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News of Otsego County

Politics

WAYNE MELLOR: What’s the cost of zero-carbon energy

LETTER from WAYNE MELLOR

What’s the cost of zero-carbon energy

Wayne Mellor

I received several thoughtful comments from our readers concerning the last column and would like to address them.

The investment bank Lazard published the most recent Lazard’s “Levelized Cost of Energy and Storage” in late 2020. The comprehensive report includes all the costs of creating and storing a megawatt of power including land, construction, operating and maintenance.

According to the Lazard report, new, unsubsidized utility scale power sources have the following midpoint levelized costs per megawatt hour: solar $34, offshore wind $86, on-shore wind $40, nuclear $164 and combined cycle gas $59.

It is pretty easy to see that money drives political decision-making especially when deciding between new nuclear, wind and solar power. Offshore wind is relatively expensive, but unlike solar, it can occasionally generate base load power. The public is less likely to resist offshore wind, and one of the windiest places in the U.S. is off Long Island.

Oneonta Common Council has contentious vote on housing commission appointment, confirms new fire chief
New Fire Chief Brian Knapp shakes hands with Len Carson, right, with outgoing Fire Chief J. Michael Mancini, seated, attends the Common Council. (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego.com).

Oneonta Common Council
has contentious vote
on housing commission appointment,
confirms new fire chief

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA In a two and a half hour meeting, the issue of housing was forefront as the Common Council struggled to come to agree on the choice of an out-of-city resident as part of the housing commission on Tuesday, July 20.

This appointment was narrowly approved, 4-3, with Kaytee Lipari Shue, Len Carson and Scott Harrington being the dissenting votes.

The motion to appoint Audrey Benkenstein, with the addition of Oneonta resident Peter Friedman, was brought up for a second time after being voted down during the last common council meeting, something that Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig told AllOtsego.com last week was “mystifying,” since Lipari Shue had pushed for a non-city resident to be on the Arts Commission.

The main point of contention was that Benkenstein was not a Oneonta resident. However Herzig pointed out her appointment was voted down “only minutes after approving a Cherry Valley artist” for the Arts Commission.

Herzig said the Arts Commission held real power whereas the Housing Commission was an advisory position, and therefore those appointed to the Housing Commission were not considered officials with any kind capacity to approve anything.

Community Advisory Board document on OPD best practices set to be reviewed

Community Advisory Board
document on OPD best practices
set to be reviewed

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA — A committee including mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson approved final changes to the Community Advisory Board police review document, which will sent back to the original CAB members followed by a public hearing.

The process should take about a month to complete, according to city officials.

The Community Advisory Board met Tuesday, July 13, at City Hall to follow up on the document, which was prepared in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for police departments to recommend “best practices” that align with community values. That order and a review Herzig had ordered before Cuomo’s order, were in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. A Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of Floyd’s murder in April.

Views Around New York State: July 8, 2021

Views Around New York State

Suing Georgia over voting rights is just the start

From The Albany Times-Union:
Georgia was among a host of GOP-controlled states that in the aftermath of Republican Donald Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden for the presidency have intensified efforts to pass laws brazenly aimed at suppressing votes by people of color. Georgia and its defenders offered the weak defense that some of the provisions it passed will expand voting rights, as if a little window dressing is supposed to make up for its draconian measures.

Those measures, as outlined by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke, included a raft of restrictions on absentee ballots, including shortening the time to apply for them and imposing new ID requirements. As Clarke noted, Black voters used absentee ballots at a much higher rate last year than white ones.

The Georgia law — which grew from three pages to 90 on its way from the state Senate to the House, where it received a mere two hours of debate — would also cut, from 100 to around 20, the number of ballot drop boxes that were popular in the metro Atlanta area where, not coincidentally, the state’s largest Black voting-age population resides. And infamously, the law made it illegal to give people waiting in long lines — which voters in high-minority areas tend to face — food or even water.

That’s just one state. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University counted as of mid-May nearly 400 bills with restrictive voting provisions around the country.

These laws aren’t happening in a vacuum, but in the echo chamber in which Trump’s lie of a stolen election and his fiction of massive voter fraud keeps getting repeated by Republican lawmakers as if it is true in order to justify such anti-democratic schemes. … So they’re passing these laws in statehouses, and using the filibuster in Congress to block federal legislation to protect voting rights.

