Following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last spring, Governor Cuomo issued an order requiring all 330 communities in New York State with police departments to form Community Advisory Boards to review “policies and procedures” by that date.
That covers three governments in Otsego County:
• The Village of Cooperstown: Monday, Feb. 22, the Village Board approved its “Police Reform Plan” more than a month ahead of schedule, having completed the review and taking it to public hearing. The findings can now be forwarded to the Governor’s Office.
Editor’s Note: For an hour at its monthly meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Otsego County Board of Representatives debated two resolutions: H, condemning the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. And G, condemning both the attack on the Capitol and summer-long riots that followed George Floyd’s death.
RESOLUTION NO. G
RESOLUTION: CONDEMNING VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES AND REAFFIRMING THE BOARD’S COMMITMENT TO THE RULE OF LAW, FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS, AND THE PEACEFUL TRANSFER OF POWER
Introduced by Republican Reps. Ed Frazier, Dan Wilber
WHEREAS, on January 6, 2021, pursuant to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the House of Representatives, and the Senate met at the United States Capitol for a Joint Session of Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College; and
WHEREAS, the results of the 2020 election were lawfully certified by Republican and Democratic election administrators in all fifty states; affirmed in dozens of court cases; and formalized by the vote of the Electoral College; and
WHEREAS, thousands of individuals sought to and did, in fact, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts; and
The 2A Sanctuary Movement’s effort to banish all gun laws from Otsego County appears at a standstill, at least for now.
“The county board has no real authority or jurisdiction,” county Rep. Dan Wilber, last week, told the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee, which he chairs. “Enforcement is left to the district attorney and the sheriff’s office.”
Wilber said he’s conferring with District Attorney John Muehl and county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. about what comes next.
Meanwhile, he delayed further discussion until the February PSLA meeting, and – picking up on the suggestion of county Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Fly Creek – said he will consider a public forum on the matter for 2021.
For his part, Muehl said later, “I think the county should stay out of it. The courts have found it unconstitutional. I can’t enforce a law that’s been found unconstitutional.”
Devlin said the PSLA Committee is “trying to put this off on John and myself. They don’t know what to do.”
Some PSLA members were expecting a legal opinion from County Attorney Ellen Coccoma on a draft resolution when it met Thursday, Dec. 10, but received a verbal report instead.
“The way I read it now,” she said, the proposed resolution “poses to make a declaration of unconstitutionality about particular laws. That is not an authority that the county board has. Under separation of powers, that decision is given to the courts.”
Muehl and Devlin take an oath “to uphold all the laws of the state,” she added, “which does not allow them to spend money that infringes on their oath of office.”
COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego 2AS movement arrived this morning in the county Board of Representatives’ chambers.
County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, presented petitions on 2AS’ behalf with 3,295 signatures calling on the county board to declare Otsego County a gun-law sanctuary, where the state’s SAFE Act, consider one of the toughest such laws in the country, would not be enforced.
“To be sure, fighting in support of freedom is never easy,” said Brockway, reading a statement provided by 2AS organizers. “Yet fighting for freedom has always been the preferred side of history. Which side you are on will soon be revealed.”
COOPERSTOWN – With board Vice Chairman Gary Koutnik abstaining, and another Democrat voting nay, the county Board of Representatives today asked the state Parole Board “to deny the release, conditional or otherwise,” of David Dart, convicted of slaying 18-year-old Jill Gibbons with a “Rambo-style knife” in the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage in 1989.
The resolution, passed 12-1-1, also put the county board on record supporting a bill, S4354, introduced several times by state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, to increase the time between parole hearing for “violent crimes” from two to five years.
COOPERSTOWN – Missing the deadline to sign his oath of office, county Rep. Dan Wilber’s election to a second term representing District 10 – Edmeston, Burlington, Exeter and Plainfield — is in doubt.
His erstwhile colleagues on the Otsego County Board of Representatives must now vote to reappoint Wilber to his former seat for him to continue serving. The board’s Administrative Committee approved such a resolution at today’s meeting, which must be acted on by the full board when it meets Wednesday, May 2.
It was not immediately clear if Wilber will have enough support for that to happen, or if another candidate will emerge for the job.
I must take issue with your assertion that County Government does not work very well. You are at every board meeting, yet you still make this assertion. I can only assume that you are perhaps asleep in the back of the room. The list of accomplishments would put me over your word limit.
This is also great news that Andrew Marietta has determined the committee system does not work. Perhaps he should share that with the other 61 counties throughout New York, the state Senate and Assembly and the U.S. Congress, because they all use the same system. It’s called being responsible to the electorate.
The reason Andrew Marietta shares that opinion is because a governing board is a team sport and
Andrew is an “I” kind of guy. If Andrew took the time to learn about the committee system he might function better within that environment. But true to form, Andrew points out problem but never offers a solution.
Andrew reminds me of the dentist in the LieLock commercial. He only informs you have cavity, he doesn’t do anything about it.
I am eager to learn what his solution is to replace the committee system. Perhaps he believes the county manager would replace it. Just another example of his lack of understanding of government.
I was surprised to learn he also resurrected the county strategic plan all by himself. I and about a dozen other board members were not aware that it had been scrapped. Anyone who has worked on a town comprehensive plan knows that it takes a long time to finalize such a document. But then again, Andrew doesn’t attend his town meetings to know that.
