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9/11

‘Trusted Traveler’ Revocations Aside, ‘Green Light’ Bad Law

EDITORIAL

‘Trusted Traveler’

Revocations Aside,

‘Green Light’ Bad Law

The second hijacked smashes into the World Trade Center’s South Tower on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. The 19 hijackers had 30 driver’s licenses from five states. Reforms that followed to increase inter-agency communications are threatened by New York State’s new “Green Light” Law, Acting Deputy Homeland Security Director Ken Cuccinelli says.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the 19 terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon, or crashed in Schwenksville, Pa., had 30 driver’s licenses among them that allowed them to gain access to and hijack the four jets.

Nineteen licenses were from Florida, eight from Virginia, one each from Arizona and Maryland, plus two from California that were issued to two “watchlisted” participants.

None were from our state’s DMV, but if such a national catastrophe were to occur again, it could be different.

Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli referenced that last Thursday, Feb. 10, in answering reporters’ questions on his department’s decision to exclude New Yorkers from four “Trusted Traveler” programs after the passage of the state’s “Green Light” Law, which prohibits state law enforcement agencies from sharing routine DMV data with immigration agencies.

The programs give pre-approved travelers and trucking companies no-wait entry in to the U.S. The decision means 80,000
New Yorkers who have applied for the status won’t be approved, and 175,000 already approved will lose their status as their five-year passes expire.

“It was embarrassing to us in Virginia, that (many) of the 9/11 terrorists used Virginia driver’s licenses to help accomplish their evil mission, and we set about to fix that, and we did fix that,” said Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli fielded reporters’ questions on removing New Yorkers from “Trusted Traveler” eligibility.

New York is “one of the other targets of 9/11 that is walking backwards, quite intentionally, … to bar the sharing of law-enforce-
ment-relevant information like vehicle registration, matching driver’s licenses to identifications, and critically, criminal records that are kept up to date and DMV databases.”

As stated here before, the “Green Light” legislation, granting a legal document to people who are in the U.S. illegally, is illogical on its face, evident to the 62 percent of New Yorkers who opposed it in a Siena Poll.

Plus, the Democratic majority folded it into the vote on the state budget, avoiding public hearings and on-the-floor discussion where the benefits and deficits would have become clear.

The law forced county clerks who run DMV offices, like Otsego’s Kathy Sinnot Gardner, to disobey either state law or federal law, contrary to their oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States AND the Constitution of the State of New York.” (Emphasis added.)

Since DMV applications are automatically forwarded to the state Board of Elections, where they are processed routinely, the “Green Light” at least gives an amber to voter fraud.

The law in place, the DMV and state Division of Criminal Justice Service then ordered local police to sign a “pledge” not to share any related information with federal agencies; obdurate police would be denied access to DMV records, essential to ensure someone stopped for speeding isn’t wanted for shooting a cop downstate.

County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., called that “blackmail,” reported Joe Mahoney, Albany correspondent for Plattsburgh’s, Niagara Falls’ and other Upstate papers, who broke the story statewide. “I signed the agreement with displeasure because it would really affect our officers here if we were not to have access to this data,” Devlin told Mahoney.

All this just isn’t right.

Supporters of the “Green Light” Law argue that because of the vast number of illegal immigrants in New York State – in 2014 there were 4.4 million in New York State, an estimated 22 percent of the population – this is a necessary safety measure, ensuring they pass the driver’s test and have insurance.

Still, to anyone who watched the World Trade Center towers collapse, visited the chilling 911 Memorial & Museum in New York City’s financial district, or listened to Cuccinelli the other afternoon, the justification rings hollow. Should every law be repealed if it’s flouted? Should any?

The answer to illegal immigration is much larger than the “Green Light” Law, requiring well-regulated borders and likely a humane path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding immigrants. (A massive expulsion would be a human rights disaster.) But that’s a separate discussion.

Democrats have characterized Homeland Security’s decision as a reprisal by the Trump Administration: In his State of the Nation speech the night before it came down, the president singled out California and New York State as states where “sanctuary” communities are putting the law-abiding general public at risk.

