WEST ONEONTA – From the beginning, Marty Patton, Cooperstown All Star Village proprietor, had concerns about being able to operate safely as the coronavirus swept the nation.
“What if a coach comes in from out of the area, and the kids get infected?” he reflected the day after deciding it will be impossible to open his youth-baseball tournament venue on Route 205 this summer.
But many obstacles, he discovered over the past several weeks, were arrayed against a successful 2020 season that he’s been hoping, week by week, to launch since early May:
’Tis early days, but what have we learned from the virus crisis?
One thing is that we don’t know what we don’t know. And we are often not certain about what we think we do know. For instance, we don’t know whether we should tell people to stay home, inside. Or should we encourage them to get out in the fresh air. Some experts say stay inside. Others throw facts at us
that refute this.
They show if you are inside with others you are far more likely to transmit or pick up the virus. They argue that the best place to be is outside. Where transmission is much less likely.
That is a pretty basic thing to disagree about. Especially after four months. Especially after decades of dealing with viruses.
This tops the list of things experts are not sure about. How far should we social-distance? Don’t worry about it, some experts tell us. Six-feet is best, say others. One expert told the world that 27 feet was ideal. I am guessing he lives in the Sahara.
Or in a cave.
Should we wear masks? Some say yes, some no. Some said no, but changed their minds.
Do lockdowns work better when enforced before the virus arrives? Or maybe after it has arrived? Or maybe not at all?
Are our virus death tolls accurate?
Or are they exaggerated? Some states apparently record virus deaths much differently than others.
Why is it that 80 percent of Minnesota virus deaths were in old-age facilities? But in other states the percentages were much lower? That seems odd.
And what is the death rate from the virus? What is the infection rate? Experts still disagree about these. And they change their figures every few weeks. Our Center for Disease Control has been all over the park with its figures.
We are lucky that most of their revisions are downward. That is, these days they think the virus is not as virulent as they thought earlier. The CDC’s latest figure for infection rates is 1 in 1,000 for those under 50 who are not in nursing homes. Their death rates are 1 in nearly 7,000 overall. But almost all of these folks have – or had – other serious health issues.
I hesitate to use the word “latest.” Odds are good that the CDC will change their figures before this is printed. And some experts believe the true figures are higher than the CDC’s. Some think they are lower.
Does the virus spread easily on surfaces? Some experts insist it does. And that we should spray and clean every surface near us every few minutes. Others reckon this is bunk. The CDC has basically said yes and no. Great.
A big lesson we have learned is that the virus is political. It affects Republicans differently than Democrats. Most Democrat-controlled cities and states report much different figures. From the New York Times front page: THE CORONAVIRUS IS DEADLIEST WHERE DEMOCRATS LIVE.
Counties won by President
Trump in 2016 have reported
just 27 percent of the deaths – even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities.
This may explain why Democrat-controlled states tend toward lockdowns and restrictions. While Republican-run states tend toward measures to open up their states. This gets you into a chicken and egg situation. Maybe the lockdowns have made matters worse?
Of course, New York is wall-to-wall Democrat. And wall-to-wall virus, compared to other states. You probably have seen the comparisons between Florida and New York. The states are similar in many respects. Their governors took opposite courses in handling the crises. The results are opposite. Political folks will argue about this for years.
One lesson we have re-learned is that politicians
are quick to point fingers during a crisis. They instantly
blame leaders in the other party. But they rarely admit their own errors and misjudgements.
In the midst of this confusion, consider “deaths of despair”. That is, deaths by suicide, drug abuse, alcohol, beatings and abuse. I understand these are more numerous lately in areas with severe lockdowns. One expert tells us these “added” deaths are nearly as high as the virus deaths.
In the face of all this you might be tempted to fall back on a few old pearls. I am: The obvious ain’t so obvious. And common sense ain’t so common. We sometimes gallop off in all directions. And too often we don’t know our backside from second base.
Cliches to the rescue.
By RICHARD STERNBERG • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
At his Sunday, April 19, press conference, Governor Cuomo reported his 22-year-old daughter had asked him, “What’s all this testing about?” He seemed to be a little surprised by the question.
He said he thought he was explaining this well during his previous press conferences but realized he had not been getting his points across to everybody. He went over this again.
