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Editorial

Herzig: Act Today, Look To Tomorrow

Herzig: Act Today, Look To Tomorrow

Oneonta’s Mayor Herzig, about to be hit by criticism of D&H yard redevelopment.

In response to an outpouring of criticism at a public hearing on the GEIS Tuesday, March 5, to Oneonta City Hall and Otsego Now’s plans to  redevelop the D&H railyards, Mayor Gary Herzig had an elegant reply.
Development on the 50 acres suitable for job-generating enterprises will:
• One, be as energy efficient as construction technology currently allows.
• Two, use as little natural gas and fossil fuels as possible.
• Three, use as much renewable technology as is available right now.
But no, Herzig’s City Hall is not going to derail Oneonta’s single greatest job-development (and tax-generating) prospect.
And, in an interview over the weekend, he was pointed: “We should not let those who are economically secure, by comparison, tell those who need jobs they can’t have them.”
Yes, of course, combatting Global Warming is a Good, but it’s not the only Good. The city’s just-updated Comprehensive Master Plan, he said, also embraced the values of “social justice” and “shared sacrifice.”
And those principles: Energy efficiency, social justice and shared sacrifice, will guide the railyards’ redevelopment.

Meanwhile, muscular environmentalism is getting tiresome – and unhelpful.  Too often since the anti-fracking movement – it turned out there’s too little gas around here to frack it – we’ve seen intimidation as the local environmental movement’s preferred tactic, and it’s getting old.
We lack sufficient natural gas to even fuel our major institutions – our colleges and hospitals – not to
mention any growth.
Yet roomfuls of The Outspoken helped block the Constitution Pipeline that would have filled the need – snap! – and generated $13 million in annual tax revenues if routed through southern Otsego County.
XNG trucks are OK on
I-88, but on our narrow roads were a danger, and they’ve now mostly been routed to more appropriate Route 8 in Chenango County, but – lacking a pipeline – compressed natural gas, delivered by truck, is the one sensible alternative.
Yet The Outspoken – notably Dec. 12, when the Oneonta Town Board was browbeaten into passing a resolution against the $17.5 million decompression
station – helped halt that sensible alternative to a pipeline endorsed by both the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier regional economic development councils.
Without gas, the REDCs recognized, Otsego and the surrounding counties are done – finished! – as viable economies.
Yet Otsego 2000, the Cooperstown-based environmental group – has issued not-so-veiled threats to sue both City Hall and Otsego Now, if necessary, to halt the decompression station, which would largely be paid for with state money and would fill the county’s natural gas needs until blessed renewables come on line.
For now, not forever! Yes, yes, we all agree:
Renewables are the future. But not the present, perhaps not even for a generation. (New York State’s plan targets 2040 for partially achieving fossil-fuel freedom.)

Even then, renewables may not be the whole answer. This past Tuesday, Len Carson, DC Marketing president and a Ward 5 Common Council candidate, circulated a TED Talk video prior to Wednesday’s
Citizen Voices meeting.
It was delivered by Michael Shellenberger, one of Time magazine’s 2008 Heroes of the Environment.
Its title, “How Fear of Nuclear Power is Hurting the Environment.”
In it, he argues that, despite the vast advances in solar farms planned in the U.S., Europe, even India, the data show that, without an expansion of nuclear, the Earth is doomed.
OK, Outspeakers, let it out.
All of this needs to be
considered in context. While we argue over something that’s big here, the D&H plans are tiny, tiny in the context of the world’s economy and population – there are too few of us to either save the world or ruin it.
So let’s relax.
Another Common Council candidate, Seth Clark in Ward 2, nailed it at the GEIS hearing: “We need hundreds and hundreds of jobs. We not only owe our children the future, we owe them a couple of hot meals a day.”
In an intriguing Letter to the Editor this week, Otego’s Dennis Higgins applies Kant’s “Categorical Imperative” to the debate. Do unto others. But this isn’t good vs. evil; it’s a practical one.
Herzig’s three-point
approach is a strategic, sensible, short-term way to tackle a conundrum: Putting food on children’s plates today, while we await a better solution – one we all agree with – tomorrow.

