News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


Letters To The Editor

FLEISHER: No Future For Plastics


No Future For Plastics

To the Editor:

Every few weeks I wait with wonder, “what flavor cool-aid is he drinking now?” And, sure enough, Mike Zagata brought me up to date. Last week’s column told me just how far out of touch he is on virtually all matters related to science.

His latest entry (“Better Living Through Plastics”) touts the virtues of plastic and the petroleum industry that provides it, and wouldn’t you know this month’s edition of Consumer’s Report contains detailed coverage of the problems/hazards plastics pose for the global society. All of which is founded in solid science.

Get with the program, Mike. Plastics are a thing of the past – like telephone booths and black & white television. We are heading into a new age, one free of plastics and free of the oil and gas industry they depend on.

Plastic bottles hold everything from water to mustard, all frozen food packaging, the micro chips in your computer, the fenders on your car – they sure are convenient but they also endanger our health, our environment and are deadly to marine organisms.

Right now there are three permanently floating islands in the Pacific so big they can be seen from outer space – all made entirely of plastic trash, the same trash that endangers marine life. In fact, micro particles of plastic has been found in sediment at the bottom of the ocean, as well in some foods we eat.

It’s pretty simple – plastic is bad for the living environment – like the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

John Muir’s birthday was two weeks ago. He was the guy who, 100 years ago, taught us that it is impossible to touch anything without touching everything – within Earth’s environment everything is connected.

Having attended hundreds of science conferences at which new, creative and imaginative concepts are introduced and ultimately peer reviewed for publication, I am confident that science, if unimpeded by political bias, will lead to a brighter, healthier and innovative future.

I trust science and imaginative engineering to replace jet fuel with something equally volatile – a fuel that will allow us to end our dependency on the oil industry, yet support airline travel in the future. It’s coming Mike, along with electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels.

Our grandchildren’s grandchildren will look back on the current society as primitive and wonder how we could possibly have claimed intelligence, yet ignore the ongoing biggest global hazard – the biggest hazard of all – man’s contribution to climate change.



SHELBY: Act Now To Relieve Dogs’ Separation Anxiety

The Dog Charmer

Act Now To Relieve

Dogs’ Separation Anxiety

To the Editor:

Because of the pandemic too many dogs are getting used to having their owners around 24/7. In many cases this will result in possible severe separation anxiety (panic attacks from being left alone which
can result in lots of unwanted behaviors: barking, peeing and pooping, destructive chewing, etc).


The separation anxiety section in my book, “Dog Training Diaries,” details how to leave your dog alone and return creating the least possible stress for your four-legged significant other.

The Dog Charmer

COLONE: Let’s Revisit One Oneonta

Letter From AL COLONE

With Time On Our Hands,

Let’s Revisit One Oneonta

To the Editor:

During this time of crisis, Governor Cuomo’s daily report on the coronavirus in New York State has brought me a sense of reassurance that we will “beat the beast!”

He regularly talks of making something good come out of bad situations; he speaks of the positive outcomes which have resulted from past crisis.

What will things look like in our lives after the COVID-19 virus has been vanquished? What can we do to make Oneonta a better, more vibrant and a truly innovative place as we move to the future?

Many of us have time on our hands, time that could be productive and beneficial for our community.

Why not take the current down time to craft a referendum to merge the city and town of Oneonta? We all know, bucks were very tight before the pandemic and it’s not hard to imagine that available dollars will be far more restricted afterward.

Let’s produce one Oneonta that can run leaner, more efficiently and one with a better chance of increasing municipal revenue. Coming out of the pandemic, one Oneonta would glow with commercial and social productivity.

We don’t need a study to do this! We already know one Oneonta would be a heck of a lot better than the two flailing Oneontas we currently have.

All we need is for Mayor Herzig and Supervisor Wood to name an 11-member blue ribbon commission, five from the city and six from the town, charged with producing a consolidation referendum in time for
Election Day 2021!