There are still laws that apply here, and it’s encouraging that Attorney General Merrick Garland announced at the same time as the Georgia lawsuit that the Justice Department will fully use the Voting Rights Act and other statutes to push back on voter suppression and intimidation wherever they find it. In the absence of a new commitment in Congress to this most fundamental right in a democracy — the right of the people to choose their leaders — the battle is never ending, to this nation’s shame.


Safety versus justice is a false choice

From The Albany Times-Union:
Some people deal with criticism by showing why it’s unfair. Then there are those, like Saratoga Springs Assistant Police Chief John Catone, who seem to go out of their way to prove their critics’ case.

Catone, joined by Commissioner of Public Safety Robin Dalton, went on a tear that sounded so many wrong notes when it comes to complaints of systemic racism in the criminal justice system that it was hard to keep track. … (Catone) delivered a rant filled with racist dog whistles, punctuated by what came off as a threat to summon the collective forces of the city’s historically white power establishment to put an end to what he called “a narrative of lies and misinformation.”

Let’s start with the most important thing of all: It is not the job of those in law enforcement to shut down speech they don’t like. That threat alone should be enough for Catone to turn in his badge and gun and retire early. And for sitting by his side, nodding in apparent agreement, Dalton should resign, and drop her bid for mayor.

We are in no way defending any violence that has taken place in Saratoga Springs, including a brawl Saturday night on Caroline Street and some alleged recent muggings in Congress Park. We in no way support demonstrators carrying bats, as one organizer acknowledged some did in the past.

We do support people’s right to demonstrate, to express their views that there are racial problems in their police department, and to petition their government for redress of their grievances. If that discomfits some in a community that thrives on tourism and its image as a charming, gentrified, historic American city, well, that’s the First Amendment for you.

Catone doesn’t seem to see it that way. He railed about how critics of his department were “trying to push a narrative from a national stage” — a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement — and talked of “gangs from Albany” — read: young men of color — coming up to Saratoga Springs to sell drugs and cause trouble. In wrapping all this into one speech, he conflated drug gangs and Black Lives Matter activists, an outrageous rhetorical slander whether he intended it or not. …

For good measure, he blamed criminal justice reforms passed by the state Legislature, which included ending a system in which low-income people unable to make bail were jailed without trial while those of means could readily buy their freedom.

So it’s police against “them,” and everyone has to pick sides? This is Assistant Chief Catone and Commissioner Dalton’s idea of a unified community?

What they present is the false choice that so many misguided or opportunistic politicians and demagogues offer: that it’s either law, order, and unquestioning support of police, or chaos.

A truly strong society — whether it’s a small city or the richly diverse nation it’s a part of — must be both safe and just. For all.

First in-person common council since COVID celebrates recent achievements
Gary Herzig, left, and Greg Mattice award Lou Lansing the ‘Employee of the Quarter’ award for her work on parks in Oneonta. (Kevin Limiti/Allotsego.com).

First in-person
common council
since COVID celebrates
recent achievements

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA The Common Council met in person Tuesday, July 6, with an atmosphere of visible joviality and relief after spending a year meeting via Zoom.

“This is something we haven’t done in a long time,” Mayor Gary Herzig said, which elicited some appreciative chuckles.

Some of the agenda items passed included motions authorizing the acceptance of a state grant for the development of Hartwick College’s Grain Innovation Center, which would be located at the future Lofts on Dietz Street, as well as motions that appointed candidates to the recently formed Public Arts Commission and the Housing Commission.

CONWAY: Cooperstown’s Critical Race Theory debate is a missed opportunity to editorialize

LETTER from PAUL CONWAY

Cooperstown’s Critical Race Theory
debate is a missed opportunity to editorialize

The question of whether AllOtsego should publish any editorial opinions was raised, weeks ago, on these pages.

The importance of timely editorial opinions for readers who are often ill-informed or baffled by complex issues was obvious after the recent, very controversial, Cooperstown Board of Education meeting. Many attended or subsequently read about that meeting. The issue was whether “Critical Race Theory” should be taught in Cooperstown or elsewhere. AllOtsego had no timely editorial on the subject. Fortunately, the Oneonta Daily Star did.