But with Monday the 10th’s announcement of action against the state of New Jersey and the county that includes Seattle, Wash., it appears to be part of a larger push-back against the whole concept of “sanctuaries” – one that’s long overdue.

In New York State, according to the Center for Immigrant Studies, the cities of New York City and Ithaca, and five counties, are sanctuaries. However, that doesn’t include Cooperstown, where a Village Board resolution from 2017 declares village police won’t cooperate with ICE investigations that may occur locally; now, it may make sense for the trustees to withdraw that ill-considered resolution.

Whether reprisal or prudent governance, the right course is clear: The “Green Light” Law should be repealed on the merits. That the state’s economy will now suffer and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers face travel delays are an added impetus for the state Legislature to do the right thing.

Instead of rethinking where we are and returning to a more sensible course, state Attorney General Letitia James, also on Monday, filed suit accusing the Trump Administration of using “our nation’s security as a political weapon.” Rather, is New York State simply risking our nation’s security to ride an ideological hobby horse?

As for the governor, he said “more than a dozen states – including red states – (have) similar laws.” He knows better. While other states grant licenses to undocumented immigrants, they didn’t include the most objectionable provision: barring cooperation with federal agencies. Washington State is considering that clause, but now may change its mind.

Contrary, it seems, to county clerks and sheriffs, the governor and attorney general are entitled to their own opinions. Neither is up for reelection in November, but the state Legislature is: 62 percent of voters should hold their representatives accountable on this issue. Turn off the “Green Light.”

Cellist Plays To Remember, To Savor Joys Of Being Alive

CHRONICLES OF 9/11

Cellist Plays To Remember,

To Savor Joy Of Being Alive

Francesca Vanasco, who has homes in the Town of Middlefield and New York City, set up her cello on the veranda of the Village Library of Cooperstown this morning to remember her narrow escape on 9/11, and to celebrate the joy of being alive. On Sept. 11, 2001, she was working for Marsh & McLennan, the consulting firm, on the 99th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. She’d been working a lot of overtime, had worked the previous weekend, so on a whim that fateful morning she decided to sleep in. At 8:46 a.m., when she usually would have been at her desk, the North Tower was struck. A professional musician – she is former lead cellist at the Maracaibo Symphony in Venezuela and performed with the New Jersey Symphony – she has played her cello annually on 9/11 in New York City. April to October in recent years, she’s moved up to her local home, and thinks she may make her performance – mostly Bach – in front of the library an annual 9/11 ritual. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Her NYPD Job: Seeking Closure For 9/11 Families

CHRONICLES OF 9/11

Her NYPD Job:

Seeking Closure

For 9/11 Families

Grisly Assignment: Fresh Kills Landfill

On 9/11, NYPD Officer Toya Lane Bowden, now living in Oneonta, grabbed her “go” bag and went to the scene. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Toya Lane Bowden, then a detective with the NYPD Internal Affairs, now living in Oneonta, was headed to the World Trade Center to drop off her department-issued beeper for repairs.

By first, she stopped by the stationery store in Long Island City to buy ribbon for a friend’s retirement party.

“I heard on the store radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center,” she said. “I went home, grabbed my bag of equipment and drove into the city. As I was coming over the bridge, I saw the second Tower go down. And I realized, if I hadn’t stopped to buy ribbon, I would probably have been in there.”

LEST WE FORGET

LEST WE FORGET

Hundreds of tiny flags in Cooperstown parks and on church lawns today recall 9/11 – Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists flew two hijacked air liners into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, killing 2,977 Americans and launching the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, still in progress today. The flags are an annual commemoration organized by Cathy Raddatz, Cooperstown, in memory of her brother, George Morell, who died that day. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Victim’s Sister’s Memories, 5-10K Honor That Fatal Day

911’s 18TH ANNIVERSARY NEAR

Victim’s Sister’s Memories,

5-10K Honor That Fatal Day

George Morell‘s sister, Cathy Raddatz of Cooperstown, recalls her brother’s heroism in 1993, at the first World Trade Center bombing, when he carried a frail sandwich vendor from the 70th floor to safety. Eight years later, on 9/11, he called his wife and said, “Robbie, I love you. It’s the big one.” He was one of 638 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died that day. Cathy was speaking this morning before the start of the 9/11 Memorial 5-10K race, an annual commemoration organized by the Fly Creek Fire Company. At left is Fire Capt. Rick Kelly, who emceed; at right, Assemblyman John Salka, R-West Edmeston; behind Salka is Cathy’s daughter Gretchen.  Inset, Cooperstown native Charles Hollister, who now lives in Oneonta, won the 5K event. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Shot In Foot, Subject Transported To Bassett

Shot In Foot, Subject

Transported To Bassett

COOPERSTOWN – Around 20 after 4 p.m., Otsego County 911 received a report from Edmeston of an accidental gunshot wound to the foot.

