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News of Otsego County

Letters To The Editor

DOHNER: Where Was Trump In Virtual Medicine?
LETTER from ERIC DOHNER

Where Was Trump

In Virtual Medicine?

To the Editor:

In his column, “Life in the Time of Covid-19,” Richard Sternberg forgets to credit the person responsible for making Medicare, Medicaid and all insurers pay for virtual visits – Donald Trump.

The former president also required the states to accept virtual doctor visits across state lines, which was a huge stumbling block for online medical care.

ERIC DOHNER
Binghamton

WEBB: Contribution, Not Good Governance, Resulted in Blinking-Sign Placement
LETTER from JOHN B. WEBB

Contribution, Not Good Governance,

Resulted in Blinking-Sign Placement

New on Pioneer St. Where next?

To the Editor,

Upper Pioneer Street has been defaced by the installation of a large solar-powered speed sign, the kind usually found in commercial districts or at the entrance to municipalities. Around the clock, it flashes the speed of all approaching cars along with a digital display of praise or warning, depending on the car’s speed.

It was placed there, NOT at the request of the police chief who claims to have known absolutely nothing about its installation, but at the request of a Pioneer Street resident who gave the village the money to pay for it. It suddenly appeared without any public vetting of the project whatsoever, and without regard for the residents of Pioneer Street who have to endure its unsightliness and its incessant flashing.

Residents of the village and pedestrians, particularly along Main, Chestnut and Susquehanna streets, main arteries in the village, have all observed countless motorists ignoring the very speed limit posted on the many signs they pass as they speed by. The same is true on residential side streets, such as Pioneer.

BECKER: Republic Under Challenge; Signals Are All Around Us
LETTER from BRUCE BECKER

Republic Under Challenge;

Signals Are All Around Us

To the Editor:

When millions of Americans understand that the past two elections (presidential and Georgia Senate run-off) were taken (not won) by a party that wants to control us no matter what it takes, it’s scary.

The outcome of the presidential election was planned for a long time. Add to this that this party is financially supported by powerful globalists working toward a one world system and not a strong independent USA, that up to now, has been the gatekeeper for much of the World. Now it gets scarier.

Can this movement be reversed? It is going to take a tremendous shift of voting to the Republican candidates, because close outcomes will just get taken again.

There has been a trend from the ’60s that has changed many voters’ views, which has brought us here.

First, we have taken religion out of the schools, plus put it on the back burner everywhere else possible.

Second, we no longer teach our youths the fundamentals/principles this country was founded on, which brought and preserved the freedom we have been blessed with.

Third, most of our media has moved to the left, so many voters only work with what they are giving us, which has gotten just as corrupt as the D.C. swamp.

Fourth, our Judiciary system has been pushed further and further to the left. It’s amazing what our courts look the other way on now.

Americans love our country and must realize to save our great country we have a big challenge ahead. Currently we have one party controlling us that over time have become secured by outside forces.

I believe our great Lord has watched us waiver from him and he is sending us a signal. Either we recognize his warning and change our ways, or our country will be taken. We have a fight on our hands just like the founders of this country did with the British.

BRUCE BECKER
South New Berlin

PLIMPTON: Dreams Park Orders C-19 Shots – For 12-Year-Olds?
LETTER from JODI PLIMPTON-WERSTEIN

Dreams Park Orders C-19

Shots – For 12-Year-Olds?

To the Editor:

Otsego County wants its 12-year-olds back. But the question of the day is: Are they too young to be vaccinated?

Last week, parents of athletes looking to attend the Cooperstown Dreams Park experience this summer, were notified that in order to participate, they will be requiring proof of vaccination for anyone 12 years old and up. Anyone under 12 years old, simply has to provide proof of negative test (however, they did not give a timeframe for how recent that test needed to be).

As you can imagine, there is MASSIVE backlash from parents for this decision, and timing of notification, as well as the numerous things grossly wrong with these requirements. First, and foremost, there is not even a vaccine available or approved for use in anyone under the age of 16. At this point, there is only ONE vaccine available for 16- to 18-year-olds, and ZERO available for anyone younger than that. So, they are putting a requirement for play, that is completely unattainable. That’s like saying the grass needs to turn purple in order for anyone to be able to attend. Those that were able to get through to CDP yesterday, and speak to someone about this egregious plan, state that CDP told them that they will be taking the summer on a week by week basis, and if the vaccine isn’t available for an upcoming week, then they will simply cancel that week and move onto the next one.

