COOPERSTOWN – Michael A. “Mike” Fulton passed away peacefully on Sept. 8, 2020. His wife, Karine Rich, was by his side at their home in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Mike was born July 12, 1955, in Watertown, to Barbara Ritchie and Robert Fulton. Mike was dedicated husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend to so many people. He started his work as a young boy delivering newspapers. As he grew in his teenage years he became an accomplished keyboard player in the rock and Roll band “Warlord.” He also worked in the Wellesley Island Duty Free Shop on the U.S.-Canadian border. He met and eventually married Linda Loveland in 1976. They had two boys; Christopher, and Alexander.
COOPERSTOWN – The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area (LWVCA) is offering several voter registration events between now and Oct. 9, which is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
• Saturday, Sept. 19, noon-7 p.m. at Hartwick Fire House #2, at 4877 Route 28, Hartwick Seminar.
• Tuesday, Sept. 22, noon-6 p.m., at two sites: Freight Wheel Café & Community Workspace, 3097 Route 11, Hartwick hamlet; and in front of Aubuchon Hardware, 129 West Main St., Richfield Springs.
• Saturday, at two sites: Cooperstown Farmers’ Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; and at Hartwick Fire House #2 at 4877 Route 28, Hartwick Seminary, noon to 7 pm.
COOPERSTOWN – Dr. William LeCates, Cooperstown, president of Bassett Hospital, was promoted to colonel in the state’s Army National Guard during a ceremony this morning at the National Guard headquarters in Latham.
LeCates, who joined the New York Army National Guard in 2009, currently serves as the National Guard state surgeon, in addition to his duties as president of Bassett Hospital. As state surgeon, he is chief medical adviser to state Adjutant Gen. Ray Shields.
LETTER from DR. ROGER MACMILLAN
To the Editor:
I wish to strongly endorse and support the candidacy of Mary Margaret Robbins for village trustee in the coming election.
A certified and licensed pharmacist, many will recall her from the years she spent working at the CVS pharmacy when it was located on Main Street. Having been a resident of Cooperstown for many years, she has the vision and dedication to conserve our heritage.
Despite her most recent health challenges, Mary Margaret has consistently had a smile on her face. Helping her in that regard has been her loyal companion and supporter Dodger, whom she rescued from our animal shelter. She is thoughtful, approachable, intelligent, and a good listener of all opinions –
NO hidden agendas!
Mary Margaret is fully aware of the significant local issues that demand our village’s government attention. She is a focused candidate possessing the common sense to work together in seeking appropriate solution.
DR. ROGER MacMILLAN
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
By LIBBY CUDMORE• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. wants to assure the public that the law applies to everyone – even cops.
“Police officers are not above the law,” he said. “They have a responsibility as well.”
A yet-unnamed Otsego County Sheriff’s deputy has been placed on administrative leave after state police reported a child and adult were injured when the gun he was carrying in his pocket accidentally discharged while he was dining Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Grape and Grog in Camden, Oneida County.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 15, Troop D, based in Oneida, was attempting to schedule an interview with the deputy, who has retained legal counsel. His name has not yet been released and charges have not yet been filed.
“The sheriff’s department has been cooperative throughout the whole investigation,” said Trooper Jack Keller, Troop D public relations officer.
According to Keller, the deputy was seated at a table when he accidentally discharged one round from a handgun he was carrying in his pants pocket.
“We’re still trying to determine why the gun went off,” said Keller.
He said the bullet exited through the bottom of the deputy’s pocket, through his wallet, and ricocheted off the concrete floor.
Though it was initially believed that the girl was injured by a concrete chip, investigators now say she may have been struck by the bullet.
“The little girl was at the table next to his with her back to him,” Keller explained. “When the gun went off, the bullet may have gone past her elbow and her right hip, then struck the ground.”
He said that the woman sitting next to her, who was also injured, described that she felt “like her foot was on fire. She thought it was fireworks.”
Both injuries were minor and treated by EMS at the scene.
According to Devlin, a second off-duty deputy was also at the scene, but has not been charged or put on administrative leave.
The weapon was not a department-issue weapon, said Devlin. “We encourage our deputies to carry even when off-duty,” he said. “We’re police officers 24/7, and there are situations we are expected to respond to.”
