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News of Otsego County

Editorial

Editorial: Congratulations, grads

Editorial: Congratulations, graduates!

An editorial page shout-out this week to every high school senior across Otsego County earning his, her, or their diploma. We won’t try to trip over words echoing what you heard at your respective ceremonies except to congratulate you doubly for your endurance, perseverance, and durability.

High school is already the world’s longest automatic carwash – you’re pelted with punishing jetstreams of water, slapped around by those rotating sheets of chamois, doused in hot wax, rinsed off with more of those jetstreams, then forced through superheated drying lamps and discombobulating high-speed fans.  They’re all giant obstacles along the way blocking one’s would-be progress through life. But like your fellow alumni from the classes of 2020 and 2021 – and as your future fellow alum from graduating classes yet to come – you’ve had to face the one-two punch of all things COVID.

Addressing the school’s 143rd Commencement on Sunday, Cooperstown Central School District Superintendent Sarah Spross congratulated the students for withstanding two years of what she called “remote learning, then hybrid remote and in-person learning, masks on, masks off, masks back on, masks off but on voluntarily.” No one need be reminded of the see-sawing regulations, but her words were a fitting punctuation to her earlier praise for the class’s resiliency.

Students in their black gowns and mortarboards – some with honor cords and other earned adornments – lined up in the hot sun to receive their diplomas and be awarded some 60 different awards and scholarships. Friends and family applauded as their sons, daughters, and siblings entered the tent covering the ceremony on the back lawn of the Fenimore Art Museum; all stood and gave a rousing cheer for the faculty members joining the procession into the ceremony.

Every student and teacher there – just like every student and teacher lining up for the processions at every school district in our county – earned that applause and more. They plunged through a rigorous academic gauntlet while withstanding a social environment changed dramatically by a pandemic.

In spite of COVID (and we do mean in spite of), we think the challenge underpinning the Class of 2022’s academic and social achievements will lead to amazing achievements ahead. They’ve done the book-learning and passed all the academics, but that always-elusive real-world training that once awaited us only after we collected our high school diplomas became a huge part of earning a diploma over the past two years. Along with algebra, science, history, and grammar, they’ve had to learn new societal norms – some dictated not only by COVID, but by a general social upheaval affecting so many in our country and county. They’ve had to adjust and adapt in ways that haven’t always been a part of life inside high school walls. They’ve had to learn new technological skills. They’ve had to learn how to think fast and adapt not just because a textbook said so, but because life demanded they do so. They learned how to follow new rules by helping to create those new rules. These all are lessons that one does not get from a textbook, and all are attributes that will never fail them.

We hope every student is able to take a few moments to reflect on the accomplishment measured not by grade point average or plans for future study, but by how you stood up and won the challenge. Our heartiest congratulations to each and every one.

Editorial: Endorsements

Hochul, Delgado, Wilson

Editorial

The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta endorses the following candidates in the primary elections for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York State:

Kathy Hochul and Antonio Delgado

Mrs. Hochul rose immediately to the occasion when her scandal-scarred predecessor abruptly resigned from office in 2021. Her equanimity was and remains the temperate influence the state needs; she has been able to parlay that to a more productive and seemingly collegial atmosphere in the state Capitol. To be sure, she has made a couple of missteps along the way – choosing now-indicted Brian Benjamin as her lieutenant governor and pushing a sweetheart deal for a new stadium for her beloved Buffalo Bills. She recovered well from the Benjamin debacle by tapping Rep. Antonio Delgado as her new lieutenant and, as this page has noted, that Bills stadium was a foregone conclusion that any governor would have sought to keep the team in town.

Mr. Delgado is no stranger to Otsego County; we believe as the whole of New York comes to know him as we do, they will meet a public official who connects to the community. His skill sets serve him well in office.

Neither of Mrs. Hochul’s opponents meet the challenge: Rep. Tom Suozzi’s campaign began with an encouraging promise to stick to the political center but gained no traction. Jumaane Williams is so focused on New York City we fear he would know nothing about New York much farther north of Yankee Stadium.

