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News of Otsego County

Elections

‘Who Cares?’ Asks Cuomo, But COVID-19 Answers Needed
EDITORIAL

‘Who Cares?’ Asks Cuomo,

But COVID-19 Answers Needed

You should read this article in full. Google “cuomo hospital lobbyists,” or read excerpt below.

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?

Here’s what.

REPORT: Nursing Home Residents Poorly Served

Blockbuster

REPORT: Nursing Home Residents Poorly Served

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.

State Attorney General Letitia James outlines key recommendations in “Nursing Home Response to COVID-19 Pandemic,” which also discovered nursing-home deaths may be 50 percent higher than the Cuomo Administration let on.

•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.

Inauguration 2021 Chance For New Beginning
EDITORIAL

Inauguration 2021 Chance For New Beginning

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.

Here’s Joey Katz of Cooperstown and his mother Karen at President Barack Obama’s second Inauguration in 2013 in Washington D.C.

James Dean, Village Trustee, And Much More
FOUGHT FOR LAKEFRONT, BUILT SANTA’S COTTAGE, PLAYED CARDIFF GIANT

James Dean, Village Trustee, And Much More

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Retiring Trustee Jim Dean, with wife Eileen by his side, holds up a newspaper report from when he played the Cardiff Giant in CBS’
“Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” in 1982. (Jim Kevlin/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.

Senator Thanks YOU

Senator Thanks YOU

Good Wishes, Anecdotes Bring Back Happy Memories

State Sen. Jim Seward and Cindy, his wife and political helpmate during his 34 years in Albany on the county’s behalf

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.

JIM SEWARD
State Senator (retired)
Milford


Editor’s Note: In producing our Tribute to James L. Seward edition last week, these two tributes were inadvertently left out.

TOM ARMAO,
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.

Let’s All Get Behind President Biden’s Call For Calm, Unity
EDITORIAL

Let’s All Get Behind President Biden’s Call For Calm, Unity

Our best hope: Joe Biden and his inclination toward unity.

It’s a day that will live in infamy, Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, vandalized and ransacked the venerable building, and was driven out by National Guard units and Capitol Police with some loss of life.

Prior to Jan. 6, 2021, few Americans could visualize that ever happening. The natural response here in Otsego County, as throughout our United States, is horror, sadness and fear for the future.

What now?

Illuminatingly, the AllOTSEGO.com daily poll that sought readers’ opinions on the next steps found people chose the mildest options by a large majority.

In Troubled Times, Let’s Try ‘The Seward Way’
EDITORIAL

In Troubled Times, Let’s Try ‘The Seward Way’

State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Schenectady, right, sat next to “Gentleman Jim” Seward in the Senate chamber for decades, and praises his colleague’s levelheadedness along with a commitment to serve his Otsego County centered district.

In reflecting on Jim Seward’s tenure as our state senator, one vignette always comes to mind.

It was the fall of 2006, and Cherry Valley’s Pam Noonan, on a Sunday afternoon at her home on Montgomery Street, was hosting opponents of Reunion Power’s 24-turbine wind farm proposed for East Hill.

Senator Seward had been invited and, prior to his arrival, attendees expressed some vexation that the senator, with his interest in jobs and tax-base enhancement, would not support the opposition.

The senator arrived and, as he always does, listened intently to his constituents’ concerns, not exactly Sphinx-like, but without letting on too much about what he was hearing and thinking.

The outcome, a few weeks later, was Seward’s reaffirmation of support for the state’s “Home Rule” doctrine – whatever powers are NOT given to Albany in the state Constitution devolve to localities.

Influenced by that or not, the Town of Cherry Valley adopted strict guidelines governing windmills, and Reunion went away.

But the Home Rule concept moved to center stage: A few years later to the state Court of Appeals, which ruled the Town of Middlefield, using its zoning powers, could block Cooperstown Holstein’s fracking plans.

What observers learned at Pam Noonan’s that afternoon was this: Seward’s prime interest wasn’t in ideology or partisanship – it was in representing his constituents.

Over the years, many praiseful words about state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, have appeared in this space.

We are proud to say that, throughout the current ownership, we’ve had the honor of endorsing him for reelection in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

The central reason for this was, again, not partisanship or ideology, but because of Seward’s main focus: To serve the people of his 10-county Central New York state Senate District but, foremost, to serve its centerpiece: Otsego County, where he was born, raised, educated and built his political career.

Another word that comes to mind is “nurturing.” Jim Seward sought to nurture his constituents, to protect them, to enhance their opportunities for a better life, to solve their problems on the macro and micro level.