Please vote for Tim Walker, a disciplined and experienced person who will be a team player to
DISTRICT 10, Burlington/Edmeston/Pittsfield (unopposed)
COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Burlington Flats
EDUCATION: Fire Protection – Water Based Suppression Systems; Hazardous Materials
USAF Photographer, four years; USAF Thunderbirds, 1979 to 1982
Photographer, New York State National Guard, four years
Officer/Fire Safety Officer, state Department of Correctional Services
Director of security/fire, Main Office, state Office of Children & Family Services
Family-owned Two-Way Radio Dealership, Motorola
Owner/Operator, multiple retail stores
Director, Otsego County Code Office
Assistant Director, Employee Safety, state Department of Transportation
Code Compliance Manager, Aviation Bureau
Volunteer Fire & Ambulance Services, 42 Years:
District Chief, three departments
Currently Member of Edmeston FD and Rescue Squad
Former Town Justice – Town of Burlington
Lions, Relay for Life
FAMILY: Wife of 16 years, Alison; daughter, Rose; son, Ayden; mother Betty, 91, resides with us
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: Government should be kept small providing essential services the people cannot provide for themselves.
MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:
Lack of Major Employment Opportunities
Insufficient infrastructure to attract new business to include internet and energy.
Unfunded New York State Mandates
MY QUALITIES: Willingness and desire to work with all parties, across party lines to reach consensus to get things done.
STATEMENT: Otsego has made great strides in accomplishing major milestones. We need to continue this momentum and continue on. Some recent achievements include:
Invested millions of dollars into an outdated, crumbling 911 communication system to get our residents emergency help when they need it.
Completely upgraded our E-911 call center and E-911 Backup Centers to elevate service and reliability. The center is state-of-the-art.
Implemented long overdue infrastructure upgrades in the County’s IT Department.
Commissioned consultants to guide the county through the development of the Otsego County Strategic Plan
In 2018 we will invest in our fire training center with a new “burn building” supporting our firefighters to prepared to protect their residents when needed
All County unionized bargaining units are currently under contract.
Saw the construction of a solar farm on County property in Laurens that will generate $40,000 worth of energy savings annually for the County.
Voted to budget monies to upgrade and renovate the jail to satisfy Commission on Corrections.
The county worked with NYMIR, our insurance carrier, to set up a Safety Committee that reviewed procedures and policies on how our departments function. Otsego County earned the distinction of a statewide Safety Award for 2017 from NYMIR.
As a member of Public Works Committee advocated for Highway Infrastructure spending to be exponentially increased in the last two years. 25 County roads have been paved in October alone.
The Shared Services agreement with Onondaga County Purchasing Department has saved the County hundreds of thousands of dollars. We contracted with Onondaga, and they ensure that our purchases are legally compliant and we get the best possible price and service for our money. Department. Other counties are now attempting to duplicate this successful model of shared services.
A new Vehicle Lease and Maintenance Program recently proposed by Public Works and adopted by the Administration Committee will reduce vehicle costs and minimize repair expenses.
COOPERSTOWN – County Rep. Andrew Marietta’s attempt to introduce a resolution to hire a county manager quickly blew up into high drama and parliamentary gamesmanship a today’s county Board of Representatives meeting.
The vote itself was quickly derailed.
Marietta made a motion, Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta, seconded it, and Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, with some prompting from County Attorney Ellen Coccoma, quickly said, “I’m objecting to the presentation of the resolution.”
Frazier’s objection, according to Coccoma’s ruling, required a two-third vote for the resolution to move forward.
The 7-5 vote favored the resolution. But the weighted vote went the other way, 3,408 against versus 2,856 for. Either measure, though, fell short of the two-thirds mark.
COOPERSTOWN – The sprinkler system in the Otsego County jail is faulty, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. told the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee this morning, but repairs may not come anytime soon.
“What I was told, if the system is activated, it will probably clog,” he told the committee at its monthly meeting. Although it’s unclear how effective the sprinklers are, he said the alarms would probably allow all the inmates to be evacuated in time.
Committee member Dan Wilber, R-Burlington Flats, reacted: “This is an extraordinary situation.”
Editor’s Note: This is the final of seven profiles of the seven new members of the Otsego County Board of Representatives elected Nov. 3, and who take office Wednesday, Jan. 6. Review all the profiles at www.allotsego.com
BURLINGTON – A former code officer for the county and an employee of the state Department of Transportation, Dan Wilber, knows how the government works. “And I know how it should work!” he said.
It was this idea that inspired him to run for District 10 county representative, a race he won against Democrat Russ Bachman and incumbent Betty Anne Schwerd, who ran as an independent. “I thought it was time for a change,” he said. “I thought we could use some fresh ideas, fresh people.”
An Ulster County native, Wilber enjoyed an active and varied career before settling in Burlington in 2004.
He was fire chief with the Phoenicia Fire Department, a corrections officer at the maximum security prison in Ellenville, Security & Fire Safety director for the state Office of Children & Family Services, and a photographer with the Air Force Thunderbirds.
He also owned two vacuum-cleaner stores in Danbury, Conn. And Fishkill, as well as worked for his wife Alison’s Motorola franchise.