As the Star editors suggested, no one has suggested that teachers should be required to teach or believe Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is simply a theory that teachers can consider and perhaps discuss with high school students. Citizens and parents should be encouraged to google CRT online to determine for themselves whether the theory is dangerous in any way. The Star editorial suggested that teachers should not be prohibited from discussing the concept of race, or why racism exists, or whether it is systemic in our society, with their students. Presumably very few—on the political left or right—want to allow students to be politically indoctrinated. But teachers should be allowed (and encouraged) to discuss many important theories without being intimidated by hysterical parents or administrators!

Paul Conway
Oneonta

SIMPSON: Series could do more to review racial issues

LETTER from JOSH SIMPSON

Series could do more
to review racial issues

Our community is fortunate to have the Friends of the Village Library to organize important conversations and events like the “Looking in the Mirror” program. I have attended a few of the series including racism in education and in healthcare and had come to expect a decent program when tuning in.

On Feb. 10, I listened to The Cooperstown Reflects on Racism and Law Enforcement Series with my wife hoping for an invigorating and forward-thinking conversation.

The event had the express goals of:
1) Examine the impact of racism on our community and institutions;
2) Learn how to confront bias and inequities locally;
3) Identify actions that individuals, groups, and the community can take to address racism and create a more equitable Cooperstown.

The speakers during their presentations and the Q&A did not address, examine or achieve any of these goals. I have spent the last four months thinking about this event and pondering what can be done to jumpstart the difficult discussion that works to foster the growth and honest conversation needed if we are to address the goals of the series.

MELLOR: With renewable energy, details are key

LETTER from WAYNE MELLOR

 With renewable energy, details are key

Wayne Mellor, board chair of Sustainable Otsego.

New York state passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019. The law will propel New York towards a climate change friendly economy that will rely much less on burning fossil fuels for energy by 2050.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan is ambitious. It calls for an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, and 70% renewable energy by 2030.

In 2020, New York derived approximately 0.1% of its electricity from petroleum, 1% from coal, 36% from natural gas, 30% from nuclear, 26% hydroelectric, 5% wind and solar and 2% biomass.

The shut down of the Indian Point nuclear plant on the Hudson River, completed in April 2021, decreases carbon-free nuclear power to 20% of the state total and increases greenhouse gas emitting natural gas to 46%, with two new natural gas plants in Orange and Dutchess Counties now operating.

This doesn’t make sense if carbon-free electricity is the goal.

STEIN: Critical race theory isn’t being taught in K-12 schools; debate is a distraction

LETTER from MICHAEL STEIN

Critical race theory isn’t
being taught in K-12 schools;
debate is a distraction

Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, no one is advocating teaching critical race theory at CCS or any other K-12 school for that matter. Discrimination and prejudice based upon race and class is a documented feature of American history. They say that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. Our country can ill afford to repeat the sins of our past, so we’d better start educating our children now.

Critical race theory in schools is a false flag being raised by right-wing media to inflame viewers, and it’s obviously working.

Here’s hoping that our school board is wise enough not to react to fear mongering.

“Critical Race Theory is a framework for viewing U.S. legal history that is widely discussed in law school classes, and has occasionally been used to guide anti-racism training in universities, businesses and government agencies. But it has never been used, anywhere in the country, to shape the development of curriculum in K-12 schools. Treating it as a threat to public education is not only disingenuous, it is creating an atmosphere of panic that will discourage instruction in Black history, indigenous history and the history of race and immigration in the United States.

Culturally responsive pedagogy is not Critical Race Theory.Treating it as such will have profoundly destructive consequences. Do not give in to the hysteria,” Dr. Mark Naison, professor of African American studies and history, Fordham University.

Michael Stein,
Cooperstown

Herzig: For city to thrive, jobs and housing are issues that intersect

Herzig: For city to thrive, jobs and housing are issues that intersect

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA — Housing and jobs remain high priorities for the city of Oneonta. Both are needed and, according to Mayor Gary Herzig, need to be gradually increased at the same time.

“You can’t have a thriving community, you can’t have a good economy, if you can’t provide people with good housing,” Herzig said.

According to Herzig, housing is “desperately” needed at all levels including low-income, middle-income and high-income.

One of the problems with housing in Oneonta is that it is hard to compete with student rentals if you are a family in need of rental housing.