For a deputy to carry while off-duty, he said, the weapon has to be an inspected, approved firearm, and the deputy has to qualify to use it, just as he would his service weapon.
And above all, he stressed safety when carrying a loaded weapon. “Firearms should be properly secured and carried on a person,” he said.
The deputy will remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of the state police investigation. He is also currently under an internal review from the Sheriff’s Department.
GUEST COLUMN from TERRY BERKSON
Not that they ever left. They just take a long winter nap while their heartbeat slows from 80 to an incredible five beats per minute and their body temperature drops from 99 to 37 degrees.
Punxsutawney Phil projects a good productive image with his weather predictions but Digger Dan, the name I give to the critter whose been tunneling into my barn every year, is another story.
One morning last spring, I was carrying a bale of hay before the light of sunrise and stepped in a hole that swallowed my leg up to my knee. I dropped the bale and limped out to the wood pile to secure a piece of 4-by-4 to pound into the hole – knowing well that The Digger would soon find another entry into my space.
The battle has been going on for several years. A friend lent me a trap that I set up by an outside hole, but the wary animal never goes near it.
One time I dropped a woodchuck bomb into the hole in the barn floor and covered it with a Frisbee that I held in place with my foot. Surprisingly, the Frisbee blew off the hole with considerable force.
I was puzzled because woodchucks usually have at least two entrances which would vent the pressure created by the bomb. Maybe Digger Dan’s body blocked the tunnel like a cork in a bottle creating enough pressure to blow the Frisbee and my foot off the hole.
Anyway, Digger didn’t perish and I didn’t try a bomb again for fear I’d burn the barn down. Of course, I had my 22 loaded and ready to rid myself of the trouble maker, but this woodchuck is a strategist and always positions himself in hard to shoot places.
One time I was gun-less and rounding a corner of the barn with a bucket of water when I ran right into him. We were both startled and to my surprise the wise guy whistled at me.
It was a harassing whistle that made me angry – the first note of the notorious three-noted wolf call that guys in Brooklyn use when they see a nice-looking girl. It’s not very macho to be whistled at by a woodchuck.
I duplicated the sound on the piano. The note is a “D,” the first letter of two words I’ve been
using to describe the enemy.
For several years an Amish farmer was taking hay off of our place. I often worried that one of his horses would step in a woodchuck hole like I did – and break a leg. So, I put sticks with flags on them to mark where the holes were.
When the farmer saw my markers he laughed and assured me that even when covered with cut hay, the horses could sense where the holes were.
I found this hard to believe but, luckily, on our farm no horse ever broke a leg pulling a hay wagon.
My friend George Gardner who has the same invasion problem sicked his very willing Jack Russell terrier on a woodchuck and the dog followed the varmint into a hole – so far that he got stuck and George had to dig the dog out with a back hoe.
So, the war goes on. Besides filling holes, I’ve plugged some of Digger’s relatives while on their way to my vegetable garden but shots at him are always taken from an awkward position and he just about gives me the razz before heading underground.
Recently, a lucky shot surely creased the hair on Digger’s head. Now, he must be taking me seriously because, lately, he ain’t whistling.
Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs.
His articles have appeared in
New York magazine, the
New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.
LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
It appears that we are getting closer to the development of vaccines for COVID-19.
There have been some missteps in the process, including the development of an unexplained illness in one participant in the U.K. study of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine. This required a halt to the study for about a week while the data was being reviewed. The study is progressing again at this time.
There are multiple other studies. Some of the vaccines are further along than others.
It’s not going be enough to develop one vaccine. The number of doses that can be produced quickly is limited. It is currently estimated the first batch will be limited to perhaps 10 million to 15 million doses in the United States, according to the National Academy of Medicine. This is why it’s important to have multiple vaccines available so they can be produced in tandem.
So, the question comes back to triage, which is something we first discussed six months ago. In this case, in what order are the vaccines going to be rolled out? Who is going to get them first? Where are they going to be distributed first? Right now, this is a matter of heated opinion.
• In my opinion, and solely in my opinion, I feel the following distribution order should be performed:
• One, frontline healthcare workers who are dealing with patients with COVID-19, or can reasonably expect to come into contact with patients and other affected people with COVID-19. This would include people working in hospitals, nursing homes, emergency medical services, and clinics.