We are concerned that Mr. Williams’s Lieutenant Governor running mate, Ana Maria Archila, may gain some Ocasio-Cortez mojo and surprise people on primary day. Her sole attribute seems to be a calculated ability to be obnoxiously and melodramatically confrontational. That’s not what we need these days.

In the June 28 Democratic primary, we endorse Kathy Hochul for governor and Antonio Delgado for lieutenant governor.

Harry Wilson

Speaking of confrontational, we are disappointed by Rep. Lee Zeldin’s transmogrification into Donald Trump-lite, using cheap playground taunts for his opponents instead of engaging in a decent debate on issues. We know Mr. Zeldin to be knowledgeable and thoughtful; his attack-dog persona is unwelcomed, his chasing after a Trump endorsement embarrassing. He and fellow candidate Andrew Giuliani seem more interested in a thumbs-up from Mr. Trump than they do engaging in a forthright, issues-based discussion. That Steve Bannon, perhaps one of the planet’s most hateful, destructive people – left his federal court hearing last week to support Mr. Giuliani at a fundraiser is all we need to know to give wide berth to Mr. Giuliani’s candidacy.

Harry Wilson, on the other hand, has stuck to his core issues – New York’s battle with street criminals and reasonable reforms to the state’s ill-conceived bail reform laws, an economic turnaround plan that makes sense, a proven ability to work with both parties. His moderation on these and other matters make him, we think, the candidate best able to attract the votes a Republican would need to win in a heavily-blue New York. Mr. Zeldin’s campaign criticizes Mr. Wilson for being an advisor to the Obama Administration as if it’s some kind of treason. We think it illustrates a statesmanship too long lacking in New York’s political minefield.

In the June 28 Republican primary, we endorse Harry Wilson for governor.

Editorial

Editorial: Gas, guns, and overpromising

We’re encouraged by the big news from the weekend that 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the United States Senate agreed to the ‘framework’ of a deal on gun safety measures – enhanced background checks for prospective gun buyers under the age of 21 and funding for state red-flag laws, along with money for programs to improve safety and mental health services in schools. Even though it seemingly has less to do with gun control than it does the less direct permutations of the issue, it’s a start.

Mr. Devil lurks in the details. Now the nation waits while staffers for those 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans face off in a stuffy room in the U.S. Capitol and argue across the table about exactly what their principals meant in their weekend announcement.

Not that we blame the lawmakers for putting out a statement – it’s an impatient America that wants to know, right now, what Washington is going to do about guns, or, depending on one’s side in the debate, mental health. Legislation, as we know, doesn’t come easily out of the halls of Congress. In this instance, they have to make it look like they’re getting somewhere – so out comes the press announcement.

Public-policy-by-press-release carries with it the risk of overpromising; that the end product won’t come anywhere near the ‘framework’ such an announcement promised. Staffers are under pressure now not just to deliver a product that fits the press release, but also one that responds to the untold numbers of telephone calls and e-mails marked URGENT they’ll be sifting through as the negotiations plod forward.

*

Speaking of overpromising press gambits, how’s that gasoline tax break working out for you?

Remember back in April when New York state lawmakers trotted out the brass section to announce their cure for pain at the pump by removing the state’s sales tax on a gallon of gasoline? We acknowledge our cynicism here and don’t discount the value of saving a couple of dollars with a fill-up, but it would appear that not too many people are trumpeting the temporary tax cut that took effect on June 1.

It’s hard to get excited about saving a random number of pennies when, in the last week – according to Gasbuddy.com – the average price of a gallon of gasoline in New York rose by 15.1 cents, and are nearly 40 cents per gallon higher than one month ago. No, lawmakers couldn’t have foreseen such a ridiculous manipulation of the marketplace that would come about, perhaps, in part, as a result of their promise to drive prices down. We’re seeing a marketplace run amok, and, as we alluded in an earlier editorial on the topic, that’s no place for even the best intended legislative initiatives.