The group will no doubt need the advice and guidance of a professional consultant and they are readily available and likely now, for super competitive fees. Between modest funding from the city and town and perhaps a match from Department of State, funding the initiative would be “a walk in the park!”

Should our key leaders be considering retirement, this would be the opportune time toward establishing a very positive leadership legacy!

If we don’t do this now, you can “bet the ranch” a post-pandemic Oneonta will be far worse than the pre-pandemic Oneonta; please don’t think we’ll make it on future public grants in that they’ll likely go away.

Let’s do it! I’d be glad to volunteer my time, not as a committee member, but perhaps in some type of secretarial role.

Resident, City of Oneonta

NORTHRUP: The Answer? Conservation


The Answer? Conservation

To the Editor:

George W. Bush is an old acquaintance of mine, I have known him since before he was governor of Texas, much less President. Although he was a so-so governor and a terrible President, one thing he’s not is a hypocrite.

His erstwhile opponent, Al Gore, became the darling of the environmental movement with his groundbreaking film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” The most inconvenient truth about “Inconvenient Truth” is that Gore subsequently cashed in on “green technology” without limiting his own consumption of energy – while, in contrast, George retired to his solar-powered, energy-efficient, rain-harvesting, minimal-consumption Texas ranch.

I was in the solar energy business from 1973 to 1980, when we sold Northrup Energy to Atlantic Richfield, to create ARCO Solar, where I became the planning manager for alternative energy systems.

So I know the potential of alternative energy and its limitations.

Michael Moore has attempted to overturn some shibboleths of the green apple cart with his new documentary “Planet of the Humans.”

When you cut through the melodrama, misstatements and erroneous assumptions, the core conclusion of the film is sound, and one I agree with: The fundamental problem is our consumption of resources, the primary solution is conservation.

The easiest way to reduce energy consumption is to not use it. That was part of the original environmentalist message – conserve, recycle, reuse – much of which has been drowned out by the marketing of alternative energy systems as if over-reliance on fossil fuels can simply be replaced with over-reliance on renewable energy systems, some of which, particularly biomass, may not be so environmentally friendly after all.

It’s an inconvenient point that we have learned during The Plague: the most effective green solution is plain old-fashioned conservation. Try it some time.


WHALING: And by The Way, Pesticides Still Used On Lakeside Links

And by The Way, Pesticides

Still Used On Lakeside Links

To the Editor:

As spring slowly approaches, golf season will begin and pesticides applied to the Leatherstocking Golf Course on the sloping west shore of Cooperstown’s drinking water source and Susquehanna River headwaters.

While this practice has been previously challenged by this writer and others, the Biological Field Station has been silent. Their only comment was: “Nothing was found” in their testing.
While this is good news, the reality is that when these chemicals do appear, it will be too late. There is also the troubling contradiction that biology is the study of life, and pesticides are designed to kill living organisms.

Common sense should prevail, and the Leatherstocking Golf Course should be be managed organically. Where’s the harm?


FLEISHER: Support President? Support Dictator

Support President?

Support Dictator

To the Editor:

Have you ever asked why?

Why are Trump’s “facts” different from those of experts?

Why does he mock and attack journalists who ask tough questions?

Why does he encourage radicals to demonstrate?

Why does he ignore information from knowledgeable scientists?

Why does he want to open the economy before its safe?

Why does he surround himself with “yes” men and women?
Why can’t he tolerate criticism?

Answer these questions and you’ll have the profile of a narcissist in search of power, focused only on reelection and with no respect for our Constitution.

To support such a person is tantamount to supporting a Dictator not a President.


COLONE: Pandemic Proving: Socialism Only Answer

Pandemic Proving:

Socialism Only Answer

To the Editor:

The most important word to define the “Cares Act” is socialism. One thing is for sure, the private sector will not be the source of a post COVID-19 recovery, either in job creation or in providing the source of accompanying funds!

