As a non-retail small business owner and an astute observer of Main Street USA, I have great sympathy for the economic struggles of Main Street USA storefront retailers.
Main Street USA, and its storefront retail businesses, can define their communities desirability and quality of life, by whether they look bright, attractive, welcoming, thriving, and growing, or dusty, dark, stuck in time, just holding on, or dying.
The centuries-old, only game in town, limited aging product inventory, “passive retailing” model of “open the door, turn on a few lights, and wait” has been laid to rest by the new, dynamic, low-expense, multiple-choice, latest model: the shop-in-your-underwear, anything you want delivered tomorrow, free shipping, free easy returns, online retailing model.
The choice for many Main Street USA storefront retailers — to have any hope of improving their customer traffic and financial situation — is to change the way they see and act upon the retailer/customer relationship and understand their additional responsibilities for the success of their own business, or slowly pass away from self-imposed, unwilling to change, benign neglect.
If a business district and the retail stores look bright, alive, attractive, colorful, vibrant, successful, active, cheerful, and welcoming, then people will be happy to be there. When people are happy to be there, enjoying the moment, they will patronize more businesses and spend more money.
It’s a part of the morning routine now – pour the coffee, read the news, tell myself that I’ll wait until later to Wordle, then Wordle nonetheless.
If you’ve not heard about this nifty little online game, a warning: Do it once and you’re hooked. It’s almost too simple – it’s free, it’s not an app that you have to download, there are no ads clogging the site (powerlanguage.co.uk). Once per day, your job is to guess a five-letter word in six tries. That’s it. It’s all the rage on various social media; The New York Times, National Public Radio, and various cable news channels have picked up on the craze. If you’ve got Twitter or Facebook friends, chances are pretty good they’ve bothered your news feed with an update on their daily result.
We arrived at our winter redoubt in Arizona about a week ago. We have made this cross-country trek several times and always enjoy it. Even look forward to it.
Each of us experiences it differently. And those differences have elicited some curious responses when chatting about it with friends, not to mention some friendly quarreling about when to turn on
the radio to catch up on the news.
One of my quirks when traveling is to shut out the news as much as possible. I could easily drive back and forth across this endlessly beautiful and fascinating country without ever turning on a radio or sticking those god-awful buds into my ears. I am one of those rare birds who, as Thoreau put it so sagely in Walden, has “never met a companion as companionable as solitude.”
I get a kick out of the ROUGH ROAD sign on I-88 west, just past the Worcester exit. The overused “Thanks, Captain Obvious” comes to mind as my car frame rattles through the next dozen miles of highway that, atmy most charitable, I refer to as ‘rough.’
Closer to home, I look forward to the LED radar speed limit signs that tell me precisely how fast I am going as I enter Cooperstown’s village limits. I do not discount their value, particularly for those of us who occasionally may be prone to a lead foot. I’d rather not run a story in this newspaper about how its editor got pinned for going 40 in a 30 or some such. Those signs — at every main road entry to the village — provide wise guidance for our out-of-town visitors who may need the reminder that they’re not on the Garden State Parkway so it might be a good idea to tap the brakes.
But they sure are rude. The one on Route 28 as you’re driving into town — I get that the village speed limit is 30, but if I’m going 31 — 31! —do you have to shout — in all capital letters — WARNING? Same on 80 out by The Farmers’ Museum — TOO FAST, it barks as I brake from my tire-shredding 35 down to 30.
A light coating of snow now blankets our hillside, snow shovels at the ready. The new snow blower waits quietly for its first call to duty.
Life is now lived more inwardly, more reflectively. Books having piled up for some months now await their turn in line. Thoughts that have incubated for some time seem riper for reflection, perhaps a temporary resolution of what have been conflicting possibilities. Few would disagree that each of us has much to think about these days. There is the media’s penchant for over-covering stories and seeming willing and eager to give us things to worry about, even fear.
Years ago, when I began covering high school sports here, I coined a truism about New York State Public High School Athletic Association seasons.
