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News of Otsego County

Opinion

BOUND VOLUMES: November 26, 2020

BOUND VOLUMES

November 26, 2020

200 YEARS AGO

Land for Sale Low: One Farm of 44 and three-quarter acres of excellent land lying in Richfield, Otsego County, on the Hamilton and Skaneateles Turnpike road leading from Richfield to Skaneateles, on which is a good framed house and barn, a fine young orchard which bears fruit sufficient for a family’s use. The fences are in good repair and 30 acres of which are under good improvement; and lies near the center of the Town. Also, one other Farm of 83 and five eighth acres of as good soil of land as any in the same section of the County, situated on the Third Great Western Turnpike from Albany to Buffalo, by way of Cherry Valley and Cazenovia, on which is a good house and barn, wood-house, cow-house, and other out buildings, to make it a delightful home for a good farmer.

November 27, 1820

NYS SHERIFFS: 10 Per Table? A Step Too Far
LETTER from NEW YORK STATE SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION

10 Per Table? A Step Too Far

Editor’s Note: The New York State Sheriff’s Department issued this statement Monday, Nov. 23, saying local sheriffs lack the resources to enforce Governor Cuomo’s edict requiring
that no more than 10 New Yorkers celebrate Thanksgiving together.
This is an excerpt.

Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order which limits “non-essential private residential gatherings” to no more than 10 individuals.

That has caused great consternation among many of our citizens, who envision armed officers arriving at their doors to count the number of people around the Thanksgiving table.

Many Sheriffs and other law enforcement leaders have felt compelled to allay those concerns by assuring citizens that officers will not be randomly coming to their homes on Thanksgiving Day to count the number of people inside.

That would be neither practical nor Constitutional.

The Governor has responded by dismissing those serious concerns on the part of local law enforcement, saying, “Law enforcement officers don’t get to pick and choose which laws they will enforce.”

We find that comment ironic, and disingenuous, since the Governor has directed that his own State Police do not have to enforce the order. Apparently, it is another case of “do as I say, not as I do,” such as we have seen with many other political leaders.

He has also called sheriffs “dictators” for following the Constitution rather than his orders, which we also find ironic.

We do not know if the Governor’s limit on home gatherings to ten individuals is the right number or not. That is a decision for science, not us, to make.

We do know, however, that the Governor has attempted to foist upon local law enforcement an impossible task. How are officers to know, without violating citizens’ right to privacy and other Constitutional rights, how many people are in the home?

How are they to determine if the family gathering is to be deemed “essential” or “nonessential?” …All of those are serious questions which make it impossible for law enforcement to know how to legally enforce the Governor’s order. They are questions that could have been addressed if we had a functioning State Legislature, creating clear and enforceable laws after input from those who would be impacted by them.

Instead we are faced with an unenforceable dictate issued without any consultation with law enforcement or the public as to enforceability.

We believe that rather than issuing orders that cannot be practically enforced, and then blaming law enforcement when they are not enforced, the Governor would better serve the people of New York if he were to use his position to encourage citizens to use common sense and voluntarily adhere to the guidance of state and federal health officials…

We urge you to listen to our public health officials.

We urge you to limit your exposure to those outside your household as much as you reasonably can. If we all do that, we will sooner be able to get back to normal.

We in law enforcement do not have the resources nor the legal authority to force you to do those things.

It is a matter of individual respon-sibility and we are confident that you will all voluntarily rise to the occasion.

EDITORIAL: Pilgrims’ Energy, Ambition Lives On Today
EDITORIAL

Pilgrims’ Energy,

Ambition Lives On Today

In Custom Electronics President Mike Pentaris, the American spirit lives. (AllOTSEGO.com/File Photo)

‘Tribute to the Entrepreneurial Spirit.” That’s what the Otsego Chamber of Commerce called its annual awards program on Nov. 12, conducted this year largely via Zoom.

That rallying call couldn’t have come at a better time, given this year’s challenges – a pandemic, a particularly divisive Presidential election, and riots in cities and challenges to the very idea of policing.

The stories the Otsego Chamber’s honorees were a tonic. Liberty lives, and a somewhat level playing field, imperfect as it may be, is still enabling success stories aplenty.
For all that, we offer Thanksgiving.

Yes, the Otsego Chamber celebration underscored that freedom, ambition, achievement and access to prosperity are alive today on our “new Promised Land,” as the Pilgrims envisioned it.

Proof it’s so was Michael Pentaris’ story: As a boy, his family lived in a shipping crate near the harbor of Larnaca, Cyprus. Recognizing her kids were smart, Michael’s mom obtained scholarships for them to the American Academy there.

