From: Sochie Nnaemeka and TeAna Taylor. special to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
There’s no doubt that Albany is undergoing a transformation.
Voters across the state turned out in record numbers to elect Democratic and Working Families champions to the Legislature last year, winning super-majorities in both houses. And this April, the results were made clear: New York passed a budget that provides historic funding to our public school students, tenants, immigrants and Black and brown communities. We legalized cannabis for adults with provisions to ensure the benefits are shared by the communities directly impacted by the drug war. And we finally passed the HALT Solitary Confinement Act to restrict the use of “the box” in prisons and replace it with safe, humane alternatives. Electing progressive leaders is helping to deliver a future for New York rooted in equity and justice.
As we come down the final stretch of the legislative session, our elected leaders must resist complacency and continue to deliver long-overdue changes to our criminal justice systems that New Yorkers have been demanding.
Family members of incarcerated people, community leaders, and criminal justice advocates call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to grant emergency clemencies to older people in prison and others with compromised immune systems in response to the death of a person incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility who tested positive for COVID-19 April 3, 2020 outside the prison in Ossining, New York. Juan Mosquero was the first incarcerated person with the virus to die in a state prison.
Maybe when marijuana vendors appear at Disney World, or when the venerable theme park comes up with a Marijuana Mile theme ride, or maybe Marijuana Maelstrom.
Then, perhaps, the Village of Cooperstown – “the pinnacle” of youth baseball camps, according to Lunetta Swartout, Cooperstown Stays proprietor, (and she ought to know) – should approve pot shops, or a “recreational cannabis dispensary,” or whatever, along Main Street in Baseball’s Mecca.
Maybe then, but now the debate is more than theoretical.
Simmering, simmering for years, marijuana legalization moved to the front burner over the weekend, when Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly agreed on legislation “to legalize adult-use cannabis.” The Assembly and Senate approved the bill Tuesday, and Cuomo was expected to sign it.
Speculation and opinions on Andrew Cuomo’s need to resign have been frequent topics in this newspaper.
While the allegations of the Governor’s sexual abuses, as well as his COVID-19 policies, have been horrible, they are just that – allegations. Guilt and culpability need substantive proof. I believe the facts will come to light in the Attorney General’s investigation and provide direction for the Governor’s future.
One facet of the Governor’s tenure is not in doubt and does not need investigation.
His economic policies have been calamitous for the state.
Since he took office, about 1.4 million people have left the state – “voting with their feet”. The pace quickened last year.
According to estimates from the Census Bureau, 126,355 residents left New York between July 2019 and July 2020.
New York State – particularly Upstate – is headed towards a demographic of a small, wealthy elite – impervious to economic woes, a shrinking middle class, and a growing disadvantaged underclass. Many jobs and opportunities in the state have moved too – to Texas, Florida and Tennessee.
There is a template for opportunity and growth. The gaps in taxation and regulation between New York and the growing states can be narrowed. A good job in a stable economic environment is not just about money. It is an important part of keeping a society viable.
I was born in New York State, went to college here, and had my first full-time job here – in Cooperstown. I love the state’s history, its land, and even its weather – most of the time. I would like to see a state that attracted and retained people who wanted to start families and businesses. I am hopeful that voters will see an opportunity to change direction in 2022, when this governor’s term is up.
Andrew’s Cuomo’s economic policies provide a clear lesson of poor leadership and an example of a course not to take.
I have never voted for Andrew Cuomo and probably never will. I can’t. I’m not a year-’round resident of New York State.
The allegations of harassment against him are troubling, and, if proven, worthy of condemnation. But I am going to suggest that, rather than simply clamour for his resignation, it would be more helpful, indeed therapeutic, to allow the investigations by the state Attorney General and the state Legislature to play out.
That’s what the harassment statutes are for. Under the law, the presumption is that the accused is innocent, and that guilt must be proven, not simply alleged.
As a practical matter, if he resigned now, nothing would be proven. The only lesson learned would be that he was held accountable to the court of public opinion, not the law.
By resigning, there will be no investigation, no due process, no conclusive judgment. Not a great precedent for the law or the process.
Senator Gillibrand is calling for his resignation. I recall that she was the first of Senator Al Franken’s colleagues to condemn him for alleged harassment.
When she was rebuked for that after he resigned, she said, “He could have gone before the Ethics Committee.” True, with her prejudicial dagger sticking in his back.
In hindsight, Franken should have gone through the process, as Cuomo says he will. Daggers and all. If he comes out of it battered but unbroken, I might even vote for him. Multiple times, as my dead relatives and I do regularly in Texas.
What an incredible piece of work Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin most certainly is.