Herzig said there are “not a lot of incentives” for familyrentals. “We have to be creative with what we do.”

However, there have been some steps taken on the housing front in Oneonta. Most notably, the artist lofts being created on Dietz Street and, more recently, the pending purchase of the Ford Building by Springbrook to create 22 to 24 market rate apartments, which Herzig called a “very exciting project” that he said was certain would be approved by the Common Council.

Primary elections to be held

Primary elections to be held

STAFF REPORT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Primary elections will be held in several Otsego County towns Tuesday, June 22, with early voting open this week.

Go to https://www.otsego- county.com/departments/board_of_elections/index.php for more information.

Here is a list of local primary elections:

Democratic Otsego County Representative, District 3(Laurens, Otego)
Caitlin Ogden
Jared Nepa
Republican Town of Hartwick Supervisor
Bryan F. LoRusso
Robert J. O’Brien
Councilman (Two)
Christopher Briggs
Jonathan Horth
Cindy Carr
Bruce Markusen
Superintendent of Highways
Frederick Koffer
Jerry Wood
Member of County Committee, Hartwick 1 (Two)
Robert J. O’Brien
Frederick Koffer
Christopher Briggs

Town of Laurens

Member of County Committee, Laurens 1 (Two)
Traci Dilello
Debra Balantic
Phil Balantic
Member of County Committee, Laurens 2 (Two)
Patricia Brockway
Michelle Buccheri
Jonathan S Chambers

Town of Maryland

Councilman (Two)
Renee Gaston
Jason Knapp
Ken Williams
Member of County Committee, Maryland 1 (Two)
Kyle Imperato
Jennifer Mickle
Ken Williams

Town of Milford

Town Justice (Two)
Matthew Kane
Deborah A. McMullen
Joanne Andela

Town of Oneonta

Supervisor
Randal Mowers
Teresa DeSantis
Town of Otego
Clerk/Collector
Patricia Hurlburt
Terri L. Horan

Councilman (Two)
Jimmy Hamm II
Vicki Salisbury-Hoyle
Royce Livingston

Member of County Committee, Otego 2 (Two)
James Salisbury
Bob Fernandez
Arlene Salisbury

Town of Richfield

Supervisor
Dan Sullivan
Nick Palevsky
Councilman (Two)
Larry Frigault
Rex A. Seamon
Isaac Ames
Superintendent of Highways
Tim Proctor
Randy Seamon

Town of Springfield

Superintendent of Highways
Jeff Brown
Tim Fish
Town of Unadilla
Town Clerk
Terry L. Yoder
Kelly A. Moore
Councilman (Unexpired Term)
Allen Anderson
Lawrence Oralls
Member of County Committee, Unadilla 1 (Two)
Polly Judd
Garrett deBlieck
Kirsten Ruling
Member of County Committee, Unadilla 2 (Two)
Jessica Grow
Allen Anderson

As ‘Merger Mondays’ end, Tuesday decision looms for Schenevus, Worcester

As ‘Merger Mondays’ end,
Tuesday decision looms
for Schenevus, Worcester

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The last of the Merger Mondays took place Monday, June 14, ahead of Tuesday’s board vote.

The superintendents of Worcester and Schenevus central schools acknowledged the growing pains of a merger, but also argued its perceived importance to a group of about 15 attendees.

Some of the guests included Assemblyman Brian Miller, and Jeff Bishop, communications director for state Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who is an SCS graduate.

Miller expressed mostly neutrality for the upcoming vote and said he was there to “show support for whichever way the communities decide to go.”

Oberacker was unable to attend because he was at a parade in Unadilla, a cause of some criticism among those who attended, but Bishop said Oberacker was closely following the developments on the potential merger.

If the vote is approved, there will be a Sept. 22, straw poll followed by a Dec. 3, binding referendum.

If the merger is approved the combined Board of Education would increase from five to seven seats. There also will be state financial incentives for the merger, which BOE representatives say will be used to improve educational opportunities and provide funds to a reserve, while also maintaining the same staff only eliminating positions through attrition, which they say will save $690,000.

Class size will be 22 students or lower.

Much of the merger rationale is based on a study conducted prior to the pandemic, which referenced a declining enrollment for both schools, a problem which in a merged district would be resolved with access to more academics and athletics.

