He Votes Nay But, After Lively Debate,
Republicans, Democrats Come Together
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County shouldn’t be waiting for Governor Cuomo’s permission to reopen as the coronavirus threat wanes, says county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus.
Oberacker, who is also running for state Senate, was the sole “nay” vote as a resolution asking the governor to reopen the county “safely and as soon as possible” passed the Board of Representatives today by a 13-1 vote.
“Why can’t we go to our governor and tell him: We understand it. We need to open. Here’s our plan to move forward,” said Oberacker in an interview after the meeting. “Let’s put together a structured plan to reopen Otsego County.”
The resolution the county representatives passed was less specific.
Even then, it was OK’d only after a testy half-hour of discussion between Republicans who had developed the resolution, and Democrats who said they feared reopening too soon would put people at risk.
“I understand the importance of getting back to work and the economy moving,” said Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta, “but I don’t know if this is our call to make. There is a plan, and it’s pretty clear what the state’s plan is. There’s no way to jump-start that plan.”
Said Vice Chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, whose Administration Committee developed the resolution: “Sometimes it helps to tell a person – or a governor – that we like your idea. We want to underscore we want you to keep moving forward.”
Said David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, the board’s chairman: “Just about every county in the state is passing a similar resolution.”
Pass the resolution, said Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla: “It’s just about economics. When it’s safe, when it’s proper, when it’s feasible to open up, we can open up.”
Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, expressed concern the Admin Committee developed the statement instead of the Health & Education Committee, which he chairs: “What was being proposed was an issue of public health.”
‘Some things are bigger than Otsego County,” said Stammel. “Viruses are something that cross borders. The state has the resources to monitor.”
“Leave it to the professionals,” added Jill Basile, D-Oneonta. “We are in support of the governor; I don’t think (the resolution’s) necessary. It will lead to too much confusion.”
Both Basile and Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, objected to a clause, later removed, that said “we mourn the loss of our residents who have died … and those who are ill are constantly on our minds.” She called it “insensitive.” He called it “gross.”
Bliss recalled that all members were invited to the April 23 Admin Committee meeting where the idea was first discussed. “There was no discussion at the time,” he said.
In the end, though, consensus was reached.
At the outset of today’s discussion, Kennedy has suggested removing “and that the region encompassing Otsego County be designated as one of the initial regions to reopen to business.”
Then the words “and soon” were removed from another paragraph.
Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, appeared satisfied with the eventual outcome, “I don’t think any of us are experts in the medical field. We’re not asking to have any authority over the reopening. We’re supporting the governor’s plan, actually. It doesn’t say we know best.”