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

There’s No Place For Gay Marriage In UM Church

There’s No Place

For Gay Marriage

In UM Church

To the Editor:

To all of our Methodist friends at the Fly Creek Methodist Church.

I read your statement in local papers about the Church and its position on homosexuality.

The Book of Discipline, the law that governs the Methodist Church, states that Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

Several attempts to change the wording have failed at general conference, defeated three times with a larger vote the third time than the first time. This is not discrimination against LGBTQ.

The scriptures that guide believing Methodists state that marriage is between one man and one woman.

To have a minister on the pulpit who preaches against this Bible truth is unacceptable to believers of God’s holy word and teachings.

To drag the secular rot of today’s society – divorce, abortion, people living without marriage, babies born out of wedlock – is not necessary.

The scriptures have already judged these actions as sinful. The scriptures also condemn all forms of fornication and debauchery.

If the Fly Creek Church is Uncomfortable with the scriptures as they are written in the Bible, by all means start your own Church, and call it whatever you want to, but don’t call it the Methodist Church.

I would also like for you to stop accusing us of discrimination and hate. I have never met a Methodist who said he hates homosexuals. We hate the sin and love the sinner.

May the peace of God and his Jesus Christ be with you and yours.

I remain,


Lay Leader, – Cooperstown Junction Methodist Church


Texans Say, Don’t Mess With Cattle

Texans Say, Don’t

Mess With Cattle

To the Editor:
Had the local dairyman moved to Texas and knowingly allowed his cows to starve to death, he would have been charged with up to 25 felony counts, each carrying up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine per head – which adds up to 250 years in the state pen and $250,000 in fines.

About the same as for manslaughter. In New York, he gets a Class A Misdemeanor – up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine – the same as jostling someone on the subway or writing graffiti.

Helpful hint: If you do not or cannot take care of your livestock, don’t come to Texas. We may be a bunch of neolithic thugs with brains the size a persimmon, but we really get all riled up when someone is willfully unkind to livestock.


58 Businesses Shut Leaving ‘Spooky’ City

58 Businesses Shut

Leaving ‘Spooky’ City

To the Editor:

Oneonta has felt spooky to me lately.

“Spooky” is kind of a funny word for a newspaper, but it really is the word that best describes how I feel about so many longstanding local businesses closing. Several were touchstones of my life, businesses that have operated in the greater Oneonta area for decades.

I decided a couple of weeks ago to see if my spooky feeling could be backed up, so I embarked on a project of counting closed businesses.  I decided to limit my count to businesses that had closed their doors (and not re-opened in another location) within the last three years. I decided to limit my count to stores and restaurants.

Within an afternoon, I had counted 58.

A few words about my methodology. (This kind of count is not as simple as it seems.)

I counted vacant spaces in the strip malls on the Southside. I counted vacant spaces inside Southside Mall, and I counted vacant spaces on Main Street,  (although I did not count spaces – like the notorious Java Island space – vacant for more than three years.)

Otherwise I just used my memory.  Some, like Asian Temptation, have been replaced by like-kind businesses, but many, including Oneonta institutions like Friendly’s, Ruffino’s and Christopher’s, have not. And many businesses on this list did not, ostensibly, close due to lack of traffic, including Ruffino’s and Christopher’s.  But if Oneonta was thriving the way that we would like it to thrive, they would also have been rebuilt or replaced with like businesses.

Obviously, this is a high number of closings.  The last few years and the advent of hugely successful Internet-based businesses has come with a lot of talk about “business disruption,” and how a certain amount of turnover in the numbers and types of businesses in operation is healthy.  But I would submit that there is nothing healthy about 58 businesses closing in a small city of approximately 15,000 people within three years. That’s enough to tear a community apart.

People can quibble, but I think the general message that this list imparts is clear.  We have a huge problem.  When you add to this the community services that Oneonta has lost over the past few decades – an airline with a once-a-day run to New York City, several schools including a school district in the Center City Area, Fox Hospital’s obstetrics ward, the Soccer Hall of Fame – we really do appear to be a small city in decline.  If this doesn’t concern you, it should.

