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News of Otsego County

2020 Election

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.

WHELAN: Trump Supporter’s Challenge Accepted About ‘Election Fraud’
LETTER from M. A. WEHLAN

Trump Supporter’s Challenge

Accepted About ‘Election Fraud’

To the Editor:

In his recent communication to the readership of the Freeman’s Journal, Mr. Furnari offered to debate anyone on the subject of Mr. Trumps’ 75 million enthusiasts who, he says, were deprived of their right to vote for him. We could also debate his other statements – but first we would have to establish some Rules of Evidence to abide by, as we seem to differ about what evidence is.

For example, I would regard the 36 judicially dismissed law suits alleging election fraud, and the validation of the election results by recounts, as evidence that such allegations had no merit. And I would regard Trump’s taped conversation in which he tried to bribe/coerce the Elections Commissioner in Georgia to “find” a winning number of votes for him, as evidence of Trump’s attempt to commit election fraud on his own behalf. I would regard the U.S. Government Intelligence Reports of Trump’s campaign connections to Russia and the Ukraine as evidence of attempted election fraud.

On the other hand, we would not regard baseless theories propagated on Social Media as evidence.

FURNARI: More Trump Flags On The Way
LETTER from SAL FURNARI

More Trump Flags On The Way

To the Editor:

This is a reaction to Consuelo Kraham Velez’s letter in the March 18 edition. And I write this for some of those that are fearful of being canceled because they worry about expressing their beliefs that may not be popular with their employer, their neighbor, or their governing body in their community.

Of course we will accept a portion of our money back. Let’s call it a rebate, not a relief check. We pay a fortune in taxes, so once in a while it’s nice to get something back.

And in regards to the comment about some kind of an “indisputable fact” that President Trump was trounced, it shows ignorance. If you still believe Beijing Biden was fairly elected and that fraud didn’t exist to get him in office, well then you are extremely naive. The mere fact a record 75 million voters never had their day in court proves my assertion.

China controls this temporary “lucky-if-he-makes-it-one-term” president, and the election was riddled with illegal actions and inconsistencies brought to light, proven, and never pursued by a bought-and-paid-for judicial system.

Corruption runs deep in our nation these days, due to people who are not statesmen employed in both parties. But if you call it “indisputable,” I’ll give you a chance. Bring us the facts next time you make such a statement.

Maybe getting off the big networks and doing a little research on your own will help you become more informed and appear more qualified to chime in. Just steer clear of the professors in your local universities, as they are certainly part of the problem.

And look out for more Trump signs coming. Because whether it’s Trump or anyone who believes in an America First policy, that’s who we will support. Not those hurting American businesses, and allowing undocumented individuals to enter our countryside on the southern border.

You don’t have a border you don’t have a country. Young girls are abused and sold because of the open border policy.

I hope you’re happy contributing to that, the higher gas prices, the pollution, the loss of jobs, the tension between us and China, Russia and North Korea, the appeasement of Iran, the massive spending, the higher taxes, legalization of drugs, abortion of 8- and 9-month-old fetuses, fentanyl entering through this open border policy killing tens of thousands of people a year – fentanyl coming from China specifically.

I challenge you to prove anything I just listed is not a fact. The arguments I’ve just made cannot be broken. And I’ll debate you any place, any time. In the meantime, I’m canceling reading anything you have to say to the editor and public again. So congratulations. You are now part of cancel culture you support.

SAL FURNARI
Town of Otsego

VELEZ: Just Wondering…
LETTER from CONSUELO KRAHAM VELEZ

Just Wondering…

To the Editor:

Recently, my travels took me slightly north of Cooperstown. I was rather surprised to see properties still displaying large Trump flags despite the actual, indisputable fact that he was roundly trounced in the last election.

Will the owners refuse to accept the actual relief checks that are soon coming their way, courtesy of our actual, legally elected president, Joseph R. Biden and the American Rescue Plan Act ?

Just wondering…

CONSUELO KRAHAM VELEZ
Cooperstown

To Vote For, Or Not Vote For
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

To Vote For, Or Not Vote For

CHRIS WALLACE: What about the argument that it would be useful, from the point of view of people who think that what the president did was wrong, to ban him from seeking public office again, which would be one of the results of holding this (Impeachment) trial?

U.S. SEN. MARCO RUBIO: I think that’s an arrogant statement for anyone to make. Voters get to decide that. Who are we to tell voters who they can vote for in the future?

WALLACE: OK.

From FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Jan. 24, 2021

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

As it happens, the best hope now is not Biden’s ability to summon the better angels of our nature with a soaring speech.

To the contrary, the new president’s modest oratorical gifts – the fact that he is by modern political standards a bit boring – can be a powerful asset.

JOHN F. HARRIS
Politico
Jan. 19, 2121

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Virtual Tour Of Hamilton Exhibit 01-20-21
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20

Virtual Tour Of Hamilton Exhibit

14-19eventspagePRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION – 46th President Joe Biden to be inaugurated in Washington DC.

VIRTUAL TOUR – 2 p.m. Zoom meeting featuring walk through of exhibit ‘Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies’ with manager of arts education Kevin Gray. Free, registration required. Suggested donation $5. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org

STAMMEL: Conspiracy Fantasies Must Come To An End
LETTER from ANDREW D. STAMMEL

Conspiracy Fantasies

Must Come To An End

To the Editor:

Millions of Americans watched in horror as partisan domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol last week to prevent the lawful election of Joe Biden. I join in the anger and disgust at the destruction of public property and the desecration of the hallowed citadel of democracy. I despair at the unnecessary loss of life, including brave Capitol police officers.

But I also angrily denounce the ongoing incitement by the President and allies in the Republican Party as well as their tepid or non-existent denunciations of the appalling insurrection.

Let’s All Get Behind President Biden’s Call For Calm, Unity
EDITORIAL

Let’s All Get Behind President Biden’s Call For Calm, Unity

Our best hope: Joe Biden and his inclination toward unity.

It’s a day that will live in infamy, Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, vandalized and ransacked the venerable building, and was driven out by National Guard units and Capitol Police with some loss of life.

Prior to Jan. 6, 2021, few Americans could visualize that ever happening. The natural response here in Otsego County, as throughout our United States, is horror, sadness and fear for the future.

What now?

Illuminatingly, the AllOTSEGO.com daily poll that sought readers’ opinions on the next steps found people chose the mildest options by a large majority.

SEELEY: To Defuse Violence, Salka Must Accept Election Fair
LETTER from KARL SEELEY

To Defuse Violence, Salka

Must Accept Election Fair

To the Editor:

On Friday, Jan. 8, Assemblyman John Salka engaged in a frank, one-on-one, 15-minute conversation with me about the election results and the insurrection at the Capitol. I sincerely appreciate him devoting so much time to talking with me, as I’m just one of over 100,000 people in his district.

But I was left appalled by his attachment to two self-serving, destructive, false narratives.

It was clear from our conversation that he has no actual evidence that Joe Biden’s electoral victory was fraudulent. He brought up one item (the affidavits of people who claim they saw irregularities). I explained that many of those were from people who had not attended observer training and therefore didn’t understand that what they witnessed was routine procedure.

BUCCHERI: Election Professional Safeguard The Rights Of The Voting Public
LETTER from BILL BUCCHERI

Election Professional Safeguard

The Rights Of The Voting Public

To the Editor:

With all the hype and misinformation about election security, I cannot remain silent. I would be remiss if I did not try to provide some facts.

I was the Democratic elections commissioner in Delaware County from 2001 to 2008. I was and am proud of the work elections officials do including the inspectors at the polls, the county commissioners, deputies, clerks, state commissioners, attorneys and staff at all levels and the secretaries of state throughout the nation.

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.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Q&A With Presidential Photographer 11-1-20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1

Q&A With Presidential Photographer

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VIRTUAL TOUR – 2 p.m. Zoom meeting featuring walk through of exhibit ‘Pete Souza: Two Presidents, One Photographer’ featuring live Q&A session with Pete Souza himself. Free, registration required. Suggested donation $20. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org

VOTE – 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Early Voting concludes. Meadows Office Complex, 140 Co. Hwy. 33W, Cooperstown. Visit www.otsegocounty.com/departments/board_of_elections/index.php for info.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Halloween Fun In Richfield Springs 10-31-20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SARURDAY, OCTOBER 31

Halloween Fun In Richfield Springs

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HALLOWEEN FUN – 10 a.m. – Noon. Bring painted or carved pumpkins to enter in pumpkin contest, winners announced at 10:15, followed by costume contest. Prizes available. All ages welcome. Richfield Springs Public Library, 102 Main St., Richfield Springs. 315-858-0230 or Click Here

VOTE – 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Early Voting open. Meadows Office Complex, 140 Co. Hwy. 33W, Cooperstown. Click Here for info.

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