We’re paying $5/gallon and more for a gallon of gas. That all but erases the political benefit we’re certain some had hoped for with this sales tax ploy – one that coincides with the coming of primary elections in June and August, and running all the way through and past the general election in November.

The lesson here for the spin doctors: Be careful what you promise. Be it guns, gasoline, or anything else – a fired-up electorate is going to hold your bosses to the pledges they make in the carefully-worded statements you advance.

Editorial

Editorial: With appreciation for ‘a more excellent way’

Perhaps we take it for granted from time to time, that sprawling campus in Cooperstown. Fox Hospital, too, in Oneonta, and all the clinics and centers and caregiver offices filling the map in Otsego County.

In a nation whose rural regions are often challenged by a lack of access to quality health care or relegated to satellite status dozens of miles away from even the nearest emergency clinic, we’re fortunate indeed.

Fortunate that 100 years ago this week, the doors opened on a hospital in the Village of Cooperstown, named after Dr. Mary Imogene Bassett to honor her steadfast dedication to caring for the people of her rural county. Fortunate, too, that Edward Severin Clark made building the hospital a philanthropic priority, that his brother, Stephen Clark, reopened its doors in 1927 as a medical, research, and teaching hospital, and that the Clark family and Scriven Foundation have, in the 10 decades intervening, kept Bassett and the communities it serves foremost in their work.

A century ago, there was no such thing as a “healthcare industry.” Messrs. Edward and Stephen Clark and the doctors with whom they worked at the time could not have foreseen the seismic changes that would overhaul local, regional, and national health care many times over in the decades to come. Predictive sciences and artificial intelligence available today may give us a better idea of what’s on or over the horizon, but the model the hospital’s founders created in the 1920s remains a foundation for whatever is to come.

Today’s healthcare industry is exactly that – out of necessity, a big business that to stay afloat must be flexible, forward-thinking, and growth-oriented. Bassett – once a standalone hospital in the southeastern corner of the Village – could not be immune from those changes if it was to survive. To thrive and continue to serve our rural population, it had to expand to what we now know as the more corporate-sounding Bassett Healthcare Network.

Business smarts and resiliency aren’t even the half of it, though – a healthcare network, in the end, succeeds only when the communities it serves believe and trust in it. It’s a deeply personal and emotional experience for each individual who walks through the door of a clinic, an office, an emergency room. Bassett succeeds. A big business, perhaps, but one with a small town feel that respects its rural roots.

“There are two things that strike me as Bassett’s greatest assets today,” Bassett Healthcare Network President and CEO Dr. Tommy Ibrahim said in a statement to The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta. “The first is this sure foundation provided by Mary Imogene Bassett and our other founders. The second is the hard work, dedication, and excellence of our caregivers and practitioners as they build on that foundation.”

We agree, and we applaud Dr. Ibrahim and his predecessors, the Clark Family, the Scriven Foundation, board members, staff, caregivers, and practitioners past and present throughout the Bassett Healthcare Network who have served us for the past century. It’s a hard-won achievement that can’t rest on the laurels we toss in their direction today, but it is a legacy and a future that we do not take for granted and for which we are genuinely grateful.

Editorial commentary

Editorial: Hall of Fame kudos

All five out of a possible five stars to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and its expert staff for kick-starting Cooperstown’s first learning-how-to-deal-with-COVID summer with the return of its joyous “Hall of Fame Classic,” a holiday weekend gathering that brought some 4,000 fans to Doubleday Field last Saturday and brought the village to near-summer-strength life almost overnight. Visitors crowded Main Street until everyone seemingly decamped to Brewery Ommegang for the Avett Brothers and Lake Street Dive show on Saturday night and left Main Street oddly quiet – but that was temporary. Sunday was another busy day.

Editorial: Exactly what do you mean by ‘transformative’?

Exactly what do you mean by ‘transformative’?

