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News of Otsego County

Elections

Views Around New York State: July 8, 2021

Views Around New York State

Suing Georgia over voting rights is just the start

From The Albany Times-Union:
Georgia was among a host of GOP-controlled states that in the aftermath of Republican Donald Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden for the presidency have intensified efforts to pass laws brazenly aimed at suppressing votes by people of color. Georgia and its defenders offered the weak defense that some of the provisions it passed will expand voting rights, as if a little window dressing is supposed to make up for its draconian measures.

Those measures, as outlined by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke, included a raft of restrictions on absentee ballots, including shortening the time to apply for them and imposing new ID requirements. As Clarke noted, Black voters used absentee ballots at a much higher rate last year than white ones.

The Georgia law — which grew from three pages to 90 on its way from the state Senate to the House, where it received a mere two hours of debate — would also cut, from 100 to around 20, the number of ballot drop boxes that were popular in the metro Atlanta area where, not coincidentally, the state’s largest Black voting-age population resides. And infamously, the law made it illegal to give people waiting in long lines — which voters in high-minority areas tend to face — food or even water.

That’s just one state. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University counted as of mid-May nearly 400 bills with restrictive voting provisions around the country.

These laws aren’t happening in a vacuum, but in the echo chamber in which Trump’s lie of a stolen election and his fiction of massive voter fraud keeps getting repeated by Republican lawmakers as if it is true in order to justify such anti-democratic schemes. … So they’re passing these laws in statehouses, and using the filibuster in Congress to block federal legislation to protect voting rights.

There are still laws that apply here, and it’s encouraging that Attorney General Merrick Garland announced at the same time as the Georgia lawsuit that the Justice Department will fully use the Voting Rights Act and other statutes to push back on voter suppression and intimidation wherever they find it. In the absence of a new commitment in Congress to this most fundamental right in a democracy — the right of the people to choose their leaders — the battle is never ending, to this nation’s shame.


Safety versus justice is a false choice

From The Albany Times-Union:
Some people deal with criticism by showing why it’s unfair. Then there are those, like Saratoga Springs Assistant Police Chief John Catone, who seem to go out of their way to prove their critics’ case.

Catone, joined by Commissioner of Public Safety Robin Dalton, went on a tear that sounded so many wrong notes when it comes to complaints of systemic racism in the criminal justice system that it was hard to keep track. … (Catone) delivered a rant filled with racist dog whistles, punctuated by what came off as a threat to summon the collective forces of the city’s historically white power establishment to put an end to what he called “a narrative of lies and misinformation.”

Let’s start with the most important thing of all: It is not the job of those in law enforcement to shut down speech they don’t like. That threat alone should be enough for Catone to turn in his badge and gun and retire early. And for sitting by his side, nodding in apparent agreement, Dalton should resign, and drop her bid for mayor.

We are in no way defending any violence that has taken place in Saratoga Springs, including a brawl Saturday night on Caroline Street and some alleged recent muggings in Congress Park. We in no way support demonstrators carrying bats, as one organizer acknowledged some did in the past.

We do support people’s right to demonstrate, to express their views that there are racial problems in their police department, and to petition their government for redress of their grievances. If that discomfits some in a community that thrives on tourism and its image as a charming, gentrified, historic American city, well, that’s the First Amendment for you.

Catone doesn’t seem to see it that way. He railed about how critics of his department were “trying to push a narrative from a national stage” — a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement — and talked of “gangs from Albany” — read: young men of color — coming up to Saratoga Springs to sell drugs and cause trouble. In wrapping all this into one speech, he conflated drug gangs and Black Lives Matter activists, an outrageous rhetorical slander whether he intended it or not. …

For good measure, he blamed criminal justice reforms passed by the state Legislature, which included ending a system in which low-income people unable to make bail were jailed without trial while those of means could readily buy their freedom.

So it’s police against “them,” and everyone has to pick sides? This is Assistant Chief Catone and Commissioner Dalton’s idea of a unified community?

What they present is the false choice that so many misguided or opportunistic politicians and demagogues offer: that it’s either law, order, and unquestioning support of police, or chaos.

A truly strong society — whether it’s a small city or the richly diverse nation it’s a part of — must be both safe and just. For all.

Primary vote location changed for Oneonta district two

Primary vote location
changed for Oneonta district two

STAFF REPORT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Because of COVID restrictions, the poll locations for primary day, Tuesday, June 22, was changed in district two to Oneonta Town Hall.

Early voting will be available at the Foothills Performing Arts Center and the Board of Elections.

All other voting locations will stay the same.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For additional information,  contact the Board of Elections at 607-547-4247/4325 or boe@otsegocounty.com.