I will try to explain the different types of tests, roughly how they work, what their purposes are, and how they help us make decisions about what to do next.
Up until recently, Governor Cuomo has primarily been talking about the test to determine who actively had the novel coronavirus. He has also been talking about obtaining the testing equipment and getting the chemicals necessary to do the tests.
On Sunday, though, he was also talking about a different test, an antibody test which would tell us who is immune to the virus, and he explained how this is going to be rolled out in New York State, with 3,000 random samples to be taken over the next week or so.
These tests look for two very different things.
One, the test that has been primarily talked about for weeks looks to see who actively has the virus.
Theoretically, once a person recovers, or if he or she has not been symptomatic once the body clears the virus, this test comes back negative.
This test can only show who has COVID-19 and thus is currently infectious, but it can’t tell you anything about whether a person had COVID-19 and is now relatively immune.
This test looks specifically for RNA, the genetic material of the coronavirus. Different manufacturers make this type of test. While the different companies’ tests are slightly different, they basically all work the same way.
The best simple but complete explanation may be obtained by Googling “here’s how coronavirus test works.”
Two, more recently, a test has been developed that looks for people who have had the disease. This distinction is important.
The best way we are going to safely open up the economy is to know what percentage of the population has recovered from the disease and is now relatively immune – and where possible, specifically who is immune.
These people could now return to normal activities and safely go back to work.
This test works by looking for antibodies to the virus in a person’s blood.
An antibody is a large protein produced mainly by a type of white blood cell. It is used by the defensive or immune system of the body to neutralize bacteria and viruses.
To make informed decisions, we should know who has the disease, who had the disease, who never had the disease, and what proportion of the population each group makes up.
While it may not seem intuitive, using the science of statistics, it can be determined by doing random testing of a small but significant number of people in a population what these numbers probably are.
The bigger the proportion of a population that is tested, the more highly confident we can be in the percentages determined and the more accurate are our predictions.
Without good testing we are not going to have any idea what the actual infection rate is and how quickly immunity is accumulating in the population. Once we know all this good, safe, informed decisions can be made on how to proceed with getting back toward normal.
If you would like me to go over this and other related topics please contact me through the Freeman’s Journal.
COOPERSTOWN – In the early morning hours of Thursday, April 16, 2020, Jocelyn A. Rauscher, beloved wife, mother and grandmother passed away unexpectedly due to cardiac-related issues at her home with her husband by her side. She was 78.
A native of Scotland, she was born Jan. 26, 1942, in Edinburgh, a daughter of the late William Ferguson Jack and Gwendolyn Hurdle Jack. Educated in the United Kingdom, she was employed in England as a Registered Nurse.
ONEONTA – Delaware Engineering, which operates an office in Oneonta, has announced its “No Wipes In The Pipes” campaign, encouraging people to discard disinfecting wipes in trash baskets rather than flushing them down the toilet.
Because of a rush on paper goods, the Albany-based consultants said, “disinfecting wipes are in widespread use to stop the spread of the virus and those without toilet paper may be creative with substitutions including baby wipes, tissues and paper towels.” Flushing them, however, “may exacerbate an already significant challenge for public sewer systems.
COOPERSTOWN – The Village of Cooperstown will be alternating its Water, Sewer and Streets department staff – with one half off one week, the second half the next week, through April 15 – due to the Governor Cuomo’s extension of his March 16 emergency order, Village Administrator Teri Barown announced today.
Additionally, the Village Office remains closed to the public, except by appointment 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For an appointment, call 547-2411 during office hours, or email email@example.com.
Since 2011, I have been honored to serve my hometown community in village government. First elected as a trustee in 2011, I was appointed deputy mayor in 2014 and served in that capacity until my election as mayor in 2018.
Over the past nine years, I along with fellow elected officials have worked to stabilize the village’s finances. We are proud that for seven budget years, since our 2013-14 budget, there has been no increase in the tax levy. It has remained at $1,779,194 and represents a tax rate of $5.21 per $1000 of assessed value. The current budget is on the Village’s website (cooperstownny.org) under “Government” and the “Board of Trustee Meetings” drop down menu. The tentative budget for 2020-21 was completed this month, and again proposes no increase in the tax levy.
At the same time, by developing new revenue sources and successfully securing grant funding, the Village Board has been able to undertake significant and long overdue infrastructure improvements in our community.