A scholarship to Brescia College in Owensboro, Ky., followed, and two degrees from SUNY Binghamton. Then, a role in rescuing Graham Labs in Hobart, and guiding its acquisition by a Fortune 500 company. And then, a rise to presidency of Custom Electronics, creating ultracapacitor-maker Ioxus along the way.

In time of COVID-19, Pentaris shifted the technology in BriteShot, which enabled “Law & Order,” “Blue Bloods” and other hit TV shows and movies to be powered
on location anywhere, to AirAffair, which, in three steps, removes the virus from movie sets – any enclosed location, for that matter.

Mike Pentaris was just the beginning:

• BETTIOL DISTINGUISHED CITIZEN: State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford,
had a dream of public service that led him to the pinnacle of state decisionmaking. He had hard-working parents who believed in community service, but he’s wasn’t born with a silver spoon at hand.

• BREAKTHROUGH BUSINESS: Pathfinder Village tapped the energies of its residents, many with Down Syndrome, to create Pathfinder Produce & Mobile Market, which not only provided productive labor, but turns out vegetables and food products for needy families.

• SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Theresa’s Emporium, which has figured out how to thrive in downtown Oneonta, on the ground floor of the former Bresee’s for the past 10 years. Despite the Great Recession of 2008 and other challenges, Theresa Cyzeski continues building her business, adding lines and pursuing opportunities.

Seward’s Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Award was created by Gene Sr., whose first business was running an ice-cream truck, and who ended up developing Southside Oneonta into the commercial strip we

Gene Bettiol

all frequent today. His son, taken by cancer in his mid-40s, was a chip off the old block, promoting the National Soccer Hall of Fame, then Foothills – anything he perceived as beneficial to the community.

What’s driving people like these today isn’t so different from what motivated the Pilgrims. Freedom to pursue their dreams brought 102 of them aboard the cramped Mayflower on a dangerous ocean voyage to New England’s shores, coming ashore 400 years ago last Saturday, Nov. 21, at today’s Provincetown, Mass., on the tip of Cape Cod.

It was “new Promised Land,” in their view, where they would be allowed to pursue their beliefs and, after a dozen years in exile and penury in Holland, to improve their economic conditions.

Before going ashore, Pilgrims and crew members signed “The Mayflower Compact,” agreeing to rules of order to ensure the survival of the fledgling community. It’s said to be the first time free people mutually agreed to a form of government.

Remarkable. Also remarkable that, with COVID-19, urban riots and a bitter presidential contest, we Americans mostly let the anniversary pass with so little notice.

Revisiting Jaci Bettiol’s assessment of her father at the time of his passing in December 2017 underscores our point: The Pilgrim spirit lives today. She called his life “inspirational.”

“He lived as if he was going to live forever; going full force each day without slowing down. No one could convince him to stop and smell the roses. There were simply too many opportunities awaiting his vision.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

BERKSON: Chickie’s Greatest Gift
LETTER from TERRY BERKSON

Chickie’s Greatest Gift

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His article have appears in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

When I was 8 years old, the hero in my life was my cousin Chickie, who drove an oil truck and often took me with him on deliveries.

The job led him all over Brooklyn and, being somewhat of a scavenger, he often came home with a bike or a wagon or some other discarded contraption he thought would be useful.

We lived in Bensonhurst, in a 12-room Victorian that had been divided into apartments. I occupied the second floor with my dad, while Chickie and his wife and two babies lived on the first floor and my Aunt Edna and Uncle Dave and their sons Leo and Charlie lived on the attic floor.

There was also Mr. Bilideau, the boarder, who was a leftover from the time when my grandmother had rented rooms. There had once been a Mr. Yumtov as well, a man who liked to store smoked whitefish in his dresser. Mr. Bilideau was from Canada. He had a room on the second floor and shared the bath with my father and me.

Just about everyone in the house owned something that Chickie had brought home and thrown on the front porch. “I thought you could use one of these,” he’d always say.

In spite of the partitions, it was difficult for so many people to be housed under one roof without having feuds over hot water and noise and things disappearing from refrigerators. Half the time somebody upstairs wasn’t talking to somebody downstairs. Chickie, with his various street finds, was often instrumental in getting them back on speaking terms.

One year, about a week before Thanksgiving, arguments were running high when Chickie came home with a live turkey in a crate. “It’s a 27-pounder,” he announced to several of us who had gathered on the front porch.

I had never seen a turkey alive and up close like this. “Where’d you get it?” I asked, cautiously poking a finger through the bars. “Did it fall off a truck?”“Never mind,” he said. “There’s enough here for all of us.”

I was placed in charge of watering and feeding the bird, which to me looked like some kind of prehistoric monster. I had to lower the water pan through an opened hatch in the top of the cage.

“Don’t worry,” Chickie reassured me when he saw the concern on my face. “That big bird’ll never get through that little hole.”