If you are playing in the spring season, you need to be playing in June to have a successful season.
If you are playing in the winter season, you need to be playing in March to have a successful season.
If you are playing in the fall season, you need to be playing in November to have a successful season.
I mention this because I have been trailing around the Cooperstown’s boys soccer team this fall. My son is a reserve on the team and I had a small hand in training these boys — specifically for this season — and perhaps a larger hand as their cheerleader.
I love Otsego County. My love for our area was the foundation of my 34 year service as State Senator. That certainly didn’t change with my retirement in January. If anything, living here without duties in Albany has only solidified my connection to my neighbors and friends.
As COVID-19 continues on, that love fills me with urgent concern.
As you may remember, COVID-19 is a very personal issue for me. My wife, Cindy, and I first tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus in late March of 2020 We were concerned, but also relieved to be diagnosed with “mild” cases. I expected a short hospital stay followed by a quiet quarantine.
That plan was interrupted. Within a week, I was on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma in the ICU. I have no memory of that period of four days in the midst of my infection. But I have vivid memories of the weeks that followed. I struggled through a slow, painful and exhausting recovery process, while Cindy, along with our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, bore the weight of concern for my condition.
Donald Hill was the first kid I met in Richfield. His family lived in an apartment in back of my aunt’s
house on Lake Street.
It was in late August of 1950 and my dad had brought me and my cousin Leo up from Brooklyn for a stay in the country. Donald and Leo were about 12- or 13-years old and I was a seven-year old kid who insisted on tagging along wherever they went. We had some great adventures. At the dump we collected junk, scores of two-cent deposit bottles and loads of free pumpkins that were there for the picking. Donald had an old gray bearded dog, Rump, who followed us everywhere.
One afternoon, we walked down to the lake where Donald had access to a dried out flat bottom boat and we rowed out to the island. My hefty cousin Leo hogged the oars until Donald discreetly grabbed onto some tall weeds we were moving through and stopped the boat, making my cousin think we ran aground. Leo kept rowing hard but we weren’t getting anywhere. “Let me have a go at it,” Donald suggested. He was much smaller than my cousin.
Our community is fortunate to have the Friends of the Village Library to organize important conversations and events like the “Looking in the Mirror” program. I have attended a few of the series including racism in education and in healthcare and had come to expect a decent program when tuning in.
On Feb. 10, I listened to The Cooperstown Reflects on Racism and Law Enforcement Series with my wife hoping for an invigorating and forward-thinking conversation.
The event had the express goals of:
1) Examine the impact of racism on our community and institutions;
2) Learn how to confront bias and inequities locally;
3) Identify actions that individuals, groups, and the community can take to address racism and create a more equitable Cooperstown.
The speakers during their presentations and the Q&A did not address, examine or achieve any of these goals. I have spent the last four months thinking about this event and pondering what can be done to jumpstart the difficult discussion that works to foster the growth and honest conversation needed if we are to address the goals of the series.
Our community must strive towards achieving these goals until we succeed if we hope to create actual change in our world. Ignoring these goals is to ignore racism which only perpetuates white supremacy by propping up the racist institutions and power structures in our community and in our country.
Below are my reflections on Racism and Law Enforcement utilizing the above goals as my guide. My intention by expressing my thoughts and feelings about this event and more largely racism and bias in our community is not to attack the speakers and attendees of The Cooperstown Reflects on Racism and Law Enforcement Series. I hope by presenting this alternative path the community will create space for a more critical analysis of the power systems that influence our lives.
1) Racism has impacted our community and institutions in such a profound manner that we cannot imagine a justice system that is not based on punishment. We instead can only see a world where being one of the earliest adopters of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203: NYS Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative in the state means that our community is progressive and welcoming. Eager adherence to such mandates by the government shows Cooperstown’s pro-policing nature which does not work to dismantle the systems of oppression at the foundation of our country.