Jim was stricken with cancer in 2016. When it recurred in the fall of 2019, he – weakened by one disease – was stomach-punched last March by deadly COVID-19 and almost lost his life. Then, the people he would nurture for 34 years nurtured him in return.

At the time, the outpouring of support and love on social media and www.AllOTSEGO.com was specific and impressive. People spoke about what he’d done for them, and they praised him, offered support to him and his family – wife Cindy, son Ryan and daughter Lauren, and granddaughters Nora and Vivian – and prayed (effectively, you might argue) for his recovery.

There are many examples to follow in the dozens of tributes to the retiring senator that appear in this week’s newspaper. We can enjoy them. But we can also be guided by them. Thanks, senator.

Eileen Lishansky’s tribute is a favorite. Approaching Seward with a sticky issue, he picked up the phone and started setting it right. “From that day on, whenever my husband or I would meet him in the community he addressed us by name,” she wrote.

It’s that personal touch, which grew out of who he is. Several tribute writers note, he likes people. Or that he’s not an angry man, and that doesn’t have to win every fight: He’s willing to talk things through, to take the long view.

In return, people like him. If you’re ever seen him walk across a crowded room, it’s a miracle he ever gets to his next appointment: Every half-step, someone wants to shake his hand, make a plea or give him an attaboy.

One of the people who knew him best is former state Sen. Hugh Farley, a Republican from the Capital District, now retired to Port Richey, Fla. They sat side by side in the Senate chamber for decades, and Farley saw Seward in action. (Only John Marchi of Staten Island, who served 50 years, was in the Senate longer than Seward, Farley said.)

“He got along with people,” said the retired senator in an interview from his Florida home. “It makes for a much better situation if you don’t get personal in your partisanship. He was always a gentleman. I never heard him confront or insult anybody. I was very proud of him for that.”

As we bid Senator James L. Seward farewell from his current job – thankfully, he plans to stay active in a manner still to be revealed – the dozens of complimentary tributes that appear in this edition give us pause for rumination.

We’re in a period of intense partisanship, where we believe we’re right and the other guy is wrong – or worse, immoral. In reflecting on Jim Seward’s 36 years serving all of us, we realize it doesn’t have to be that way.

We can disagree without insulting. We can believe strongly, without demonizing the other. We can have a diverse country – diverse lifestyles, diverse culture, diverse thinking – by being who we are and accepting that others may be different. No sweat.

It can be done. Jim Seward’s life to date proves it.

SEELEY: To Defuse Violence, Salka Must Accept Election Fair
LETTER from KARL SEELEY

To Defuse Violence, Salka

Must Accept Election Fair

To the Editor:

On Friday, Jan. 8, Assemblyman John Salka engaged in a frank, one-on-one, 15-minute conversation with me about the election results and the insurrection at the Capitol. I sincerely appreciate him devoting so much time to talking with me, as I’m just one of over 100,000 people in his district.

But I was left appalled by his attachment to two self-serving, destructive, false narratives.

It was clear from our conversation that he has no actual evidence that Joe Biden’s electoral victory was fraudulent. He brought up one item (the affidavits of people who claim they saw irregularities). I explained that many of those were from people who had not attended observer training and therefore didn’t understand that what they witnessed was routine procedure.

Thank You Seward, Well Done!

Thank You Seward, Well Done!

On Dec. 31, 2020, James L. Seward of Milford – everyone’s “Gentleman Jim” – retired from the New York State Senate, where he had served Otsego County since Jan. 1, 1986. Because of COVID-19, few of his constituents had the chance to say: Farewell – and thank you. When offered the opportunity, many of us – his fellow legislators, community leaders, top corporate executives and businesspeople, and citizens to whom he reached out and helped in time of need – have now done so in tributes that appear in this Special Edition – from The Editor

State Sen. James L. Seward was surrounded by the people he loved most as he was sworn in on Jan. 2, 2019, for his last term by County Judge Brian Burns. From left are son Ryan with his wife, Kelly; daughter Lauren with younger daughter Vivian; wife Cindy and Vivian’s sister Norah. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

It’s Still Unclear What Biden, Harris Can Do
Food For Thought

It’s Still Unclear What

Biden, Harris Can Do

President Biden and Vice President Harris are featured on the cover of this week’s Time magazine as “Person of the Year.”

All new Presidents inherit messes from their predecessors, but Biden is the first to have to think about literally decontaminating the White House.

Combatting the pandemic is only the start of the challenge, at home and abroad. There are alliances to rebuild, a stimulus package to pass, a government to staff.

Biden’s advisers are preparing a slew of Executive Orders: restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program, rejoining the Paris Agreement, reversing the so-called Muslim ban and more.

Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan aims to revitalize the virus-wracked economy – which some analysts say is unlikely to fully recover until 2023 – by investing in infrastructure, education and childcare. “I think if my plan is able to be implemented,” Biden says, “it’s gonna go down as one of the most progressive Administrations in American history.”

Much of what Biden hopes to do, from Cabinet appointments to legislation, will have to pass a more divided Senate than the one he left a dozen years ago.

If Republicans win at least one of Georgia’s two Senate seats in Jan. 5 runoffs, the fate of his agenda will be in the hands of Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell, who, like most GOP members of Congress, has refused even to acknowledge his victory.

Biden’s relationships and peace offerings may not be worth much in this climate, says his friend William Cohen, a former GOP Senator. Republicans “will be watching not him but Donald Trump, and acting just as much out of fear of (Trump) in the future as they have in the past.”

As in the campaign, the GOP is likely to amplify controversy surrounding Biden’s son Hunter, who on Dec. 9 released a statement acknowledging his tax
affairs are under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware.

CHARLOTTE ALTER,
with reporting by Alana Abramson, Brian Bennett, Vera Bergengruen,
Madeleine Carlisle, Leslie Dickstein, Alejandro de la Garza, Simmone Shah,
Lissandra Villa, Olivia B. Waxman and Julia Zorthian
2020 PERSON OF YEAR
TIME MAGAZINE
Dec. 21, 2020

Heegan, Casale Engergy, Brains, A Credit To County
Editorial

Heegan, Casale Engergy,

Brains, A Credit To County

Barbara Ann Heegan Departing Barbara Ann Heegan, Vince Casale exemplify dedication to duty around here.
Vince Casale

To begin, no one can rival state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, in contributions to our Otsego County. He’s a giant. THE giant, who is retiring at year’s end after 34 years representing us in the state Legislature.

He’s primus inter pares – or simply primus. The gold standard. (More accolades coming.)

But he’s at the top of a pretty tall pyramid of people with energy and brainpower in Otsego County public life, evident this week in two front-page articles.

The first retraces Barbara Ann Heegan’s local career, culminating in eight years as Otsego County Chamber of Commerce president.

The second reports on Republican County Chairman Vince Casale’s advances in the political field since he was chosen to lead the local GOP seven years ago.

Both stories overflow with initiative, initiative, initiative.

Heegan, mother of three at-home children when she took on her daunting new duties after a time of trial within the Otsego Chamber, hit the ground running.

Within a year, by “going out and talking to people in person” – as mentor Gordon B. Roberts, the Oneonta insurance man, advised her – Heegan doubled the membership, with new money making all things that followed possible.

For a while, until COVID kept us at home, it seemed like she was everywhere.

Some of her initiatives were flashy – the Workforce Development Summit at The Otesaga in October 2018, for instance, where Oneonta businessman Al Cleinman convinced us “knowledge workers” are our future– but the accomplishments were steady. Leadership Otsego introduced rising county leaders to each other, to the county’s major institutions, and to the players they will succeed. The Energy Summit in 2019 fed vitality into the county’s Energy Task Force, (its outcomes delayed by the pandemic.)

Her latest boss, board chairman Al Rubin, spoke of her sensitivity to small-business needs: When a potentially costly regulation from Albany lands in local entrepreneurs’ laps, she would bring in
an expert to guide the way – for $35 apiece, forestalling costly individual consultation with lawyers.

Picking up on an idea behind the first “Seward Summit” on economic development just before her hiring in 2012, Barbara Ann rarely missed an opportunity to introduce businesspeople from around the county to each other.

Former Cooperstown mayor Jeff Katz remembers the buzz in Foothills’ “Black Box” theater when, on Jan. 2, 2013, there he was sitting on the dais beside his Oneonta counterpart, Dick Miller, at the chamber’s traditional “State of the State” breakfast. Unheard of. (“My thought at the time,” Katz remembers, “was: ‘This might be the only time I’m invited. I better let it rip!’”)

Barbara Ann’s favorite activity was the twice-yearly gala, the Celebration of Business in the spring in Oneonta – it includes the Bettiol Citizen of the Year Award – and the Small Business of the Year banquet at The Otesaga in the fall. The record attendance came in March 2014, when attorney John Scarzafava won Bettiol honors and more than 300 people cheered him, (at $100 a head!)

Vince Casale’s efforts were more focused, but no less impactful. Approached by two committee members and two county board members to take over the helm in 2013, he arrived to find the party in post-fracking shambles.

