEWARD: A Little Here, A Little There. Suddenly, It’s Many Millions

VIEW FROM ALBANY

A Little Here, A Little There.

Suddenly, It’s Many Millions

By State Sen. JIM SEWARD • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Death by a thousand cuts.  Nickel and dime.  If those adages come to mind when you think of New York State government, you are not alone.  Now the latest example: the governor’s push to require millions of drivers to buy new license plates, needed or not.

Recently, the governor’s office launched a statewide survey to select a new license plate design.  On the surface, this appears to be a fun contest (although there are several questions regarding the plate designs) but the fine print reveals what this really is – a massive cash grab.

This is the language directly from the governor’s press release:

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