Leaving people out all of their entry money, travel expenses, lodging expenses etc, and they claim that they are FIRM on this policy.

WALLER: Point – Give Federal Largesse To You, Me
ISSUE & DEBATE

POINT: Give Federal
Largesse To You, Me

Editor’s Note: This is citizen Bill Waller’s recommendation in a March 29 letter to the Cooperstown Village Board on how to spend its expected share from the $1.9 trillion Biden Stimulus Plan.

BILL WALLER

Dear Mayor Tillapaugh and the Board of Trustees;

I read with interest statements relating to the benefits coming to Cooperstown from the recently enacted American Rescue Plan (ARP). According to press accounts, this could be nearly $350,000.

In reviewing the proposed 2021-2022 Village of Cooperstown Budget, I did not see any amount referencing the ARP disbursement. This is entirely understandable since the act has just passed, well after all the budget discussions held by the Board of Trustees.

As this is budget enactment time, I would like to express my opinion as to how these funds should be spent when they arrive.

…I would like to make a radical proposal: Give it back to the residents.

In this year’s proposed budget $1,779,194.00 is listed as the expected income from Village property taxes. I would urge adoption of the budget and then when the ARP funds are received, issuing a rebate check to our Village taxpayers. I would propose 10% of the taxes levied be sent back to every Village property owner as COVlD Relief. This would only cost $177,919.40.

While this may seem a radical proposal, I remind you that no one opposed the $600 and $1,400 checks mailed from the Federal Government. I feel that no matter how small an individual’s Village COVlD Relief may be, it will be well received. It would also be innovative, creative and will reward our Village residents for their endurance during the past year. And other than the massive error on the part of Otsego County Government resulting in 20% tax rebates a few years ago, when has a local municipality rewarded their residents by sending some of their money back?

ARP regulations stipulate that the funds cannot be used to reduce taxes, but they can be used to “offset the impact to households” caused by the pandemic. This would be a fair way to lessen the impact.

I know the Village Board could find many ways to spend the ARP money, giving some of it directly to residents would have a big impact.

Creative minds could even come up with a letter accompanying the relief check noting worthwhile community projects very willing to accept the resident’s donated refund if they so choose.

I hope you will consider my proposals at this opportune time as part of your budget discussions.


COUNTERPOINT: Village
Suffered Real Losses

… and this is Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch’s April 5 response:

Mayor Tillapaugh

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your letter of March 29 pertaining to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and your recommendations to the Village of Cooperstown on the use of the funds which we will receive.

…On March 23, Congressman Delgado held an information meeting concerning the ARP and provided more accurate funding information. He indicated the exact amount of ARP funds which the Village will receive is unclear at this time.

The U.S. Treasury will be determining the distribution of funds and will be providing that guidance to New York State, which will receive the funds for townships and Villages. The state will dispense them to the respective township which will in turn remit them to Villages. Our share will be based on our population percentage within the township.

One half of the funds will be provided this year and one half 12 months after the legislation is signed. General estimates at this time indicate we may receive approximately $120,000 within the next several months and a similar sum next year.

In budget year 2020-21, the Village of Cooperstown had an $800,000 decrease in revenues – from paid parking, sales tax, chips, and Doubleday Field rentals.

In reviewing the proposed 2021-22 VOC Budget, hopefully you realized that the Village Board did indeed fund an additional full-time police officer. We made this public safety commitment to our community, even though the funds we ultimately will receive from the ARP are only a fraction of the lost revenues due to the pandemic.

As for returning funds to taxpayers, the Village has not increased the property tax levy of $1,779,194 since 2013. Eight years of no increase in the tax levy is our support of Village property owners.

BARCLAY: Celebrate Pot Legalization Now, Rue It Later
LETTER from DOUGH BARCLAY

Celebrate Pot Legalization

Now, Rue It Later

Though the Governor has already signed this legislation into law, I wanted to share my statement from earlier this week on the decision to legalize recreational marijuana:

Many are going to celebrate the passage of the ‘Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.’

But we didn’t solve any problems today, we only created new ones.

Democrats will claim victory, but they ignore the inherent dangers associated with their decision. Legalizing marijuana guarantees young people will have greater access to a drug they shouldn’t be anywhere near. The minute this becomes readily available, the safety risks in our communities and on our roadways will increase exponentially.

Forced COVID lockdowns drove New York to the edge of an economic cliff, and advocates for legalization seized the opportunity to push marijuana as a financial windfall. While this may eventually improve the state’s bottom line, it will come at the expense of public health and safety.