Polling in local races for the first time, he found the GOP’s candidates far behind in county board races, and the party in danger of losing its majority. The fracking battles had peaked by then. Stop talking about it, he told candidates. Talk about keeping taxes low, about keeping under Governor Cuomo’s recently imposed 2 percent property-tax “cap.”

To give just one example: He saw Republican challenger Rick Hulse in the Cooperstown/Town of Otesgo district rise from 20 points behind to 10 points behind to winning by seven points on Election Day 2013. In Democratic Oneonta, Republicans Janet Hurley Quakenbush and Craig Gelbsman carried the day.

Unheard of.

There’s much more. Check page one article on Vince.

Barbara Ann is leaving Jan. 4 to lead the chamber in Greenwood, S.C. Vince is refocusing his attention on his political consulting firm, The Casale Group, with has represented such lights as Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive who challenged Cuomo in 2018.

Let’s wish them well as they leave our local scene. But here’s a parlor game for this Christmas season – via Zoom, of course: Let’s identify all the similarly energetic, selfless, smart and creative people who continue to work on our behalf.

To prime the pump: County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, glassrecycling entrepreneur Cynthia Andela in Richfield Springs, Cooperstown and Oneonta’s mayors, Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Gary Herzig respectively, the county board leadership team, David Bliss and Meg Kennedy, it goes on and on.

You’ll end the COVID year in a pretty good frame of mind.

Scrappy, Innovative GOP Chair Resigns, Focuses on Consulting

Scrappy, Innovative GOP Chair

Resigns, Focuses on Consulting

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Vince Casale and wife (and fellow consultant) Lynn Krogh with a wall of memorabilia. (Jim Kevline/AllOTSEGO.com)

It was 2013. The issue was fracking. And four prominent local Republicans knocked on Vince Casale’s door.

“It was conveyed to me that the party was in some trouble,” said Casale, who last week advised the Republican County Committee he is resigning as chairman.

“My work is done,” he said. “It’s time for a change.”

He recommended Lori Lehenbauer of Worcester, Republican county elections commissioner, as his successor.

His seven years spanned the tenures of four of his Democratic counterparts.

In 2013, the first Democrat elected to countywide office in memory, Dan Crowell, was running for reelection unopposed, Casale recalled.

There was a shortage of candidates and, “when people were asked to run, they were just left to themselves.”

The committee had been using raffles to raise money – that was illegal, it turned out, leading to a sizable fine.

“At the time, I was consulting,” Vince recounted the other day – he still operates the Cooperstown-based Casale Group with his wife, Lynn Krogh, most recently helping guide state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s campaign. “I was very happy.”

But the GOP contingent told him, “We need to win races. You know how to win races.”

Remembers Casale, “With the blessing of Senator Seward, I was good to go. I took over in September,” two months before the fall elections.

“The first thing we do is run polling,” a first in local races. It discovered not only newcomers, but longtime incumbents were in tight races, he said. “It’s going to be a drubbing like we’d never seen.”

Fracking had damaged the Republicans, but by then it had been discovered there was too little natural gas here to frack. The issue “was just at or past the peak,” Casale said.

“I told the candidates: Don’t mention it. It wasn’t that we wanted it or didn’t want it. It was political survival,”

The new message: Republicans will protect your tax dollars.

“Rick Hulse was down by over 20 points when we first did that poll,” said Casale. “I remember him cutting it to 14 points. I had him down to 7 points. ‘If we only had one more week,’ I told myself.

“I went into Election Day thinking we would lose the Town of Otsego,” including most of Cooperstown, he said. “We ended up winning by 10 points.”

Republicans Janet Quackenbush and Craig Gelbsman also won in Democratic Oneonta, and Len Carson, the retired fire captain.

Casale, then 40, was no stranger to politics. At age 5, he was handing out pencils at county fairs on behalf of his father, Assemblyman Tony Casale of Herkimer.

During school breaks, young Vince would ask to accompany his dad to Albany.

A music major, he taught for a few years before joining Herkimer Arc, then the community college, as development director.

He started the Casale Group in 2007. His first campaign: Cooperstown’s Mike Coccoma, for state Supreme Court. The next year, John Lambert for county judge. “The company just kind of grew,” he said. “I had a decision to make: Continue as is, or make the jump.” And jump he did.

This year, he managed the elevation of county Judge Brian Burns of Oneonta to replace the retiring Coccoma, and the campaign of county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, to succeed Seward, keeping both influential positions in Otsego County.