I figured they must have put the turkey in the crate when he was small and kept feeding him.

So any hard feelings were put aside and preparations for a Thanksgiving dinner at one table were divided between Aunt Edna and Chickie’s wife Ann.

Aunt Edna would bake the pies – mince, blueberry and apple – while Ann would roast the turkey, make stuffing and gravy and prepare candied sweet potatoes, plum pudding and the rest.

Dad, who was working nights on his taxi, would supply the wine and cider and Mr. Bilideau would buy some fruit – and chestnuts, I hoped.

Meanwhile, Chickie had taken to calling the turkey Sylvester, and would spend time with it out on the porch when he came home from work.

He’d stick a fat calloused index finger through the bars and let the bird peck at it. “You’re gonna be a good turkey,” he’d say affectionately.

I was still afraid of the thing and hadn’t warmed up to it that much, but all the talk about how this bird was going to taste sent uneasy twinges through my wishbone.

Three days before Thanksgiving, Chickie came home with bad news. The butcher around the corner didn’t want to slaughter Sylvester. He tried other butchers and they refused too. It suddenly looked like we weren’t going to have turkey for dinner.

A Thanksgiving turkey brought peace to Terry Berkson’s boyhood home in Brooklyn.

We were all gathered in the kitchen trying to come up with a solution. Chickie had carried the crate into the house and put it on top of the stove. “I hear you just chop off his head,” he was musing.

Uncle Dave mentioned that Mr. Bilideau had grown up on a farm in Canada: Surely he’d know how to butcher the bird. “But what about cleaning it and plucking the feathers?” Aunt Edna protested. “That’s a real mess!”

All this talk about butchering must have been too much for Sylvester, too, because suddenly, impossibly, he was out of his crate, flapping his tremendous wings and scratching at anything in sight with his clawed feet.

Everyone scrambled out of the kitchen. Leo and I ran for the bathroom while the others headed for the hall. The last thing I saw was Chickie struggling to keep Sylvester from becoming airborne. I worried that the bird would take my cousin’s eyes out.

How was he going to squeeze Sylvester back through that small trapdoor? I could hear both of them swearing.

After what seemed like a very long time, Chickie announced that the coast was clear. We all crept into the kitchen and found that Sylvester was back in his box. He didn’t look much worse for wear.

“I was careful not to hurt him,” Chickie said.

Mr. Bilideau came downstairs and entered the kitchen to find out what all the commotion was about. When asked he said, “Yes, I’ll butcher the turkey if you have a sharp hatchet.”

He explained that the way to get the feathers out easily was to scald the freshly killed bird in a vat of boiling water. He would use the tree stump in the back yard for the first part of the operation and a lobster pot from the cellar for the second. The procedure would take place the next day after work. We were going to have turkey after all. Chickie stood there in the kitchen with his hand on the hatch door as Sylvester tried to bite through the bars.

The next morning when I left for school the bird wasn’t on the porch. He wasn’t in the cellar or out in the garage, either. Chickie’s Nash was gone from the parking place next to the house. Maybe he had come up with a brainstorm on how to get Sylvester butchered and avoid all the mess.

I was glad that Mr. Bilideau had been relieved of the job. With him doing it, I pictured us all sitting around chewing on feathers.

After school I ran home and eagerly waited for Chickie to return with Sylvester. I felt a little guilty about it, but I was kind of looking forward to seeing the bird stripped of his claws and feathers and head. I sat on the stoop as big wet snowflakes floated toward the ground.

Chickie pulled in the driveway right on schedule. He got out of the car with a large brown paper bag and walked up to where I was sitting.

“Is that the turkey?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. I looked in the bag. There was a bald thing with pockmarks all over it.

That Thanksgiving was one of the most festive I can remember. The table was so long we had to set it up in the hall. I noticed that Chickie, sitting at the head, was in especially good spirits.

In my mind, the feast with a golden-brown bird at the center seemed to exude a joyous radiance. Somehow I understood that it was our turkey, Sylvester, that had brought us all together.

Years later, on a cold November day, as we were on our way to make an oil delivery, I asked Chickie if it had really been Sylvester in the bag that afternoon. He chuckled as he shifted the Mack down to a lower gear.

Then he looked over at me and said, “Nah.”