Please, County Reps And Trustees: Get Chief Covert Help He Needs

Please, County Reps

And Trustees: Get Chief Covert

Help He Needs

Village Police Chief Mike Covert surveys a box full of medications and devices he must use daily.

 

How often do any of us, over the course of our lifetimes, get the opportunity to save another human life?
But the Otsego County Board of Representatives and Cooperstown Village Board have been presented with that opportunity in the case of Mike Covert, 58.
Covert, a 25-year county employee (mostly as a deputy sheriff) and village police chief since 2013, has suffered the health travails of a modern-day Job in the past year, from kidney failure to a triple bypass to failing eyesight and deteriorating disks in his neck.
In the midst of this, he received wo

Where’s $93 Trillion Coming From To Pay Bill For A Green New Deal?

IF FUNDED, IT WON’T WORK

Where’s $93 Trillion

Coming From To

Pay Bill For A Green

New Deal?

I was struck by a news clip showing Elizabeth Warren speaking to a crowd and telling them we need to remove the control over our lives from government and put it back into the hands of the people. This
is the same woman who is supporting Bernie in his call for socialism.
Socialism is a system based on government control over the “people.” After all, some entity has to decide who gets to keep their wealth and who doesn’t. Guess who would get to keep it.
This call for returning control to  the “people,” that’s you and me,
comes at a time when liberals are calling for government-controlled healthcare for all at a cost of $32 trillion over 10 years, while taking healthcare choices away from the 150 million plus Americans who presently have health care and “The Green New Deal” (GND) with an undetermined cost (somewhere in excess of $93 trillion, $600,000 per household) without including the adverse impact to our economy.

STATE OF CITY: ‘We’re Onta Something,’ Mayor Declares

STATE OF CITY:

‘We’re Onta Something,’

Mayor Declares

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig delivers his 2019 State of the City address Tuesday, March 5, at Foothills Performing Arts Center.

Editor’s Note: This is the text of Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s 2019 State of the City address, delivered Tuesday, March 5, at the Foothills Performing Arts Center. He also announced $2.3 million in grants through the city/state Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

During the past year, some have questioned whether we have lost some of our momentum in revitalizing and reinventing the City of Oneonta. I want you to know that the answer to that is absolutely “no.”
We have been taking the time to go about this process the right way. We have engaged the entire community in the planning process, and we have been listening.
Literally, hundreds of people – residents; business and property owners; member of our boards and commissions; committee and focus group volunteers, our truly dedicated city staff, and our Common Council members – have participated and enthusiastically contributed their energy, their ideas and their aspirations to create a blueprint for a new Oneonta.

In City Of The Hills, Candidate Avalanche

In City Of The Hills,

Candidate Avalanche

In Oneonta, go figure.Five Common Council members retiring – not a record, Council member Dana Levinson reminded us: there were six retirements in 2016, but an exodus nonetheless.And the resulting ferment: Len Carson confirmed Thursday, Feb. 21, he was running in Ward 5, and within days, 11 more candidates emerged. Most were Democrats in that Democratic enclave, but three were Republicans, signaling party politics – missing since 2011 – may be coming back to life in the City of the Hills again.Undoubtedly there will be more candidates forthcoming – petitions to get on the ballot in the June 25 primary aren’t due until April 4 – so keep track of the day-to-day developments on

‘Reform Caucus’ Proving Its Worth, But Will It Survive 2019 Elections?

Reform Caucus’ Proving Its Worth, But Will It Survive 2019 Elections?

Leading up to the 2017 election of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, the terms “Reform Caucus” and “Sensible Center” were used in this space, and they were controversial.
Some of the candidates identified with that label won election or reelection. (Whether that was because of or despite of the designation is certainly fodder for debate.)
Foremost among them, as it turns out, was David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, who was then elected board chair, and who’s proved: Simple politeness has made all the difference.
Two others in the Sensible Center, Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, and Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, have emerged as leaders.
Through hard work and diplomacy evident since, Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, would certainly have been included in the “Reform Caucus” – defined in this space as “not a formal caucus, but a coalescence of forward-thinking minds” – if editorial writers could only predict the future. (Bulletin: They can’t.)