• Two, other essential workers at high risk of being exposed to patients, or people who have
COVID-19 or are positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
• Three, those with two or more risk factors, including age.
• Four, health care and essential workers at any risk of exposure based on their job.
• Five, those with only one risk factor.
• Six, children.
• Seven, adults older than 25.
• Eight, young adults.
My only exception to the above is that I would withhold vaccination for all those who have refused to social distance, wear a mask, have publicly proclaimed that the pandemic is a hoax, or have attended illegal mass gatherings.
At the rate that we can expect vaccinations to roll out, at best we will probably only get the first and possibly some of the second group inoculated within the next three to six months.
With the development of more vaccines by different companies, we might be able to get the entire United States vaccinated within nine to 15 months.
This of course does not discuss the problem of whether money or fame puts you at the head of
As many of us have noted, professional athletes have been getting tested at will so they can go back to their sports. Other people have to wait or had to use tests that are not instantly available.
We can predict a similar occurrence with who gets the vaccine first. Should VIPs have priority? Should their families? Should the vaccine be equally available in countries which develop it versus non-developed countries?
Just as it was a mad scramble for supplies when lockdowns first began, there’s going to be a mad scramble for the vaccines with people trying to find reasons to be put at the head of the line.
Ultimately there’s going to have to be some pre-existing protocol, or decision-making process in place to sort this out.
As I said above please contact me with your thoughts on these issues. I will make your responses the subject of a follow-up column.
LETTER from KENNETH KAVANAGH
To the Editor:
Consider this hypothetical.
You go to your doctor. You have stomach pains that linger and simply won’t go way. After examination he tells you not to worry, you’ll be fine.
The pain continues and weeks later you get a second opinion. This time it’s not couched with “good news.”
How would you feel about that? Your regular physician did not want to cause any upset. The physician offering the second opinion wanted only to be frank and candid, thereby making a plan to initiate toward recovery.
I believe we all know the answer. Trump did not want to “scare us.” Really? Was it us or his beloved stock market that he wanted to calm and pacify.
He doesn’t want to scare anyone, yet he has no reluctance whatsoever in telling tall tales of tanks coming down Main Street, stock market crashes and rampant crime.
The hypocrisy is just overwhelming!
KENNETH J. KAVANAGH
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – One, it’s good business strategy. “We use them for advertising,” said Pioneer Patio proprietor, “to pull people down the alley” – Pioneer Alley, where the back of Main Street buildings aren’t much of a draw.
Two, “it’s a labor of love, that’s for sure,” said Kathy, his wife and business partner.
Three, it’s become a perennial prize-winner in a competitive field.
When the Clark Foundation announced the winners of its 2020 Village Beautification Contest, last Thursday, Sept. 3, Pioneer Patio again took first place in Category One: “Most Attractive Floral Display in a Business Setting,” for the second time in two years. Last year, the Busses took an Honorable Mention.
“An impressive multi-level floral display utilizing a wide variety of plant material,” wrote the judges, Ron and Carol Bayzon, horticulturalists from Richfield Springs. “A lot of work.”
Other first-prize winners this year were Judy and Peter Henrici, 92½ Pioneer St., for “Most Effective Overall Planting Which Enhances a Residential Property.” And Barbara and Richard Havlik, 94 Fair St., for “Most Appropriate Residential or Business Window Box or Hanging Basket.”
“A lot of work”? And how, the Busses will tell you.
Each morning, Kathy takes the lead in dead-heading “hundreds of flowers,” Rich said. And then, daily, the plants are fully watered. (He doesn’t want to know how that affects his quarterly water bill.)
The Busses says the flowers are primarily “super petunias.” Meg Kennedy, who provides the flowers through her Ark Floral business, described them as “landscape petunias,” which keep “breaking out new from the center.”
All are annuals and, as it happens, Kennedy will soon begin ordering next year’s inventory, which will arrive next March, planted in her Mount Vision greenhouses, and be ready for delivery next May.
She has other Main Street customers on Cooperstown’s Main Street – Perry Ferrara’s Hard Ball Café, for instance, next to the Heroes of the Game Wax Museum, uses her flowers – but no one surpasses the Busses.