I used up my allotted number of words, so next week I will write another letter with ways I think we can attack this problem.  I will say this:  I don’t believe that this problem has been caused by Mayor Herzig – who works hard every day to create jobs in Oneonta – or Common Council.  I think the root cause is Amazon, and the new “digital economy” as a whole.  But local politicians DO need to be part of the solution.  More later.



Clark and Mark Davies are vying in the June 25 Democratic primary to run for the Ward 2 Common Council seat.


Super-Majority Aims To Keep Tyranny Out Of Zoning Plans

Super-Majority Aims To Keep

Tyranny Out Of Zoning Plans

To the Editor:

For 150 years after Independence, government attempts to limit how landowners use their property were seen as unconstitutional because:

1. Zoning laws take property rights without compensation, and

2. Zoning laws constitute unequal treatment under the law.

Then came the ‘progressive’ era, in the early 1900s, which brought us the income tax, direct election of Senators, the Federal Reserve and Prohibition – all the so-called progressive reforms.

In 1916, New York City passed one of the first zoning laws in the nation – in response to construction of the Equitable Building (which still stands at 120 Broadway). The building towered over neighboring residences, blocking windows and hiding the sun.

All the original zoning laws in this country were written to address the problems brought on by congestion.

The first zoning enabling act was entitled:“An act to provide for the establishment IN CITIES AND INCORPORATED VILLAGES of districts within which the use of land and structures may be regulated by ordinance….” (emphasis added)

Crowded cities gave us the first zoning laws but the problems of crowded cities are not the problems of rural Richfield. That is why our 20-page land-use ordinance has served us so well for 27 years – it is appropriate to the area.

The proposed 100-page zoning amendment is NOT appropriate, and not warranted. It addresses problems we don’t have and arbitrarily interferes with growth and economic development.

The original NYC zoning law provided for protest petitions to enable dissenting landowners to force a super-majority vote by the legislature.

Edward Bassett, the legal architect of the ordinance noted that the protest petition was “a device for the protection of the property owner” and that its purpose was “to prevent easy or careless changes in the zoning regulations.”

In other words, the authority of government to zone and the recourse for landowners to petition were born in the same moment. The one has gone along with the other since there ever were zoning laws.

Property owners here in Richfield, who have signed objections to the zoning amendment, are using protest petitions exactly as they were intended – “to prevent easy, careless changes“ to our property rights.

Our protest petitions will require a super-majority of the Town Board to pass the zoning amendment. Without a fourth vote, the amendment will fail. The three-member majority may still use our tax dollars to pay an attorney to challenge the petitions – on technicalities.

Should they do that? Will they do that? Or will they accept the wishes of their constituents—and stand down? Stay tuned.


Town of Richfield

Nick Palevsky and David Simonds are running for the Republican nomination for Richfield town supervisor in the June 25 primary.

Take Heart:  Make Capitalism Work For Us

Take Heart:  Make

Capitalism Work For Us

To the Editor:

Adrian Kuzminski (May 30-31, 2019) recalls Garrett Hardin’s classic 1968 “Tragedy of the Commons” with appreciation, but closes with a rather forlorn, indeed hopeless take-home message.

As I recall, Harden pointed out that, faced with exploitation of “the commons,” rationing provided a workable solution: for example, if “free” parking becomes scarce and is being exploited by the powerful or the feckless, parking meters offer a simple practical solution.

So rather than pine for our long lost “non-corporate, decentralized, re-personalized, re-localized model of independently owned and run businesses,” why not seek out practical solutions?

• use our anti-monopoly laws to break up the “too-big” corporations,

• give unions equal power,

• encourage cooperatives,

• regulate corporate emissions & pollution & unfair business practices,

• guarantee a national living minimum wage,

• make capitalism work for us, the land and our children’s futures?

It’s hard to unseat these quarterly income obsessed corporate leaders!