His recent announcement of his intentions to run for governor truly takes the cake. If they can’t come up with a better candidate on either side of the aisle, we’re all in trouble.
Zeldin’s voting record underscores the pathos of his case. He has voted against the Equality Act, Paycheck Fairness, background checks and reproductive rights.
He owns one of the worst (if not THE worst environmental ratings) in the entire New York congressional delegation as per The League of Conservation Voters. He is a true darling of the NRA, which readily pumps tons of money his way.
In no uncertain terms one need not look too hard for a better gubernatorial candidate . Hopefully his is nothing less than a lost cause.
Those are the two concepts people in government and the tourist industry are using in discussing the news that the two youth-baseball camps, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and All Star Village in West Oneonta, are seeking permission to open someway, somehow, in the 2021 season.
“If they can conform to the state’s requirements and do it safely, they should be allowed to open,” said Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. Others interviewed echoed her sentiment.
Dreams Park is planning to extend its season from May to September, with fewer players, who would stay on-campus, as in the past. (Early, it was incorrectly reported that the players would stay off-campus.)
All must present negative COVID tests on arrival. Dreams Park’s local lawyer, Gar Gozigian, is looking for state Health Department guidance and permission to proceed.
All Star Village issued a more general statement, saying it would implement all health and safety measures, and concluding, “As things change we are confident restrictions will expire and we will update.”
Election Day is still six months away, but in the past few days it’s been off to the races, the local races.
With Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s announcing his retirement last week, three candidates immediately emerged to succeed him, a Democrat and two Republicans.
Leading up to Tuesday, March 2, the first day nominating petitions can be circulated, a similar outpouring occurred in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
Get used to it.
The early entries, a half-year in advance of the elections, are required by changes implemented in January 2019 by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature, then newly in control of the Democrats.
State and local primaries were moved from the second Tuesday in September to the fourth Tuesday in June, to align with federal elections. The idea, Democrats said, was to save money and to increase turnout for local elections.
However, with petitions in local races due to be filed with the county Board of Elections between March 22 and 25, it also extends the campaign season for local offices from four to
Editor’s Note: By covering stories other big newspapers have ignored, the New York Post, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, is regaining some of its luster. In this latest editorial on the Cuomo Administration’s latest crisis, it questions whether campaign contributions played a role in the March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients. Also, below, is a sampling of editorials on the issue.
Governor Cuomo is trying to rage his way through the horrific nursing-home scandal, vowing to “take on the lies and the unscrupulous actors” even as he repeats his own lies blaming the feds for his fateful March 25 mandate that homes accept COVID-contagious patients. Will the feds let him get away with it?
New Yorkers who lost family members in nursing homes were cheered by news of a federal probe into the matter. But the Biden Justice Department might buy his effort to blame the Trump administration, even though it’s transparently false.
On Dec. 28, Cooperstown Center – the former Otsego Manor, now in private hands – advised its Family Council that two residents had died – not necessarily OF COVID, but WITH COVID.
Officially, one died of a bleeding hernia, the other of sepsis, at Bassett Hospital, NOT at the nursing home.
The Cuomo Administration’s Health Department took this kind of parsing a step further: Statewide, if a nursing home resident with COVID was transferred to a hospital and died there, he or she was counted as a hospital death, not a nursing-home death.
Attorney General Letitia James blew the whistle on this slack practice in a press conference last Thursday, Jan. 28, detailing an investigation that found nursing-home deaths from COVID may actually be 50 percent higher than the Cuomo Administration has been letting on.
Later that day, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released new numbers, raising the nursing-home tally by 3,800 to a new total of 12,743. That means about a third of our state’s 40,000 COVID deaths happened in places like Cooperstown Center.
So Cuomo and his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, knew. But so what?
In a daily press conference Monday, Jan. 4, Governor Cuomo called out Fox Hospital: If the Oneonta facility doesn’t use its anti-COVID vaccine allocation more quickly, it won’t get any more.
The governor said Fox had only used 18 percent of the doses it has.
Bassett Healthcare Network’s spokesman, Karen Huxtable-Hooker, said that figure is actually 30 percent as of Tuesday the 5th, both at Fox and its Tri-Town Campus in Sidney.
In all, she said, more than 2,000 Bassett Network staffers had been vaccinated, with 52 percent of the Moderna virus supply used up. The network employs 5,200 people over nine counties.
Bassett Hospital received its Moderna allotment Dec. 23, and immediately began vaccinating, Huxtable-Hooker said, and continues “to offer vaccination clinics for our health care staff, as do all of the hospitals in the Bassett network.”
The pace of vaccinations is just one challenge Bassett is facing, along with rising hospitalization – “double what it was in November,” she said. “The continued escalation of COVID-19 cases is challenging resources, but (at Bassett Hospital) we are managing.”