Go to www.otsegocounty.com/departments/board_of_elections/index.php for a full list of voting information.

 

 

Middlefield Democratic Party elects two for chair and secretary

Middlefield Democratic Party elects two for chair and secretary

STAFF REPORT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Owen Weikert and Darius Homayounpour were elected by the Middlefield Democratic Party for chair and secretary respectively by unanimous consent.

Weikert replaces acting chair Leslie Berliant while Homayounpour is succeeding acting secretary Sydney Waller.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this growing committee making the effort to elect Democrats in Middlefield,” Weikert said in a press release. “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to be with people who love this region and share the core values of protecting our natural resources, helping our farms and small businesses thrive and improving life for the residents of Middlefield.”

Weikert moved to Middlefield from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is a business development director in the biotechnology industry with a concentration on sustainable bovine genetics.

Homayounpour is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii and is a textile designer. “I look forward to working with Owen and the rest of the leadership team  to help grow this committee and support our candidates,” Homayounpour said in the press release.

 

 

 

 

Views Around New York: May 13, 2021

Views Around New York

Albany should make
jail reform a priority

From: Sochie Nnaemeka and TeAna Taylor. special to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.

There’s no doubt that Albany is undergoing a transformation.

Voters across the state turned out in record numbers to elect Democratic and Working Families champions to the Legislature last year, winning super-majorities in both houses. And this April, the results were made clear: New York passed a budget that provides historic funding to our public school students, tenants, immigrants and Black and brown communities. We legalized cannabis for adults with provisions to ensure the benefits are shared by the communities directly impacted by the drug war. And we finally passed the HALT Solitary Confinement Act to restrict the use of “the box” in prisons and replace it with safe, humane alternatives. Electing progressive leaders is helping to deliver a future for New York rooted in equity and justice.

As we come down the final stretch of the legislative session, our elected leaders must resist complacency and continue to deliver long-overdue changes to our criminal justice systems that New Yorkers have been demanding.

Family members of incarcerated people, community leaders, and criminal justice advocates call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to grant emergency clemencies to older people in prison and others with compromised immune systems in response to the death of a person incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility who tested positive for COVID-19 April 3, 2020 outside the prison in Ossining, New York. Juan Mosquero was the first incarcerated person with the virus to die in a state prison.

Otsego preps for hiring new administrator

Otsego preps for hiring
new administrator

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Bliss

Otsego County’s legislators began an in-depth look at crafting the county administrator position at a special all board workshop Monday, May 10.

The 14 board members listened and asked questions during a two-hour meeting as County Attorney Ellen Coccoma reiterated to them the details of the local law they passed in 2019 to establish the position and several experts on local governments that are using a county administrator gave their tips and suggestions.

“This is going to be a work in progress,” Coccoma said. “We’re going to probably impliment things now, then as we see how it works out, you may end up saying, ‘we need to change that.’”

A county manager, executive or administrator had been proposed to Otsego County by individuals and good government groups for more than three decades. The county’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee studied the prospect for two years, finally drafting a proposal to create a day-to-day manager who answers to the board. The administrator position passed in a November 2019 local law, with only three representatives against the plan.

Steven Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, Pat Cummings, NYSAC’s council, and Nick Mazza, who served as a county administrator for more than 20 years in Livingston County, gave their insights and took questions from the legislators.

This Week — April 29, 2021
WHELAN: Trump Supporter’s Challenge Accepted About ‘Election Fraud’
LETTER from M. A. WEHLAN

Trump Supporter’s Challenge

Accepted About ‘Election Fraud’

To the Editor:

In his recent communication to the readership of the Freeman’s Journal, Mr. Furnari offered to debate anyone on the subject of Mr. Trumps’ 75 million enthusiasts who, he says, were deprived of their right to vote for him. We could also debate his other statements – but first we would have to establish some Rules of Evidence to abide by, as we seem to differ about what evidence is.

For example, I would regard the 36 judicially dismissed law suits alleging election fraud, and the validation of the election results by recounts, as evidence that such allegations had no merit. And I would regard Trump’s taped conversation in which he tried to bribe/coerce the Elections Commissioner in Georgia to “find” a winning number of votes for him, as evidence of Trump’s attempt to commit election fraud on his own behalf. I would regard the U.S. Government Intelligence Reports of Trump’s campaign connections to Russia and the Ukraine as evidence of attempted election fraud.

On the other hand, we would not regard baseless theories propagated on Social Media as evidence.

Otsego County Seeks To Supplement Struggling Local Emergency Services

Otsego County Seeks To Supplement
Struggling Local Emergency Services

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Emergency medical services are struggling to respond to calls county-wide, leading Otsego County officials to consider stepping in with supplemental services.