But we can unseat our legislators, governors and the POTUS, until we elect governments that work not for them, but for us, and are capable of protecting our local, national and global “commons”!

Springfield Center

Nothing Is Perfect, But Green Movement Is Looking For Answers

Nothing Is Perfect,

But Green Movement

Is Looking For Answers

To the Editor:

I don’t always catch Mike Zagata’s column, but every time I do, he’s revisiting the same two themes—one right, one wrong.

Theme One is that even “green” technologies have negative environmental impacts. This is true, and it’s important to understand and keep in mind. When we get electricity from photovoltaics rather than coal or gas, we reduce our CO2 emissions, but we increase other impacts related to the mining of particular materials and the manufacturing process for the panels.

Examples are easily multiplied, because very few technologies are actually zero-impact, never mind restorative, leaving ecosystems better than we found them. To the extent that people are naïve about that, it’s good provide a reminder of reality.

Mr. Zagata’s second theme has two forms. Theme 2A is an explicit claim that something being touted as a “green” technology is actually worse than what we’re doing. This is what he said back on Jan. 24-25 about electric cars, and as discussed in my response published the next week, he was factually wrong.

Theme 2B doesn’t go as far as 2A. It’s not an explicit claim that some “green” technology is actually a bad idea. It is, instead, a focus on the green technology’s environmental impacts, with an implication that it’s not worth adopting.

This argument makes little sense, and sometimes Mr. Zagata blends it with other misleading or false statements. His recent discussion of geothermal heating is a case in point.

Yes, geothermal uses some electricity for the operation of the system (though Mr. Zagata’s April 25-26 column on the subject suggested he didn’t understand the basic workings of heat pumps). And yes, most people’s electricity still comes – at least in part – from fossil-fuel combustion.

It’s nonetheless true that heating your house with geothermal produces less CO2 than running electricity through a baseboard heater, or burning gas, oil, or wood. Why is Mr. Zagata trying to talk people out of that?

Most recently, in his May 23-24 column, Mr. Zagata takes apart a reader’s claim that their electricity is “clean” because they get it from a supplier of renewable energy. Mr. Zagata here is partly right, because it’s true that all the power in the grid gets mingled together in ways that we don’t usually think about.

If I go to the farmer’s market and buy a steak from Tauzel’s, the beef I’m eating actually was raised in Schenevus; it’s not mixed in with a bunch of other beef from, say, a Nebraska feedlot.

Electricity is different. If I buy power from a solar farm in Laurens, I’m not getting those “electrons.” The power produced there is put onto the grid and finds its own best route through the vast web of producers and consumers.

As with geothermal, we’re at Mr. Zagata’s theme 2B: you may think your electricity is clean, but you’re still getting power from gas-fired plants, so don’t bother with your “green” efforts. But this is misguided.

When you buy from a solar farm, you aren’t purifying yourself of involvement with fossil electricity, and you aren’t eliminating your environmental impact, and you shouldn’t tell yourself that you are. Nonetheless, you are helping. You’re increasing market demand for sources like solar that, while not perfect, are better. As that demand increases, our power system shifts to a mix of sources that are cleaner. Not clean, but cleaner. Not perfect, but still an improvement.

Green technologies are not miracle workers. Our daily lives will always have impacts on the world around us. But there are vitally important reasons for reducing those impacts, and there are practical ways of doing that, such as electric cars and geothermal heating.

Mr. Zagata’s crusade against these efforts is a disservice to the public.


Professor of Economics, Hartwick College


Trustees Should Help, Not Hinder Downtown Revival

Trustees Should Help, Not

Hinder Downtown Revival

To the Editor:

In last week’s newspaper, Cooperstown Village Trustee Richard Sternberg penned a column in which he went to great lengths to point out all the various village projects that need to be completed.  Included on the list such things as the roads, not to mention other infrastructure needs, and the wastewater treatment plant as well as the Doubleday Field upgrade.