Congressman Emerging As Moderate, Balanced

EDITORIAL

Congressman Emerging As Moderate, Balanced

In moderate, nuanced responses to some blunt questions, Antonio Delgado showed he’s no Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

If anyone was looking for a bomb-thrower – Urban Dictionary: “A colloquial term used to describe people who stir up trouble” – Antonio Delgado isn’t he.
That had to be the conclusion of any objective ear at his Feb. 18 “Town Hall” in Cooperstown Village Hall, where one speaker, opining President Trump is “mentally ill,” asked the freshman congressman if he would vote for impeachment.
The reply was perfectly circumspect: “I’m going to do whatever the truth requires me to do. This process has been thorough and extensive, but I intend to read the Mueller Report and make my decision from that.”
No one’s painting oneself into a corner here.

Lower Taxes, More Broadband Would Help Keep Upstate Folks Here

Lower Taxes,

More Broadband

Would Help Keep

Upstate Folks Here

President Trump and Governor Cuomo were recently in a war of words again – certainly not breaking news. This time around, the back and forth centers on the Upstate economy, with President Trump advising Upstate residents to move out.
The president’s actual words to people who feel things aren’t going their way, “If New York isn’t gonna treat them better, I would recommend they go to another state where they can get a great job.”
I appreciate what the president is saying, and I have already pointed out on a number of occasions that we are
losing population due to an absence of economic opportunities and our high cost of living.
However, rather than push more people out the door, I want to reinvigorate New York, give people a reason to stay, and entice others to come back home.

County Board Committee Adjusts Policy To Affirm Public, Press Have Rights

County Board Committee

Adjusts Policy To

Affirm Public, Press Have Rights

Regarding the county Board of Representatives’ policy, “Use of Photographic and Recording Devices At County Meetings,” the stated goal – “to allow meetings to be conducted in an orderly manner” – was never objectionable.
Two aspects of the policy were: One, that reporters need to “sign in” (i.e., register with a local government to do their job) and, two, if failing to do so would be “excluded” from board or committee meetings at a chairman’s fiat, with no due process.
This was not simply a press concern, but a public one. As originally drafted, members of the public could have been prevented using iPhones to record aspects of meetings unless they previously registered, and could likewise be
excluded on a whim.
These concerns were affirmed in an opinion from Bob Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, an arm of the New York Department of State.

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH UPSTATE?

INTERVIEW WITH DR. GERALD BENJAMIN

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH UPSTATE?

HOMETOWN ONEONTA – After his address, “County Manager or County Executive?” in December 2017 at Springbrook, Gerry Benjamin, director of SUNY New Paltz’s Benjamin Center, discusses pleasures of local governance with Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig.
Rocky spent, and eventually New York State became uncompetitive

It all began with a technological breakthrough – in Syracuse. Air conditioning.
Its development by General Electric in that central New York city opened the way for the industrial development of the South and Southwest, and the decline of the Mohawk Valley, which post-WWII was the most powerful and prosperous manufacturing corridor in the history of the world.
“We invented a technology that allowed industry to shift internally,” particularly in textiles, an irony noted by Gerry Benjamin, director of New Paltz’s Benjamin Center, formerly the Center for Local Government. He’s perhaps the wisest and most insightful observer of New York State government and politics, drawing on more than a half-century of involvement.
He was posed the question, What’s the matter with New York? Coincidentally, that very morning Amazon announced it was abandoning building its HQ2 in Long Island City, on the shores of the East River across from Manhattan, and taking 27,000 jobs, most in the $100,000 range and up, somewhere else.
Benjamin was rueful: “25 to 40,000 jobs are being declined downstate – while Upstate has no work. It’s a contextual fact.”

