News of Otsego County

David Rowley

ROWLEY: If Flawed, Change ‘Safe Act’; But Leave Constitution Alone

If Flawed, Change ‘Safe Act’;

But Leave Constitution Alone

To the Editor:

In his recent Letter to the Editor, Mr. Anderson suggested that “arguably the most important amendments in the Bill of Rights are the first and second”. He was half right.

Clearly, the First Amendment, which guarantees our inalienable rights or basic freedoms, distinguishes a democratic nation like the United States from – as Jefferson believed in 1776 – the King of Great Britain. It is, in fact, the direct philosophical link to the Declaration of Independence.

I tend to believe that the majority of the U.S. citizenry – namely women – would argue that the 19th Amendment (Women’s Suffrage) has an edge on the Second. It appears we need to be reminded that James Madison’s Bill of Rights (ratified by the States in 1791) became part of the Constitution in a nation governed by white male property owners.

African-Americans might object to Mr. Anderson’s assertions about the Second Amendment by citing the importance of the Civil War Amendments – Amendments Thirteen/Abolition of Slavery, Fourteen/Incorporation or application of the Bill of Rights to States and Fifteen/Black Suffrage.

I would argue that universal application of equal protection of the law is the core foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, i.e., the essence of our democracy.

The old adage, that you can determine if a nation is a democracy by checking the prisons for political prisoners, would seem to support the case for Amendments Four, Five and Six. Of course, maybe I am overstating the significance of protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to due process of law and the assurance of a public trial by an impartial jury.

The doctrine of Judicial Review was established by the Marshal Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803) and, consequently, for over two centuries, laws passed by a Legislative Branch and actions by an Executive Branch have been subject to a Court review
of their constitutionality.

With regard to the Second Amendment, I would suggest that District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) is the most compelling case to review because the majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who is considered one of the more influential “originalists” and “textualists” in the history of the Supreme Court.

The Court ruled that the District of Columbia could not ban handguns and it protected an individual’s right to possess a firearm when not in the militia because the term “militia” was meant (by Madison, according to Scalia)) to refer to “the body of all citizens”.

However, Justice Scalia also wrote: “The right (to possess firearms) is not unlimited, it is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” The Court also recognized “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons”.

It is undeniable that the rights of citizens protected under the umbrella of the Second Amendment may be limited – constitutionally – by a Legislative Branch of Government. The manner to redress a grievance against what is arguably a flawed piece of legislation (the Safe Act) is best carried out in the voting booth or in the courts.

The proposal to make Otsego County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” is just as flawed as Mr. Anderson’s original and grossly overstated assertion about the importance of the Second Amendment. As a lifelong gun owner, I believe this hyper focus on the Second Amendment is tantamount to intellectual tomfoolery.

West Oneonta

Challenged, ‘Operation Warm’ Aims To Keep More Kinds Cozy


Challenged, ‘Operation Warm’

Aims To Keep More Kids Cozy

“Operation Warm” committee members Dave Mattice and Cindy Struckle pose with last year’s deliveries. (Lynne Sessions photo)

Editor’s Note: To donate to “Operation Warm,” send checks to Oneonta Rotary Fund, Box 1122, Oneonta, NY 13620.  For tax deduction, write “Operation Warm” in the memo line.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

ONEONTA – A decade of Operation Warm has created a decade of warm memories.

“The pride of ownership is something new for a lot of the kids,” said Oneonta Rotarian Dave Mattice. A National Weather observer, he recalled the club’s first distribution – 40 coats – happened the week before Thanksgiving 2009, and temperatures were in the 50s.

“I remember one little girl crying,” he said. “It was the first coat she ever had.”

It began by happenstance; or maybe it’s providential.

In 2009, Oneonta Rotarian Sam Koury, then district governor, returned from the national convention with the idea for a new program: Raise money, and use the funds to buy winter coats for needy youngsters.

Each year, Rotary club presidents – there are 33,000 clubs worldwide – pick a Presidential Project to mark their administrations.  That year, Chad Smith, the Medical Coaches vice president, liked what he heard.

Each year, the Oneonta club allocates $1,000 for the President’s Project, and Smith used the money to buy 40 coats and launch Operation Warm locally.

Oneonta’s Riverside Elementary was the first beneficiary.  “Tears were rolling down their cheeks – teachers and kids,” said Mattice.

The Rotarians were hooked. For the next few years, the Oneonta Rotary Fund, the club’s 501(c)(3), and contributions from club members kept the program alive.  That just $100 could keep four kids warm all winter was an appealing idea.

In 2015-16, things picked up.  Rotarian Laura Dohner wrote a grant application that won a one-time District 7170 grant $2,500.