“I’ve been in the service for 47 years. I have never seen it this bad,” said Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, who is a member of the Edmeston Fire Department and Rescue Squad and the chair of the county’s Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee.

Wilber said he and his fellow PSLA members have been listening to Otsego County Emergency Services Coordinator Art Klingler Jr. and Otsego County E-911 Director Bob O’Brien. Both men have been warning them that a generation of EMS workers are aging out of service or have been discouraged by the lengthy coronavirus pandemic.

“Now it has become very evident that we need to come up with something to assist the locals in the process,” Klinger told the county’s Board of Representative during a special presentation Wednesday, April 7.

The duo made a presentation asking the board to develop a plan for supplemental EMS help, with a county ambulance and/or an advanced life support fly car to assist with response and transportation to people in need of emergency health help.

Ramsey Clark, Filmmaker Joe Stillman’s Hero
ONEONTAN’S ‘LIFE OF PRINCIPLE’ EXPLORED BOLD LEGACY

Ramsey Clark, Filmmaker

Joe Stillman’s Hero

Ramsey Clark in a still from Joe Stillman’s “A Life of Principle,” the only full documentary on the international activist’s life.

‘Tell me about the War on Poverty,” Saddam Hussein asked Ramsey Clark when they met in Baghdad on Nov. 12, 1990 to negotiate a hostage release, Oneonta filmmaker Joe Stillman recalled in an interview this week.

In reply, Clark, who had been President Lyndon Johnson’s attorney general in the 1960s, told how one afternoon LBJ, “War on Poverty” creator, showed up in his Justice Department office “out of the blue.”

“Johnson started talking about Mexican-American children who would arrive at school with bloody feet,” having walked barefoot across sharp stones to get to class, Stillman reported.

As the president spoke, he began to cry, Clark told Stillman.

“You know,” Saddam replied, “that doesn’t seem quite right. How could he be concerned about children with bloody feet when 2 million people were dying in Vietnam because of U.S. bombing?”

“That was one of the lessons of Ramsey’s life,” said Stillman, who spent “hundreds of hours” with the former attorney general producing the prize-winning “Citizen Clark: A Life of Principle,” (2017). “We think we all have a strong allegiance to our country, but there are a lot of things being done that not everyone knows about.

FURNARI: More Trump Flags On The Way
LETTER from SAL FURNARI

More Trump Flags On The Way

To the Editor:

This is a reaction to Consuelo Kraham Velez’s letter in the March 18 edition. And I write this for some of those that are fearful of being canceled because they worry about expressing their beliefs that may not be popular with their employer, their neighbor, or their governing body in their community.

Of course we will accept a portion of our money back. Let’s call it a rebate, not a relief check. We pay a fortune in taxes, so once in a while it’s nice to get something back.

And in regards to the comment about some kind of an “indisputable fact” that President Trump was trounced, it shows ignorance. If you still believe Beijing Biden was fairly elected and that fraud didn’t exist to get him in office, well then you are extremely naive. The mere fact a record 75 million voters never had their day in court proves my assertion.

China controls this temporary “lucky-if-he-makes-it-one-term” president, and the election was riddled with illegal actions and inconsistencies brought to light, proven, and never pursued by a bought-and-paid-for judicial system.

Corruption runs deep in our nation these days, due to people who are not statesmen employed in both parties. But if you call it “indisputable,” I’ll give you a chance. Bring us the facts next time you make such a statement.

Maybe getting off the big networks and doing a little research on your own will help you become more informed and appear more qualified to chime in. Just steer clear of the professors in your local universities, as they are certainly part of the problem.

And look out for more Trump signs coming. Because whether it’s Trump or anyone who believes in an America First policy, that’s who we will support. Not those hurting American businesses, and allowing undocumented individuals to enter our countryside on the southern border.

You don’t have a border you don’t have a country. Young girls are abused and sold because of the open border policy.

I hope you’re happy contributing to that, the higher gas prices, the pollution, the loss of jobs, the tension between us and China, Russia and North Korea, the appeasement of Iran, the massive spending, the higher taxes, legalization of drugs, abortion of 8- and 9-month-old fetuses, fentanyl entering through this open border policy killing tens of thousands of people a year – fentanyl coming from China specifically.

I challenge you to prove anything I just listed is not a fact. The arguments I’ve just made cannot be broken. And I’ll debate you any place, any time. In the meantime, I’m canceling reading anything you have to say to the editor and public again. So congratulations. You are now part of cancel culture you support.