HOMETOWN HISTORY: November 26, 2020

HOMETOWN HISTORY

November 26, 2020

150 Years Ago

Highway Robbery – Early last Wednesday morning Mr. Moak, driver of the Schenevus Stage, was accosted by a suspicious looking individual near the Russel Bridge who asked for a tobacco chew. Mr. Moak said he did not use the weed, whereat the robber demanded of Mr. M. his money and the mail bags. His request was not acceded to by our modern John, who dismounted from his coach and struck the would-be highwayman with a stick of wood from an adjacent woodpile. The scoundrel dropped and the faithful guardian of the mail bags went his way rejoicing. Work is progressing slowly at the round house during the present cold weather.Lester and Theodore Emmons and Wm. H. Strait have purchased a lot containing 40 feet front and 100 feet back on Broad Street of E.H. Ford, on which they will erect a machine shop for the manufacture of the celebrated Firkin Head Cutter, and a general repair shop.

November 1870

TALLMAN: CFD Foregoes Donations In Pandemic
LETTER from JIM TALLMAN

CFD Foregoes

Donations In Pandemic

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Cooperstown Fire Department, I would like to let you know we will not be doing our annual Equipment Fund Drive this year. Due to COVID-19 and the economic impact it has had on us all we feel that we should forgo asking for donations.

Through your generous past donations we have been able to purchase the most necessary equipment we needed to replace. Although the prices of goods continue to skyrocket during this pandemic time, we felt this was the right decision to make.

We thank you for your past donations and, of course, the department will continue to gratefully accept donations if your circumstances permit.

JIM TALLMAN, Chief
Cooperstown Fire Department
(Editor’s Note: Regardless, donations may be mailed to Cooperstown Fire Dept., P.O. Box 1, Cooperstown NY 13326)

BERKSON: With A Slice Of The Shovel
LIFE SKETCHES

With A Slice Of The Shovel

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His article have appears in New York magazine, the New York kDaily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

Recently, a friend brought some spruce saplings up to the farm for planting.

Luckily, my son was up for the weekend to lend a hand with the digging. We placed some near the house and then headed for the woods, which are thin on evergreens.

No sooner did I open a hole for the first seedling than I was back to the spring of 1966, in the forest near Rothenberg, Germany, where it looks a lot like the countryside around Richfield Springs. We were medics attached to the Seventh Army and out on maneuvers.

I pitched my pup tent with a guy named Hailey from Niagara Falls. He had already been in Germany for a year and could speak a bit of the language.

It was sunny and warm and after testing our unit’s drinking water I sat in front of our tent, reading Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea”:

“Santiago was sitting in his boat with his palms raw and bleeding from the big fish that had raced the line through them at a cutting speed. He was thinking about the great DiMaggio and how he continued to play ball in spite of a painful spur on his heel.”

Then a cuckoo bird let out a call and I was back in the woods. I had thought the ridiculous sound only came from clocks made in the Black Forest – but here was a live bird in a nearby tree.

There was a dirt road at the edge of the woods and across the road in a field a farmer was plowing with horses. Occasionally the breeze blew his voice in my direction and I could hear that he used different words for giddy-up and whoa.

It must have been around lunchtime because in the distance a woman approached across the furrows with a lunch basket for her man. They greeted each other happily and I could hear their harmony of laughter. Even at the brash age of 22 I saw the beauty in the scene.

Hailey came by and asked me if I wanted to do some reconnaissance, which meant we’d be looking for a beer hall in a nearby village at the end of the dirt road. We would later sneak off to it after Sarge turned in that night.

Now, as we made our way through the woods we came upon some German farmers who were planting trees and we exchanged some pleasant conversation by way of Hailey’s knowledge of Deutsche.

I was already aware that after more than a decade of occupation, American soldiers weren’t exactly welcome guests in Germany. On this maneuver, which included armored tanks and huge trucks with trailers, the Army would have to pay $50 for every sapling we destroyed.

At one point, one of the farmers who was holding a shovel said, “Amerikanisch soldaten arbeit nicht,” which Hailey translated into, “American soldiers don’t work.”

Eager to show the man that he was wrong, I grabbed a shovel and a tree and started digging. Hailey captured the scene with his camera.

Now in my woods, I savor this moment of working alongside my wife and son. She captures the scene with her camera. These trees will be here long after I’m gone.

With the passage of time I’ve grown to be nearly as old as the fisherman Santiago – and hopefully, fruit of the farmers’ efforts will have fared better than the Old Man’s ravaged fish.

By now, those trees planted back in Germany must be 40 feet tall.

STERNBERG: One Word Capture Mood: Sad
LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

One Word Capture Mood: Sad

The following were some of the definitions of the word “sad” from dictionary.com.

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

“Affected by unhappiness or grief; sorrowful or mournful, expressive of or characterized by sorrow, causing sorrow; somber, dark, or dull; drab; deplorably bad, sorry.” Thesauraus.com lists 46 synonyms for sad.

And I add an additional from other sources, pathetic. The following story is sad by almost all of these. This was originally reported by CNN.
Jodi Doering, an Emergency Room nurse in Dearing, S.D., out of severe frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed, tweeted Saturday that her patients were dying of COVID-19 but remained in denial of the pandemic’s existence.

