Our route home to Cooperstown from Tucson took us through Tulsa, Oklahoma, last weekend, and there was no way I’d pass through town without stopping at the new Bob Dylan Center. It did not disappoint.
I love every twist and turn of Dylan’s work, have read at least a few dozen books about the guy, own all his records, the whole deal. The Center isn’t just a shrine to random artifacts (“Here’s the chair Bob sat in when he wrote ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’”). Instead, it’s a place that can interest the casual observer (my long-suffering wife) and captivate the devotee (me) with thoughtful exhibits and expositions that delve deeply into the artist’s multitudes. Not unlike our own Baseball Hall of Fame. An experience to treasure.
We spent the night in downtown Tulsa; our hotel that evening hosted a gathering of Black motorcyclists who had traveled to town to commemorate the city’s Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921. I had nearly enough college credits to earn a major in American History but first learned about the event through a New York Times article on its 100th anniversary. Homes, businesses burned, hundreds dead in riots, thousands imprisoned for more than a week for no cause other than their race; a shameful weekend that should be a part of every curriculum.
Letter from Tim Wormuth
A letter was recently submitted stating that abortion is a constitutional right. Nowhere in the Constitution, nor any other founding document for that matter, is there given a right to murder. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life is what the founders of our nation considered a constitutional right. And this right applies to an unborn baby in the womb.
I know that it took a while for those who wrote these documents to have their practice catch up with what they believed (as with slavery and women’s rights) but catch up they did. Today, minorities and women have more freedom in this nation than almost anywhere else. Is there still more to be done? Absolutely!
But back to the issue of abortion. The problem is this has become a political issue when it is, in fact, a moral one. Life begins at the moment of conception. Science now bears this out. And a baby in the womb needs the same protections as a bald eagle in the egg. We don’t need more abortions, we need more support for women who find themselves in a difficult situations. Let’s spend the millions of dollars on that and become a nation that holds life in high regard.
Pastor, Hill City Church
Letter from Dr. Roger MacMillan
One reads with dismay and horror about the destruction and atrocities being committed by the Russian forces in the present war in the Ukraine. Apparently such activity has a precedent by such forces
in the past.
In the memoirs written by George Kennan, the noted American diplomat and historian, he wrote of the Soviet westward advance in World War II between Berlin and Moscow as they “liberated” this region. “The disaster that befell this area with the entry of the Soviet forces has no parallel in modern European experience. There were … sections where … scarcely a man, woman, or child was left alive after the initial passage of the Soviet forces. The Russians … swept the native population clean in a manner that had no parallel since the days of the Asiatic hordes.” This was written over 50 years ago!
Apparently the saying about history repeating itself once again is verified. So sad…
New York State annually reserves the third Tuesday of May for voters to cast their ballots on local school district budgets and board of education seats. It’s an important opportunity for the community to participate in
shaping local education policy, and we urge all eligible voters to take a few minutes and do so on May 17.
We urge readers to visit the website of their local school district — each has a good description and analysis of the budgets up for the May 17 vote along with the details of when and where the vote will take place.
In addition, we urge voters to support school budgets as proposed in each of the county’s local school districts. These aren’t spendthrift plans — in each case, district leaders navigate the rough seas of local demands and state mandates with an eye toward minimizing the school taxes property owners must pay. The programs these budgets support are essential to every student’s education — academic, athletic, artistic, vocational — each is a vital part of the comprehensive tool boxes that today’s world demands. The teachers and staff whom these budgets support are essential, too, of course — called out correctly as among the heroes of the pandemic and beyond, and deserving of our unified support.
[Editor’s note: This week’s edition goes to press just as the news about Rep. Delgado is breaking; we offer here a brief analysis of the situation as it stands on the morning of May 3.]
For Otsego County, Governor Kathy Hochul’s May 3 announcement appointing Rep. Antonio Delgado as her new second-in-command in Albany is nothing short of politically seismic — a move that could send aftershocks throughout the entire state and even into Washington, D.C.
Certainly Rep. Delgado was a Washington up-and-comer, an important part of the Democratic Party’s hopes to keep its majority in the 2022 mid-term elections. That he was pitted against a popular Republican challenger, Marc Molinaro, in an electoral district whose boundaries hang in the balance of a federal mediator, might have had something to do with his decision to take the offer.
Political machinations notwithstanding, Governor Hochul’s choice is a wise one. Rep. Delgado has proven himself to be a tireless and energetic voice for Otsego County and his district as a whole. Smart, approachable, and affable, when he shows up at an event or to tour a business, he shows up with good questions and displays a genuine interest in the issues at hand.
News from the Noteworthy
A few days ago, the first edition of the Tempe Independent – Volume One, Edition One – showed up in the mailbox.
