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

MEBUST: Democratic Village Chair Backs Dem. Slate


Democratic Village Chair

Backs Democratic Slate

To the Editor:

Village elections for trustee and mayor will be held Wednesday, March 18, from noon to 9 p.m. at the Village Hall.

The Village Democrats are proud to have nominated three outstanding incumbents to continue the good work of the Village Board in recent years. These candidates – Ellen Tillapaugh for mayor, and Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton for trustee – combine years of public service and experience with youthful energy and commitment to the future of the Village.

During Ellen’s nine-year tenure as trustee, deputy mayor and mayor, she has provided steady leadership in overseeing some $17 million in major village infrastructure improvements. The Board’s success in securing project grants combined with careful financial management has resulted in no tax levy increases since 2013.

Last year, Ellen appointed Joe Membrino to fill a one-year term as trustee. For the past seven years, Joe has brought the skills and experience of a 50-year public service legal career to his new hometown. His service on the Water/Sewer Board, Housing Committee, and Planning Board laid the groundwork for his appointment as trustee. His leadership of the Finance Committee in the past year has demonstrated his ability and willingness to use his talents to help preserve and improve Cooperstown’s economy and environment. MacGuire Benton, a 2016 CCS graduate, was elected as trustee last year and now seeks a 3-year term. In an era when many young people move away from their hometowns, MacGuire has chosen to commit himself to Cooperstown and to help build a future for the community that is transparent, accessible, and welcoming to all people. The time and energy Ellen, Joe and MacGuire have given to Cooperstown is to be commended.

These candidates come from different backgrounds, experiences and generations but they share a passion for Cooperstown and a demonstrated willingness to work to secure a strong, healthy, and welcoming community today and for the future. I hope you will join me in voting for Ellen, Joe and MacGuire to continue the outstanding work they are doing for the Village we all love.

Village Democratic

BASSETT: Make Lettis Safer: Run Buses Until 9 p.m.

Make Lettis Safer:

Run Buses Until 9 p.m.

To the Editor:

Regarding the headline in your Jan. 2 edition, “NYDOT Said ‘No’ To Grant At Lettis,” I am really sorry that the transportation grant, applied for by the Town and City of Oneonta, was turned down. But, come to think of it, all of that requested money is not necessary.

The lady, April Johnson, crossed the highway 100 yards from a legal pedestrian crossing area – the intersection. People should know better than to cross a four-lane highway in the dark of night on a roadway that has poor lighting, and especially where automobile drivers do not expect, therefore, are not looking for pedestrians to be crossing.

The second issue is that a lot of people, including myself, walk on that highway to get to the Southside shopping area. Mayor Herzig is right when he said that the roadway could be safer for pedestrians. Yes, we all use it out of necessity, because OPT does not have the Southside Bus operating after 5:30 p.m., except for Wednesday-Saturday, only when the colleges are operating. That is why so many pedestrians are on the road out of necessity to shop and get to work.

A large percent of the permanent residents (non-students) are in the low-income range and don’t have a car, so without a bus, we have to walk on Lettis Highway. Either that or starve and become unemployed!

Solution: Have the Southside bus run until 9 p.m. every night, no matter if the students are here or not. It will keep a lot of people off of the road, minimizing accidents, and the need for a big green median.

If the colleges will not allow OPT to have the buses run apart from their students’ needs, then the only things that are needed are more lighting on the walkway and adding a little more walkway to the one side of the street that has more pedestrians.

From the corner of Maple and Main streets, where that Baptist Church is, you cross Main Street. Install a sidewalk there, along the west side of Lettis Highway, to join the rest of the sidewalk. There are only two or three spots that really need a sidewalk added, such as the bridge, and after the overpass of I-88 to Route 23.

With just those improvements, the money of which will probably be granted since it won’t be as much as was initially requested, and some commonsense by pedestrians, the problem would be solved!

Once again, the commonsense solution, which will eliminate a need for a grant, and the necessity for pedestrians to be on the road at all, would be for the Southside bus to be running past 5:30 p.m. every night Monday-Saturday.


WEBB: As Coopertown’s Only Newspaper, Please Add Balance, Enlightenment

As Cooperstown’s Only

Newspaper, Please Add

Balance, Enlightenment

To the Editor:

I have been taken aback in recent months by the stridently conservative rightwing posture of The Freeman’s Journal (and Hometown Oneonta), but the edition of Feb. 13 was particularly glaring, and that prompts me to write.