Now, he and Lynn are busy, but looking forward to 2022, the next gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

First Cooperstown Election Was A Wild One

Editorial

First Cooperstown Village

Election Was A Wild One

Illustrations inn Alan Taylor’s “William Cooper’s Town” including, upper right, Cooper’s Otsego
Manor, where Victor Salvatore’s James Fenimore Cooper statue is today, and, upper left, Elihu Phinney, Otsego
Herald publisher, a friend of Cooper’s who became a bitter political foe.

Editor’s Note: The uncertainly surrounding this year’s village elections locally and throughout New York State, now scheduled six months late on Sept. 15, brought to mind the tumult surrounding Cooperstown’s first village elections, recounted in Alan Taylor’s “William Cooper’s Town,” which won a 1996 Pulitzer Prize.

The (state) Legislature (in 1807) was considering two rival petitions to incorporate the
village at the foot of Lake Otsego. Incorporation would provide Cooperstown with a government
distinct from Otsego Township.

Ostensibly the rival petitions disputed the official name for the incorporated village (formation of an aqueduct company was also at issue): in one, (Cooperstown’s founder, Judge William) Cooper and the village Federalists sought to retain the name Cooperstown, while the other championed by (Otsego Herald publisher) Elihu Phinney and his new Republican friends, favored “Otsego Village” in order to dishonor the judge.

…The judge spent much of March in Albany haunting the Assembly lobby to press for passage of his bill. Instead, on April 3, the day after Phinney openly endorsed (gubernatorial candidate Daniel) Tompkins in the Otsego Herald, the state Legislature passed a bill incorporating Otsego Village and empowering Phinney and four associates to establish their aqueduct company.

Wounded by the theft of his village, William Cooper plunged into the campaign of 1807 with a vengeance. It became his personal mission to punish Phinney and the (ascendant Democratic Republicans) by helping to defeat their candidate for governor.

Flushed with victory, Phinney and his associates aggressively moved to implement the new government for Otsego Village. The May 14 issue of the Otsego Herald announced Tompkins’ sweeping victory and
summoned the villagers to meet at the courthouse on Tuesday, May 19, to elect five trustees.

But Phinney and Metcalf underestimated the resiliency and the anger of the Federalists, who were still a solid majority in the village, if no longer in the county at large.

On the 19th, the Federalist majority packed the courthouse and elected five trustees favored by William Cooper. Four days later the village Federalists reconvened at Maj. Joseph Griffin’s Red Lion Tavern.

They instructed the new trustees not to act until the legislature amended the incorporation and restored the name Cooperstown.

…Enraged by Phinney’s betrayal, Cooper urged his neighbors to cancel their subscriptions to the Otsego Herald, and he launched an effort to bring another, solidly Federalist newspaper into the village. In late 1808, the Cooperstown Federalists established their own newspaper, misnamed The Impartial Observer, (renamed The Freeman’s Journal in 1817.)

…The Federalists briefly obtained a majority in the state legislatire and, in June 1812, pushed through a bill reincorporating the village as Cooperstown.”

All Walking On Eggs, As Absentee Ballots Tallied

All Walking On Eggs, As

Absentee Ballots Tallied

Otsego County Board of Elections clerks – at right in top photo, from front, Wendy Adee, Laura Curtis, Jennifer Flynn and Chrissy Morrison – are counting absentee ballots at this hour before at full house in the board’s office at The Meadows. Seated at left are Richard Sternberg, representing the Democrats and, across from him, Lynn Krogh, representing Republicans.  At this hour, the recount only changed one race:  Fred Koffer was elected over Larry Bard as Hartwick town highway superintendent, 213-211.  Recounts in Exeter, Edmeston and Butternuts didn’t change the Nov. 7 outcomes.   Recounts in county board Districts 3 (Clark v. Nardi) and 13 (Lapin v. Carson) are expected this afternoon, according to Republican Election Commissioner Lori Lehenbauer.  Standing in the background are Danny Lapin, who is leading over Len Carson in Oneonta’s District 13, and Lapin’s father-in-law, Don Mathisen.   Inset at right, Lehenbauer provides County GOP Chair Vince Casale with results of the counts so far.  Behind them are Carson, right, chatting with Brian Pokorny, the county’s IT director (and mayor of the Village of Milford).  Check back for further results.  (Jim Kevlin/www.AllOTSEGO.com)

Absentee Ballot Counts Due In Tight Races First

Absentee Ballot Counts

Due First In Tight Races 

Key Tallies To Be Done Next Wednesday

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Absentee ballots will be counted first in close races where they might change the outcomes, Elections Commissioners Lori Lehenbauer and Mike Henrici said today.

Usually, absentee ballots are counted in alphabetical order, according to the names of the jurisdictions, they said.

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