• The $1.2 million Pioneer Street project completed in 2018, replaced sewer & water lines, street pavement and curbing on Pioneer, from Otsego Lake to Elm Street.
• The $9.1 million Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade began in September 2019, and is scheduled for completion in December 2020. Funded by grants and Environmental Facilities Corp low interest financing, there will be no increase in water/sewer rates for Village residents. This replacement of the original 1969 facility (originally designed to serve for 25 years) will meet village needs for decades.
• The $2.4 million Downtown Pedestrian Improvement Project (federal TEP grant) funds new Main Street sidewalks and provides for signage, street benches, tree plantings, decorative lamp posts and compacting trash receptacles. Begun in the fall of 2018, this project will conclude this spring with work at the Main-Chestnut intersection.
• Last fall, Pioneer Park was upgraded with the installation of ADA compliant brick pavers, a performance stage area, improved lighting and re-configured plant beds.
$5.8 million in improvements are underway at Doubleday Field. By May 15, the week prior to HOF Classic Weekend, two major phases of the project will be complete – the Main Street entrance/parking lot redesign and the 1939 Grandstand renovations. Work will continue on the new 3rd base bleachers and building.
We are pleased to have been awarded the Village’s first Community Development Block Grant, to support a local business, the Cooperstown Distillery, in expanding their operation. Additional grant funded projects to commence this spring involve the Willow Creek culvert, the Village Hall skylight, and Mill Street.
I am honored to serve as mayor and to devote time and leadership to our community. I would appreciate your continued support on March 18 in the Village Election.
ELLEN TILLAPAUGH KUCH
Village of Cooperstown
COOPERSTOWN – Kevin Gerard Kraft, 55, of Cooperstown, chose to end his life on Dec. 12, 2019.
He lived with intensity, honesty and purpose. He lived his life on his terms, accomplished great things and touched the lives of many. In the end, battling with depression, he decided his time had come.
The other part is: By voting for President Trump’s impeachment, is freshman Congressman Anthony Delgado, D-19, endangering his chances of reelection?
Yes, said Otsego County Republican Chairman Vince Casale: “He’s going against the majority of the will of his constituents, against how they voted in 2016.”
Regardless, Delgado had to do what he believes, said Otsego County Democratic Chairman Aimee Swan: “Regarding impeachment, we think that Congressman Delgado is doing a great job communicating his reasoning to the voters and we believe that he will continue to have the kind of broad support that got him elected.”
The U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote Wednesday, Dec. 18 – this edition went to press the night before – on two articles of impeachment against Trump, and Delgado announced Sunday the 15th that he would vote for both articles.
His colleague to the north, U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi of Utica, D-22, reached the same conclusion, but it was a tougher one: In 2018, He had very narrowly beaten the incumbent, Republican Claudia Tenney, 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent, and she’s challenging him in 2020.
Delgado has a little more breathing space: He beat incumbent Republican John Faso by a lesser margin, 50.4 percent, but Faso’s margin was winnowed to 46.2 percent by Green and Independent candidates also running in the 19th.
So far, Delgado is facing a Republican challenge from Maj. Gen. (ret.) Tony German of Oneonta, former commander of the state National Guard. And perhaps a more formidable one: Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who ran for governor last year. Casale said to expect news about formidable entries “after the first of the year.”
Hartwick College Poly-Sci Professor Laurel Elder agreed with Casale and Swan’s formulations, summing it up as follows: “We know it’s a very divided district; there’s no way he can please everybody.”
Harkening back to 2018, however, she recalled that several Democrats in the Congressional primary were significantly to the left of Delgado. If he hadn’t stepped forward on impeachment, he might have provoked a primary next June.
“There’s energy in the wings of the party,” she observed.
Regardless, Delgado (and Brindisi) fall into a category that is generating a lot of interest: Democratic congressmen elected in 2018 to districts – some, like the 19th, are being called “purple districts” – that supported Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Trump won the 19th by 6.8 percentile points, to Delgado’s 4.2. (In Otsego County, Trump’s margin was greater, 51.85 percent to Clinton’s 40.72 percent, or 11.13 percentile points. In 2018, Delgado won 48.97 percent of Otsego’s votes; Faso, 48.47 percent, or 0.5 percentile points.)