First of all, among other features, there was your long, space-consuming editorial calling for the repeal of the “Green Light Law” because it prohibits the State’s DMV from turning over information about undocumented license holders to U.S. immigration officials.

Then, in a nearby column, there was an op-ed article, not a letter to the editor, but an actual op-ed praising Trump’s State of the Union Address written by someone with no credentials for writing such a piece other than being a devoted right-wing Republican.

Needless to say, personally, I happen to be in total support of the Green Light Law, totally opposed to its repeal, and clearly of the mind that elected government officials, like the Otsego County clerk, should be sanctioned for their biased and illegal actions vis-a-vis the law’s implementation.

As for the op-ed about the State of the Union Address, I don’t think the writer and I heard the same speech. But I am not writing to state why I think both columns are off base. My concern is of a different ilk.

I remember very well the days when two weekly newspapers were published in Cooperstown, The Freeman’s Journal and The Otsego Farmer. Although it was not nearly as bad as it is now, there was indeed political polarization back then.

The Freeman’s Journal was considered a Democrat newspaper with the focus of its editorials and the reporting of certain kinds of news
events leaning toward a Democratic point of view. The Otsego Farmer was a Republican newspaper with editorials and news coverage reflecting that party’s perspective.

In fact, I knew of many Republicans who absolutely would not subscribe to or read The Freeman’s Journal, considering it nothing but Democrat propaganda, and there were at least equal numbers of Democrats who would have nothing to do with The Otsego Farmer for the same reasons, Republican propaganda.

The interesting thing is that, in spite of their definite political leanings, there was a far more balanced presentation of opinions and news coverage in each one of those newspapers than there is in today’s Freeman’s Journal. Neither one was as slanted as The Freeman’s Journal has become.

Now that there is only one weekly paper coming out of Cooperstown (The Town Crier doesn’t count, because it’s nothing but a rehashing of the Daily Star.) it would be refreshing, and readers would be much better served and better informed if The Freeman’s Journal were to provide a more balanced and, as a result, a more enlightened kind of journalism.

A good place to start might be to invite competent, well-informed writers to consider the issues at hand from different perspectives and then to devote equal space to the intelligent airing of divergent opinions.


HULSE: CCS’ Handwriting On Wall Has Been Visible For Years

CCS’ Handwriting On Wall

Has Been Visible For Years

To the Editor:

The time has finally come for all to realize that the viability of CCS is at true risk along with the viability of the Upstate New York region both educationally and economically. Onerous regulation and tax rates have driven businesses and residents out of the Empire State in droves, never to return. School sports programs are a very visible example of community identity; however, it’s the educational program that is most important and is at the highest risk.

Fifteen years ago a group of district residents formed the Concerned Citizens group to protest, and soundly defeat, a $31 million bloated capital project that prompted the biggest turnout in CCS voter history.  Enrollment had already declined from approximately 1,450 in the mid ’90s to 1,154 in the 2005-06 school year. The budget then was $13,240,000 and the administration privately conceded that CCS would very likely not be viable with less than 1,000 students.

Today, we have 831 students and the budget is approximately $20 million with further expectation of an enrollment decrease and no responsible budget strategy.

This is where CCS stands as varsity sports programs are on the block. This is where we stand after dozens of questions from the Concerned Citizens about a board plan to deal with this were asked over the last 15 years.

It’s about responsibility, accountability and the failure to read the handwriting on the wall starting back in 2005.

CCS is considered a wealthy district by New York State and therefore receives less state aid and lower percentages of aid when capital projects are done. This makes CCS an unattractive, but not impossible, merger partner for neighboring districts with much higher aid ratios.

For now, this simply compounds the dynamics of declining enrollment and a skyrocketing tax burden.

For 15 years, or longer, CCS has whistled by the graveyard until 200 residents showed up last week for a school board hearing about varsity sports but the terrible problem is really about how to deliver an excellent education to our children. Sadly, with emotions obscuring district viability, sports trumped education at that meeting.

There has been no plan, and there isn’t one now; however, budgets always pass and a $5 million capital project was just approved as merrily we roll along oblivious to reality.

Here is the bottom line, it’s time to read the 15-year-old handwriting on the wall.


DOWNEY: Gas Demonized, But CO2 Levels Keep Going Down

Gas Demonized, But CO2

Levels Keep Going Down

To the Editor:

Brian Brock’s recent letter to the editor (“Renewables, Not Gas, The Cleaner Way To Go,” 1/23-24/20) misses the forest for the trees.  In citing a one-year (2018) up-tick in U.S. energy-related CO2, he conveniently skips the long-term role of gas in lowering emissions.

