The loss of innocence. And we thought it could only happen once.
“I can’t help but think: You see these photos of the West Side of the Capitol, where presidents have stood and the transition of power has occurred. It’s so tainted now, with insurrectionists actually storming the Capitol. It’s hard to go back.”
That’s Joey Katz, son of Cooperstown’s former mayor Jeff Katz, then a teenager, who – with his mother, Karen, the village former first lady – saw the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Then-congressman Chris Gibson, a Republican (and now Siena College president), provided his tickets, so the Katzes had a pretty good view.
By Rev. SERENA JONES • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Editor’s Note: Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary president, was stricken with COVID-19 and missed speaking at the installation of the First Presbyterian Church’s new pastor, Faith Gay, on Nov. 29. Instead, she delivered her sermon Sunday, Jan. 10, when the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was fresh in everyone’s minds. This is an excerpt.
No one watching the storming of the Capital could miss the “Jesus Saves” sign bobbing up and down as windows were smashed and police attacked.
I have also heard the reports that in the House Chamber, the people gathered for prayer to thank Jesus for supporting them in their actions. They were on their knees lifting up praise to God for what they had wrought, justifying it with Divine sanction.
The Christian whiplash of these two scenes next to one another was excruciating, painful, and so very, very American.
…Today, I want to wade into those murky waters, because they aren’t just headline topics, these tensions live within the heart and mind of everyone who claims the name “Christian” in this nation.
Millions of Americans watched in horror as partisan domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol last week to prevent the lawful election of Joe Biden. I join in the anger and disgust at the destruction of public property and the desecration of the hallowed citadel of democracy. I despair at the unnecessary loss of life, including brave Capitol police officers.
But I also angrily denounce the ongoing incitement by the President and allies in the Republican Party as well as their tepid or non-existent denunciations of the appalling insurrection.
It’s a day that will live in infamy, Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, vandalized and ransacked the venerable building, and was driven out by National Guard units and Capitol Police with some loss of life.
Prior to Jan. 6, 2021, few Americans could visualize that ever happening. The natural response here in Otsego County, as throughout our United States, is horror, sadness and fear for the future.
Illuminatingly, the AllOTSEGO.com daily poll that sought readers’ opinions on the next steps found people chose the mildest options by a large majority.
On Friday, Jan. 8, Assemblyman John Salka engaged in a frank, one-on-one, 15-minute conversation with me about the election results and the insurrection at the Capitol. I sincerely appreciate him devoting so much time to talking with me, as I’m just one of over 100,000 people in his district.
But I was left appalled by his attachment to two self-serving, destructive, false narratives.
It was clear from our conversation that he has no actual evidence that Joe Biden’s electoral victory was fraudulent. He brought up one item (the affidavits of people who claim they saw irregularities). I explained that many of those were from people who had not attended observer training and therefore didn’t understand that what they witnessed was routine procedure.
If for nothing more than the knowledge he’s gained about Otsego County and its issues in 40-some visits over the past year, Brian Flynn is the logical
candidate for local Democrats to support in the party’s 19th Congressional District primary Tuesday, June 26. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.
Absent someone actually from Otsego County – Cooperstown’s Erin Collier was an attractive entry, but it appears she got involved too late to gain sufficient traction – we need a candidate in a Hudson-Valley-heavy field who cares about Oneonta and Greater Cooperstown.
We also need a congressman who’s strategic, and Flynn has proved he is: By focusing on Otsego, plus Schoharie and Delaware, while others ignored us, he may have carved out the relatively few votes, perhaps as few as 4,500, to win in the seven-person race.
Flynn has also sought out key local folks for his campaign staff, including the brainy Leslie Berliant, who ran for county rep from the Town of Middlefield last fall, and MacGuire Benton of Cooperstown, former Otsego County Young Democrats’ president. Clark Oliver of Oneonta, Benton’s successor at the YDs, was also on the staff for a while.
And Flynn’s also courted and largely won over most of the county’s top Democrats, from county Rep. Gary Koutnik, Oneonta, the ranking Democrat on the county board, to activists Deb Marcus of Oneonta and Melinda Hardin of Cooperstown, to the potent Sustainable Otsego leadership.
(Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, referred to Jeff Beals by a cousin’s wife – no, Beals is not the mayor’s cousin – has been the odd man out in supporting the Woodstock teacher-by-way-of-the-CIA.)
Flynn, while he’s only lived fulltime in the 19th for less than two years – with wife Amy and children Bo, 14, and Heddah, 10 – he has roots, and family roots. He has owned that home in Hunter in Greene County’s ski country for the past 13 years (and bought the property 15 years ago, after a fire, and rebuilt it.) And his grandfather was a bartender and grandmother a chambermaid in Catskill hotels. The Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural Center in East Durham, on the road from Cobleskill to Catskill, is named after a great uncle.
Moreover, he’s got the energy, the brains, an engaging personality, the high-level contacts – his partner in Schlossberg:Flynn, an investment firm, is Caroline Kennedy’s husband, Ed – and the money – both he and big-firm lawyer Antonio Delgado have raised almost $1 million – to win, and this should matter to Democrats.
Whether it should matter to the rest of us remains to be seen, as Flynn and our current congressman, Albany veteran John Faso, R-Kinderhook, sharpen their focus on the issues from the end of June to November.
As we’ve noted here before, Faso would be unobjectionable in normal times; he’s done what a congressman who wants to make a difference would normally do: Get key committee posts, cleave to the party line, but break with the party when sensible, on the merits and on the politics, to do so.
Both of these candidates could
capture the middle, and thus win.
But as Nov. 6 approaches, if it appears – as historical precedence suggests it might – that the House of Representatives will be recaptured overwhelmingly by the Democrats, then a switch to Flynn might make sense.
For now, Brian Flynn, who has gotten to know Otsego County, and vice versa, is the clear and best choice for local Democrats.
A strong turnout – even better, one that clearly is the clear factor in his nomination next Tuesday – would
lock in that relationship for the
benefit of both.
SUGARING EVENT – 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Offers historical and contemporary maple sugaring demonstrations with a pancake breakfast and fun activities for the kid. The Farmers Museum, Cooperstown. Info, www.farmersmuseum.org/sos
CALL TO ACTION – 4-5:45 p.m. Informative discussion about what’s next and getting involved locally. Hosted by Oneonta Democrats. Roots Brewing Company, 175 Main St., Oneonta. Info, www.facebook.com/oneontademocrats2018/