Until Available 24/7, Renewable Energy Not Ready For Prime Time

Until Available 24/7,

Renewable Energy

Not Ready For Prime Time

The Otsego County Chamber board and president deserve a heartfelt “thank you” for having the vision and courage to host the “Energy Summit” Thursday, Jan. 31, at The Otesaga.
Speakers from New York and Pennsylvania talked about fossil fuels and renewables, including biomass, ethanol, electric cars, wind, solar and geo-thermal. At the end of the day, it was clear that, although promising for the future, renewables are not currently capable of replacing or offsetting our demand for energy provided by fossil fuels.

That does not mean we should abandon our pursuit of alternative sources of energy that emit less carbon and are cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Natural gas, our cleanest-burning fossil fuel, is currently abundant and inexpensive relative to renewables and thus offers us a bridge to the time when one or more renewables is capable of replacing it by being available, reliable and cost-competitive.

County Rep. Kennedy Right To Seek Faulty Policy’s End

EDITORIAL

County Rep. Kennedy Right

To Seek Faulty Policy’s End

State Law ‘Silent’ On Issue –

So Stick To What Law Does Say

Meg Kennedy said she will ask her committee to remove extra-legal limits on recording county board meetings

The end of what is, at best, an anomaly, may be in sight.
County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, says she plans to ask the Administration Committee she chairs to remove two extralegal
clauses from a policy it passed last month: “Use of Photographic Equipment and Recording Devices at County Meetings.”
The complete policy appears in the box below this editorial. The purported goal, “to allow meetings to be conducted in an orderly manner,” is unobjectionable, although no incident has occurred to spur that.
However, one provision, requiring photographers and videographers to “sign in” – to register with the government, Soviet style – is anathema to the press, and will be to the general public, too, as citizens increasingly use iPhones to record parts of meetings they find significant.
A second provision, unilateral “exclusion from the meeting at the discretion of the chair,” with no appeal or due process of any kind, is likewise worthy of Fidel Castro. Off with their cabezas!
Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and www.AllOTSEGO.com raised these concerns with Robert Freeman, executive director, state Committee on Open Government, an arm of the New York Department of State, and he also concluded the policy is flawed. His full statement also appears below.

County Attorney Ellen Coccoma, at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, defended the policy she developed. But when asked about the two objectionable clauses, replied, “The law is silent on this.”
Put another way, the county attorney, whom the board depends on to provide accurate legal guidance, came up with two limitations on the freedoms of press and public that are not enabled in a guiding statute, the state Freedom of Information Act, on the books since 1977.
By doing so, she also may have opened the county board to financial liability: In an amendment signed into law in December 2017, the county would have to pay legal fees if a challenge “substantially prevailed,” which Freeman’s opinion suggests is possible.
And the Coccoma Protocol, if you will, is already having a negative effect on news coverage.
As a public service, AllOTSEGO.com has been videotaping monthly county board meetings for more than two years now, but board chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said the videographer would probably have to register, so the Feb. 6 meeting went unrecorded.
Kennedy’s Administration Committee meets at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22.
The question it must answer: Who should control news coverage of the county board and the $110 million government it controls? Independent news outlets and citizen watchdogs, or the county board itself?
The answer’s clear.

As can happen, one anomaly can draw attention to others.
At some point, the 14-member county board surrendered its policy-making responsibilities to its six-member Administration Committee.
In this case, when “Admin” met Jan. 29, the county attorney characterized “Use of Photographic Equipment and Recording Devices at County Meetings” as a routine matter, according to Kennedy. Five of the six committee members in attendance – County Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, had departed – passed it routinely, and it immediately became county board policy.
Look at the county board’s makeup: Four reps are in their first term; another five in their second terms. Most, you can be sure, were unaware the authority of their elective offices had been surrendered to a committee at some time in the past for forgotten reasons.
The full board should change the Rules of Order and take its authority back. If the 14 are to be governed by a policy, it should be presented as a resolution and be voted on by the
full 14.
Even the Administration Committee itself – Kennedy, Stammel and county Reps. Ed Frazier, Gary Koutnik, Keith McCarty and Peter Oberacker – no doubt agrees with that.

