Across Otsego County, there were remembrances for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that rocked the world and changed the course of history.
The First Presbyterian Church in Oneonta rang the church bell 20 times for each moment of the attack. It range at 8:45 a.m., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, 9:03 a.m., when the second plane hit, at 9:45 a.m., when the pentagon was hit and at 10:10 a.m., when United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.
Motorcyclists from the American Legion Riders had a run in honor of the day. About 100 riders roared through the streets of Oneonta and were later in Milford, a line of motorcyclists stretching back across state Route 28.
Milford held a parade where firefighters from the region drove past the Milford Fire Department in their fire trucks, throwing candy to the children as people cheered and waved American flags. Leading the parade were two navy veterans who stood atop a car while Taps played from the loudspeaker.
Wilber Park in Milford was a scene of remembrance but also was doubly a fundraiser for cancer research. Otsego County Rep. Jennifer Mickle, R-Decatur, Maryland, Westford, Worcester, helped organize the event.
The prominent message at the park and in all of the events was gratitude towards first responders, including firefighters, police, EMS workers and the military.
HEROES RUN – 9 a.m. Come Commemorate 20 years since 9/11 with local firefighters, Assemblymen Salka and Oberacker, and others. An a capella group will be singing ‘God Bess America’ and there will be a flag raising ceremony ahead of the run. Will feature a 5K and 10K run starting at 10 a.m. Cost, $20 for the 10K. Proceeds will go to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Begins and Ends at the Fly Creek Fire Station, 607-547-5469 or visit www.facebook.com/Fly-Creek-Volunteer-Fire-Company-409995299193467/
RECOVERY RUN – 9 a.m. Join the Rothenberger Road to Recovery Run in the 10K, 5K, or 1K run or walk. This run is in memory of Lucas Rothenberger and for those who have lost a loved one to addiction and to provide knowledge and education on the reality of recovery. The whole family is invited. Cost, $30 for the 10K. Neahwa Park, Oneonta. 607-267-4435 or visit rothenbergerrun.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=11053
“The Taliban likes to attack on holidays,” said Dr. Joon K. Shim, who arrived at Bassett Hospital Jan. 26 as a surgeon, as well as program director of the Columbia-Bassett Residency, training young doctors.
She heard “a huge ‘kaboom’” – a mortar attack. “I was on the floor with my face to the ground. I thought I would die that day,” said the physician, who was serving one of three deployments in Afghanistan.
But duty called in the form of an injured soldier, and she was soon back at the operating table.
“He held my hand and said, ‘Dr. Shim, I want to live’,” she remembered. Later, he had the opportunity to tell her, “Thank you for saving my life.”
She’s not the only Bassett physician to experience war. Dr. Shelby Cooper, a Navy lieutenant commander, was deployed to Afghanistan. So was the hospital’s president, Dr. Bill LeCates, who also serves as state surgeon for the New York State National Guard.
Still, on active duty for three deployments, in 2011, 2012 and 2013, Dr. Shim’s story, as she told it in a recent interview, is like an action thriller, beginning when – a recent Bryn Mawr, magna cum laude philosophy major – 9/11 happened.
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.
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.”
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.”
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)
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.
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/
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.