“Fortunately, with five hospitals in the network, we are able to make use of all available beds to meet patient needs to identify space within our hospitals that can appropriately be converted for patient care needs as demand dictates,” she said.
On a “case-by-case basis,” she continued, some elective surgeries that require hospital says have been postponed “ to have those beds available for seriously ill patients,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Despite such challenges, healthcare workers see the vaccine as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Some staffers have declined the vaccine, “but this has been the exception,” the spokesman said. “Most staff members are anxious to receive the vaccine as soon as they are eligible and can be scheduled.”
While there are two bills in the state Legislature seeking to mandate that healthcare workers and others be vaccinated, they have not yet been acted on. (See related story, Page A1).
Nor has the state Department of Health issued any such order, so “we cannot require staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but we are strongly encouraging it,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, she said, masks, social distancing, hand-washing and the like is being encouraged to reduce transmission, she said.
At his Sunday, Jan. 3 press conference, Cuomo said 70-90 percent of New Yorkers need to be vaccinated to push back COVID-19, part of his dismay at the vaccination rate.
If hospitals do not use up their allotment they may face fines and/or possible disqualification from future vaccine distributions, according to Cuomo’s statements.
“Bassett Healthcare Network continues holding vaccination clinics with the goal of using the vaccine allocated to us,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, asymptomatic rapid testing will be available to the public as long as supplies last at Bassett’s Oneonta location on 125 Main St.
Reservations are required by calling 607-433-6510 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The network is working to schedule other locations and dates for asymptomatic testing.
(Under Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 regulations), churches and synagogues are limited to a maximum of 25 people. These restrictions apply even to the largest cathedrals and synagogues, which ordinarily hold hundreds. And the restrictions apply no matter the precautions taken, including social distancing, wearing masks, leaving doors and windows open, forgoing singing, and disinfecting spaces between services.
At the same time, the Governor has chosen to impose no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers “essential.” And it turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores. Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are all essential too.
So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians.
Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?
NEIL J. GORSUCH
Supreme Court Justice
Diocese of Brooklyn
vs. Andrew M. Cuomo
Editor’s Note: Governor Cuomo issued this paean to New York State suffragettes on Tuesday, Aug. 18, the 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees voting rights to women.
By Gov. ANDREW CUOMO • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
New York has been the birthplace to many of the progressive movements that have left an indelible mark on our society while pushing the nation forward, and particularly for women’s suffrage, which began at Seneca Falls and included legendary New Yorkers such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many more.
As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, we must also recognize there is more work to be done.
New York State will continue to lead the nation in creating greater equality for all and we are proud to preserve and enhance this important part of American history for future generations.
On the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, this development will stabilize Susan B. Anthony’s childhood home in Washington County, allowing for the reuse of the property.While the Susan B. Anthony House and Museum in Rochester showcases the history of one of the world’s greatest revolutionaries, this project will further preserve Anthony’s legacy in New York State.
As the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, New York was the first major state to grant the right to vote in the country, leading the way for the 19th Amendment. As we celebrate the centennial of women’s suffrage, we still have more work to do to achieve true equality and justice. Now more than ever, we must embrace this time to continue to fight for real change.
It’s fun to watch Andrew Cuomo. He knows that his father lost his try for a fourth term in office. To be fair, he didn’t lose by a lot and it was a very Republican year.
On the other hand, Andrew has to worry that people can get tired of having the same guy in office year after year. So, Andrew is on the warpath.
I have been speaking with him a lot lately on the radio and I’m here to tell you the guy gets angry when he is challenged. Nothing gets by him.
If someone is mad about having to pay $25 for a new license plate and is blaming him for it, he doesn’t turn the other cheek. Nope, he says that the very people in the Legislature who are blaming him for the fee are the ones who put the new “tax” in place and they are welcome to change it. A lot of people are thinking that it might take an Andrew Cuomo to get in Donald Trump’s face in 2020. They remember Hillary’s inability to do that and don’t have a lot of faith that any of the present contenders will fare any better.
When Chris Cuomo got into a fight over being called “Fredo” by a troll, Andrew went after a columnist for a local Albany paper and he didn’t pull any punches. He made news on my radio show, going after that columnist two weeks in a row.
The truth is that he has been making a lot of news on the public radio station that I run. My press colleagues often forget to mention my name, however, even though I was asking the questions that prompted his angry responses. Ah, well – you can’t have everything.
So how did this all come about? After all, Andrew was apparently so angry with me on a private matter that he wouldn’t talk to me for his first two terms (eight years) in office.
Then one day, there was the WAMC news director, Ian Pickus, knocking on the door of our studio while I was on the air, telling me that Andrew wanted to come on that very day. We were delighted, and he made such big news that even the New York Times credited me by name.
