Otsego County and the whole of New York stand on the cusp of an eventful election season that begins with the June 28 primaries for the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, and state Assembly.
Because we can’t have nice things in the Empire State, we’ll have a second round of primaries on August 23; those are for state Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. And also a special election on August 23 to fill out the last few months of now-Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado’s term in the 19th Congressional District. Then another election for the 19th CD in November — in a district that will have entirely different boundaries thanks to redistricting, so one of the candidates for the special election for the 19th on August 23 is not running for reelection to that district in November, but instead will seek a full two-year term to the state’s 18th Congressional District and leave two others to duke it out for the 19th.
Thank you, state legislators who hijacked the voter-approved 2014 amendment establishing non-partisan redistricting, redrew lines you thought your party-appointed state Court of Appeals would uphold, and then whined when you got caught with your hands in the constitutional cookie jar and the Court correctly said “no thanks.” (Even their Assembly district lines got the judicial heave-ho last week, so we’ll have new ones in 2024!)
Calendar confusion aside, primaries are important. Just ask Joe Crowley. He’s the former Democrat Congressman from Queens who spent all his time a couple of years ago lining up support for his planned run against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House instead of campaigning in his home district for his primary against some unknown kid named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Whoops.
Elise Stefanik’s staff has been stuffing my e-mail inbox with announcements touting summer primary victories for House candidates from other states who have her support. I get it – as ugly as it may seem from the outside, this is how one rises through the ranks in Washington, D.C. The halls of Congress are a crowded place with at least 535 voices clamoring to rise above the din. Those whom one supports in a primary will be those to whom one turns for reciprocal support when it’s time for leadership votes.
But my goodness she’s supporting Carl Palladino out in Buffalo in his August 23 primary for Congress. I’ll do my best to keep from name-calling, but a buffoon is a buffoon. This guy, in 2021 (2021!), called Adolf Hitler “the kind of leader we need today.”
[Editor’s note: This week’s edition goes to press just as the news about Rep. Delgado is breaking; we offer here a brief analysis of the situation as it stands on the morning of May 3.]
For Otsego County, Governor Kathy Hochul’s May 3 announcement appointing Rep. Antonio Delgado as her new second-in-command in Albany is nothing short of politically seismic — a move that could send aftershocks throughout the entire state and even into Washington, D.C.
Certainly Rep. Delgado was a Washington up-and-comer, an important part of the Democratic Party’s hopes to keep its majority in the 2022 mid-term elections. That he was pitted against a popular Republican challenger, Marc Molinaro, in an electoral district whose boundaries hang in the balance of a federal mediator, might have had something to do with his decision to take the offer.
Political machinations notwithstanding, Governor Hochul’s choice is a wise one. Rep. Delgado has proven himself to be a tireless and energetic voice for Otsego County and his district as a whole. Smart, approachable, and affable, when he shows up at an event or to tour a business, he shows up with good questions and displays a genuine interest in the issues at hand.
Her beloved Buffalo Bills lost in a weekend heartbreaker, but aside from that, Governor Kathy Hochul has had a pretty good couple of weeks.
She’s able to talk about turning the corner against the winter Omicron surge, with seven-day averages for new hospital admissions, new cases, and cases-per-100,000 declining in every part of the state.
She laid out a blueprint for New York’s upcoming fiscal year, a $216 billion bonanza adorned with property tax rebates, pandemic recovery initiatives, infrastructure improvements, record-setting education aid, and big-spending ideas that aim to keep environmentalists green with joy. It’s a something-for-everybody package with enough in it to elate most of the disparate constituencies that constitute the Empire State
Far be it from this page to look a gift horse squarely in the mouth, but open wide, equine friend:
Term limits aren’t government reform.
We do not blame Governor Kathy Hochul for saying eight is enough when it comes to years in office for a governor. Her predecessor’s bullying monomania for cementing his legacy by winning the fourth term that eluded his father was his undoing.
She calls for that same two-term limit on the lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller. She ups the ante putative Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin slapped on the table in December — his proposal would, so far, limit only the governor’s time at the helm. Neither yet loops in the state Legislature — a wise political move, given the fact that it’s the state Legislature that would have to approve the deal in the first place before sending to the state’s voters. We doubt they’d agree to vote themselves out of office, but we also think they’d be hard-pressed to carve themselves out if public pressure demanded otherwise.
Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2022 State of the State message calls for a two-term limit for New York’s four top offices – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller.
Her plan tracks a similar call from the state’s likely Republican candidate for governor in 2022, Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin. Rep. Zeldin’s plan, announced December 1, 2021, would affect only the governor’s office.
Any term limit proposal would require an amendment to the state’s constitution — a lengthy process that demands approval from two separate sessions of the state Legislature, and then from voters.
Governor Hochul also seeks to bar outside income for statewide elected officials while serving in office, unless the income is derived from teaching purposes.
“I want people to believe in their government again,” Governor Hochul said. “With these bold reforms, we will ensure New Yorkers know their leaders work for them and are focused on serving the people of this state.”