When added to this list of needed undertakings, a new, and very expensive, aerial ladder truck for the fire department and the problematic almost-100-year-old water and sewer pipe system, there would seem to be little doubt that the village is facing some rather overwhelming projects ahead.

Main Street In Trouble, Yet Housing In Demand

Main Street In Trouble,

Yet Housing In Demand

To the Editor:

Your editorial about Main Street is timely.

When CVS and the General Store closed, businesses that remained experience a plunge in traffic and revenue.

We are in a tragic situation with no apparent leadership equipped to deal with it.

My advice to Matt Hazzard at the time was to go all out nationally to determine interest in the CVS space.

Parking revenue is probably restricted to municipal infrastructure work.

All parties should be feeling utmost concern about the health of Main Street.  State government is a joke with taxes and regulation that stifle business.

We are in serious trouble on Main Street. Yet, demand for affordable housing remains strong.



No One Should Be Forced To Take Psychiatric Drugs

No One Should Be Forced

To Take Psychiatric Drugs

To the Editor:

As a man diagnosed with a mental illness for the past 20+ years, I have the lived experience to give the public a patient’s view of the dangers of psychiatric drugs. They are not at all what most people, including those who are mentally ill, think they are.

If you were to Google “Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery?” by Lawrence Stevens J.D., you would get some startling but very accurate information about psychiatric drugs, what they really are and what they really do.

The worst thing that often happens to someone who is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit and/or mental hospital (especially in the U.S.) is that their rights are often limited and sometimes violated by a psychiatrist who forces psychiatric “medications” on them – against their will. This has happened to me many times over the years.

Methodists At Fly Creek Pray Peacefully Together

Methodists At Fly Creek

Pray Peacefully Together

To the Editor:

We appreciate this paper’s coverage of local dissent from the global United Methodist Church’s “Traditional Plan” which passed by a slim majority at the church’s conference in February of this year.

To those not acquainted with the issue, the Traditional Plan continues the UMC Book of Discipline’s codified discrimination of people identifying as LGBTQ.   Those so identifying are not turned away from church, but they are denied full benefits of membership.

The implied message to LGBTQ people by this decision is that there is something wrong with them, that they are just not worthy.

RSS Foes ‘Do Not Want To Live Near Crazies’

RSS Foes ‘Do Not Want

To Live Near Crazies’

To the Editor:

The individuals comprising the Sixth Ward Neighbors United are clearly not willing to be neighbors
to persons with psychiatric disorders who need housing assistance.

The Neighbors claim that they want full investigation of Rehabilitation Support Services (RSS) for financial improprieties prior to approval of applications for low-income housing for mentally ill residents.

You Ask: What Can I Do? Well, Here’s What

You Ask: What Can I Do?

Well, Here’s What

To the Editor:

I am often asked by people “what can we do?” about this or that, so I’ve begun a personal program called “Resist, Reject, Rebel.”

Below is a list of simple acts we can all undertake that would ameliorate an assortment of problems we face as a society.

1) Plastics in the ocean: Reject all drinks with a plastic straw. Send back the straw and ask the
restaurant to stop using them.

WELCH: Caped Crusaders Can Fight Ticks

Caped Crusaders Can Fight Ticks

Beware of lxodes scapularis

To The Editor,

Here are suggestions for removing ticks from walking paths, yards, deer trails, etc.

Attach to shoulder or waist a white bed sheet, and then walk or jog. Upon returning home, car or camp, quickly place sheet into a five-gallon pail of water with bleach, put lid on and leave sit overnight. Next day hang sheet out to dry to be used again next time.

RSS Cites ’40 Years Of Exemplary Service’ To Greater Oneonta

RSS Cites ’40 Years

Of Exemplary Service’

To Greater Oneonta

To the Editor:

I was disappointed to read the innuendo and implications in the May 1 story, “Sixth Ward Neighbors Complain to Seward About RSS’s Record.”  As we celebrate our 40th year in existence – including more than 30 years in Oneonta and Otsego County – Rehabilitation Support Services is exceedingly proud of its sterling record of providing essential programs and services that have enriched the lives of families, friends and neighbors in our community for decades.