She called it a horror movie that never ends. Besides treating patients who were dying and the stress that it caused her and her colleagues, they also faced the additional emotional toll of treating patients who despite being severely ill, who while dying, still refused to acknowledge that they had been infected with a virus that they said didn’t exist.

Patients on 100-percent oxygen would swear that it was not real and many would lash out at the nurses and doctors trying to help them for trying to convince them they were dying of COVID.
There were incidents of patients screaming that it was all a fraud and that the medical staff were only wearing PPE to confuse them, that there was no need for it, and demanding that they take it off.

Rather than communicating with their loved ones before they died, they would rant against anyone or anything that tried to convince them that they were critically ill with COVID.

Cases are skyrocketing in North and South Dakota currently at a rate that is the fastest in the nation.

In North Dakota, the Republican Gov. Doug Burgum pleaded with residents, “You don’t have to believe in COVID, you don’t have to believe in a certain political party or not, you don’t have to believe whether masks work or not. Just do it because you know one thing is very real. And that 100 percent of our (hospital) capacity is being used.”

On the other hand, Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, has continued to oppose mask mandates or closures and has joined in antagonism to mainstream medicine.
She hosted soon-to-be ex-President Donald Trump at a tightly packed Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore. Even after the president acknowledged that he had COVID-19 last month, many of his supporters continue to refuse to acknowledge it is real.

Johns Hopkins University says that the Dakotas are currently the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, according to their and the states own data.

Experts feel that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which attracted over 500,000 to South Dakota, and was encouraged by Governor Noem, was a major superspreader event.

Most of the half million did not wear masks and did not socially distance especially in bars and restaurants.

How do we stop this when so many won’t even believe it is real, or dangerous, and won’t begin to cooperate in the protection of themselves and their families?

Last night I was talking to a close friend, a college classmate who is a family physician in rural Wisconsin. He is over 65 and male like myself but otherwise has no risk factors.

He and his entire family sustained COVID-19 in October.
They are not sure what the sequence of spread was; he, his wife, and his step-daughter are all in healthcare. He said it was the sickest he ever felt.

I admit I, who has a total of seven risk factors, am scared that I may become infected. If so, I have a very significant fatality risk. Hopefully I can stay safe until there is a vaccine available to me.

I suppose I can take solace in the fact that between those that don’t believe the disease is real or that it can make them sick, and those who will refuse the vaccine, I stand a reasonable chance of getting it within six months.

PLACE: Protect Your Family, Protect Everyone’s
GUEST COLUMN

Protect Your Family,

Protect Everyone’s

Editor’s Note: Milford Central Superintendent of Schools Mark Place wrote this Thanksgiving letter to the district’s families.

Mark Place

Each of the last five years I have prepared a letter at this time of the year with a focus on the upcoming holidays. Today I write to you for the same purpose along with a message of hope and gratitude.

As a part of the MCS family, my thoughts are with all of you. I see the exhaustion in all of our eyes and the want for this pandemic to just be over.

Collectively we have sacrificed a great deal to keep ourselves, our families, and MCS safe, and I am grateful for your continued patience and grace as we have traveled together through one of the most challenging times in our history.

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. It is, and always has been, about family. My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are of starting the day at my great-grandfather’s farm on Route 205 in Laurens and ending at my grandparents’ home in Oneonta.

And all these years later, what I truly remember are the feelings of togetherness. I’m sure that many of you have similar memories and are working hard to build that for your children.

This year, my family has decided to forgo coming together for the holidays.

It is one more heartbreak of this pandemic for me, but the thought of my parents possibly catching COVID-19 is more heartbreak than I’m willing to endure.

As you and your family prepare for the holidays, I’m not going to ask for you to make the same decision that my family has made. Rather, all that I’m going to ask is that you have a plan to do whatever is necessary to protect you and your family.

By protecting your own family, the MCS family will be protected as well. At the end of the day, our goal is the same – to be able to be together, and we want nothing more than to be able to continue with in-person instruction after the holidays.

I am hopeful that each of us will continue to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and that the end of the pandemic will come sooner than current models predict. And when the pandemic has finally ended, I hope that the entire MCS family will come together and celebrate how well we took care of one another.

We are Milford Strong! And we will get through these challenging times together. May your holidays be filled with joy.

EDITORIAL: Unite In Making Plan Work
EDITORIAL

Unite In Making Plan Work

Doesn’t it remind you of what happened to Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich?

No sooner had she arrived in 2008 on Oyaron Hill, when the Great Recession hit.

Within a few months, the fledgling president, with no chance to build a reputation or support among staff and faculty, had to begin laying people off.

The faculty balked. Criticism abounded.