A week earlier, the Energy Information Agency’s three decade (1990-2021) emissions report shows CO2 emissions dropped to 1990 levels as shale gas replaced coal at power plants.   Before shale, coal generated 56 percent of our electricity.  Today it generates 24 percent, with projections of 21 percent in 2021.

This in spite of our population’s growth and our economy’s expansion.    Wind and solar contributed, but natural gas was the driver.

Here’s why.  Gas is cheap.  Gas scales up easily to replace coal in an industrial society.  Mr. Brock and the No Gas! No Way! folks ignore these facts and dismiss a realistic option in reducing greenhouse gas.

Instead, they support the state’s (Governor Cuomo’s) multiple schemes to force New York ratepayers to pay higher prices for expensive subsidized and/or mandated renewable-powered electricity. They miss the Big Picture.

Energy needs are growing fastest in the Third World.  The people of China and India hunger for  the same  amenities afforded in the West  –  TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, computers, air conditioners, new homes and infrastructure  – all powered by electricity.  In the Third World, that electricity has been and will continue to be generated by coal.  Coal  emits twice the CO2 of natural gas.  Currently China alone emits more CO2 than the United States AND the EU combined.

The two largest coal companies in the world, China Energy Investments  (Shinhoa Group) and Coal India are both state controlled and under their countries’ political leadership.  At the Paris Accords, that leadership carved out a 10-year waiver  on emission goals and only a “promise” to set goals in 2030.  They are unburdened by treaties.  And China and India  aren’t the only emerging nations with energy needs.  How about Indonesia?  Brazil?  The continent of Africa?

Natural gas offers an option.  It’s competitive in price and emits half the CO2.  It has transformed the energy structure of the United States.  It can work elsewhere.  We have the gas; other countries have the need, yet Mr. Brock and the antis oppose the pipelines and LNG terminals that could make exports possible.

Here in New York Mr. Brock and his fellow gas deniers oppose drilling, pipelines, gas-fired power plants, or any upgrade to existing infrastructure.   They’re against the Constitution Pipeline, a pipeline that would bring cheap Pennsylvania gas to Upstate towns, New York City, and New England.   About half the homes in chilly New England are heated with oil.  Consider the possibility of Pennsylvania gas (one third less CO2) replacing that oil.

Locally, the antis are against upgrading  the NYSEG gas line serving Oneonta.  This upgrade  would  safeguard winter shortfalls and would meet the stated needs of companies wishing to expand or relocate here.  That would mean new jobs, new opportunities to help stem the outflow of young families whose children populate our schools and bring vitality to our communities.  The lack of opportunity drives young families  elsewhere.  However, if any part of a solution involves affordable energy from  gas, Mr. Brock and company are  against it.  Period.  They oppose it in the name of climate change.

Let’s get real.  Banning gas and gas infrastructure in our little corner of the world may satisfy a need for virtue signaling, but will do little to decrease worldwide emissions.  China, India and the rest of the emerging world will continue to electrify, using the cheapest fuel possible.  In most parts of the world, that’s coal.

We, in turn, should use gas (and renewables, where practical) to continue the erosion of coal-based generation here.  Gas exports would meet needs elsewhere.  These tangible steps would make a difference  . . . if the politics would allow.



FRANCE: Misinformation Can Lead To Unreasonable Worries

Misinformation Can Lead

To Unreasonable Worries

To the Editor:

In a recent edition of this newspaper, Mr. Brockway offered an explanation of his support for a resolution to make Otsego County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”

He prefaced his argument with his opinion that, contrary to an accusation in a prior letter, he is not a fearmonger. However, much of the information he cites to support his case is distorted or factually incorrect – the type of misinformation that promotes unreasonable fear.

I am a lifelong resident of the county (in fact I live just down the road from Mr. Brockway), and have been hunting in the Oneonta area for over 50 years. My career involved helping small communities and businesses in Otsego and Delaware counties, which I believe gives me a credible understanding of their residents.

I have not heard any proposal from any presidential candidate that leads me to fear any of them would move to take away my firearms if elected.

While it is true that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Heller vs. District of Columbia that the Second Amendment provides for an individual to possess arms outside of membership in a state militia, for traditional lawful purposes, including self–defense,  within the home, the ruling also confirmed such right is not unlimited and that guns and gun ownership would continue to be regulated.

Nevertheless, I don’t find in Governor Cuomo’s recent official proposals for 2020 reference to all of the gun-related regulations Mr. Brockway claims he has proposed.  I’d be curious about the source of these claims.