An editorial commentary

What a grand week for the environment! The New York Mets and Colorado Rockies were snowed out of their May 20 game after half-a-foot fell on Denver. Meanwhile, here in Otsego County, people escaped sweltering late-July heat and humidity with a trip to Glimmerglass, despite the beach being closed until Memorial Day weekend. A tornado ripped through northern Michigan. And GasBuddy.com, that repository of weekly good news, tells us average gasoline prices in New York rose more than 17 cents per gallon last week, $1.86/gallon higher than one year ago.

Deny it if you must, but it all points to some kind of upside down climate difficulties. And as is its wont, New York’s state Legislature approved a “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” in 2019 to ‘take the global lead’ on all things climate change. Excuse us while we pat ourselves on the back and move on to the next thing that we can write a press release about!

This nobly-named statute created a 22-member Climate Action Council, whose ‘Scoping Plan’ – now under public review – lays the groundwork for 100% zero-emission electricity grid by 2040 and says “fossil fuel-emitting cars and appliances will no longer be sold after 2035.”

The plan has its detractors and supporters, and we urge readers to examine the Council’s Scoping Plan at climate.gov.ny to read it in full. The period of public comment remains open through June 10, 2022.

It’s a hefty read with laudable goals and conclusions – but we wonder if it ever will, or can, get up off the ground under the crushing weight of government-speak that fills its PowerPoint slides. Forget the 22 members named to the Council itself – there are advisory panels, a ‘Just Transition Working Group,’ and a ‘Climate Justice Working Group.’ Every person on every one of those sub-groups dutifully heads off to innumerable Zoom meetings where they say their piece – a piece that’s usually filled with clichés using a lot of words to say nothing.

EDITORIAL: ‘Yes’ on budget votes

Editorial

‘Yes’ on budget votes

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.

Editorial: Great Choice, Governor

Editorial

Great Choice, Governor

[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.

Editorial: Hardly noble

Editorial

Hardly noble

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.

Gaslighting Hartwick

Gaslighting Hartwick

Editorial: April 14, 2022

The saddest truth, in the end, is a person died several weeks after a horrible in-home accident, and to the family of Flora Polulech, The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta sends our sympathy.

Late in the afternoon on Friday, April 8, New York State Police issued a press release finally admitting they found a January 2, 2022 incident to be a sad and tragic accident. It’s called a “Friday news dump” — late on a Friday afternoon is the perfect time to send out a press release that the issuer would rather see lost in a weekend news cycle, the timing exceptionally matched here to a heavy load of state budget news out of Albany. It’s like a newspaper using the Legal Notices page to bury a correction to a howling error on a front-page story.

Remember this: the State Police issued a guns-a-blazin’ press release on January 3, 2022 “looking for person(s) who burglarized then injured an elderly homeowner in Hartwick.” Police asserted with provocative certainty that “the suspect(s) unlawfully entered a residence on Poplar Avenue and caused physical injury to an elderly victim.” Frightening stuff indeed.

That gaslighting bulletin put local residents on edge and kicked off rampaging speculation as to who did what to whom and the extent to which the victim was harmed. One month later, on February 2, we asked State Police to

This week’s editorial

Editorial: The inevitable stadium

The nation’s football audience was legitimately incredulous several weeks ago when the NFL’s random rules denied the Bills offense a chance at the ball in its overtime loss – in a championship game, no less – to the Kansas City Chiefs.

It’s a fair wager that New York sports fans took it particularly hard, as “our team” had a shot at the Super Bowl and then lost it in the closing seconds thanks to the reality of league rules and a lousy decision that left 13 seconds on the clock.

The Bills have gone from beloved state hero to goat (that’s goat as in ‘Charlie Brown-type goat,’ not the Tom Brady ‘Greatest Of All Time’ GOAT) in the last week, though, given Governor Kathy Hochul’s deal with the team and

Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful

Editorial: March 31, 2022

In the beautiful 1979 movie “Being There,” Peter Sellers portrays a gentle and illiterate gardener who implausibly becomes a national sensation in a world gone wrong amid deep recession and winter malaise. A talk show host asks him for his outlook on the nation’s economic future. He pauses for a moment and says, “In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.”