Racism has impacted our community to the point where we allow the institutions of the police department and mayor’s office to use the majority of their time during this series to ask for more funding and support for policing in our community instead of addressing the stated goals. The influences of racism are made tangible when the “communal we” thinks that adherence to a policy calling for police to “… promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy …” is understandable and necessary. Giving police more money and increasing the size of our police force does not make the community a safer place.
2) I spent my time during college learning about Black studies, education and history. Even with a degree based on analyzing racism within the United States, I find myself lacking the tools needed to gracefully confront bias and inequities. The Cooperstown Reflects on Racism and Law Enforcement Series could not and did not confront bias and inequities locally nor did they offer any steps or tools to handle racist events and interactions. There was a missed opportunity to highlight activists and scholars who have accessible works that are listed on the Friends of the Village Library website such as Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Michelle Alexander, and Ibram X. Kendi or to introduce folks like Prison Industrial Complex Abolitionist Mariame Kaba who strives to create a transformative justice system in our country through organizations like Project NIA and Interrupting Criminalization. As a majority White community, we must actively struggle against the systems that benefit us the most. Recognizing that racism is not always overt actions and statements of bigotry is necessary if we hope to effectively dismantle powerful institutions such as the institution of policing which is founded in racism and white supremacy.
3) Instead of continuing to allow racism to exist in our space, we must imagine a different world for ourselves. If there is a community that can take this bold step against racism and white supremacy it is Cooperstown. The magic of myth-making is powerful enough to warp realities. The people of Cooperstown know this to be true, as the story about a simple game being born in these hills changed our world. We can use the same imagination that created the reality where people come to our town every year because they love baseball and want to share in the glory of its perceived, albeit imagined birthplace. Let that imagination envision a world where our justice system is not based on punishment and banishment and instead is based on healing and learning as a community. Removing a person from the community by locking them up in prison through our judicial system or by “canceling” them for their racist/sexist/misogynistic/unacceptable behavior does not delete these unacceptable behaviors. It destroys lives and homes while leaving a wound in communities where we could have instead taken the opportunity to learn, grow and heal.
A major action that we can take as a community to create a more equitable Cooperstown and Otsego County is to abolish the village police department and to shut down the county jail. The funding and staff can be reallocated and transferred into adjacent fields where their skills and experiences can be utilized allowing the employees to continue to serve our community in a meaningful way. Having staff transition into positions with fire departments or local EMT companies while reallocating money to mental health and other social services is a great example. Another fantastic example is the S.T.A.R. (Support Team Assisted Response) Program in Denver, Colorado, and Eugene, Oregon which sends mental health professionals instead of police to respond to emergency calls when appropriate. The road ahead will be bumpy and the temptation to settle for half measures will arise. With this in mind, we must continue ever forward, holding ourselves and each other accountable and on course. When we stumble and falter we must be gentle with ourselves and remember that change even when necessary can be difficult.
Destroying white supremacy and racism will not occur overnight however with time and with the bravery to dream of a truly changed world we, the Cooperstown community, can and will take the arduous journey together.
Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library
210 YEARS AGO
Celebration of Independence at Hartwick – An assemblage of 1,200 republicans, at 10 a.m. took place, at the house of Philo West, in the Town of Hartwick, and a procession formed by Capt. Calvin Comstock, officer of the day, which marched to the meeting house, escorted by Captain Baker’s and Captain Bowen’s companies of militia in the following order: Officer of the Day, Clergy, Orator, Civil Authority, Militia Officers. The Declaration of Independence was first read, and a sermon appropriate to the occasion was delivered by elder Bostwick, and an oration by Dr. Comstock. The procession then returned in the same order to Mr. West’s, where they set down to an excellent dinner prepared for the occasion. After dinner the young people performed a number of dialogues, &c. to the great satisfaction of all present, after which they retired to their respective homes. Not a jarring sound was heard during the day, nor was anyone known to be intoxicated.
In May, I watched baseball and softball games across the county.