Inside, I learned local Congressman Greg Stanton presented Tempe City Council with a $500,000 check to renovate the Rodeway Inn on Apache Boulevard to accommodate up to 200 of the city’s 380 homeless people.
I learned miles-long Warner Boulevard, a major east-west road through the city, is being repaved, and made handicapped-friendly at the same time.
I learned the historic 1924 Hayden House restoration is complete and will be open for public events and self-guided tours. (Some 100 years ago, Charles Trumbull Hayden’s Saltillo River ferry and his nearby flour mill led to the development of modern Tempe.)
There were also obituaries, sports stories and people news — there’s a new principal at Marco de Niza High School, around the corner — and police blotter items.
I had barely put down the Independent, when an email arrived from Hometown Oneonta/Freeman’s Journal Publisher Tara Barnwell suggesting a column to commemorate the April 18, 2021, sale of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta to a group of citizens determined to preserve local journalism in Otsego County.
My reaction: You bet!
Column by Ted Potrikus
My wife and I stopped by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music as we passed through Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday — we’re on a long-planned, twice-delayed drive from Cooperstown to Charleston to Tucson to visit our kids. “Where ya from?” the clerk asked. “Upstate New York,” I said. “Cooperstown, to be exact.”
“The Baseball Hall of Fame!” he said happily. “I drove up there a few years ago. Loved it. Had to visit. Love baseball.”
“I love baseball, too,” I said, “but I love my Stax records. I’m glad to be here at your Hall of Fame.”
This week’s column comes to you from the ninth-floor room in a Hilton Garden Inn in the “Bricktown” neighborhood of downtown Oklahoma City. The view from our window: the glorious field of the OKC Dodgers, the AAA affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers. We watched the final three innings of the game as we pulled in yesterday afternoon; no game today (but there are tornado warnings for later tonight, so there’s that).
Around the stadium — statues of Baseball Hall-of-Famers like Warren Spahn, Johnny Bench, and Mickey Mantle. Busts for Lloyd and Paul Waner (“Little” and “Big” poisons, respectively), Carl Hubbell. One for Negro League great Joe Rogan. One for beloved Yankee Bobby Murcer, a street named for Joe Carter. Proud Oklahomans all.
Letter from Pat Patterson
On behalf of everyone, I would like to extend a genuine, heartfelt, thank you to all those whose tireless efforts resulted in the restoration of our power.
While the rest of us kept warm, dry, and illuminated as best we could, these hometown heroes were out there day and night, struggling through that deep, wet snow. No doubt there were times when they encountered nearly as much snow hanging over their heads as was under them!
Fires; snowpacked, shattered branches looming overhead; hefty snow-laden branches needing to be moved; downed wires hidden under the snow … I’m sure these are but a few of the exhausting perils these brave folks faced when cleaning up after such an “upstate” spring snowfall!
So from all of us who are so very blessed to have you, may you each be richly blessed in return.
Also a very special thank you to all the workers who came from out of state to lend assistance. Leaving home and families for days is a big sacrifice. I hope they will somehow see this “thank you” or hear about it from someone.
Letter from Nick and Jeniffer Raphaelson White
On Friday April 22, for the second time in two years, we had a car drive off State Route 23, crash through our fence, and land in the culvert on the corner of our property in the Hamlet of West Oneonta.
The first incident was due to distracted driving. The most recent incident was due to a medical issue. Our five-year-old and dog play every day in the yard where both of these accidents occurred.
We acknowledge that the medical issue that caused the most recent accident was nobody’s fault and commend our local emergency squad for their hard work. Extracting the car and driver from the culvert was not an easy task.
The top of the car needed to be cut off for the driver to be extracted.
Letter from Mitchell Owens
The editorial that appeared in The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta on Thursday, April 28, 2022, regarding the Otsego County Democratic Committee’s Ukraine fundraising, sparked many a reaction in my mind.
Most important of them: What an astonishing example of performative outrage, high dudgeon, and holier-than-thou-ness. I do hope that the newspaper will apply equally outraged scrutiny when any seemingly altruistic local Republican initiative comes to your attention — and then devote an equal number of self-righteous paragraphs (in this case, ten) before magnanimously allowing that “we’re no less appalled when people wrap themselves in the American flag to claim moral or small-d democratic superiority…”
Depending on one’s particular perch, one committee’s fine print is another committee’s full disclosure.
Column by Dr. Richard Sternberg
Last week, I took a major step for myself and poked my head out of my shell. I decided that the situation with COVID is really not going to get much better. It is going to be endemic like the flu or the common cold and we’re going to have to deal with it. It’s time to get life back to as normal as possible.
I decided to take a trip to New York City, specifically Manhattan. There were several things that I wanted to do, and I haven’t been able to do for over two years. My personal schedule gave me a small window of opportunity to make the trip. I was also interested to see the response in the city to the continued presence of COVID and increase in lab-positive cases.