Dennis Craig
Margaret Drugovich

Drugovich did what she had to do. Things settled down. The economy eventually rebounded, and Drugovich built the sterling reputation she has today.

Fast forward to 2020 and, across the valley, SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig.

It’s even moreso. Drugovich had a short honeymoon. Craig parachuted into the middle of a 700-plus COVID-19 infestation, one of the worst per-capita among U.S. campuses. His predecessor had departed precipitously. The New York Times’ front page was trumpeting our woes worldwide.

Craig immediately formed a COVID-19 Rapid Response Team. In a month – almost to the day – the team reported out a 22-page, single-space,
detailed-packed plan to take on the menace.

Pretty good.

So far, some of the faculty balked. But otherwise, criticism hasn’t abounded.

Just the opposite. Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig likes the plan’s focus on the safety of his constituents. Student Association President Gabby Cesaria likes the focus on a Feb. 1 reopening; she surveyed students, and 50 percent want to return to classes.

In recent decades, SUNY Oneonta has been on the make.

President Alan Donovan, now retired and an Oneonta community leader, began the drive to push up the quality of students and scholarship.

During his successor Nancy Kleniewski’s tenure, Oneonta was often mentioned, along with Geneseo and New Paltz, as one of “SUNY’s Ivies,” if you will.

During that period, the SUNY System invested heavily in the hilltop. Tom Rathbun, the level-headed assistant vice president/facilities, was spending $30-40 million a year upgrading the campus, and it looks great. (His successor, Lachlan Squair, appears to be quite an innovator, making SUNY Oneonta an innovator in Upstate Medical’s novel “pool testing.”)

And alumnus Bill Pullman starred in “Independence Day.” You can’t get much better than that.

SUNY Oneonta dropped the ball when COVID-19 arrived. That was then; recent, but then.

This is now.

The SUNY Oneonta community must want to return to what it was, a campus on the make. With its particular COVID mess behind it, the SUNY Oneonta community should strive, as one, to be a Model of the Reopening.

With two anti-COVID vaccines coming online, with the wide local acceptance of masks and social distancing, with the high-level of community sensitivity to COVID, it can be done.

The online petition – only a fraction of the faculty, some 71 out of 500 professors and instructors, have signed it – takes on Craig and Provost Leamor Kahanov personally.

While no doubt well meaning, the petition drive seems to be the wrong instrument at this point.

That’s misguided.

Of the many issues raised, the one about sensitivity to relatives of faculty who may have pre-existing conditions resonates most. But it’s hard to believe the administration would not seek to ensure what protection it can to people under particular threat of COVID.

No doubt the key players in the campus hierarchy are as imperfect as the rest of us, but – at this critical point in SUNY Oneonta’s history – let’s all pull together behind the people who, more than ever, need wide support.

And that includes the campus community and the rest of us, the public at large.

KUZMINSKI: Sanctuaries Recipes For Anarchy
LETTER from ADRIAN KUZMINSKI

Sanctuaries Recipes

For Anarchy

To the Editor:

In his letter to the editor of Nov. 12-13, county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, points out that the Village of Cooperstown was “made a sanctuary haven for illegal immigrants.” Indeed, the village, in April, 2017, voted unanimously, as reported in this newspaper, “not to participate in the Delegation of Immigration Authority’ under the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1996.”

Invoking the same idea from the opposite end of the political spectrum, Brockway has introduced a Second Amendment sanctuary proposal which would exempt Otsego County from the enforcement of certain New York State gun laws.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. The growing idea that local communities can opt out of recognizing and enforcing legitimate laws they don’t like simply by declaring themselves sanctuaries is reminiscent of the nullification movement in the Southern states before the Civil War. It’s a clear sign of a breakdown of law and government.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The civil rights movement also defied specific laws– those enforcing segregation – but it proceeded entirely legally. Unlike the sanctuary movement, it acknowledged the authority of the law by accepting arrest and going to court in the hope that judicial rulings based on precedent and reason would change the laws – as indeed they did.

The sanctuary movement on both sides represents muddled and dangerous thinking. It rejects the rule of law in favor of one or another partisan and sectarian impulse. It’s a recipe for anarchy which should not be tolerated. By voting down Brockway’s proposal, the Otsego County Board of Representatives has a rare opportunity to display some much needed political courage.

ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Fly Creek

Let Grand Old Flag Fly

Let Grand Old Flag Fly

In memory of all Empire State victims of COVID-19, Governor Cuomo has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff until New York PAUSE is at an end. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: This message was dropped off anonymously at The Freeman’s Journal office at
21 Railroad Ave.

I respectfully request the Village of Cooperstown return to raising our flag on Pioneer and Main to full staff.