Think of it: It wasn’t that long ago that President Trump and his Congressional Republican allies were chastising Democrats for wanting to bring nasty “socialism” to America; many uttering “not while I’m in office.”

If I’m not mistaken, the nearly $3 trillion stimulus packages recently approved received bipartisan and/or near unanimous support! Be still my heart; Republicans backing that evil “socialism?” Blasphemy!

Think of it, the policy proposals promoted during the most recent presidential campaign by Bernie, Yang and Liz are now being implemented by Trump and Republicans; and I suspect much more socialism funding will be required.

The private sector is and will be helpless in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, only government can define the faults in “the for-profit sector” and provide reasonable mitigating measures.

I think what will be needed after we shake off this virus will be in the establishment of an annual civilian jobs program, perhaps modeled after our system of military applications.
It might fund many labor-intensive infrastructure programs; a massive reconfiguration of our healthcare system providing universal coverage and in promoting job growth to include much more in home care.

We’ll have to counter wealth inequality programs to begin shifting much needed resources to America’s working poor; expand new energy, environmental clean-up of our air and water, along with expanded food production systems, and then the need to reshape and streamline our national, state and local governments to guarantee more efficiencies and expanded citizen involvement.

The physical and economic health of the nation and the World will have to be led by “smart socialism!” These are my thoughts, what are yours?


DUNCAN: Is Mother Nature Telling Us To Rest?

Is Mother Nature

Telling Us To Rest?

To the Editor:

Far away from here, in the Middle Kingdom, a place we know of as China. A little bat dove out of the rafters and took flight. It skimmed along, above the market stalls grabbing up bugs. The bat had no idea that it would do more for nature in a few weeks then all mankind could ever do. It was just being a bat.

A pandemic ensued.

This resulted in a reduction in the human population and a reduction of global warming, air pollution and other things in a matter of weeks. Man did nothing about this matter but argue about what political party did what, or what politicians did what things.

Mother Nature just took care of the problems in a short time. She is a master of keeping things in balance. In truth, Mother Nature has all the power… not your Hollywood actors, not your politicians, and not your billionaires. They can only pretend. With all their arrogance and excuses nothing was getting done.

Humans forget they are part of a bigger picture and only a guest in this world, for a very short time.

Red dust blowing in the wind. That is all man is.

Nature has taught us: It is important to rest. We used to rest on a Sunday. Greed took over and Sunday resting was lost. If we took one day a week and did nothing with machinery, work, etc., nature might be able to catch up and keep us the world in balance without so much pain to mankind. Maybe this is what nature is showing us.

Hartwick Forrest

WELCH: Expecting COVID Will Go Away Is Magical Thinking

Expecting COVID Will Go

Away Is Magical Thinking

To the Editor:

Authorities seem to believe the coronavirus is going to behave like SARS. Here today and probably gone tomorrow. Magically disappear.

They are simply not preparing for the potential long haul, that of the virus again and again rearing its ugly head.

They also don’t seem to be willing to think that immunity is gained by surviving the disease.
I think out of the box, both these possibilities should be used in planning. We will know more in time, but time is of the essence.

Warning: Meanwhile, the economy is imploding and will snowball, growing ever more self-destructive. All businesses are essential, at the very least to those needing to support their families.

I need a haircut!


DEAN: Well-Intentioned Visitors May Spur Rebound In Corinavirus

Well-Intentioned Visitors May

Spur Rebound In Corinavirus

To the Editor:

The best practice COVID-19 containment plans of Otsego County, and its residents, could be upset to an unknown degree this summer when well intentioned visitors may start coming in from all over the country.

That will be the uncontrollable variable that could show up in possible increases of positive local cases, towards the end of the summer, in my view.

Contact tracing would seem very difficult if not impossible.

Our primary mutual defense, in my view, is to continue to practice social distancing, wearing a mask in public places (I also wear light gloves), and washing our hands during the day, well into the fall.

I do not have a lot of interest in the alternative.