I saw a cross section of residents, from at least four local communities, most of whom I had not seen for at least 18 months, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some people I had not seen for much longer, because I had been away from sports.
This is probably the least controversial statement I will ever make on the editorial page, and I will let my Southern voice make for effect: it is good to see all y’all.
One of the things the coronavirus pandemic has taken away from us is community. I can understand why it was hard on parishioners when churches were on remote services, because community is a big part of religious groups’ virtues.
The same could be said for sports and arts in the community. I know for us there are plenty of people we mostly see during soccer seasons and have now seen little of for two springs and a fall.
Occasionally we bump into people at the store, or I see a solo family member at a newspaper-related event, but it hasn’t been the same.
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of an editorial, co-written by Anthony Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other experts, that appears in the current edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
A degree of clarity is emerging from this report, (“Early transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China,” Li Q. Guan X and colleagues, New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 29.)
The median age of the patients was 59 years, with higher morbidity and mortality among the elderly and among those with coexisting conditions (similar to the situation with influenza); 56 percent of the patients were male. Of note, there were no cases in children younger than 15 years of age.
Either children are less likely to become infected, which would have important epidemiologic implications, or their symptoms were so mild that their infection escaped detection, which has implications for the size of the denominator of total community infections.
On the basis of a case definition requiring a diagnosis of pneumonia, the currently reported case fatality rate is about 2 percent.
In another article in The Journal, Guan et al. report mortality of 1.4 percent among 1,099 patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19; these patients had a wide spectrum of disease severity.
If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1 percent.
This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to
those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1 percent) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10 percent and 36 percent, respectively.
Of late, social media and other community forums have been full of dialogue about the initiatives in downtown Oneonta. Why do we need this housing? Why the rebranding? Why artist lofts? Why not somewhere else? What about parking?
While comments many are supportive of these initiatives, the majority of comments appear to be an emotional response, perhaps the result of a lack of understanding of the strategic issues facing our community.
As a 35-plus-year resident of the City of Oneonta, a significant employer of professionals, a landlord, entrepreneur and a highly traveled business adviser, perhaps I can shed some light on the “whys” behind these important initiatives?
Let’s take a look at just a few facts:
Otsego County is losing population.
Oneonta’s tax burden is funded by less than 50 percent of our properties.
We lack housing that’s attractive to professionals and families.
Our downtown is in decline.
It appears that many do not recognize that our community has a serious lack of quality housing. Our housing stock is old and tired, the result of a combination of 50-plus years of converting center-city homes to student housing, a lack of available in-city development land and general economic decline.
And with a downtown that’s seen an exodus of retail, this makes for significant challenges in recruiting and retaining professional employees; and keeping our youth. Quality market-appropriate housing is the foundation of a community’s success.
We all must understand that ours is a competitive world. As a community, we are competing for tax dollars, population and business activity with thousands of other communities.
One must ask why we have +/-1,500 new young people arrive in our city each year … and more than 1,500 leave. Our youth is leaving for lack of opportunity. They go elsewhere because other cities have a better competitive profile than Oneonta. And as with anything else, “to the victor, go the spoils.” This is irrefutable fact.
My business, as that of others in our area, has open positions that we struggle to fill. Attracting qualified employees in an era of full employment is a significant competitive challenge. Doing so when we lack infrastructure exacerbates the challenge.
Young professionals and families are seeking housing in city centers and neighborhoods to be close to stores, restaurants and services. They seek vibrancy and energy. Competitively speaking, Oneonta is behind on this front.
And yet, our area is full of natural resources: the arts and humanities, great schools and colleges, excellent health care and wonderful restaurants that are attractive to this desired population (youth). That’s why the state has chosen Oneonta to receive million$ in grant money. We have “good bones.” But we must take some important and bold actions to realize the opportunities before us.
As a result of the initiatives undertaken by the state and our city, we are now attracting private investment to our community. It seems that developers like Chip Klugo and Ken Kearney have more faith in Oneonta than many of our citizens.