Spring is coming. Amid worldwide havoc, and thanks to the generosity of the good people of Otsego County, there are reasons to be cheerful. Look no further than the outpouring of local support for the people of Ukraine.

The Rusty Bison ran out of spaghetti and meatballs at its March 23 pay-what-you-will event and raised more than $5,000 to send directly to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees with clothes, food, shelter, and finding jobs; the restaurant owners look to raise more on April 1 at 6 p.m. with an Open Mic and Dance Party at The Telegraph School in Cherry Valley.

Students in Edmeston Central School raided their piggy banks to raise nearly $4,000 to partner with the Village’s Rotary Club to support Ukraine.

The Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals raised more than $10,000 – double its goal – on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a group with “boots on the ground” in Ukraine and Poland. SQSPCA’a indefatigable Stacie Haynes said “people are risking their lives right now to ensure animals left in shelters are cared for and pets are transported with families to safety.” So important.

Ukraine’s flag flies over Village Hall in Cooperstown and the Village welcomed Aliona Yezhova and her son to raise awareness; Ms. Yezhova continues her efforts to raise donations of money and goods to send home to help her fellow Ukrainians.

Your generosity goes beyond help for Ukraine, of course — we note, for example, the students at Milford Central also emptied their pockets in a change challenge to raise money for Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans; the Leatherstocking Credit Union waived its coin-counter fees to the Milford and Edmeston schools to maximize the students’ contributions. Lenten food drives. The Lions’ Club teaming up with Otsego 2000 to help connect people to fresh food at the Farmers’ Market in Cooperstown.

The danger inherent to publishing a list like that is that we’re bound to omit the good works of other people and groups who are working just as fervently, so — we apologize in advance for not naming all of you but are just as grateful for your ongoing selflessness.

Otsego County’s traditions of local, regional, and international philanthropy take root in Edward Clark’s deep devotion to the region that continues today through the Scriven and Clark foundations. We’re rooted, too, in our own devotion to the fundamental threads that make every village, town, and city unique yet united.

Spring is coming. Major League Baseball ended its lockout and Opening Day is here. The covers are just about to come off the parking meters. Pretty soon, we’ll all be sweeping the pollen off our windshields instead of scraping off the ice.

In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.

Editorial: Time to move on

Time to move on

Editorial: March 24, 2022

Cooperstown Junior/Senior High School Principal Karl O’Leary’s March 18 dismissal seems abrupt. New York’s voluminous education law and its attendant rules and regulations, however, abide no impetuous action when it comes to personnel matters. Save for a handful of egregious situations, the Cooperstown Central School Board of Education and its sibling boards across the state are bound by strict legal procedure that demands any allegation of misconduct or malfeasance be addressed with the greatest of care, detail, and discretion. This takes time; a frustrating amount of time.

This newspaper has reported and editorialized for the past few months on concerns students and parents raised to the CCS Board with regard to someone they called “a member of the administration” – a person they could not name in accordance with some of those procedural rules of engagement. We heard but did not report plenty of off-the-record stories — some corroborated, others dismissed – so there’s no doubt school district parents, teachers, and students have been abuzz for months.

The public’s natural curiosity notwithstanding, Mr. O’Leary’s seemingly sudden dismissal will do nothing to end conjecture or lift salient fact out from underneath the weight of legal limitation. It will, however, take decisive and highly visible steps forward in a process that can have only one goal: the quality of education in Cooperstown Central School.

Speaking to The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta after Mr. O’Leary’s dismissal, Superintendent of Schools Sarah Spross called the district’s seven-member, all-volunteer Board of Education “uniquely committed to its focus on quality education.” Quality education can’t happen in an atmosphere rife with tension and rumor.