Mr. Brockway states that Australia passed a law forcing all its citizens to give up their guns, and that the crime rate then went up 400 percent in less than a year.  The first statement is an exaggeration, the second is patently false.

Australia did pass very strict gun-control laws in 1998 following a horrific mass shooting.  These banned most semi-automatic weapons, and the government bought more than 600,000 of them from citizens during a year-long buy-back program.

While this resulted in a significant drop initially in the number of guns owned by civilians in the country, since then the number has gradually increased and the number of guns currently owned legally by Australian citizens is about the same as prior to the 1998 laws.

Violent crime most certainly did not increase 400 percent following these laws; a simple Google search will show that this viral “fact” was debunked years ago but continues to be circulated.  In fact, the rate of homicides in Australia continues to drop in a trend that started prior to the 1998 gun-control laws.

Like Mr. Brockway, I don’t want Otsego County to become a gun-free zone, but Australia’s experience demonstrates that even rigid gun-control laws won’t result in such a radical situation.

The primary purpose of the laws was to reduce mass shootings.  In the decade prior to them, Australia suffered mass shootings at the rate of more than one per year; in the 20-plus years since, only three such incidents, two of which were acts of domestic violence. The United States suffered 31 mass murder incidents in 2019 alone, and a total of 418 mass shooting incidents.

The contention that the highest numbers of gun crimes are committed in cities with the toughest gun laws is also not accurate. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Statistics, the highest murder rate (including any method, although it could be assumed the number of gun murders is proportional) of any U.S. city during 2018 was St. Louis (60.9 per 100,000 population).

New York City’s rate was a very low 3.5.  Houston’s was 11.8 and Dallas 11.4, these being cities in a state known for its liberal gun-possession rules.

Statewide statistics for 2018 showed Alaska to have the highest violent-crime rate in the country (995 per 100,000).  New York’s rate was 350.5, ranking it right in the center of the list of states.  Clearly, there are many factors other than gun-control laws that affect crime rates.

But as Mark Twain once said, “facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable,” so one can usually find statistics to back any side of an argument.  Unfortunately, debate over issues in recent years has been dominated by extremists and alarmists on both sides of most issues who routinely promote distorted and downright false information.

The rushed middle-of-the-night process used to enact the Safe Act was not government at its best. But in a civilized society, when citizens don’t like a particular law, the appropriate response is to work through democratic institutions to have the law changed.

A deliberate choice to ignore and urge others to ignore selective laws contributes to a lack of respect for general law and order, and is more of a threat to the community than any single law.  Surely there is a rational middle ground for regulations that could reduce gun violence without unnecessarily restricting legitimate, responsible gun ownership and use.

Polls continually show the majority of Americans desire some degree of regulation to reduce the opportunity for violence-prone individuals to possess guns, and to limit possession of assault weapons to the military and law enforcement agencies.

I’ll continue to enjoy the English skills demonstrated by Mr. Brockway’s outdoor columns, but I find his history lesson lacking.  Otsego County has no need to declare itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary”, and should not.


West Oneonta

LEGG: Gun-Control Advocates Equal Hitler – Really?

Gun-Control Advocates

Equal Hitler – Really?

To the Editor:

This news organization recently published a letter in which Otsego County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens, presented his opinion – certainly worthy of your readers’ consideration – about the general availability of firearms. In contrasting his perspective with that held by Democrats running for president, Representative Brockway wrote: “Adolf Hitler said, ‘To conquer a nation, you first must disarm its people.’”

History rules out the acceptability of lightly characterizing others as der Führer. Casually invoking him as a rhetorical device designed to negate an opposing viewpoint trivializes the suffering of the millions whom Nazis imprisoned, enslaved and murdered.
It also diminishes the shared sacrifices that thousands of Americans and others of several nationalities and political beliefs, at home and abroad, in an out of uniform, selflessly made to end the Third Reich, liberate a continent and, in doing so, become the Greatest Generation.

Hitler brutally perpetrated the most vile atrocity of the last century. Contemporary Democrat presidential candidates, on the other hand,
suggest that the abundance of guns in our country is having ill effects. These two are not equivalent.
Attempting to draw similarities between them is grotesque.


ANDERSON: Much In Country Today Requires Self-Protection

Much In Country Today

Requires Self-Protection

To the Editor:

By happenstance I picked up the Feb. 6 copy of Hometown Oneonta. In it, I found letters to the editor about a topic I am profoundly concerned about: my freedom, as protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Clearly these letter writers have somehow missed a few very important points about life in these United States. And by that I think they may have slept through their civics and constitutional classes while still in school.