The injured party was transported by private vehicle to the New Berlin Fire Department, and was then transported by CMT and the New Berlin Emergency Squad to Bassett Hospital, where a considerable police presence was in evidence in the Emergency Room at late afternoon.

Police are required to investigate all gun-shot cases.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8

9/11 Memorial Event

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HERO RUN/WALK – 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Memorial run/walk for all the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11/01 and honoring the heroes who still answer the call. Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company., 832 Co. Hwy. 26, Fly Creek. Visit hero5k.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=6181

RODEO – 4 – 11 p.m. Support your hometown baseball team at Saturday Night Showdown. Pre-rodeo features games, food, music. Rodeo kicks off at 7, followed at 9 by party with music, cash bar, snacks. Tickets, $20/adult. Available at SFCU locations, ISD, The Shipping Room, or Online. Oneonta Outlaws, Damaschke Field, 15 James Georgeson Ave., Oneonta. 607-432-6326 or visit www.facebook.com/oneontaoutlawsbaseball/

Otsego County 911 Receives $840K State Grant

Otsego County 911 Center

Receives $840K State Grant

Shaking hands with District -7 Representative David Bliss, R-Cooperstown, Otsego County Director of 911 Communications Robert O’Brien (right) was the main figure responsible in securing $842,330 in grant funding for Otsego County’s 911 dispatch services. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

In a press release sent out this morning, Otsego County Director of 911 Communications Robert O’Brien announced that the county’s 911 dispatch department had secured $842,330 in New York State grant funding. The total sum is divided between two seperate grants: $157,687 under the New York State Public Safety Answering Points Operation Grant Program for upgrades to the call center, and $684,650.00 under the New York State Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant Program which will be used to build three additional communications towers to improve coverage for the dispatchers. 

Young Hero Honored By Police, Fire

Young Hero Honored

By Oneonta Police, Fire

Oneonta Police Officer Ryan Pondolfino shakes hands with Amari Champen, 5, who was honored by Oneonta Police and Fire for showing bravery in calling 911 after his cousin Devon had a seizure while babysitting him. Pondolfino was one of the officers who responded to the call. "We've seen 20 year olds with less composure than Amari had," he said. Behind them are Mayor Gary Herzig and Fire Chief Patrick Pigeon. Amari was treated to a tour of both stations, as well as certificates and a gift bag for his bravery. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Oneonta Police Officer Ryan Pondolfino shakes hands with Amari Champen, 5, who was honored by Oneonta Police and Fire for showing bravery in calling 911 after his cousin Devon had a seizure while babysitting him. Pondolfino was one of the officers who responded to the call. “We’ve seen 20 year olds with less composure than Amari had,” he said. Behind them are Mayor Gary Herzig and Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon. Amari was treated to a tour of both stations, as well as certificates and a gift bag for his bravery. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Otsego Emergency Agencies To Participate in Active Shooter Drill

‘ACTION’ SATURDAY AT UNATEGO

Otsego’s Emergency Agencies

Ready For Active Shooter Drilll

An example of an active shooter drill held by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at a middle school in Florida. (Via Escambia Couny Sheriff's Office Facebook)
Here’s an example of an active shooter drill held by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at a middle school in Florida, the type that is planned this weekend at Unatego High School. (Via Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Facebook)

OTEGO – Oneonta EMS, Otsego County 911 and Cooperstown Medical Transport are among the emergency-service agencies set to participate in an active-shooter drill at Unatego High School on Saturday, Jan. 23.

