PHOTO OF THE WEEK
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
With would-be successors able to circulate petitions in the next few days, six-year Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, Feb. 23, announced what many expected and others anticipated with regret: He will retire when his term ends on Dec. 31, 2021.
“During the past six years, by working together, the people of Oneonta have achieved remarkable progress,” he said in a statement, “in developing new housing options, supporting our local businesses, and strengthening our infrastructure while continuously improving upon our high quality of life.
“Even an unprecedented pandemic was not able to slow us down,” he said.
He vowed to spend his final “10 months working harder than ever” on opportunities that “will certainly present themselves in the post-COVID world.”
The political community was prepared for the announcement, with Common Council member Luke Murphy, in charge of the Democratic campaign, saying he expects a candidate, perhaps a woman, will announce by the end of the week.
Editor’s Note: By covering stories other big newspapers have ignored, the New York Post, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, is regaining some of its luster. In this latest editorial on the Cuomo Administration’s latest crisis, it questions whether campaign contributions played a role in the March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients. Also, below, is a sampling of editorials on the issue.
Governor Cuomo is trying to rage his way through the horrific nursing-home scandal, vowing to “take on the lies and the unscrupulous actors” even as he repeats his own lies blaming the feds for his fateful March 25 mandate that homes accept COVID-contagious patients. Will the feds let him get away with it?
New Yorkers who lost family members in nursing homes were cheered by news of a federal probe into the matter. But the Biden Justice Department might buy his effort to blame the Trump administration, even though it’s transparently false.
There are millions of Americans, almost all white, almost all Republicans, who somehow need to be deprogrammed. It’s as if they are members of a cult,” Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said of Trump supporters on Jan. 12.
Former CBS news anchor Katie Couric agreed.
“How are we going to really, almost, deprogram these people who have signed up for the cult of Trump?” she asked Bill Maher.
And both CNN and Vanity Fair ran interviews with Steven Hassan, former Moonie and author of “The Cult of Trump,” discussing the best way to help Trump cultists escape the supposed abusive authoritarian who supposedly rules their minds.
…Defining political dissent as a psychological problem is a Soviet trick. They invented a new disease, “sluggish schizophrenia,” and explained that even though the subject might not display any symptoms of ordinary schizophrenia, his unfounded allegations against the government showed it was gradually coming on.
Only a madman could possibly dislike the Soviet idyll. American Marxists think the same: only a brainwashed cult-member could possibly support Trump.
The Spectator, Feb. 2, 2021
For the portion of the public upset by the “Trump 2024” sign on Route 28 north of the Village of Milford, help may be on the way.
Anna Johnson, Rome Sign Co. business manager, said the billboard’s current renter has a contract that runs out in April, and a new customer has picked up the contract, so “Trump 2024” may be gone by the end of that month, “depending on the weather.”
Meanwhile, the company has a contract with the “Trump 2024” customer – it was “Trump 2020” until the Nov. 3 election – that it is bound to honor, and will honor, Johnson said.
Meanwhile, “everyone’s called me” about it, she said, particularly since the Milford Town Planning Board last month threatened to fine the village if it wasn’t removed. (The billboard is in the town, but on property owned by the village.) It turns out the town Planning Board lacks jurisdiction to fine anyone.
Over the period of controversy – the billboard’s been up for a couple of years – Johnson said she’s been approached a couple of times by people offering to take out long-term contracts, simply to get the message removed.
Do we really expect our local elected officials to tell us what to think? Quite the opposite, probably.
And yet instead of focusing on paving streets, keeping tax at a reasonable level, and providing whatever might be considered essential services, they seem increasingly determined to do just that.
Three examples popped up in the past few days that suggest this may be spinning out of control, including at the February meeting of the county Board of Representatives, where discussion of two proposed resolutions on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol ate up an hour of rancorous debate.
A few days earlier, it surfaced that two unspecified Milford Town Planning Board members had threatened to fine the Village of Milford if it failed to remove the “Trump 2024” on Route 28 across from Wood Bull Antiques. (The billboard is in the town, but on property owned by the village.)
Let’s get back to basics. State law that created counties describes such as “formed for the purpose of exercising such powers and discharging such duties of local government and administration of public affairs as may be imposed or conferred upon it by law.” Pretty work-a-day, as it should be.
Editor’s Note: For an hour at its monthly meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Otsego County Board of Representatives debated two resolutions: H, condemning the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. And G, condemning both the attack on the Capitol and summer-long riots that followed George Floyd’s death.