The Constitution was written – and continues to be – the LIMITING Document, which defines the line that those working for US in government may not cross. The line is likewise defined by our Bill of Rights. There are many in government who choose to irresponsibly ignore those lines and have used all means possible to make “the people” forget all about them.

They and their operatives have managed to infiltrate our nation’s schools – increasingly so, for the last 100 or more years, incrementally erasing, in steps, the teaching of civics and accurate history. A child who is not educated as to their rights knows not what they are. Karl Marx knew that, and so did so many tyrants of the 20th century.

There have been over 20,000 “gun laws” written by this government in the last 100 years or more, and not a one has made you one bit safer, or stopped, violent crime. In fact, most of them are not enforced or serve the proper prescribed punishments upon the law-Breakers.

Instead, to gather votes to further their own careers, politicians grandstand by “fighting crime” by imposing new “laws” on the law-abiding. Criminals on the other hand, by their very job description, IGNORE laws, and indeed sometimes use the law’s existence to their advantage. This “job description” very much includes POLITICIANS. Because these politicians took an OATH and accepted the responsibility to defend the Constitution and our citizens, and then FAILED to do their job, Americans are plagued with

• Unvetted aliens entering our country – by the millions. Many of whom who have already proved our “leaders” wrong, by murdering American citizens

• Rampant Voter FRAUD – deliberately foisted upon the trusting populace by greedy power-hungry and seditious socialists, whose sole aim is to destroy this Republic.

• Shuttered state mental hospitals – asylums for the insane – thus turning out the mentally insane into our society.

•And on Jan. 1 of this year in New York, the governor managed to open the incarceration floodgates to allow 60 percent or more of NY’s criminals to “get out of jail free” – RIGHT OUT INTO OUR SOCIETY.

Politicians like this have made a mockery of our founding fathers and the thousands of brave Americans who gave their lives for American’s freedom.

IN ADDITION, they themselves created the environment where now more than ever, citizens NEED to be armed for protection against those they themselves turned loose within our society. Give up our guns? I think not, thank you.



DUNCAN: In The Lap Of Luxury – At Bassett Hospital

In The Lap Of Luxury

– At Bassett Hospital

To the Editor:

Who would have thought that you could find this magic red button at Bassett.

The pain was excruciating. After two months I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to the emergency room. We arrived at 10 p.m.  By 4 they took me up to my room.

Whoops, no bed. Waited a little longer, finally some rest and pain killers.

They put an object that looked like a remote next to me, it had a big red button and was attached to a long cord. I was told just to push it if I needed something. I felt self-conscious and reticent about using it. I am stubbornly independent.

The next day I became a little bit braver. And it grew from there. In the middle of the night after fighting back and forth in my own mind about feeling cold, I finally pushed the button and said that I was cold.

The door swung open and the light spilled into the darkness. A nurse walked in and pulled back my covers. She laid two warmed blankets on me. Ahhh.

You could push the button and get a cuppa tea. You could push the button and get a meal. By the third day I was getting into this.

But I still held back some, knowing that I was not the only button pusher in this place. I need to go for a little walk, push the button. I need to go to the bathroom, push the button.

On the third day I realized I was getting all too comfortable with this. It was time to try and get out of here. I wasn’t pushy and they suggested one more day. I was not going to argue.

This is one of the problems with the healing process. People become used to being waited on. They become used to the attention, compassion and concern from the nurses and doctors.

Some patients can’t get that in their life so they turned to the medical profession and look for as many procedures as they can find in order to keep the caring people around them. To feel wanted.

It gives you insight into our society and what is lacking in America. Humanism. Compassion. There are some people who would rather be sick then to go back out into their cold world.

So on the fourth day they wheeled me out to the front door. I did drag it out till after lunch! One more push of the button! It was a bit sad, there were a few people that I really enjoyed seeing and talking to every day, as they were going about their rounds, and checking up on me from time to time, around the clock. Thanks guys.

Hardwick Forrest

STAMMEL: ‘Sanctuary’ May Kill Golden Goose

‘Sanctuary’ May Kill Golden Goose


To the Editor:

Elected officials should make efforts to understand and represent, within the confines of the law, our constituents’ varying perspectives. Thus, Representative Brockway’s “Second Amendment sanctuary” letter in last week’s edition was concerning both in its substance and tone.

His letter rebutted a column a week before submitted by an active local resident. Brockway dismissively wrote that the author “is not native to the area and does not understand the people of rural, Upstate New York.”