Over the next couple of years, we will see over 100 new housing units built in downtown Oneonta. This initiative is huge, and these investments will inject much-needed revenue into our downtown restaurants and retail establishments. They’ll attract tenants who will deliver renewed energy to our community. And these initiatives will result in further investment. Success breeds success!
New housing, a reconstructed parking garage, a new transit hub, artist lofts, Hartwick’s Center for Craft Food & Beverage and other initiatives are absolutely mission critical to our community. We must overcome our population exodus! We must turn around our growing tax burdens! We must keep and re-attract our youth! Investors will find our city as a result. The time for Oneonta’s renewal is NOW!
Every Oneonta citizen should give thanks to our elected officials for having the vision and for making the energy investment necessary to attract these grants and developers. They see our community as having significant opportunity for growth and prosperity.
All of us should be supporting these initiatives and work together to overcome the relatively minor issues (like parking) that arise when development takes hold. Indeed, wouldn’t it be nice to have a parking problem in downtown Oneonta? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful challenge to overcome?
Let’s get behind these initiatives and figure out solutions. Let’s not be a roadblock to the long-term competitive success of our community. Let’s send positive vibes into cyberspace so that others see us as a desirable destination, not one full of vitriol and negativity.
Thank you to Mayor Gary Herzig, Senator Jim Seward, our Common Council and our city employees for your leadership and hard work.
Editor’s Note: This is the first of occasional articles, from university public-relations departments, on research into burning fossil fuels more cleanly. Here, Stanford University tells how faculty there are targeting “super-emitters.”
In the United States, most electricity from the grid comes from power plants that run on coal or natural gas. These plants generate 35 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
Climate scientists say we need to reduce global emissions by about 4 percent a year, going to zero emissions, or even negative emissions, before the end of the century. But emissions-free technologies like wind, solar and nuclear may not be able to address the problem quickly enough.
In developing economies, the demand for cheap and reliable electricity from fossil fuels continues to grow, generating even more greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. But from an environmental standpoint, not all fossil fuels are created equal.
Natural gas is primarily methane. When burned, methane emits about half as much CO2 as a coal. In the last 10 years, the United States has seen a boom in the production of low-cost natural gas, which many electrical utilities are adopting as a cleaner alternative to coal.
Stanford researchers are exploring novel ways of satisfying our current energy needs with greener technologies for burning fossil fuels.
But one drawback of natural gas is the leakage of uncombusted methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Stanford faculty members Rob Jackson and Adam Brandt in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences have been identifying the wells and pipes where those leaks are most likely to occur so that industry can prevent them. They’ve found that a small number of wells produce most of the leaked methane.
To better understand the benefits and risks of increasing natural gas production, the Precourt Institute and the School of Earth created the Natural Gas Initiative (NGI), a campus-wide research program launched in 2015.
One key area of NGI research focuses on unconventional gas reservoirs and how they can be better managed to increase the gas-recovery rate, now well below 20 percent, said NGI Director Mark Zoback. By increasing recovery, gas production can be maintained with fewer land-use impacts, he added.
Beyond switching from coal to natural gas, another approach for reducing emissions from fossil fuels
is to capture the carbon dioxide and store it underground in deep geological formations, a technique known as carbon capture and sequestration.
With support from the Global Climate & Energy Project (GCEP), Lynn Orr, Sally Benson and other Stanford faculty members helped establish the scientific basis for safe and effective sequestration, including monitoring techniques demonstrating that captured CO2 is permanently trapped underground.
Hamdi Tchelepi, a professor of energy resources engineering, uses supercomputers to study how injected CO2 gas interacts with rock and fluids underground. In addition to permanently sequestering CO2, Stanford faculty explore using the gas for sustainable purposes, like making renewable plastic.
Speaker Pelosi proudly informed us that she is a Catholic and thus doesn’t hate the President, but she conveniently ignored her pro-choice voting record – even defending the taking of a life about to be born. I think I’d be happier, as a fellow Catholic, if she admitted she hated the President but defended the lives of the unborn.