RESOLUTION NO. G
RESOLUTION: CONDEMNING VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES AND REAFFIRMING THE BOARD’S COMMITMENT TO THE RULE OF LAW, FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS, AND THE PEACEFUL TRANSFER OF POWER
Introduced by Republican Reps. Ed Frazier, Dan Wilber
WHEREAS, on January 6, 2021, pursuant to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the House of Representatives, and the Senate met at the United States Capitol for a Joint Session of Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College; and
WHEREAS, the results of the 2020 election were lawfully certified by Republican and Democratic election administrators in all fifty states; affirmed in dozens of court cases; and formalized by the vote of the Electoral College; and
WHEREAS, thousands of individuals sought to and did, in fact, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts; and
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
It began “almost on a lark,” but has gone on now for 48 years.
On Jan. 20, 1973, the Rev. Paul Messner, now pastor of the Church of the Atonement here and the county’s three other Lutheran churches in Hartwick Seminary, Laurens and West Burlington, had just been released from the Air Force and was living in Washington D.C., a poli-sci student at American University.
When he woke up that morning, an Air Force buddy who was visiting, Brad Crail, asked, “What do you want to do today?”
Before you know it, “almost on a lark,” the young men were driving up Independence Avenue to the Capitol in Crail’s red Toyota to see what they could see of President Richard M. Nixon’s second Inauguration.
Compared to more recent mass Inauguration gatherings – a stark exception, of course, being President Biden’s minimalist ceremony last month – it was intimate, with a crowd of maybe 20,000-25,000 people.
“It wasn’t a huge affair,” Messner said. “We just walked up.”
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
It’s unclear whether a Town Planning Board effort to have the “Trump 2024” billboard on Route 28 removed is going anywhere.
The town Planning Board was expected to take the issue up Monday, Feb. 1, but the meeting at the town hall in Portlandville was cancelled due to the snowstorm.
Meanwhile, Town Zoning Officer Barbara Monroe drew a line in the sand, saying she has the sole authority to levy fines when zoning violations occur, not the Planning Board.
I have no intention of writing a violation on that sign,” at least for now, she said Monday.
Tuesday, Town Attorney Hyde Clarke, while saying his advice to town bodies is covered by attorney-client privilege, said Monroe’s right.
“It’s not really a planning issue,” he said. “The town has zoning regulations.”
And Town Clerk Rosemary Aborn and Zoning Board of Appeals chairman Al Bullard both said they’re not aware the issue is on this month’s agendas of the town board or ZBA.
“It sounds like a Demo-cratic plot,” said Bullard.
Events were set in motion two weeks ago, Village Mayor Brian Pokorny said, when two town Planning Board members approached him, advising him to remove the billboard or face fines; no amount was specified.
We’ve seen it happen here.
On Dec. 28, Cooperstown Center – the former Otsego Manor, now in private hands – advised its Family Council that two residents had died – not necessarily OF COVID, but WITH COVID.
Officially, one died of a bleeding hernia, the other of sepsis, at Bassett Hospital, NOT at the nursing home.
The Cuomo Administration’s Health Department took this kind of parsing a step further: Statewide, if a nursing home resident with COVID was transferred to a hospital and died there, he or she was counted as a hospital death, not a nursing-home death.
Attorney General Letitia James blew the whistle on this slack practice in a press conference last Thursday, Jan. 28, detailing an investigation that found nursing-home deaths from COVID may actually be 50 percent higher than the Cuomo Administration has been letting on.
Later that day, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released new numbers, raising the nursing-home tally by 3,800 to a new total of 12,743. That means about a third of our state’s 40,000 COVID deaths happened in places like Cooperstown Center.
So Cuomo and his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, knew. But so what?
Editor’s Note: Here are the recommendations in state Attorney General Letitia James’ report, “Nursing Home Response to COVID-19 Pandemic,” which also discovered nursing-home deaths may be 50 percent higher than the Cuomo Administration let on. For Complete Text Click Here.
•Ensure public reporting by each nursing home as to the number of COVID-19 deaths of residents occurring at the facility — and those that occur during or after hospitalization of the residents — in a manner that avoids creating a double-counting of resident deaths at hospitals in reported state COVID-19 death statistics.
• Enforce, without exception, New York State law requiring nursing homes to provide adequate care and treatment of nursing home residents during times of emergency.
• Require nursing homes to comply with labor practices that prevent nursing homes from pressuring employees to work while they have COVID-19 infection or symptoms, while ensuring nursing homes obtain and provide adequate staffing levels to care for residents’ needs.