I went to a museum and I went to a Broadway show off Times Square. I also had a report from a friend of the crowd reaction at New York Rangers hockey game.
One day I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art specifically to see a special event, a major retrospective of the works of Winslow Homer. By the way, if you have any interest in American art, you must get down to see this exhibit. It is worth the trip. These major retrospectives of Homer occur only approximately once every 25 years. This one is every bit as spectacular as the last one was in the mid-90s.
Column by Ted Potrikus
History will forever remember cocktails-to-go as one bright spot amid COVID’s Darkest Age. We might not have been able to dine out, but we could order take-out and our favorite beverage too complex to craft at home.
It’s not like Those Who Imbibe weren’t also giving plenty of business to retail liquor stores (mercifully deemed ‘essential’ from the start of the pandemic shut-down) and the wholesalers that serve them, but having the right ingredients on hand for that Moscow Mule or Appletini might not have been top-of-mind when we were worried about everything else.
When New York took steps earlier this year to allow restaurants to once more serve up a nice cocktail with your take-away dinner, retail liquor stores went suitably ballistic. I’m not taking sides here (although I defer
to the restaurateurs for whom drinks-to-go was a lifeline) and was unsurprised by the trite “this will doom small business” trope the liquor store lobby trotted out.
More often than not, though, it’s the wholesalers and distributors — the guys who have controlled New York’s retail liquor industry since the earliest post-Prohibition days — who hide behind the more loveable mom-and-pop shops to fiercely protect their turf. Wine in grocery stores in New York? Probably not in my lifetime — and that’d be a topic for about 10 more columns. From where I sit, they’d love to see New York’s ridiculously confining liquor laws stay right in the 1930s.
We can think of no one other than Vladimir Putin, conspiracy theorists, or tin-foil-hatters who doesn’t support Ukraine these days. Otsego County has stood up large for a nation thousands of miles away, a noble testament to our region’s inherent benevolence.
This newspaper has published several reports about people doing good things on behalf of Ukrainians everywhere and, we’ll be honest, we’ve reported only after hearing about the events almost by chance. Maybe we saw a social media post or a flyer taped to a storefront and thought we could amplify the cause with a notice in our paper.
We rejected the one proactive release we’ve received to date: one dated April 4 from the Otsego County Democratic Committee announcing they had raised $5,000 to send to World Central Kitchen — that’s the group preparing hot meals for Ukrainian refugees.
A worthy cause and, well done for raising the cash. The release (now deleted from the party committee’s site, by the way), finished with this nugget: “Of course, our role as the County Party is to register Democrats, and support and elect Democratic candidates, but it’s also important that we help in non-partisan ways that make our community and world a little better. We are Democrats and we support Democracy here at home and abroad, in words and deeds.”
The make-the-world-a-little-better message, we thought, was a good one — until partisan politics reared its omnipresent head. We cringed a little at the blatant grandstanding and took a pass.
Letter from Dan Buttermann
Voter registrations are changing quickly. Just five years ago, the Republican party registration outnumbered the no-party registration by 250,000. But in five short years, the no-party registrations have gone way up, and now outnumber the Republicans. The Democratic registration lost ground too. This is a significant change. What has not changed is the requirements for a no-party candidate to be on the ballot — a candidate must secure three times more petition signatures than a Democrat or Republican. So, although voter preferences are changing, evident by registration trends, the requirements to be on the ballot remain the same.
This trend is a signal to our political leaders that changes are needed to ensure candidates, no matter the party, get a fair shot at being on the ballot. Changes made in other states, such as open primaries, ranked choice voting and parity of signature requirements to be on the ballot, should all be considered.
I am running to represent the 122nd Assembly District, and will be on the ballot as a Democrat, but that is not enough. My goal is to represent everyone and to include as many people in the process before election day, so I will be passing an Independent Nominating petition as well — referred to as “Party for a Day.” This petition is often used by no-party candidates. The name of my party for the election is Common Sense. We need action on common sense solutions that address the problems of our generation, and in order to succeed we need more people engaged in the political process.
Letter from Ln Alessi
I am so overwhelmed by all the support, love and kindness which has been extended to my son and me since my daughter Vincenza’s passing. Words seem grossly inadequate as I reflect on all the wonderful things people have done for us. Living in a community where people genuinely care about each other and express that care through their actions is the greatest gift.
I know how challenging life can get for all of us and yet challenges are always made easier with others’ encouragement and support. I thank everyone in “my village” who reached out to us and have helped carry us through this most difficult time. I am grateful that so many people extended their hands and hearts to us. I would never have been able to care for my daughter throughout her illness and her transition without all of you.
My sincere thanks.