We have had the flag lowered for over a half-year to respect the sick and the deceased.

That was good, and important to locals and visitors to our blessed town who travel here from around
the world.

Sadly, there will be more deaths from the virus, but lowering the flag does not help the deceased and it also creates a sort of perpetual sadness and helplessness which is not good for anyone.

A fully raised flag, on the other hand, connotes hope, strength, truthfulness, pride, joy, trust and leadership.

Simply, a raised flag accentuates the positive things in the world. Let’s accentuate the positive  and all the good that it will bring. Please raise the Stars & Stripes to full staff.

STERNBERG: A New Hope On COVID-19
LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

A New Hope On COVID-19

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

First the good news.

Joe Biden has announced his plan for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. It will include a coordinated national plan of attack and he will be ready on Day 1, Jan. 20, 2021 to implement it. He has already announced his pandemic transition team.

Now the bad news.

One, Mitch McConnell has said the same thing about Biden that he said about President Obama in 2008, that he will oppose him in every way possible to ensure that he is only a one-term president and therefore don’t expect any cooperation from him in fighting the pandemic.

Two, Biden doesn’t take over for almost 70 days and the Trump Administration shows no signs of making any changes that could affect the acceleration of the disease.

Today (Sunday, Nov. 8) there were over 120,000 new cases nationally with over 1,000 new deaths. The estimate is that if nothing is done to change the trajectory of the disease in the U.S. then by the end of January, we could easily double the number of deaths seen so far.

In his acceptance speech Saturday night, Nov. 7., President-elect Biden said that he would name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to convert his plan into an action-plan blueprint that would start on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

His task force is to be led by former Surgeon General Dr. Vitek Murthy (who was fired by President Trump with two years left on his term) and former FDA administrator Dr. David Kessler.

Biden swore to empower scientists at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to help set national guidelines, to invest in vaccine research, and to function as one nation, meaning having a national rather than 50 individual state plans.

Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D. and adviser to Biden, said, “You’re going to have rigorous evaluation and constant refinement” of policies and strategies. There will be strict guidelines for slowing community spread.

The new administration said they would work with each governor to make mask wearing in public mandatory in their states. Current research says mask wearing alone could have saved over 100,000 Americans so far.

They plan to seriously ramp up testing. They plan to hire thousands of public health workers. They will help people to get health insurance.

They would strengthen the Affordable Care Act and immediately reopen the Market Place, something Trump has refused to do. They would create a caregiving workforce and develop resources to help health care workers with their own needs.

Most important: They would choose science over fiction.

So, Joe Biden has a very commonsensical plan for dealing with the crisis but he can’t do anything about it until Jan. 20. And then he will need the cooperation of McConnell and the governors to carry it out.

The fact that if an aggressive program is carried out then the economy can more thoroughly reopen quicker does not seem to register with a lot of politicians. And, if it does, it takes a back seat to winning future elections.

Divided government works great for the stock market and investors, at least that’s what I’ve been told and I have read. But a government that doesn’t function without a unified intent and purpose has a grave disadvantage in going to war, whether against another nation or a submicroscopic virus.

Fight Isn’t Partisan; It’s Upstate, Downstate
EDITORIAL

Fight Isn’t Partisan;

It’s Upstate, Downstate

UNITED UPSTATE CAUCUS? Assemblypeople who could form the bi-partisan core are, from left, Otsego County’s Salka, Norwich’s Angelino, Utica’s Buttenschon, Syracuse’s Magnarelli, New Hartford’s Miller and Schoharie’s Tague.

If you’ve lived a while, how often have you heard predictions about the extinction of one party by the other?

After Richard Nixon’s rout of George McGovern in 1972 and Ronald Reagan’s two terms, the Democrats. After LBJ overwhelming Goldwater in 1964, Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection and Barack Obama in 2008, Republicans.

Only one Democrat was elected president between the end of the Civil War and Woodrow Wilson, 47 years later. Only one Republican between FDR’s and Nixon’s election, 36 years later.

Their pro-slavery stance before the Civil War ruined the Democrats. Insensitivity to suffering following the Crash of 1929 ruined the Republicans.

Hubris nemesis – today’s pride leadeth to tomorrow’s fall.

Congratulations to local supporters of the Biden-Harris ticket, some who were seen (and heard) in front of their homes at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, hammering on pots and pans to celebrate achieving 270 electoral votes.

The nation has spoken – for now, and narrowly.

It isn’t astonishing that President Trump’s divisiveness led to his loss; and that the Blue Wave turned out to be a ripple, and challenger Joe Biden achieved such a narrow victory.

What is astonishing is the wide support for Republican candidates in centrist, moderate Otsego County.