Politicians may disagree with a community member’s position on an issue; but negating the personal value of those opinions based on assumptions about where someone was born is inappropriate.

We have a duty to work respectfully for all constituents, whether they’ve lived here for 80 years or eight months.

The opinions of “native” rural Upstaters about the difficult issue of gun safety are not uniformly absolutist.

Upwards of 90 percent of Americans believe some level of gun safety regulation is appropriate. This includes large proportions of people, like myself, who have lived in rural Upstate our whole lives or who have a familiarity with guns.

Among wealthy nations, ours is a significant outlier in the high level of deadly gun violence. Anyone who objectively looks at this fact will realize it is a problem in need of solutions. In government, we don’t solve the tough problems by retreating to rigid ideological corners. Instead we need to bring the best minds together from different perspectives and work collaboratively and creatively to create a better future for the next generations.

Sanctuary movements urge a radical and dangerous drift away from the rule of law. Many of us object to specifics in the SAFE Act or the process by which it was adopted. But like it or not, it is the current law.

Under our system, the way to change the law is to urge our lawmakers to repeal or amend it or to vote in new representatives who will do so. If a law is claimed to be unconstitutional, it may be challenged in the courts, which are tasked with interpreting the meaning of the state and federal Constitutions. Pro-gun special interest groups are generously funded and assist citizens in these lawful efforts at campaigning, lobbying, and litigation.

In Otsego County government, we frequently complain about unfunded or ill-fitting state mandates and often urge the state to improve them. In fact, the county board has been on the record for years with
its concerns about the SAFE Act.

Despite objections, our county and local governments are still obligated to follow our laws. The suggestion by politicians or by the county board as a body that our government not enforce the law is deeply irresponsible and de-stabilizing.

It puts at risk two of the primary pillars of our local economy – higher education and tourism. Our economic vitality depends on the revenue from those “outsiders” and newcomers about whom Representative Brockway speaks so dismissively.

How many fewer families will visit or send their children to our area if they believe they’re venturing into the Wild West where public safety laws will be applied arbitrarily or not at all? This divisive and misguided effort would not lead to a brighter future for the county we love and should be rejected by the county board.

County Representative
Town of Oneonta

MOSS: Sandy Hook Memories Still Resonate

Sandy Hook Memories Still Resonate

To the Editor:

I remember the moment when I first heard about the shooting of first graders in Newtown, Conn. I was driving home from work, on a back road between Cooperstown and Oneonta. My immediate and natural response was to pull over, get out of my car and scream “My God, 6-year-olds! What is happening in this country?” The outrage and pain of it was overwhelming. I can’t even imagine what the families of those children went through.

This is the memory I have in response to Rick Brockway’s idea about Otsego County becoming a “sanctuary” for gun owners. I am a gun owner, and I don’t need a sanctuary. I also don’t need an assault weapon.

I am not worried about “them” (whoever that is) coming to take away my guns. First it was President Obama, then Hillary Clinton, now…who? It hasn’t materialized and just floats around as a paranoid ideation in a cloud of misinformation and fear. If someone is “coming to take my guns,” I hope they call first so I can put on the coffee.

My other response, when I read Brockway’s quote from none other than Adolph Hitler : “To conquer a nation first disarm its citizens,” is to wonder if Hitler knew that there are other ways to “disarm” people which go far beyond taking away their firearms.

You disarm people when you make them afraid; you disarm people when you violate the necessary social contracts which work well (like driving on the right side of the road) and
protect them; you disarm people when you withhold information that they need to carry on.

Most of all, you disarm people when you lie incessantly and make it impossible for them to
know what’s true or false, what’s real or fantasy, what’s right or wrong. Seems we are already disarmed, to me.


SUMMERS: Save The Birds, Scrap  The Panels

Save The Birds, Scrap  The Panels

To the Editor:

If I could buy two square miles of land for $1,000/acre, I would be fortunate indeed, for I would preserve these two square miles as is, in reparation for the three billion birds lost since 1970.

We have lost these birds primarily due to habitat loss; they have nowhere to live thanks to our endless consumption of land. When will we humans learn that what the earth freely gives us is finite?
Many of us live here because of this area’s natural beauty. We would do well to honor that connection, and forego the short-term gain of receiving $1,000/acre for our beautiful home.


WILCOX: Gunmen More Scary Than G-Men

Gunmen More Scary Than G-Men

To the Editor:

Rick Brockway states “every Democratic candidate…will take our guns away.”