• Require direct care and supervision staffing levels that: (1) are expressed in ratios of residents to RNs, LPNs, and CNAs; (2) require calculation of sufficiency that includes adjustment based on average resident acuity; (3) are above the current level reflected at facilities with low CMS Staffing ratings; and, (4) are sufficient to care for the facility’s residents’ needs reflected in their care plans.
The loss of innocence. And we thought it could only happen once.
“I can’t help but think: You see these photos of the West Side of the Capitol, where presidents have stood and the transition of power has occurred. It’s so tainted now, with insurrectionists actually storming the Capitol. It’s hard to go back.”
That’s Joey Katz, son of Cooperstown’s former mayor Jeff Katz, then a teenager, who – with his mother, Karen, the village former first lady – saw the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Then-congressman Chris Gibson, a Republican (and now Siena College president), provided his tickets, so the Katzes had a pretty good view.
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
James Dean, a Cooperstown village trustee since the Democratic sweep in 2012 began his party’s almost decade-long control of 22 Main St., is stepping down.
While known today as a trustee, Dean has been part of the civic landscape long before that:
• Since early 1981, when, recently arriving (in 1977) from New Jersey, he launched a fundraising drive to acquire Smith Ford’s Ed Smith’s property at the bottom of Pioneer Street to double the size of Lakefront Park. The drive failed and Smith eventually built a house there.
• Since December 1981, when future mayor Carol B. Waller, active in the 4Cs Christmas Committee, recruited Jim – a maker of fine staircases – to build Santa’s Cottage in Pioneer Park, which youngsters are still enjoying two generations later. “We manufactured everything,” he said, “the doors, the trim, the windows.”
• Since 1982, when a production executive knocked on the door of his workshop, in the parking lot behind what is now the NBT Bank branch, and asked him, “Have you heard of ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’.” He hadn’t, but he agreed to play the role of the Cardiff Giant on the CBS serial, publicizing the story nationwide.
To the Editor:
I want to thank you for the special tribute edition included in last week’s Hometown Oneonta/Freeman’s Journal highlighting my 34 years in the state Senate.
I am also deeply appreciative of all the words of good wishes and anecdotes that were submitted by so many area residents, community leaders, and family. Reading the comments brought back so many memories of my time in office. Thank you all!
I have cherished the opportunity to serve the people of our district and, in particular, represent the county where I grew up. I believe this area is the best place to live, work and raise a family, and I have always endeavored to build on the traits that make it so special.
Whatever successes I have had as a senator were not accomplished alone. I have been blessed with the loving support of Cindy and my family, as well as outstanding staff members – the best in the state Senate.
I have also been fortunate to partner with many wonderful individuals, organizations, local governments and community leaders.
These working relationships have helped improve the lives of those I have had the privilege to represent. It was these partnerships and true friendships that truly helped me succeed to make our area the best it could be.
To all the residents of Otsego County and the 51st District, thank you so much for your unwavering support and confidence over the years. I have always considered working for, and with, you to be an honor of a lifetime.
State Senator (retired)
Editor’s Note: In producing our Tribute to James L. Seward edition last week, these two tributes were inadvertently left out.
Country Club Automotive
Respect! Retired Senator Jim Seward has earned that from all of us.
In this era of public mayhem Senator Seward’s career is an example of what polite, respectful discussion from differing points of view can look like and sound like. His unruffled demeanor and calm answers are what we should aspire to emulate.
Senator Seward has always been available and attentive to constituent’s needs and concerns. He has been a great champion of our region and has helped many projects become possible through his help. His understanding of the needs of healthcare, education, manufacturing, insurance, tourism, and retail have enabled him to be a very effective advocate for us in Albany.
We have always gotten our money’s worth from Senator Seward. Thank you Sir! I hope you have a very long and enjoyable retirement, you have earned it.
BRUCE J. HODGES, President
Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society
Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad
Our organization’s relationship with Senator Seward started in the 1980s while he was working for his predecessor Senator Riford. Jim was instrumental in assisting us in the purchase of our property in Cooperstown Junction.
In the mid 1990s, Jim’s support of our efforts to build a railroad museum in Otsego County got a major boost when Jim secured the matching funds in the state budget that allowed us to purchase and start operating the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad, right in his backyard in Milford.
We couldn’t have done it without Jim’s continuous support over the years, and we will be forever grateful and proud to have had him as our State Senator.