The district, then, had to follow – and will continue to follow – a process that for many can be painstakingly slow and difficult to measure. We recognize the difficulty and commend the board and administration for taking the difficult steps that seem to have been necessary in the case at hand.

The only direction is forward. We think it pointless to look back if it’s for the sole purpose in second-guessing decisions that this Board or others before it had rendered in a hiring process. Hindsight works only when it helps restore broken relationships or heal any damage that might’ve been done along the way.

We are confident the Superintendent and her administrative team – along with the Board of Education – have a clear picture of what has been. They’ve heard from eloquent and passionate students about their concerns with “a member of the administration.” They’ve heard from parents concerned about the atmosphere in the school.

We are confident, too, those creating, collaborating on, and implementing school policy have a positive and sustainable roadmap for the district’s future and a focus on quality education. We are encouraged by the anti-bullying and anti-discrimination presentations about which we reported two weeks ago – cheered even more so by the student and faculty response to those sessions. We are encouraged by last week’s decision.

All of this is a burst of activity in a short period of time that sends an important signal to students, teachers, and parents that their voices have been heard and those responsible for questionable behavior will be brought to account – be they student, teacher, or administrator.

These steps don’t erase the past, but they help clear the path to move forward.

Editorial: ‘Justice involved’ requires judicial discretion

‘Justice involved’ demands judicial discretion

Editorial: March 17, 2022

Mjbizdaily.com – yes, there is a trade journal for all things marijuana – reports Otsego County as one of three north of New York City with more than 75 percent of its localities opting in to allowing retail pot dispensaries within their borders. And whether those jurisdictions opted in actively through an affirmative vote or passively – as Cooperstown’s Board of Trustees did when they completely took a walk on voting up or down on the touchy issue – they’re bound by the regulations New York’s Office of Cannabis Management issued last week.

We report this week on the details of those regulations, including the requirement that for the as-yet initial batch of licenses, at least one person in the application must be “justice involved.” In this case, that’s the term for someone convicted of a pot-related offense prior to March 31, 2021, when the state Legislature and then-Governor Cuomo legalized recreational pot with the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.” A licensee also is eligible if he or she had a family member convicted of a pot-related offense prior to that same date. The language of that law awards one-half of all adult-use licenses to “social and economic equity applicants.”

We support its good intention – historically, New York’s drug laws had a disproportionate, punishing impact on minority communities, one so steep that even the Republican state legislators who pushed them into law back in the early 1970s returned to Albany two decades later as private citizens to lobby hard, and successfully, to undo them.

We’d like to think that the “justice involved” layaside for retail licenses, then, would go to those who felt that disproportionate punishment the most – say, perhaps, the now-adult who got sent up for

Taking on the bullies: An editorial

Taking on the bullies

Editorial: March 10, 2022

 

You have to start somewhere.

We will admit to some heavy-duty skepticism when this newspaper received a press release last week announcing three days of anti-bullying assemblies and break-out sessions at Cooperstown Central School. It all sounded rather gimmicky – “a student empowerment and empathy activation team” calling itself “Sweethearts & Heroes” and co-founded by a Cooperstown High alum, Tom Murphy. Students participating in “Circle,” which, said the release, is “based on the ancient ritual of sitting in a circle to communicate and build empathy.”

Press releases are, at best, carefully contrived and one-dimensional – not the most ideal vehicle to convey the essence of something designed to drive home a compelling message about bullying.

Tom Murphy and his colleague, retired U.S. Army Sergeant Rick Yarosh, steamrolled our aforementioned skepticism right out of the box, though; their Monday afternoon program was hard-hitting but empathetic, energetic and motivational, entertaining and interactive. Students were engaged, too – a tough crowd, those senior high students are, at a tough time of day, after lunch and during the last period before school’s end – but they rallied and got involved. Well done, all.

Last December, this newspaper reported the story when two students stood to address a meeting of the CCS Board of Education to say they felt like they had no support from “a member of the administration” when they reported incidents of racial intolerance and bullying. Whether their

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