If he means the candidates advocate the confiscation of all guns owned by law-abiding citizens, he’s wrong. None of them takes that position. They are for stricter gun control, as well they ought to be.
The guns, Mr. Brockway, I and other Upstate folks had growing up were nothing like what we’re faced with today. We’ve had, and will have, shootings in churches, schools, movies, concerts and other venues.

The weapon of choice is often one that can deliver many bullets very rapidly, a weapon designed for our Armed Forces.

The Second Amendment refers to arms, not guns. Most arms available to our Armed Forces have been deemed inappropriate for private citizens. Should we add guns with high-capacity magazines to the “inappropriate” list? It’s worth discussing.

Mr. Brockway hopes he never has to confront government agents coming to take his guns. I sit by the door of my church hoping one of my fellow citizens doesn’t show up with murderous intent. Thankfully the statistics are overwhelmingly with both of us, but more so with Mr. Brockway.


BROCKWAY: Guns Park Of Otsego County Heritage


Firearms Are Part Of

Otsego County Heritage

To the Editor:

In last week’s edition of this newspaper, Larry Bennett stated his opinion of me and the Second Amendment sanctuary movement here in Otsego County.  Let’s face it: Mr. Bennett is not native to the area and does not understand the people of rural, Upstate New York.  In my opinion, he also has limited knowledge of the law, especially the Constitution of the United States.

Mr. Bennett referred to me as “a Republican grandstander and fearmonger with zero understanding of the law.”  I’m surprised he didn’t call me a gun-toting deplorable as well.

Larry, the intent of your statement was only partially correct.   I am a very proud Conservative Republican.  I’m not a grandstander, but I will definitely stand up for what I think is right.  I wouldn’t say that I’m a fearmonger either, but I do worry for my children and grandchildren, as I see the dramatic shift to the extreme left in this country today.

The Declaration of Independence stated that we have “certain unalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   The Constitution guarantees these rights.  But when I see every Democratic candidate running for president in the upcoming election outright saying that once elected they will take our guns away, I’m concerned.

Adolf Hitler said, “To conquer a nation, you first must disarm its people.”

Larry, I know a little bit about the law.  I have a bachelor’s degree in English and American History.  I know the county can’t pass a law overriding a state law, and the state cannot pass laws that supersede a federal law, but we can make a statement.

If you read the Constitution and particularly the Second Amendment, you should be able to understand that it gives the people “the right to keep and bear arms,” and “that right shall not be infringed.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in Heller vs. District of Columbia in 2008 ruled, “The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess firearms independent of service in a state militia and to use firearms for traditional lawful purposes including self-defense within the home.”

Now let me explain this so even you can understand it.  Governor Cuomo, along with the Downstate Democrats, passed the Safe Act in the middle of the night, substantially limiting our gun rights.  The Red Flag Law was also added to his anti-gun repertoire.  This year, the governor is proposing several new anti-gun laws including:

  • Limiting the purchase to just 20 rounds of ammunition a month after passing a federal background check for that purchase.
  • Closing all gun ranges.
  • Requiring every gun owner to buy a million-dollar liability policy in case someone is shot with one of our guns.
  • Restricting the type and number of the guns we can purchase.

ׇ• Passage of a state Senate bill (S7065) that would require a purchaser of any firearm, rifle or shotgun to submit to a mental health evaluation.

Now I might be a dumb country boy, but that sure sounds like infringement to me.

We love our guns and don’t plan on giving them up.  We grew up hunting, target shooting and just plinking at tin cans in the back yard.  We were taught gun safety and how to shoot and hunt by our fathers and grandfathers.

It was a way of life and still is.  When I went to high school, we hung our shotguns on racks in the back windows of our trucks and drove to school each day.  The first day of deer season was like a national holiday.  School was closed.  During those times there were no incidents or mass shootings.  Hell, we even had a rifle team in our school.

All persons holding public office have to raise their hand and swear on the Bible or the Constitution to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  It doesn’t mean just the parts you like.  It means all of it, including the Second Amendment.

Obviously Mr. Bennett, you didn’t follow the news very closely last week.  Ninety-one out of 96 counties in Virginia have declared themselves sanctuary counties for the Second Amendment.  On Martin Luther King Day well over 20,000 gun carrying, heavily armed, law-abiding citizens showed up to protest Governor Northam’s new gun laws and not a single shot was fired.