SCHNEIDER: Coronavirus Extracts Outsized Sacrifices From Small Business

Coronavirus Extracts

Outsized Sacrifices

From Small Business

To the Editor:

So… here is the state of affairs for everyone who chose to create jobs by rolling their dice with their own capital, their own sweat, and their own ingenuity on building a business, only to have it pulled out from underneath them through no fault of their own:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (not a government entity but a very important pro-business non-profit) recently announced a $5,000 small business grant available to all applicants… until funds run out, first come first served, starting at 3:00 Monday, April 20.

According to their site, they imagined issuing grants for the next few weeks. I imagined getting one. But I took no chances, and logged in at 2:57 to wait for the “Apply” button to appear.

And I waited… and refreshed… and waited… and refreshed until the dreaded “we are experiencing historic volume” message appeared. No surprise, and not their fault. So desperate are small business owners like me (all across America) to save their life’s work, keep promises to their employees, and NOT lose retirement, that the well-intentioned U.S. Chamber’s website fizzled, quivered, then blew up by 2:58, one hundred and twenty seconds before the grant rush was set to begin – a rush, by the way, for $5,000! Five. A week’s operating cost? A month’s?

This is how communities might want to fully digest the impact of this lock-down. Calling for a take-out order from a beloved restaurant is important (please don’t stop) but if you think that’s how we overcome this, please think again. There is no queue of cars outside the local boutique, or spa, or quick-change oil, or gift store, or yes, B&B.

Make no mistake, I am thankful for the U.S. Chamber and its grant… and really happy for those who received it.

But as I search for help, I find a Dickensian phrase dangling like poison upon my lips – “May I have some more sir!” I feel this way with my bank. I feel this way with my government. Tonight, I feel like I want to swallow the poison and let it be done, because there is no greater bane to an entrepreneur than to ask the government for help. My tongue curls even as I write this.

Yet here I am, it’s true, begging, because the government has literally taken my business under eminent domain for the greater good, and then, rather than pay a market price as required by law, ransomed it back in the form of loans I will now have to work beyond the grave to pay back.

Not satisfied with this seizure, the government has inadvertently stacked the deck against small business, requiring that we re-employ staff now making more through unemployment than while working, and making much more than tourists are willing to underwrite. Hundreds of dollars a week more. We are happy for all the laid off employees. We just can’t compete.

We certainly know we are not alone! Nearly every person in America (the world?) has paid a price for this virus, whether in endless days of seclusion, or endless nights at the hospital, or, yes endless jobs lost. Yet despite this shared sacrifice with its nod to the greater good, small business – and its legacy in the American Dream – is paying an outsized price. It is being condemned to the gallows without honor. Forced to drink poison.

To equate small business’s fate as just another virus catastrophe is convenient, expedient, but so unfair. If you’re lucky enough – ok smart enough – to have personally shrugged off the entrepreneurial American Dream in exchange for income guaranteed by a large corporation, or municipality, or union, or even (God bless you) a pension, then seriously… seriously!… good for you!

I honor you!

But please be aware that a vast amount of small business owners across this country and Cooperstown, who bet on the American dream, are groveling right now – at 6:15 PM – for a measly $5,000 as if it were their life line, which indeed it might be.

God bless us, everyone. Stay healthy.


PACHTER: The Answer, Choose People Over Money

The Answer: Choose

People Over Money

To the Editor:

As a former registered nurse and a retired financial adviser, I see both sides of this horrendous dilemma. But in my mind, there is no amount of money that is worth one death that could have been prevented.

We sit in our isolated homes in rural Central New York and feel a bit sorry for ourselves because we cannot do or should not do what is usual. But what we really should be doing is feeling extremely fortunate that our numbers are few.

Why is that?

Because our governor chose people over money. The projections have changed because most of us are doing what we are supposed to do. The number of those who have “croaked” as Mr. Tom Morgan put it are much fewer than our federal government originally projected because many of the states took the lead.