A final thought: Robert Freeman is available to give seminars on the FoI Act and open meetings. The county board should invite in him in to do one here. After all, you have to know the law to follow it.
The county attorney should be there, too.

 

 

A Tale Of Three Books – At Once

From The Heart Of Ohio

A Tale

Of Three Books

– At Once

 

.Lately we have taken on a project that we not only do not like very much, but also would not recommend, namely reading more than one book at a time. Although the he-we would often be reading more than one book, we have never been a fan of doing so. However, due to an interesting set of circumstances, we found ourselves doing just that.
Not long ago, James M. McPherson’s “Battle Cry of Freedom, The Civil War Era” was next up in our pile of books to be read. So we commenced to reading it. But, no sooner had we started the Civil War book, when we were informed by our local bookstore, Paragraphs, that “Once Upon a Time at the Opera House: Drama at Three Historic Michigan Theaters, 1882-1928,” by James Berton Harris had come in.
And since the opera house book was written by not only a good friend, but also a colleague during our time at both the University of Michigan and Boston University, we decided to postpone the Civil War book and take up the opera house book.
Unfortunately, given not only the shape, but also the weight, of the opera house book, we found we were unable to read it during our daily two 30-minute times riding the exercise bike. Thus we decided we would read the opera book while enjoying our morning coffee and return to the Civil War book while exercising.

No, We Can’t Save World Alone; Yes, We Can Embrace Opportunity

EDITORIAL

LESSONS FROM OTSEGO CHAMBER EARTH SUMMIT

No, We Can’t Save

World Alone; Yes, We Can

Embrace Opportunity

“Time is not on our side,” Cornell professor Tony Ingraffea tells the Otsego Chamber’s “Energy Summit” Thursday, Jan. 31, at The Otesaga. Listening at right is Rep. Meg Kennedy, R-Mount Vision, who announced members of a 21-member energy task force created by the Otsego County Board of Representatives. Next to her is Keith Schue, Cherry Valley, an engineer advising Otsego 2000.

The debate around here has appeared to be all about energy.
Listening to 19 content-rich, tightly packed presentations –
15 minutes, 15 minutes, 15 minutes – at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s “Energy Summit: Infrastructure & Economy,” Thursday,
Jan. 31, at The Otesaga, you’d have come to a different conclusion.
The discussion’s all about jobs.
Energy is the means. Which can best produce jobs, gas or renewables? Ideally, both.
There were woeful predictions.
“Time is not on our side,” intoned Tony Ingraffea, the Cornell professor. (Better was his cool presentation on his ultra-efficient house near Ithaca. Add in the Norway firs his grad students have been planting for years, his family’s carbon footprint is “less than zero.”)
We know The Earth is under challenge. The question locally is, what is our role in fixing it? The numbers convincingly argue, not much. Otsego County is micro; the solution is macro.

Renewables are already creating more jobs than fossil fuels, Lou Allstadt reported. He provided a list that appears at left.

With 0.018 percent of the U.S. population (less than 2/100ths of one percent), and 0.00008 percent of the world’s (less than 1/100,000th of one percent), the fate of The Earth isn’t going to be decided between Richfield Springs and East Worcester.
This frees us to think about Otsego County, what we need today, and what the opportunities are in the near-to-
mid future.

Energywise, We Can Have It All: Natural Gas Now, Renewables Later

Energywise, We Can Have

It All: Natural Gas Now,

Renewables Later

Adrian Kuzminski, Fly Creek, Sustainable Otsego moderator, listens to Zagata. The two alternate a column in this newspaper every other week. In the background is Oneonta Town Board member Trish Riddell-Kent.

The Otsego County Chamber board and president deserve a heartfelt “thank you” for having the vision and courage to host the “Energy Summit.”
Speakers from New York and Pennsylvania talked about fossil fuels and renewables including biomass, ethanol, electric cars, wind, solar and geo-thermal. At the end of the day, it was clear that, although promising for the future, renewables are not currently capable of replacing or offsetting our demand for energy provided by fossil fuels.
That does not mean we should abandon our pursuit of alternative sources of energy that emit less carbon and are cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

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