“Why do the Busses do so well?” she asked. “They start with great plants, then they take very good care of them.”
A few years ago, the Busses added mint to the mix, for practical purposes.
In August, the flies come out around here, Rich said, and mint deters them. Complaints about flies have dropped 85 percent since the mint was planted, he said.
The Busses, both born and raised in Cooperstown, trace their interest in flowers to their childhoods.
Kathy’s mom, Gloria Irving, a war bride from New Zealand, was active in the Lake & Valley Garden Club in the 1950s. Rich grew up on Brooklyn Avenue, where his parents always grew a garden.
The couple – at one point, they have operated as many as a half-dozen downtown establishments at one time – have owned the Pioneer Patio for 30 years, acquiring Obie’s, as it was originally known, from Don and Sharon Oberitter. The three Busse children grew up with the businesses.
Three years ago, they added a second floor, which also is a showplace for additional flowers.
And why not? “Flower are always a good idea,” said Meg Kennedy.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – In an era where so much seeks to divide us, Paul D’Ambrosio is hoping art can unite.
“We loved the idea of having Pete Souza’s photographs of presidents Reagan and Obama,” said The Fenimore Art Museum president. “Even though they were on the opposite ends of the spectrum politically, this exhibit shows their shared humanity, what they had in common.”
“Pete Souza: Two Presidents, One Photographer,” on display now in the Clark Gallery through the end of December, highlights 56 photos of the two presidents, taken during his time as official White House photographer.
It’s part of the fall season at the museum, which is showcasing Souza, “Albrecht Durer: Master Prints” and one piece from the postponed Keith Haring exhibit in anticipation of opening the exhibit next year.
“This exhibit has been a year in the making,” said D’Ambrosio. “We’ve always had a good audience for our photo exhibits, especially ones, like the Herb Ritts, that draw on recent history. It’s especially appealing to a younger audience.”
What made Souza unique as a photographer, D’Ambrosio said, is that he had access to two presidents. “He had the ability to make these men forget he was in the room,” he said. “Under Reagan, he took upwards of 20,000 photos a week.”
Many of the photos are of serious moments – Reagan consoling soldiers after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, or Obama watching the attack on Osama Bin Laden. “Souza set up a camera above the desk in the oval office so he could snap a photo of Reagan without being in the room,” said D’Ambrosio. “He captures a lot of the loneliness of the job.”
But interspersed with those are behind-the-scenes looks at each president, such as Obama bending over to let a young boy touch his hair. “He saw a president who looked like him,” he said. “It’s a very powerful image.”
In the center of the exhibit is a room of photos of each man displayed side-by-side to show off similarities of the office, including watching movies in the White House theater, greeting Popes John Paul II and Francis, and interactions with British Royalty – Obama greeting a young Prince George (who wore his bathrobe for the occasion) and a blushing Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta at Reagan’s Inaugural Gala dinner in 1985.
“We think a lot of people will remember these photos,” he said.
Souza also documented Obama when he was a senator, as well as the official photographer for Reagan’s funeral; however, those photos are not part of the exhibit.
Also new this fall is “Albrecht Durer: Master Prints”
“This is more subdued, more for the ‘art’ crowd,” said D’Ambrosio. “Durer may not be a household name, but he was a master printmaker in Europe, at a time when printing didn’t have the same reputation as painting. He made it not just popular, but accepted as an art form.”
Several of the pieces were part of the museum’s Thomas Cole exhibit in 2018. “You can really get absorbed in them,” said D’Ambrosio. “They’re so old and they’ve survived so much, so there’s a kind of reverence there.”
Although the Keith Haring exhibit has been rescheduled for next year, several pieces from the Thaw Collection had already been curated for a sister exhibit, “Elegant Line, Powerful Shape,” and will remain on display through next fall.
“You can see how he was influenced by non-western art,” said D’Ambrosio.
But for those who can’t wait, one Haring piece, “Medusa Head” has been put on display at the top of the staircase. “The scale really does make it powerful,” said D’Ambrosio. “He really uses this style to explore power relationships, the figures struggling against this Medusa.”
He continued, “When you see this in the Clark Gallery, opened to full-size, it’s going to really be incredible.”
Also postponed until 2021 was the “Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams” and “The World of Jan Brett.”