Doug Barclay,
R-Syracuse, is Assembly minority leader.

NORTHRUP: While U.S. Soldiers Fought, Families Confined At Home

LETTER from CHIP NORTHRUP

While U.S. Soldiers Fought,
Families Confined At Home

To the Editor:

Racial animus against Asians, including snide remarks about the “Kung Flu,” has no place in America.

My father-in-law, Al Prather, was a lieutenant in the 442nd Infantry Regiment during World War II. Most of the enlisted men were Japanese Americans, most of the officers were not.

Many of the families of the Japanese-American soldiers were imprisoned in detention camps, as a form of racial profiling – the United States government assumed that they might be traitors: including the mothers, sisters, fathers and little brothers of the enlisted men of the 442nd.

When it came time to ship out overseas, the military attached the 442 to the 36th Texas Division and sent them to Europe to fight the Nazis, under the impression that Japanese Americans would have no qualms about killing Germans. They did not.

In one of the most famous battles of the war, “The Rescue of the Lost Battalion,” the 442 fought to save the survivors of the 141st Regiment, mainly Texans, who were surrounded in the Vosges Mountains near the German border.

In saving their Texas comrades, over half of the Japanese Americans were killed or wounded in less than 30 days.

Their valor was recognized with more Congressional Medals of Honor than any regiment in the war. All this while their families were in prison camps back in the US. The general understanding of their valor was that they fought as well as they did to make a point: that Japanese Americans are courageous, hard-working, loyal Americans. Not people to be belittled or mocked. Even by politicians.

CHIP NORTHRUP
Cooperstown

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

COVID? It Could Have Been Worse

ALBERT COLONE RECOUNTS FAMILY’S STORY

COVID? It Could Have Been Worse

Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has Albert Colone, founding president of the former National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, musing about the immigrant experience, when times were REALLY tough. This is the first of two columns on the immigrant experience of his grandparents, Frank and Lucia (Valentini) Colone.

AL COLONE

COVID-19, which hit America hard starting in early 2020, turned our worlds upside down. I haven’t been able to hug my grandchildren since early February 2020 on my last visit with them. So here we are hunkered down, adhering to the virus protocols, playing it safe and staying healthy.

So, what do you do to maintain your sanity?

I reflect on stories surrounding the trials and tribulations of my ancestors to understand the struggles they plowed through in their lives.

Remember, they were handicapped by not having all of today’s quality-of-life assets, no cell phones, computers, the luxuries of travel from automobiles to airplanes, prepared foods, safe housing, money and all of assets that we enjoy, and perhaps take for granted, today.

Do you hear where I’m going with this? Let me share with you some of the storied struggles of the early lives of my grandfather and grandmother.

DALTON: Program Instructed Us On Racism

LETTER from DEB DALTON

Program Instructed Us On Racism

To the Editor:

One of the joys of living in our part of Upstate New York is the ability to recognize and appreciate some individuals who truly make our world better, and who, in a larger populated area, might go unnoticed.

In this particular case, I would like to thank and congratulate Liane Hirabayashi and Lynne Mebust for the success of the “Looking in the Mirror: Cooperstown Reflects on Racism” programming made possible this year via Zoom and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area and The Friends of the Village Library.

The ability to participate in this important series from the comfort of our homes, and to view at a preferred time through Zoom – all recorded and available through the Village Library website – was a truly brilliant concept.

I am sure that all speakers who shared their expertise so generously would not have been willing to travel on our wintry roads to attend a live event.

Participation was high, technology worked! Our community has a better understanding of racism and now has some tools in our toolbox with which to combat racism here and in the larger world.

Thank you Lianne and Lynne!

DEB DALTON
Cooperstown

LAPIN: Voting Lets Citizens Hire Best Leadership

LETTER from DANNY LAPIN

Voting Lets Citizens

Hire Best Leadership

Editor’s Note: Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, is retiring from the county board to focus on chairing the city Planning Commission, and to share his reflections on development and environmentalism through his blog, (accessible by Googling “danny lapin blog”.) This is an excerpt to his introduction to the blog.

DANNY LAPIN

One of my best friends in graduate school lovingly coined the topic of local government the “most important thing nobody cares about.” This was, of course, after hearing me prattle on about tax rates, land-use regulations, and urban planning in general for hours on end over the course of our two-year program in bucolic Upstate New York.

The decisions made by our local government affect us a lot more than we might think. Most apparent is in the layout of our road network and built environment. Those decisions were likely guided by a zoning code overseen by a local Planning Commission.