Any additional cost for transportation they say will be minimal.

Anything related to mascots, school colors and team names would be student driven, officials said.

“This is emotional for a lot of people. … We do realize that and recognize that, but we have to do what’s best for our kids and everything in the study shows its best for our kids,” Carlin said.

Miller diverted from his original stance of neutrality briefly to posit about the merger.

“It’s to benefit our children and make our area truly prosper. … Things are really getting tough,” Miller said, referencing state funding. “A merger is really the best thing we can do.”

Cooperstown Distillery celebrates expansion with ribbon cutting while touting local businesses
Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, left, and Eugene Marra cut the ceremonial ribbon in front of Cooperstown Distillery. (Kevin Limiti/Allotsego)

Cooperstown Distillery celebrates expansion
with ribbon cutting,
while touting local businesses

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – The mood was jovial Saturday, June 12, as about 60 people, including elected officials state Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, gathered outside the Cooperstown Distillery on Railroad Avenue for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the expansion to celebrate what is considered a big success for local businesses in particular and a revitalization of Railroad Avenue specifically.

Eugene Marra, the founder of Cooperstown Distillery, began with an emotional moment on losing his dad to the coronavirus. He said his dad was his “biggest fan and number one investor in this opportunity.”

However, the atmosphere was celebratory.

“It’s an auspicious occasion for sure,” Marra said. “As much as I want to claim it as my own, I want to share it all with you because you have made it possible,” Marra said.

Eugene Marra, founder of Cooperstown Distillery, speaks in front of the Distillery ahead of the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Marra spoke at length about the trials and tribulations of opening the expanded brewery on Railroad Avenue. He talked about how COVID had delayed the opening a year and how the distillery was tasked with producing hand sanitizer during that time.

He also mentioned how he was initially told by real estate agents that opening a distillery in Cooperstown was not possible.

“I like to believe we are responsible for what has become a revitalization of Railroad Avenue,” Marra said, saying that industry on that street in years past, “appeared to be dead.”

Marra said that Cooperstown Distillery, which has been around for eight years, is the “story about how it takes a village … the village of Cooperstown.”

Marra said he was loaned about $100,000 and received state fund grants of about $80,000, citing that his success was thanks to “local money.”

“We all hear these phrases, buy local, shop local, stay local. We are all of that,” Marra said, calling the Cooperstown Distillery the “fabric of this community on a very local, grassroots level.”

“We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than the village of Cooperstown,” Marra said.

Tillapaugh said the Cooperstown Distillery is a business “in which the village takes a great deal of pride.”

She noted how the village implemented zoning law changes in order to help grow businesses.

“I certainly know what this Railroad Avenue looked like for decades,” Tillapaugh said.

She noted it was once not considered industrially viable, but that developments on the street, including the distillery and the Railroad Inn, created “positive synergy.”

DiNapoli joked he didn’t accept the invitation “because of the complimentary drinks,” but was happy to come because of how difficult a year it had been.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli speaks in front of Cooperstown Distillery. (Kevin Limiti/Allotsego.com).

DiNapoli said that while Cooperstown is known for its Baseball Hall of Fame and Fenimore art museum that “the distillery becomes yet another reason to visit.”

“This really was an incredible effort with all stakeholders playing their role. That’s usually not how it happens,” DiNapoli said. “This is the model that should be replicated.”

DiNapoli said he was going to go back to Albany and tell other lawmakers to “look to what happened in Cooperstown as an example of how it should work” in terms of state funding for local businesses.

After the ceremony, people took a tour of the distillery.

 

 

Views from Around New York State: June 10, 2021

Views from Around New York State

Hunting contests should
not be allowed in New York

From: The Albany Times Union.

It would be convenient to misconstrue a bill in the state Legislature to ban wildlife killing contests in New York as some kind of anti-hunting measure. It is not.

As even many hunters and fish and game officials are realizing, the waste and bloodlust of these indiscriminate killing events threaten to harm the image of hunting as a valid wildlife management tool. It’s time for New York to join a growing number of states in ending this inhumane, barbaric practice.

Photos: Rep. Antonio Delgado visits Cooperstown Distillery

Photos: Rep. Antonio Delgado visits Cooperstown Distillery

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103