Every local winner was Republican, from Assemblyman John Salka and Peter Oberacker, elected to state Senate, to every candidate on the ballot, except Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19. Energetic and conciliatory, even he only narrowly beat Republican Kyle Van De Water, who, from what we can tell, only visited Otsego County twice during the campaign.

The single issue that stood out amid all the verbiage was worries about the state’s bail reform. It, in effect, was the dismantling of the justice system as we know it by the Democratic majority in Albany – state senators, assemblypeople and Governor Cuomo.

Here’s a sampling of local fallout.

• Just hours after the state legislative majority folded bail reform into the 2019 state budget vote – thus avoiding the usual public hearings and, sometimes, compromise – a local man was arrested in the morning for stealing a truck. Freed without bail, he stole another truck that evening.

• A downtown merchant called OPD about a customer shoplifting. The police apprehended the man, then freed him as required. He was back shoplifting that afternoon.

• Following the rash of car break-ins in Oneonta this fall, it surfaced that one of the suspects, apprehended in September, had been arrested four times since Aug. 31 for similar petty thievery.

• Then, Oct. 19, when the first two trials since COVID-19 struck in March were scheduled to start in Otsego County Court, neither defendant showed up, District Attorney John Muehl reported in dismay – but not surprise. Charged with crack-cocaine violations, they were wandering, bail-free, amid our children, our families and our community at large.

That just scratches the surface.

Among all of this fall’s candidates, only the scrappy Salka, the Republican freshman who represents Otsego County’s three largest communities – Oneonta, Cooperstown and Richfield Springs – took the initiative in saying it loud and clear: Bail reform is lousy law.

The blatant injustices that needed correcting were mostly at New York City’s Rikers Island prison, not statewide.

He introduced a bill to repeal the reform. And candidate Oberacker, now elected successor to state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, joined him, declaring that on Day One – Jan. 1, 2021 – he will introduce companion legislation to Salka’s bill in the upper house.

Salka’s winning tally rose from 6,582 in 2018 to 7,879 on Nov. 3, an 8-percent increase, garnering him 56 percent of the Otsego County vote, compared to 41 percent for his in-county opponent. Oberacker’s margin was 61 percent to his opponent’s 39 percent.

Indeed: A Red Wave.

Bail reform is not the only bad law to come out of Albany. The Farm Bill, with its extension of overtime provisions to agriculture, will shutter innumerable farms if imposed, both Oberacker and his Democratic opponent, Jim Barber, agreed. The natural-gas prohibition. Issuing drivers’ licenses to undocumented residents. And there’s much more coming.

This election, the split was Republican-Democrat. Truly, though, the divide isn’t partisan; it’s geographical.

New York City, with 3.2 million Democrats, is lost to the GOP for now; there are only 459,008 registered Republicans there. It’s a long way back.

Upstate it’s a different story, with its 2.9 million Democrats and 2.3 million Republicans. That’s 5.2 million votes a United Upstate caucus could tap to end the city’s predations north of Yonkers, and even send a Unity candidate to the Governor’s Mansion.

With one million people leaving our Empire State in the past decade – more than from any other state –
this is essential to our future.

Salka gets it. He enlisted Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, the Utica Democrat, in his bail-reform repeal drive. He intends to reach out to Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, as well.

The county’s other Republican assemblymen – incumbents Chris Tague and Brian Miller; newcomer Joe Angelino, the former Norwich police chief, all elected – should team up with Salka in reaching across the aisle to other prospects for the United Upstate caucus, as should freshman Oberacker in the Upper House.

This could be the start of something big.

BASHEAR: Protect Our Gun-Using Traditions
LETTER from CHRISTIAN BASHEAR

Protect Our Gun-Using Traditions

To the Editor:

To express my support of the Second Amendment, I joined the 2AS group here in Otsego County when it was first organized. For far too long, the New York State government has passed more and more insane gun controls without seeming to care at all that they may be unconstitutional infringements to my
right to keep and bear arms.

I also am sick of the insulting name-calling pro-gun control people use to label us.

There is nothing unreasonable to champion the Second Amendment as written and nor is it unreasonable to call into question certain gun control laws.

I have grown up in a household that enjoyed hunting and target shooting. The same with many of
my friends and neighbors. We are not “gun nuts” and I don’t know of anyone who is.

In fact, I can’t see any of my friends or family even wanting to be around people who don’t respect their firearms. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK for the government to place one obscure restriction after another.

I want to see a future where my kids can enjoy hunting and target shooting as I did growing up. It has been a tradition that I fear might be stripped away.

There is talk every week on passing more infringing gun control laws throughout New York. We cannot stand for this anymore. I’m tired of it and it’s time for freedom to fight back.

Having the freedom of self-defense is not only our right, it is our duty.

CHRISTIAN BRASHER
Richfield Spring

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