“That’s when it got expanded – to 180-200 coats a year,” said 2015-16 club President David Rowley, then recently retired Oneonta City Schools’ interim superintendent.  In Christmas 2016, the coats were distributed under the presidency of Dan Maskin, OFO executive director.

Also that Christmas, the Oneonta club’s Marie Lusins, who was also first female District 7170 governor, attended a Christmas play at Schenectady’s Proctor Theater. During the intermission, she saw a queue.  It was a charity raising funds by raffling off state Lottery Scratch-Off tickets.

She brought back that idea back to Mattice, then 2017-18 club president. “Wow,” he said, “this might be our way to raise $2,500,” the amount covered by the grant the year before. “Lo and behold, we raised $4,000.

The Rotarians sold raffle tickets, and also set up a booth at the Hometown Fourth of July, the Susquehanna Balloon Fest, and the Grand & Glorious Tag Sale, where the winning ticket was pulled.

“Since then,” Mattice said, “we’ve been doing $4,000 a year – 180-200 coats.”  “We” is the club’s Operation Warm Committee: Mattice, Rowley, Chad Smith, Cindy Struckle and Lynne Sessions, all past presidents, with the help of club members generally.

The fall of 2017, the local club hosted the Rotary District 7170 convention at SUNY Oneonta, the club members were delighted to receive the district’s Helping Hands Award for Operation Warm.

The Oneonta club’s success has been mirrored nationally, even internationally, since Dick Sanford of the Longwood Club in Kennett Square, Pa., notice coat-less children shivering at a school-bus stop and launched the original effort; that club bought 58 coats that year.

Today, over 270 Rotary Clubs in more than 95 districts have partnered with Operation Warm, over the past 22 years providing coats to more than 300,000 students.

Mattice said the coats are fabricated in a non-profit factory in Wisconsin, and are partly made from a fabric created from recycled plastic bottles.  “The kids get to pick the color,” he said.

Every fall, the coats, individually sealed in plastic,  arrive at Medical Coaches warehouse near Emmons, and club members ferry them to Riverside Elementary, where they are distributed to all Oneonta schools.  Last year, all eligible K-5 Laurens Central youngsters received coats, said Rowley, plus some in Milford and Schenevus.

“It’s a great cooperative effort,” he continued. “The schools do a great job of identifying the kids. Our job is to raise the money, get the coats ordered and get them distributed.”

This year, with COVID-19, “we think the need is going to be even greater,” said Rowley.  What’s more, the usual Scratch-Off venues – the Fourth of July, balloon fest and tag sale – have been cancelled.

At it happens, Mattice’s son, Dan, Reinhardt Home Heating president, is on the Rotary Fund board, and he’s pledged a matching grant:  If the club can raise $3,000, Reinhardt will match it, for a total of $6,000.

That would be a record.

The goal: to have 300 coats ready for distribution this year.  “We’re prepared,” said the father, whose dream is to eventually provide a warm coat for any Otsego County youngster who lacks one.

Reinhardt’s company slogan is “We make warm friends.”  Talk about happenstance.  Or is it providential?

Falsehoods Helped Sink Town Board Campaign

Falsehoods Helped Sink Town Board Campaign

Edition of Friday, Sept. 26

To The Editor:

I lost the Democratic Primary in the Town of Oneonta, but I am proud to say that I did so with my integrity intact. Not one negative article was written, no personal attacks were launched and petitions were not challenged.

As I visited homes throughout the town, I tried to focus on my positions and to explain my experiences in municipal governance. However, this became very difficult when I was repeatedly informed by voters that they were told – by my opponent – that I was a staunch supporter of hydraulic fracturing. Additionally, the proof of this was my association with Citizen Voices. At least the information was half right!

I do participate in Citizen Voices because I believe in the mission: To support a pro-growth economic environment which will provide job opportunities for present and future generations, while balancing the beauty of the area and preserving our natural resources.

If our critics happened to attend one of our Wednesday morning meetings they would witness some spirited debates that would clearly indicate we disagree on many other issues, but not on the core belief: Economic development can be accomplished in an environmentally responsible manner.

The contention that I support hydraulic fracturing in the Town of Oneonta is not true. I initially believed that the state Department of Environmental Conservation should be given an opportunity to act, but the Governor’s blatant political maneuvering with the Department of Health made it clear that he had no intention of allowing that to happen – at least not until after the November elections.

The excellent presentation by Chip Northrup and Lou Allstadt further convinced me that hydraulic fracturing in Otsego County was not a desirable path to economic expansion. Finally, the Court of Appeals affirmation of the lower court ruling allayed my fears that the home rule ban might be found unconstitutional.

In short, I fully support the ban and to imply otherwise is dishonest and a disservice to the voters in the Town of Oneonta.