Think of how many fewer cases there would have been if our president would have taken the warnings of the WHO (the truth and not the propaganda) and his experts seriously. If we had a leader who had locked this country down instead of relating this to the flu, we would not be where we are today.

I don’t know about you, Mr. Morgan, but I have family members affected by this virus. I have a cousin who is a New York City school teacher who has been very sick for four weeks. My brother-in-law’s brother is also struggling with COVID-19 (not “WuFlu”). My niece and nephew are physicians and they have been exposed through their work and have two small children and awaiting test results. I have many, many friends in Rockland County who must stay in their homes because of the thousands of cases and deaths in that area.

And I am on the Board of Directors of United Hospice Inc. that is now taking care of those with no hope of recovery, both in their homes and in a residential facility. We have had three or four staff that have tested positive. All of this might have been precluded had our government taken swift and country-wide action.

But instead, our leader is promoting civil disobedience that in itself is divisive and dangerous. He has not once talked about the people who have died – only about numbers. And Mr. Morgan, you would argue that the mainstream press has blown this out of proportion. I think not and I think that people are much more important than money.

I know that it will be extremely difficult for this area to recover from the closing of Dreams Park and, at first, I did not understand that decision and thought that a rolling closure would be a better solution. But I personally would not want my grandchild in a dorm with dozens of other children that have come from all over the country in just four to six weeks’ time. Would any of you?

As a financial adviser, I never sat with a person who was gasping for air, but as a nurse I sure did. Feeling like you are drowning is probably the most horrendous feeling (yes, ladies, worse than childbirth) in the world. We need to continue to heed the advice of our scientists and not our business leaders and stay home and away from each other.

We need to thank our Governor for caring and we need to thank our first responders who are getting sick and we need to thank all those who are working hard to take care of the sick, sitting with the dying. And most of all, we need to thank the scientists who are working hard towards medication, testing and finding a vaccine so that we go back to life as we know it. And we need to listen to those experts who care about our well-being.


TALEVI: All Prayed, And Things Started To Happen

All Prayed, And Things

Started To Happen

To the Editor:
Thank you all for the wonderful response to last Wednesday 3 o’clock prayers.

I know our prayers have helped – two weeks in a row there was good news reported:

On April 8, the good news was the CURVE WAS FLATTENING and then on April 16 – again, a day after our Wednesday prayers – the good news was not only had the curve flattened successfully, it PASSED THE PEAK and fewer people were admitted to the hospitals.

I am really amazed at how many people have responded and have asked that we continue our prayers on Wednesday.

We still have a long way to go so I will see you in prayer on Wednesday, April 22, and thereafter until we chase this virus off the earth.

Alone and all together we can fill the air with prayer. Prayers are what medicine cannot do.





Stuck At Home

Stuck at home
Wrote this poem

Had some lunch
With Captain Crunch
Washed the dish
Made a wish

Fed the cat
Found my hat
Broke a mirror
Bad luck here

Made the tea
Had to pee
Sun went down
Moon is round

Took a fall
In the hall
Bumped my head
Went to bed

Drank some booze
Took a snooze
Up at dawn
Mowed the lawn

Stuck at home
Wrote this poem

Fly Creek

CALZOLARI: In Crisis, Your Newspapers Are Rising To The Challenge

In Crisis, Your Newspapers

Are Rising To The Challenge

To the Editor:

I read your April 2-3 print edition cover to cover and I learned a lot of valuable information I have not seen reported anywhere else. The service you provide to our community is vital!

I know that the newspaper industry has been struggling financially for over a decade.

I am so impressed that you were proactive and built a following on that attracts 8,000-9,000 views per day.

I hope your advertisers realize the incredible reach of your multiple media channels and support your small business by “buying local’ from you.

Restaurants are not the only small businesses that need our support before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal are helping many small businesses weather this storm with fantastic coverage of individuals paying it forward and
organizations being creative and innovative.

Let us know what we can do to make sure you stay in business too.


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