I try to be as tough on the guy as I possibly can. I recently received a letter asking why I was so rude to the governor. Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior advisor (he was once my student) got hot under the collar when someone referred to Cuomo and me as “pals.”
Azzopardi reminded the letter writer that I had opposed Cuomo in columns during his recent primary campaign and further reminded him that when Andrew decided to run against Carl McCall for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination quite a while ago, I really objected to the fact that Andrew was taking on a wonderful man who just happened to be the first African-American to have a shot at being governor of New York – not exactly a pal.
The governor did ask me, I suspect tongue-in-cheek, to accompany him to the New York State Fair in Syracuse.
He demanded an answer and I said “no.” It was pretty funny.
Some of you might remember that I had a weekly radio show with Mario Cuomo that played all over New York and as far away as Boston. That show was on the air for a long, long time. Mario was both articulate and one of the funniest men I have ever known. Now I see that Andrew’s apple has not fallen far from Mario’s tree.
As for me, I will continue to ask him the toughest questions I can, and I have to believe that, at some point, he’ll have had enough and call it quits. In the meantime, I’m having the time of my long life.
Alan Chartock is president of WAMC, Northeast Public Radio, which beams into Otsego County. This column was reprinted from Berkshire Edge, Pittsfield Mass.
State Zigged To Democrats,
But County Zagged To GOP
The Wall Street Journal headline was sly: “Blue Wave Breaks Softly.”
The article reported that, as of Nov. 6, Election Night, Democrats gained 27 Congressional seats in the midterms, regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
That pales compared to Democrats losing 63 in the first Obama midterms in 2010, and losing the House as well; still, even one-vote control is control. (As canvassing ensued, it looks like Democrats may end up with plus 35 to 40 new seats; still, not the GOP Armageddon some were salivating over. And Republicans increased their margin in the U.S. Senate.)
Whatever – nationwide. But when you look at New York State government, the Blue Wave broke hard Upstate, not least over Otsego County, with some unnerving implications.
The state Senate zigged, turning from enduringly Republican to Democratic, a feat accomplished for only two years in a half-century.
But Otsego County zagged: With the loss of Democratic Assemblyman Bill Magee of Nelson, the one state senator and four assemblymen representing our county are all Republicans, about to dive into a Democratic sea.
That can’t be good.
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who will be operating without Magee’s steady support in the Democratic House for the first time since 1991, said he’s used to working in a bipartisan manner.
In an interview, he used the term “equitable distribution” twice, hoping the Democrats will extend the concept that has allowed the state’s largesse to be enjoyed statewide.
That would be great, but we’ll see.
More of an issue than Democrats and Republicans is Upstaters vs. downstaters, Seward observed. Only three of the state’s 30 senators are from north of Westchester County. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The GOP county chairman, Vince Casale, addressed the legislative picture. Now in control of Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Office, he predicts Democrats will seek to legalize marijuana as soon as January, and will press for adoption of the NY Plan, Medicare-like coverage for all Empire Staters – exciting, but perhaps bankrupting.
Depending how hard and fast the Democrats push, what went around in 2018 may come around in 2020.
Meanwhile, even local Democrats are a bit uneasy. Richard Sternberg, the Cooperstown village trustee who is also a member of the state Democratic Committee, said he hopes that, since our mayors are Democratic (Oneonta’s Gary Herzig and Cooperstown’s Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch), the funds will keep flowing.
And, as architect of Democratic gains on the Otsego County Board of Representatives last year, Sternberg is looking ahead to creating a majority next year; he’s only one seat short.
Given the new Albany reality, becoming aligned with the ruling party only makes sense, his remarks suggested.
If anything, we here in Otsego County compounded the zag by voting heavily for Marc Molinaro, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Republican challenger.
Arguably, Cuomo’s done more for Otsego County than any governor in decades, Democrat or Republican, and did so by embracing an all-American principle: competition.
The governor’s concept – divide the state into 10 regions and make them compete for state economic-development funding, and may the best ideas win – was brilliant.
In the past five years, Otsego County has competed and competed well, winning millions annually through CFAs; (the next round of “consolidated funding application” grants is due to be announced in December). Plus, remember Oneonta’s DRI.
In the world of New York State realpolitik, here’s more good news in the returns.
While the county as a whole supported Republicans, Oneonta and Cooperstown are strong Democratic enclaves, supporting Senator Seward, the county’s favorite son, but breaking blue on everything else.
Oneonta, for its population, and Cooperstown, for its iconic status, are not to be ignored, whatever party controls the state political apparatus.
Whoever’s in charge in Albany, there’s a lot to be done here, so fingers crossed.