Since, statistically, members of Congress are most vulnerable when running for reelection after one term, a counter-sweep next November could put Congress back in Republicans hands just in time for the 2021 reapportionment that will follow the 2020 Census.
An indication of that significance: Both national newspapers, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, had reporters shadowing Delgado the week leading up to his announced he’ll support impeachment.
The Journal’s Natalie Andrews reported Delgado being greeted by “vote no on impeachment cries” and a single “yes on impeachment” cry on arriving at a Town Hall meeting in Highland, Ulster County. She spoke to voters similarly split on the congressman, although they all seemed to like him.
Echoing what Aimee Swan said, The Times’ Emily Cochrane said voting for impeachment “had made it all the more important for Mr. Delgado and Democrats like him to find ways to show voters they are getting things done in Congress, which is why he is crisscrossing his district through flurries, working on local issues and connecting with constituents.”
And why Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled Wednesday’s impeachment vote between votes on muscular legislation, one to fund the government, the other on the new NAFTA.
A $420,000 grant so Andela Products Inc. can expand into the Richfield Springs Industrial Park leads off the list of grants Otsego Now is hoping to receive in this year’s round of state economic development funding, to be announced Thursday in Albany.
Otsego Now’s Director of Finance & Administration Meaghan Marino will represent her organization, which either submits or advises project sponsors on the annual local CFA applications. CFA stands for “comprehensive funding application,” and is the state’s vehicle to distribute funding to the 10 economic development regions.
Usually, Governor Cuomo makes the funding announcements at a gathering in The Egg at the Empire State Plaza government complex.
Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky provided this list of local projects seeking funding this year.
Otsego Now/Richfield Springs Business Park
$2,123,000 Total Budget
Springbrook: Ford Building Restoration
$5,000,000 Total Budget
County of Otsego: Energy Study
$100,000 Total Budget
Oneonta Grain Innovation Center, Lofts on Dietz
$926,500 Total Budget
Babcock’s Tavern, Wells Bridge
$285,000 Total Budget
Otsego Now Halal Meat Processing Facility, Otego
$1,100,000 Total Budget
American XTreme Family Entertainment Center, Otego
To the Editor:
Re: West Davenport & Mike Zagata versus Fly Creek & Adrian Kuzminski!
Thank you, Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta, for giving us both sides of the impeachment debate.
Impeachment tests our constitutional system of government: When the executive and legislative branches so disagree as to freeze governmental action, impeachment calls us to the third and fourth estates:
Our present impeachment process is likely to be resolved by:
►the U.S. Supreme Court, (beleaguered, but representing the Constitution), and/or
►the free press representing us, the people.
So, FJ & HO, please keep up the discussion until we, the electorate, better informed, can resolve it…probably next fall, at the ballot box!
Or, as Mao put it: “Let many flowers bloom!”
(Mao probably didn’t mean it, the soil in a one-party state being so inhospitable to a free press.)
We mean it, our soil still being fairly fertile… thanks to your newspapers, and other worthy representatives of our “fourth estate”!
NICHOLAS CUNNINGHAM, M.D., DrPH
Editor’s Note: This is an assessment of the first of three auditions for the Catskill Symphony Orchestra’s next conductor. Silas Huff directed the CSO Saturday, Sept. 7, at SUNY Oneonta’s Hunt Union Ballroom. Next, on Oct. 12, is Carolyn Watson.
By ROBERT MOYNIHAN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – At the SUNY Hunt Union Ballroom, an alert and receptive audience Saturday, Sept. 7, heard the first contender for its Catskill Symphony Orchestra leader, Silas Nathaniel Huff. The concert highlighted performances of Haydn, Verdi and Stravinsky. The program began with the younger Strauss’s “Overture to Die Fledermaus.”
The evening was a proving stage for multiple demands of styles from the 18th century to arguably the greatest 20th century modern, Igor Stravinsky. His “Firebird” is as tonally remarkable as anything in the repertoire, including even “The Rite of Spring,” which produced a riot at its first Paris hearing. With repeated performances, “The Rite” has lost some of its revolutionary impudence, and a listener can even hum its first melody.
However, as Robert Craft noted in his first volume of Stravinsky’s letters, “The Firebird’s” success placed the composer on a new artistic planet.