Decisions on how parks are designed, when basketball courts are opened or closed, and whether a new dog park should be built in town are controlled by local governments. Decisions on when to plow our roads, inspect the safety of our buildings, and how best to respond to emergencies are largely undertaken by… you guessed it… local governments.

Too often, I hear that town/village/city meetings are “boring” or that “nothing” gets done. People question whether they should take time away from their families, jobs, or other commitments to attend meetings.

I created this blog to break down key issues facing the city ranging from Downtown Revitalization to housing, taxes, sustainability, and beyond. I did this because I want us all to effectively evaluate each candidate based on the merits of their vision. Ultimately, who each reader chooses to support is up to them, however – it is my hope that this blog will play a small role in helping people understand the key issues facing our community.

So why create a blog now? In 2016, the City of Oneonta received a $10 million grant through the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This grant is intended to transform our downtown through the implementation of several small-to-to medium-sized projects. In the five years that have transpired, façade improvements are starting to pop up Downtown, a new marketing campaign was launched, and dozens of units of new housing are likely to come online in our community.

As the planner/engineer and creator of “Strong Towns,” Chuck Mahron, says change is at its strongest when it comes incrementally from the bottom up. As citizens, we get to act as glorified job interviewers as we select who will be Oneonta’s next mayor. The first step to the interview process is for us to figure out what are some of the key issues facing our city. It’s time to step beyond the
dinner table where many of us has an idea of what Oneonta needs, enter the public square, and debate these issues in the open.

BUTTERMAN: ‘‘Dazzling’ Green Energy Best Bet On The Future For New York’s Citizens
LETTER from DAN BUTTERMANN

‘Dazzling’ Green Energy Best Bet
On The Future For New York’s Citizens

To the Editor:

The next New York State budget is on its way to passage, and with the federal stimulus of $12.6 billion it will not be as bad as projected. But there are still many problems ahead. Our state had a budget deficit before the pandemic, and a declining population, which the census will likely confirm later this year.

We must look for new ways to bring people back to New York. Without more people, our state will continue to suffer, and the problems will continue to grow. What is one way to bring people back?

More jobs!

How do we get more jobs? By investing strategically in the industries of the future, and we can do that without hurting businesses already here.

Green energy has dazzling potential. It is the industry with the fastest growing job basis in the country, and these jobs pay higher than average.

We need the energy too. New York has some of the highest utility rates in the country, and investment in green energy will lower energy costs, because the costs for renewable energy continue to go down.

Recognizing the value of green energy, the legislature passed the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act in 2019. This bill outlined clear and achievable targets to increase renewable energy production, storage and energy infrastructure.

Plus, it recognized that many communities across New York have been left behind and disadvantaged economically, so it makes sure that large parts of the investment go to these communities.

Our region has been left behind by Albany for far too long. This bill may start to change that. Of course, the question comes up of how to pay for these upgrades. We cannot print money like the federal government, so the answer is the Climate & Community Investment Act.

This bill will set taxes and charges against those businesses that pollute the most. The revenue will be turned into direct reinvestment in our state.

I support this legislation because it answers the question of how to pay for a specific state program. It may not be a perfect bill, it should be debated, and that debate can certainly make it better.

The results of this bill will help our region, and for that we all have reason to support it.

DAN BUTTERMANN
Oneonta

A Year With COVID

A Year With COVID

In 2020-21, Traditions Fell
Away, New Ones Emerged

Network Chief of Pharmacy Kelly Rudd briefs the first six Bassett employees to get a COVID vaccine. On Dec. 23 in the Clark Auditorium are, from left, Dr. Lewis Brinton, Keith Velasco, Eddie Cook, Suzanne Evans, Liz Burns and Dr. Travis Hodgdon. In the background is Allen Light, who administered one of the first shots. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: For the past year, Melissa Marietta, Fly Creek, SUNY Oneonta director of career development, has chronicled her family’s year with COVID-19. This was posted on Facebook March 15, the anniversary of Otsego County’s state of emergency.

The sun shines! The temp rises above freezing! I’m here to check in.

It’s the anniversary of The Last Friday. We knew something weird and possibly dangerous was coming. With no real understanding of the situation, we all assumed it could be days, if not weeks, before we’d return to life as usual.

If we only knew. If only we’d gone to one last movie, one last dinner out, one last coffee with friends, or one last concert. If only we’d hugged one another one last time.

Twice this week, someone told me they wished they could hug me and I couldn’t find the words to tell them I want nothing more than to hug them right back. I miss so many things we took for granted.

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

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