And the art isn’t just confined to inside the museum. On the patio are two sculptures by East Springfield sculptor Akira Niitsu.
“We’ve had such a beautiful summer, and people are picking up a boxed lunch and dining out on the terrace,” he said. “We want people to know that you can still get out and
go to a museum,” he said.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
Does anyone remember how Mahatma Gandhi changed the world? How a slight Indian man, a lawyer who never carried a weapon, defeated the strongest empire in the world and rewrote the future of billions of people?
Does anyone remember how Martin Luther King changed the world? How a Black Southern Baptist preacher, a man who never carried a weapon, changed two centuries of oppression of Black Americans and opened new doors for millions of them?
Does anyone remember how Desmond Tutu changed the world? How a Black South African Anglican cleric and theologian, a man who never carried a weapon, changed 50 years of apar-theid, segregation and white-minority rule, and opened the way for majority rule and an end to separation?
None of these leaders saw all their dreams realized – in some cases the dreams veered astray but they changed history forever and did it through non-violent means. Driven by their religious beliefs, their beliefs in the humanity of all, and by their own consciences, they made the world a better place for all people, not just for their own.
These leaders were people who had plenty of human failings and who made plenty of mistakes. Yet they kept working for decades to bring their vision to an all-too-frequently blind world.
They were often opposed by their own people who thought them either too conservative or too radical.
They were opposed by their national power structures who always believed them too radical. Their lives were in constant jeopardy and their futures were never assured, and both Gandhi and King were assassinated.
Even in the midst of mortal fear they carried on. They believed so deeply that they risked everything to seek justice for all people. They knew well they could die violent deaths yet the decried the use of violence. They offered self-sacrifice we seldom see. They moved other people to follow them, they converted enemies, they offered their everything, and in Dr. King’s words they “bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice” for the entire world.
Today, justice is certainly not complete for Black Americans, Native Americans, and many immigrants; nor for the poor of all Americans, regardless of color. As a nation we have come a huge distance from my childhood in the 1950s, but we are nowhere near where we should be.
In the face of injustice, demands for justice are always to be expected. Injustices visited on so many Americans by our white culture are obvious everywhere. The demands for justice need to be heard, acknowledged, and addressed.
Today we see little willingness for self-sacrifice, or even a willingness to honestly discuss the core morality of our nation. If we are not willing to be selfless, and if we are not willing to openly confront
our nation’s historic demons, we fail both as a nation and as a people.
I hope and believe there are enough Americans of good faith to confront the demons. But I don’t expect our politicians, of any stripe, to lead the confrontation.
In our times few politicians really lead; they mostly react to their loudest or wealthiest constituents. The real leadership needs to be individual, then come together at local levels, and then move up the ladder to lead the politicians.
LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID
There has been a great deal of information both published and awaiting publication in the scientific literature about COVID-19. There’s so much literature it’s sometimes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, determining how accurate information may be no matter how well-meaning the researchers.
In the treatment of COVID-19. There are no fully FDA-approved medications or treatment protocols. So far, the FDA has released EUAs (emergency use authorizations) for certain medications or use of products.
An EUA is not formal approval in the legal sense of the word but rather, in times of declared states of emergency, allows use of an unapproved product or an approved product in an unapproved manner.
This is still based on scientific evidence and requires a review process, but it is not as stringent
and time consuming as a full FDA approval, which usually takes years.
Obviously, in the situation we are in now, we don’t have years.
An article published last week online by the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed multiple studies on the effectiveness of using corticosteroids to treat COVID-19.
This showed that, in a statistical review of the pooled results of seven studies, systemic (intravenous) use of corticosteroids decreases the mortality rate of patients with severe COVID-19 by 20 percent.
The interim review of these studies so strongly showed a benefit of the use of steroids that further studies were halted since ethics required now treating all patients with severe COVID-19 with steroids.
Last week, the FDA extended its EUA for remdesivir, an antiviral drug. Previously, this drug had been allowed only for severe cases of COVID-19 with respiratory distress, but on Friday a statement was issued stating that, on the basis of all the literature available, the FDA felt it was reasonable to believe that Veklury (remdesivir) may be effective in the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in all hospitalized adult and pediatric patients and that the potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of its use.