SAL FURNARI
Town of Otsego

HOWARTH: Accelerating Brain Drain Cuomo’s Greatest Failing

LETTER from JIM HOWARTH

Accelerating Brain Drain

Cuomo’s Greatest Failing

To the Editor:

Speculation and opinions on Andrew Cuomo’s need to resign have been frequent topics in this newspaper.

While the allegations of the Governor’s sexual abuses, as well as his COVID-19 policies, have been horrible, they are just that – allegations. Guilt and culpability need substantive proof. I believe the facts will come to light in the Attorney General’s investigation and provide direction for the Governor’s future.

One facet of the Governor’s tenure is not in doubt and does not need investigation.

His economic policies have been calamitous for the state.

Since he took office, about 1.4 million people have left the state – “voting with their feet”. The pace quickened last year.

According to estimates from the Census Bureau, 126,355 residents left New York between July 2019 and July 2020.

New York State – particularly Upstate – is headed towards a demographic of a small, wealthy elite – impervious to economic woes, a shrinking middle class, and a growing disadvantaged underclass. Many jobs and opportunities in the state have moved too – to Texas, Florida and Tennessee.

There is a template for opportunity and growth. The gaps in taxation and regulation between New York and the growing states can be narrowed. A good job in a stable economic environment is not just about money. It is an important part of keeping a society viable.

I was born in New York State, went to college here, and had my first full-time job here – in Cooperstown. I love the state’s history, its land, and even its weather – most of the time. I would like to see a state that attracted and retained people who wanted to start families and businesses. I am hopeful that voters will see an opportunity to change direction in 2022, when this governor’s term is up.

Andrew’s Cuomo’s economic policies provide a clear lesson of poor leadership and an example of a course not to take.

JIM HOWARTH
Cooperstown

VELEZ: Just Wondering…
LETTER from CONSUELO KRAHAM VELEZ

Just Wondering…

To the Editor:

Recently, my travels took me slightly north of Cooperstown. I was rather surprised to see properties still displaying large Trump flags despite the actual, indisputable fact that he was roundly trounced in the last election.

Will the owners refuse to accept the actual relief checks that are soon coming their way, courtesy of our actual, legally elected president, Joseph R. Biden and the American Rescue Plan Act ?

Just wondering…

CONSUELO KRAHAM VELEZ
Cooperstown

Youth Has Its Day At Village Hall

Youth Has Its Day At Village Hall

Benton, Now Bergene, Trustees Under Age 30

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Bergene

Newly elected Village Trustee Hannah Bergene was already sold on Cooperstown.

But her first Induction Weekend working for the Chamber of Commerce – in 2015, the Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez year – she got sold all over again.

Baseball fans were jammed onto the front steps of Chamber headquarters in that yellow-and-white cottage at 31 Chestnut St., trying to catch a glimpse of their heroes passing by in the Legends of the Game parade.

“They were so in awe,” said Bergene. “They had waited all their lives to come here. We” – who live here – “take it for granted.”

She maintained that excitement for her five years at the Chamber, where she rose to marketing director under Executive Director Matt Hazzard, and for the past two years as social media director at Paperkite Creative, the Internet marketing firm.

Tuesday, March 16, Bergene and Trustee Cindy Falk, the deputy mayor, ran unopposed and received 139 and 136 votes respectively. Both are Democrats.

She ran, Bergene said in an interview Saturday, March 13, “because Mac asked me too” – Trustee Mac Benton, 23, who with County Democratic Chairman Clark Oliver, 22, have been recruiting young people here, in Oneonta and countywide to run for office.

The new trustee, her interest piqued by her work at the Chamber of Commerce, had considered elected office at some point, but “in my mind, it was years in the future.

“But why not? Why not get involved?” she asked herself. “The village needs young people to attract other young people here.”

MEBUST: Democratic Chair – Vote Bergene, Falk
LETTER from LYNNE MEBUST

Democratic Chair – Vote Bergene, Falk

To the Editor:

Tuesday, March 16, is Election Day in the Village of Cooperstown, and I encourage all residents to come out to the fire hall on Chestnut Street between noon and 9 p.m. to vote for Cynthia Falk and Hanna Joy Bergene for village trustee.

Cindy has served the village for several years as trustee and deputy mayor and is seeking re-election. Her service, experience and record of success have been exemplary, and her willingness to continue to serve deserves our strong support.

Hanna Joy is a newcomer representing a generation vital to the future of our village. Her commitment to the community combined with her business and marketing experience make her uniquely qualified to add her voice to the village leadership.

The Cooperstown Democratic Committee is proud to have nominated both Cindy and Hanna Joy for election as village trustee. Please take the time to come out on Tuesday and support them both.

LYNNE MEBUST
Chair, Cooperstown
Democratic Committee

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