I have been a conservationist since April 22, 1970, when, as a 19 year old, I participated in the first Earth Day celebration. I am in my third decade as a contributor to The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society and The National Audubon Society.

We (with my wife Gail) drive four-cylinder cars and live in a passive solar home that was my own “green” design. By the end of October we will have a fully operational solar tracking system at our home.

On Aug. 26 – a full two weeks before the primary – I e-mailed this information to my opponent because I was concerned that the voters were being misinformed. Nothing changed and false information continued to be spread.

I believe that the voters in the Town of Oneonta are better served if they have the facts. I intend to make sure that happens in the future and I believe an open and honest public debate is the best way to accomplish this. I look forward to the opportunity.

West Oneonta

Democratic Primary Firms Up For Oneonta Town Board Seat

Democratic Primary Firms Up

For Oneonta Town Board Seat

David Rowley
David Rowley
Riddell Kent
Riddell Kent

ONEONTA – A contest is heating up for the Oneonta Town Board seat vacated when Republican Janet Hurley Quackenbush joined the county Board of Representatives Jan. 1.

Democrat David Rowley, the retired school superintendent, submitted petitions to run on both the Democratic and Republican lines this fall.

And Republican Patricia Riddell Kent, whom the town board appointed to fill Quackenbush’s seat, did the same.

Both of Rowley’s petitions were challenged, however – the Republican one by Steven Kent, Riddell Kent’s husband; the Democratic one by Nicole Camarata, according to Lori L. Lehenbauer, the deputy Republican election commissioner.

Tuesday, the county Board of Elections held a hearing and Rowley’s Republican petitions were declared invalid.

Attention: OHS Pool Needs Help!

Attention: OHS Pool Needs Help!


DA-duh … DA-duh … DA-duh-DA-duh-DA-du-DA-duh. Beneath the placid surface of the OHS swimming pool lies something sinister.

“All the mechanical systems are in tough shape,” said David Rowley, former interim school superintendent. “The vents, the filter, the pumps, the main drain line, the piping system and the timer for swim meets.”

The pool, which was built for the 1979-80 school year, used to be part of the phys-ed curriculum and site of lifeguard training programs.

“It was a great opportunity for our kids to get their certification and go work at the pools or Gilbert Lake,” said Joe Hughes, OHS athletic director. “Swimming is a lifelong skill; Everyone should know how, for fun and safety, and we’d like to keep this pool operational.”

Years of wear and tear have reduced the pool’s usage, and now it’s only used for the Lady Yellowjackets modified and varsity swim team practice and meets. “It’s like an old car,” said Hughes. “You only drive it a little bit so you don’t run it into the ground.”

Rowley graduated from OHS in 1968, before the pool was built, but when he toured the site as interim superintendent, he was disheartened by what he saw. “It’s a shame that we’re in this situation,” he said.

And though repairs are estimated to total $1.4 million, he intends to raise the local share – $400,000 – so as not to burden taxpayers. Tuesday, June 24, Rowley held a rally at the pool to kick off the fundraising campaign. “It’s a lot of money,” he said, “but we want it to be a project Oneonta will be supportive of.”

The voters will have to formally authorize the establishment of the project’s reserve fund at a vote on from noon-9 p.m. Tuesday, July 8. The state will pay the remaining costs, and already, $70,000 has been raised.
Renovated, it won’t just be the high school students who use it. “We want to make it a community resource,” said Rowley. “The YMCA’s swim team has to practice and hold their swim meets in Sidney, they’re paying the Sidney school district for their use.”

Both Rowley and Hughes hope the Family Y will collaborate on usage of the OHS swimming pools, as well as open up community events, such as early morning swims or classes. “The options are numerous,” said Hughes.
The girls swim team – as well as the newly revived boys swim team – will use the pool as is for the remaining 2014-2015 season, and the renovations are slated to begin in summer 2015. “I really applaud David Rowley and the citizens who’ve stepped up to help us out,” said Hughes. “The kids are the beneficiaries, and that’s why we do this. We’re going to dive right in.”

Oneonta Unity

Eventually, Unity Will Help Grow Greater Oneonta


It wouldn’t be cheaper right now, but the town and city of Oneonta should eventually form a “single entity” to provide municipal water in “the most cost-efficient and cost-effective manner.”

That’s the conclusion of an ad hoc citizens group – former interim school superintendent David Rowley, former DEC commissioner Mike Zagata of Davenport and Roger France, a former state Health Department engineer – who took it upon themselves to delve into the much debated matter.

The resulting report, written by France, has been provided to Mayor Dick Miller and Town Supervisor Bob Wood.
Both Rowley and Zagata are active in Citizen Voices, the pro-business group. France is a neighbor of Rowley’s in West Oneonta.

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