The report did go on to say that more study was necessary to determine and confirm these results and to determine which patients stood to benefit most and at what dosage and over how long a course. The study was performed by the NIH.
In the early days of the pandemic, when there was spiking of cases in the U.S. and especially the Northeast, physicians used ventilators based on what they knew from other disease processes.
Based on what has been tried and learned from treating COVID-19, protocols have been
changed dramatically. Even determining which patients will benefit from a ventilator has been reconsidered.
Finally, one thing that I found particularly exciting was the use of Artificial Intelligence in helping to find treatments. AI is being used to predict what drug combinations in specific combinations and doses might be effective.
AI can cross-reference all known information about how a drug works and dosage schedules with those of other drugs and recommend treatment applications.
For example, while remdesivir has been proven to be statistically effective and, so far, is the most effective anti-viral treatment known, it still is not anywhere near universally effective.
An HIV medication, lopinavir/ritonavir, which had been tested and found lacking against COVID-19 when used by itself, has been suggested as making remdesivir more effective when combined. Based on the prediction, a study is in progress.
Scientists are not just waiting for an effective vaccine to try to prevent COVID-19 infection but continue to actively work on treatments for people who already have the disease. As time goes by, more information will be found and will be better vetted so that treatment options improve.
THE VIEW FROM ALBANY
As we continue to navigate our way through the COVID- 19 pandemic, everyone is making adjustments. Whether it is at home, at work, or any other daily activity, we are doing things differently.
One business in particular that has been hard hit is farming.
Our farmers, who contend with a host of difficulties on a regular basis, are coping with a number of new complications. Certainly, it is not the time to add to the list, but that is exactly what the state is considering.
Last year, during the final days of the state legislative session, the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act was approved. The bill, which I strongly opposed, included several new labor mandates. The bill requires overtime pay for workers who work more than six days per week (regardless of hours), requires overtime pay for workers who exceed a 60-hour work week, and mandates a day of rest in every calendar week.
Farmworkers deserve a fair wage and time off; however, there are certain conditions that make farming a unique business, especially in New York State. Short growing seasons and weather conditions are considerable factors that farmers must contend with, and cows do not stop producing milk on Sunday.
Long workdays are a way of life and a 40-hour work week is rare.
At the time of the bill’s adoption, both farmers and farm workers opposed many of the provisions. During debate on the bill the state Senate sponsor, a freshman senator from Queens, was asked how many farmers she represented. Her answer,
“I can count on my hand the number of roof-top apiaries that are in my district.” The bill was not written with our Upstate family farms in mind. New York farmers face strict regulations and are subject to regular inspections by state and federal authorities. Farmers also provide their workers with quality pay and, in many cases, other benefits like housing and food. Farming is a unique business and must be treated as such.
The new law also mandated that the state Labor Commissioner establish a farmworkers’ wage board to examine the overtime pay threshold and consider whether it should be lowered even further. The current three-member board includes state AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, Buffalo Urban League President Brenda McDuffie and New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher.
The economy-wide overtime requirements in place for only eight months, it is incomprehensible to me that regulations that are even more stringent are already being contemplated.
Additionally, with restaurants operating at a lower capacity and schools holding classes online thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for many products grown by our farmers has dropped substantially.
The wage board has one hearing remaining, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30. The hearing will be conducted virtually and anyone interested can view the proceedings. If you are interested in testifying, that option is available as well by signing up at https://www.ny.gov/content/flflpa-wage-board-hearings-sign. Finally, written testimony will be accepted by the wage board through October 31 at email@example.com.
Additionally, I am co-sponsoring legislation (S.8944) which would extend the date that the wage board’s report must be submitted from Dec. 31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2024. This would allow for the collection of four years of data to provide a truer picture of the impact of the 60-hour threshold on the finances and operations of New York farms.
The measure would also require the board to consider additional factors, including wage and overtime rates in neighboring states, the impact that COVID-19 has had on the agricultural industry, total compensation, including other benefits such as housing and insurance, and the supply and demand of farm employees.
Farmers have spent the past few months doing exactly what they always do – overcoming difficult circumstances to feed our communities and the nation while sustaining our state’s economy. Now it is time for the state to exercise commonsense rather than adding new obstacles that could harm farmers and farmworkers alike.