I’d also have more respect for her as a person if she didn’t let her political ambition, i.e. retain the title of “Speaker,” interfere with her judgment as she clearly didn’t want to proceed with impeaching the president. However, that’s what her base wanted and she couldn’t/wouldn’t risk losing her throne.
These are indeed strange times. The Democrats are trying to impeach the President for something he denies while choosing to ignore the fact the former vice president, Joe Biden, bragged on tape about doing the very thing the President is being accused of doing.
The Democrats are also accusing the President of attempting to interfere in the 2020 election by trying to find out if the former vice president and his son participated in Ukrainian corruption while ignoring that Hillary Clinton and the DNC hired a foreign operative to assemble a now-discredited dossier to embarrass then candidate Trump.
Is it one’s Party that determines whether or not something is legally and morally wrong or is it our conscience?
With 43 percent of NYC’s population falling below its definition of the poverty line, it is abundantly clear why politicians pander to the Left and pandering includes funding them with our tax dollars. You and your tax dollars are paying for the activist groups that oppose jobs and economic growth. Is that something you plan to continue doing?
The Mayor is spending taxpayer dollars to send the homeless to other cities and states while knowing full-well that when the time limits for the programs that are paying for these relocations expire, those unfortunate people will become an economic burden to those cities and states – but to the Mayor they will be “out of sight out of mind.” How convenient!
“New York City spends about $95 billion a year, and 13 percent of it goes for human services” for the 43 percent of its population below the city-defined poverty line. Some of these contracts, such as the one to Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York, can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Smaller contracts go to community-based organizations, and every member of the New York City Council gets to dole out $2 million to favored groups.” That wouldn’t amount to
buying votes now would it?
The same thing is happening at the federal level. Our government covers the cost of the environmental groups when they sue a federal agency. That’s one of the reasons California continues to burn, yet those groups have no skin in the game and are not held accountable for the results of their intervention.
Do you remember when Sen. Jeff Flake decided to ask the FBI for a full investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh after two women screamed at him in a Senate elevator that they were rape survivors? Well, it turns out Ana Marie Archila was co-executive director of the “Center for Popular Democracy” and then executive director of “Make the Road,” both liberal groups, when she screamed at Senator Flake. In February, Archila was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s guest at the State of the Union address.
The thread continues, as it seems “Make the Road” was involved with the successful effort to block Amazon from establishing a headquarters in Long Island City and providing 25,000 high-paying jobs. Deborah Axt, the group’s co-executive director, said, “This is a huge victory. We are thrilled,” when Amazon withdrew. How can they be thrilled when 43 percent of The City’s population falls below the poverty line?
Have you been following the debacle surrounding the inability of National Grid and Con Edison to provide natural gas service to new customers in Westchester County and Long island due to a lack of gas? According to one article, Governor Cuomo sent them a letter claiming they, not the Public Service Commission which he controls, should have better prepared for increased demand in years past rather than imposing a moratorium when its application for the pipeline project got blocked by him.
“The ‘moratorium’ is either a fabricated device or a lack of competence” Cuomo wrote.
He went on to say, “Gas can be trucked, shipped, or barged.” Remember that uproar locally about “bomb trucks” on Route 205 – imagine the outcry about having them on the Long Island Expressway. How long would it take to get the necessary permits – decades while people’s pipes are freezing.
He also proposed “other infrastructure or additional unloading facilities being installed” – again, it would take decades to get the necessary local approvals and state permits. He went on to say, “Electric service and demand response measures could be proposed” – being proposed and actually making them operable are two very different things. He further suggested “heat pumps” which require electricity to operate the pumps – and guess where that electricity comes from – and “renewable sources”.
According to the governor, who controls both the PSC and the DEC, “the choice was never between the pipeline or an immediate moratorium.” And then he accused the utilities of trying to bully the state and threatened to take away their franchises to do business in New York – and he did that from his very own Bully Pulpit.