In his December announcement, Rep. Zeldin said, “I have always believed that our founding fathers envisioned a system of citizen elected leaders who would bring their unique new ideas, experience and vision to government and then move on. As governor, I would term-limit myself to two terms regardless of whether the state legislature takes this action.”
While New York law imposes no limit on the number of terms a statewide elected official or a state legislator can hold, some municipalities throughout the state have enacted local term-limit ordinances. New York City, for example, caps citywide officials and City Council members to two terms in their respective offices.
Outside temperatures might be hitting their January lows, but June’s heat and humidity aren’t too far away.
Nor are June’s political primaries — those all-important preliminary contests that determine a party’s slate for next November’s ballots. Yet the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts remain a mystery for would-be candidates.
That includes a measure of uncertainty for voters in the congressional contest that comprises Otsego County.
HOLIDAY WEEKEND – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visit the town and find holiday gifts from 20+ local shops & vendors and then eat out and the local restaurants. Also will feature Santa visiting from 1 – 3 at the Cherry Valley Museum. Main Street, Cherry Valley. 607-264-3080 or visit www.facebook.com/RebirthCherryValley
Most Freeman’s Journal readers of a certain vintage have fond memories of radio stations from their youth, usually the pop stations that provided the proverbial “soundtrack of our lives.” Until the late 1970s, public radio programming consisted largely of classical music, with scholarly announcers flaunting their German and reciting the serial numbers of the recordings they played. Often, these stations offered eccentric and creative free-form programs as well. Jack Nicholson played such a
radio host in the 1972 film The King of Marvin Gardens.
By the early 1990s, National Public Radio (NPR) had taken over the FM public airwaves like an insidious invasive species that at first seems so cute and cuddly.
Think of a different movie — Gremlins. In some cities it became possible to hear the same celebrity interview on Fresh Air, Fresh Air Weekend, and Best of Fresh Air all on the same day. Twenty years later, the situation is worse, but with some heartening exceptions in our area. These deserve your support.
ALBANY – The first bill introduced by state Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, which corrects a clerical error and saves $400,000 of transportation aid to Oneonta City Schools, today passed the state Senate Education Committee.
“This is the first bill I have introduced as a state senator and it embodies one of my main priorities – to assist our local schools and municipalities when they are in need,” said Oberacker. “Without this piece of legislation, the Oneonta City School District would be facing a $400,000 hit on its budget.”
The legislation will now go to the Senate Finance Committee and then to the full Senate for approval. Assemblyman John Salka, who represents Oneonta, is introducing companion legislation in the Assembly.
Editor’s Note: Gas shortages in New York State aren’t limited to Otsego County, give this excerpt from a Politico dispatch from a few days ago.
ALBANY – Businesses, developers and homeowners looking to switch to natural gas from oil or get service for new construction projects in much of southern Westchester County are out of luck.
Con Edison has officially imposed a moratorium on new firm service in southern Westchester, something it has been warning state policymakers would happen for months. The gas utility will stop accepting applications for new service on March 15. The moratorium applies to communities in the county south of Bedford, Mount Kisco and New Castle.
The moratorium is the result of high gas demand on the coldest winter days and limited pipeline capacity in the area. While Con Edison proposed non-pipeline alternatives in an attempt to avoid blocking new gas hookups, the proposals were ultimately not enough to alleviate the need for a new pipeline.
“We are pursuing non-pipeline solutions and reduced reliance on fossil fuels through innovative, clean-energy technologies. We will also continue to explore opportunities for gas infrastructure projects that can meet New York State requirements,” Con Ed stated on its website with information about the moratorium. “However,
until our efforts align demand with available supply, we will no longer
be accepting applications for new natural gas connections in most of
our Westchester service area.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has rejected permits for most new gas pipeline projects in recent years, leading to pipeline developers shying away from proposing projects in the state. Environmental advocates are pressuring Cuomo to reject all new gas infrastructure, including a pipeline National Grid says is needed to avoid its own moratoriums on Long Island and in the city.
TREES OF COOPERSTOWN – 5:30 p.m. Tour Cooperstown with Otsego County Conservation Association, learn benefits of street trees, threats to urban forests, basics of tree anatomy, identification. Free, open to public. Pre-registration preferred. Meet at Pioneer Park, Main St., Cooperstown. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/the-trees-of-cooperstown/
LAURENS – State Police are looking for information on a 16 year old girl who has been reported missing from the Town of Laurens.
Khailee M. Stoughton, 16, reportedly left home on June 19 and has not returned. According to police, she has made contact by phone and was believed to be traveling between the Oneonta, Morris and Albany areas. She is not believed to have been abducted.
Stoughton is a black female, 5’4″ tall and medium build. She has long brown hair and brown eyes. It is unknown what she was last wearing.
ALBANY – With the April 1 state budget deadline approaching, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, has been named co-chairman of the state Legislature’s General Government/Local Assistance Budget Conference Committee. He will also serve as a member of the Education Budget Conference Committee.
“Bipartisan conference committees have been instrumental in producing six consecutive on-time budgets, and I am confident this process will deliver again this year,” said Seward.