No organization would last a year, let alone 40 years, without a clear and consistent record of strong financial policies, procedures, controls and management.  This is particularly true for an organization such as RSS, which receives public funding to ensure the wellbeing of vulnerable individuals and families.  As such, we are subject to, and welcome, regular financial audits – and through dozens of audits conducted over the past 40 years, the conclusion reached time after time is that public dollars under our stewardship are well spent.

Citing just one such audit, conducted by the state Comptroller’s Office into state’s Supported Housing Program, does readers a disservice by ignoring the full scope of our work.  In fact, in this case, the state Office of Mental Health, as well as several other nonprofit agencies across the state, joined us in taking issue with a number of the findings and recommendations.

The Supported Housing Program was designed to give agencies flexibility in implementation in an effort to provide the highest level of service.  As a result, guidance was general in nature and non-specific in many cases.  The audit itself reviewed a mere 60 of the thousands of budget transactions contained in the program, and we strongly refute the observations cited in the story, including:

  • An off-site retreat intended to educate board members is not entertainment – it is a vital part of ensuring that RSS is prepared to address the increasing complexities of doing business in New York State;
  • Recognizing community leaders who share their time and expertise with our clients with small honoraria (a plaque, a bouquet of flowers) is not only the right thing to do, it is allowable under program guidelines;
  • We regularly follow established procurement policies in regards to purchases, including competitively bid contracts.  The instances cited in the audit were either not subject to bidding requirements, or required special expertise that results in cost savings in the long run;
  • Retaining staff motivated to work for low wages requires an organizational culture that reinforces, on a daily basis, that employees are valued.  Providing low-cost refreshments (coffee and water) and recognition (an employee-of-the-month gift card) are reasonable approaches to do this; and
  • There is firm documentation that gift cards provided to clients to help them live independently were used appropriately, even as there is no specific guidance on this procedure.

Not reported in the story, which cites funds that comprise less than .01 percent of the total RSS budget, was that the same audit demonstrated that RSS provides a high level of service to our clients.  Also not reported was the final outcome of the audit: There were no disallowed expenditures, and no requests for reimbursement, for any of the items cited.

Finally, it is important to directly address two points in the story.

First, regarding state funding that would be used for this project: if it is not spent in Oneonta, it will instead be utilized for similar projects elsewhere in the state – to lose that funding is to lose a golden opportunity to support our community.

Second, RSS has and continues to be transparent about this project.  We have presented plans publicly before the city planning commission on multiple occasions, met regularly with elected officials, community leaders and others, addressed media questions, and set up a public website,, with specific plans and related documents.  As our great U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

No one would disagree that affordable housing is badly needed in Oneonta.  Similarly, among the thousands of people and organizations we have worked with for decades in Oneonta and beyond, none would disagree that RSS is the right organization to take on this important project.


Managing Director

Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc.




What Are Litterers Thinking When They Toss Beer Cans?

What Are Litterers Thinking

When They Toss Beer Cans?

To The Editor:

Although I understand that I am not alone in my annoyance and frustration over the never-ending problem of litter around Lake Otsego, it also puzzles me that anyone would cavalierly hurl a Budweiser can or McDonald’s wrapper out a car window without the slightest regard to consequence.

Maybe they think:

  • When snow melts so do all cans, bottles and plastic wrappers.
  • Garbage of all kinds, particularly that which is not biodegradable, enhances and beautifies the landscape.
  • There are people hired by the government who will clean up whatever I leave by the side of the road, or
  • Who cares what the community I live in looks like?

Like countless other local citizens, I care enough about the problem of litter to periodically stop my car, pick up cans and bottles, and put it into the recycling bin or trash.

But without everyone doing their part, particularly with their own garbage, it is a losing battle.

Please do your part to keep Glimmerglass beautiful.


Springfield Center


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