The drill, which will run 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., will help train emergency service providers on how to handle an active shooter scenario.  It will be conducted by members of the state police, Wells Bridge Fire Department, Otego Fire Department, Unadilla Fire Department, Life Net, Otsego County Emergency Management, Franklin Fire Department and Sidney EMS.

Cooperstonians Gather To Remember 9/11

Cooperstonians Remember 9/11

At this hour, the Rev. Bill Delia, pastor, Cooperstown United Methodist Church, leads a service of remembrance of 9/11. Today is the 14th anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing. Behind him is the Rev. Sylvia Barrett, Milford UM. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
At this hour, the Rev. Bill Delia, pastor, Cooperstown United Methodist Church, leads a service of remembrance of 9/11. Today is the 14th anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing. Behind him is the Rev. Sylvia Barrett, Milford UM. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
‘An Echo Of God’s Compassion’

‘An Echo Of God’s Compassion’

•By LIBBY CUDMORE•  AllOTSEGO.Life

 

Retired Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk, now of Jefferson, holds a cross appreciative firefighters crafted for him from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.life)
Retired Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk, now of Jefferson, holds a cross appreciative firefighters crafted for him from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.life)

On 9/11, just a few short hours after they watched the World Trade Center towers collapse, the Right Rev. Mark Sisk, then the Episcopal bishop of New York, and his archdeacon Michael Kendall waited at Roosevelt Hospital.

“We were waiting to give comfort to the injured,” said Sisk, who with his wife, Karen, attended the 9/11 ecumenical community service at Cooperstown Methodist Church, marking the 13th anniversary of the national tragedy. “But nobody came. The longer that went on, the more ominous it seemed.”

Then a journalist arrived. “He asked us, ‘Where was God when the towers fell?’” Sisk recalled. “And Michael replied, ‘God is in that pile with the suffering and the dying.’ I thought that was the perfect answer.”

The next day, Bishop Sisk put on his clerical gear and drove to the WTC site with Kendall. “We didn’t know if St. Paul’s Chapel had survived,” he said. “We wanted the NYPD, the FDNY to know that they were in our prayers, that we supported them. We didn’t know what we’d encounter, but I felt like I had an opportunity and a duty to go down there.”

They were able to pass through all the barricades with ease, and an officer handed them face masks. “He told us ‘You’ll need these.’ It was 7 a.m., and there was still ash in the air. It was inches deep at our feet. The smell was acrid. I looked down, and there was an air canister with the plane’s flight number on it.”

Miraculously, St. Paul’s was still standing, with only one window broken. And that’s when they got to work. “We made St. Paul’s a respite place,” he said. “We served hot meals, gave massages, gave the firemen and police a place to rest.”
Karen – the Sisks retired a year ago to their long-time get-away home in Jefferson – also joined in helping at the church. “When I got there, I saw a fireman, in full gear, asleep on the pew,” she said. “They were setting up beds in the upper balcony.”

Overwhelmed by both the generosity and the chaos, she and another volunteer set about cleaning up the coffee station. “There was creamer spilled and teabags everywhere,” she said. “That we could deal with.”

Later that day, she helped on the food line, serving hamburgers and hot dogs. “Another volunteer came up to us and said, ‘The workers in the pit are hungry – we need 50 hot dogs with a little bit of ketchup and mustard, wrapped up in foil so we can throw them down.”

Olive Garden donated salads, and local markets sent fruit. “I looked at the fruit and it didn’t look right,” she said. “It was covered in this fine, powdery stuff – ash. There was still debris in the air, even a week later.”

Sisk also began to hear stories of heroism from his parishioners. “One man was coming down the stairs after the plane hit and he saw a woman sitting down, too tired to go on. He told her, ‘I’m not leaving you here, we’ll go down together,’ and helped her get all the way down. He wouldn’t leave her until they got away from the building, and they had just gotten clear before it fell.”

He also listened to stories of grief and guilt. “One man finished having breakfast with his friends and went to catch the elevator. His friend called him back, but he told him he’d catch up with him later. But that was the last elevator that made it down. His friends didn’t get out.”

And when his work was done, the firemen gave him a memento in thanks for all his work – a cross made from melted steel and glass from the towers. “Your own compassion for people is an echo of God’s compassion,” he said.

 

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