Much to the dislike of our liberal media, it was a peaceful demonstration unlike the ones at colleges and universities when the students dislike hearing a Conservative speaker.  In fact, those attending the Virginia protest even picked up all the garbage and protest signs before they left.  It’s important to note that the extreme left-wing governor of Virginia threatens to send in the National Guard to confiscate guns if the citizens don’t surrender them.

Good luck with that!  Even our own Senator Gillibrand has suggested similar gun confiscation, charging any gun owner with a felony and imprisonment if they don’t comply.

If cities, counties and states can declare themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants, protecting them from arrest and deportation, why can’t legal, law-abiding citizens declare their counties 2A sanctuary zones?  We should be protected from being arrested and criminally charged for the rights that our forefathers fought so hard for with their sweat and blood and are afforded to us by the Constitution of the Unites States.

Making Otsego County a Second Amendment sanctuary means that local law enforcement won’t use its resources to prosecute the proposed “unconstitutional” anti-gun laws.  Whether such a resolution has any teeth will depend on our local officials, but these measures are a reflection of the people’s sentiment on gun control.  We don’t want Otsego County or New York State to be a gun-free zone.

Presently we have over 2,400 members in the Otsego 2A Sanctuary Movement, and it’s growing every day.  We have collected thousands of signatures on our petitions.  Mark my word – this is just the beginning.  In fact, the New York Times last Tuesday had a headline that read, “The Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement Isn’t Going Away.”

It should be noted that some people who disagree with this movement went on social media and around Cooperstown and other communities in Otsego County, threatening to boycott those businesses that have 2A Sanctuary petitions on their counters.  These actions are not acceptable.

We are not alone.  The Second Amendment movement started a year ago in Western New York.  Wyoming County became the first sanctuary county in January 2019.  Today there are groups forming in Delaware, Chenango, Ulster, Schoharie, Oneida, Madison, Hamilton and Herkimer Counties, and I’m sure there are many more that I don’t know about.

Australia passed a law forcing all their citizens to give up their guns.  Their crime rate went up 400 percent in less than a year, because criminals didn’t obey the law.  Cuomo already released most recently arrested individuals that were held on bail and wants to close a number of the prisons, just turning dangerous, convicted criminals out on the streets.  Tell me Mr. Bennett, what are you going to do when one of them crashes through your door at three o’clock in the morning?  Call 911?  The police might make it to East Merideth in about an hour – maybe not.  Do you feel safe with that reality?

Thomas Jefferson was adamant about including the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  He wrote, “The beauty of the 2nd Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it away.”  He also said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is at the last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

It is estimated by the FBI that there are more than 420 million guns in the United States, yet the largest number of gun crimes is in cities with the toughest gun laws and are governed by Democrats.  There were over 500 gun-related killings in Chicago last year.  Hundreds of others were wounded.  Baltimore is just as bad, and I bet none of those weapons were legally obtained through background checks.  Gosh, maybe politicians should try confiscating guns in our inner cities from gang members and criminals before they attempt it with law-abiding citizens.

I asked a good friend of mine one day, “Why do you always carry a gun?”  He simply replied, “I don’t plan on being a victim!”

My wife commented, “What person in America would be OK  with taking away any of our rights?   This is not a partisan thing.  Republicans are not the only ones who hunt and own guns.  We have to protect the Constitution.”

Believe it or not Larry: If we lose the Second Amendment, the rest will soon follow.



Rick Brockway represents Laurens and Otego on the county Board of Representatives.

HUSTON: When CNG Trucks Crash, Public Should Be Told


When CNG Trucks Crash,

Public Should Be Told

To the Editor:

I have never seen this complete list (see box, above) before now. I don’t think anyone has compiled this data before now.

There are probably many more which did not make it to the newspapers. You are one of the first to see this.

This list was not easy to compile! Few of these names were in the newspaper.

My purpose here is not to violate anyone’s privacy.

However, IF it is true that these vehicles are unsafe and causing injuries and death, then someone should be tracking this data.

Someone should be keeping track of these incidents, and tracking the workers’ specific injuries, progress and recovery. As far as I can tell, no “official” agency is doing this.

These industry workers are REAL PEOPLE, and deserve our compassion and support. Industry wants to keep this information secret and away from the public’s view, and they hide behind medical privacy laws to
get away with it.

The manufacturers (Hexagon Composites, Quantum Fuel Systems), with the operators (NG Advantage and XNG), and the regulators (USDOT/PHMSA, DOE, FERC) should work together to ensure these vehicles operate in a safe manner, ensuring the general public, and the workers aren’t in danger.


Dimmock, Pa.

Huston has been monitoring CNG trucking from his home in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

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