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 county board’s Administration Committee set a poor precedent in deciding to interview candidates for state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s District 6 seat in “executive session” – that is, in secret, out of the public view.
The county attorney, Ellen Coccoma, last week advised the Admin Committee when it interviewed the Republican candidate, Jennifer Mickle, that whether to do so in public or not was optional, up to the reps. To close the door instead of opening it was the wrong way to go.
It was bi-partisan poor judgment, too.
At this past Monday’s Admin meeting to interview the Democratic nominee, Diane Addesso, at least county Rep. Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta, questioned if darkness should trump light.
Then she said, oh, never mind.
Admin Committee chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, made the motion, and Republicans Ed Frazier and Keith McCarty, and Democrat Andrew Marietta, as well as Martini, went along.
If Mickle, Addesso and Libertarian Andrew Hamill ran for the seat, they would have had to answer questions in public from the public. Why should they get a free ride into Oberacker’s seat without having to tell the public in this limited manner why they want the job and what they would do with it?
After all, when crowned by their fellow representatives, Mickle, Addesso or Hamill would be participating in votes that will have an impact on all of us living in Otsego County.
When this sorry process is over, soul-searching is warranted by all county reps.
The state Committee on Open Government is available to conduct a training session for the board, but it’s as much a question of attitude: Does county government belong to everyone, or to them alone?
Editor’s Note: This Letter to the Editor is published on www.AllOTSEGO.com, as the Wednesday, Dec. 4, vote on creating the position of Otsego county manager will occur before this week’s editions of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal to to press. Any responses may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and will likewise be published as soon as they are received.
To the Editor:
At the recent public hearings regarding a County Administrator hosted by the county there were several interesting statements made by those advocating for the position. Several were in direct conflict with each other.
One such example was the topic of the “day to day” operations of the county. Hiring an administrator, they contend, would give the board reps “more free time” and they could then focus on the long-term goals and planning.
First, I did not run for this office to be awarded “more free time.” Secondly, the Administrator’s job description calls for him/her to “act as day-to-day primary operations director” and to “execute long- and short-term planning.”
Editor’s Note: Mr. Frazier’s letter arrived after this week’s editions of Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal had gone to press, and is published here so the public may review it before the first information meeting on the county manager position, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 14, at Oneonta City Hall. A second is planned at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the county courthouse in Cooperstown.
To the Editor:
I am about to complete my fourth term on the Otsego County Board of Representatives as the District 1 representative for Unadilla. I was recently re-elected to serve my fifth two-year term. It is an honor and a privilege to serve my district. “Thank you” to all that chose to vote for me.
I do not take the duties of the position lightly. A primary responsibility, in my opinion, is fiduciary. Safeguarding the money that our taxpayers send to Cooperstown is a fundamental obligation of my office. Thus, this letter.
Some of my fellow representatives have spent time discussing the development of, and job duties for, a “centralized leadership position” for Otsego County. By creating and filling a county administrator position, they feel the right candidate will be able to identify and fix any so-called “inefficiencies” in our county government.
They contend that the savings from correcting these inefficiencies will more than cover the expenses of the position. That is hogwash.
COOPERSTOWN – His predecessor, Kathy Clark, R-Otego, again voted nay, but county Rep. David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, was reelected nonetheless for a second year as chairman of the county Board of Representatives.
Clark was joined by her vice chair when she led the board, Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, making the vote 12-2 for Bliss. Bliss’s vice chairman, Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, was unanimously reelected to that post.
COOPERSTOWN – After a 15-month standoff, Ros Devlin’s fate as a correctional officer is now in the hands of the chairman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
With one abstention and two absences, the county reps voted a few minutes ago to accept Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.’s proposal to turn over authority for investigating and possibly removing his son from his job to county board Chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego.
In a short discussion, county Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, first thanked Bliss for moving matters forward, but he asked the county labor attorney, Matt Ryan, “Does this get us where we need to be?”
COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Board of Representatives this morning elected David Bliss, the former Middlefield town supervisor just elected to his second term, to be its chairman this year.
The vote was 10 “ayes,” two absentions, one absence, and a single “nay” from Kathy Clark, R-Otego, the chair Bliss replaced.
Unanimously, the reps then appointed Democrat Gary Koutnik, the veteran representative from the City of Oneonta, as the vice chair.
The absent county rep was Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, who departs as board vice chair. It was said he had to take his wife to the hospital.
The pairing of a Republican chair with Democratic vice chair is unusual but not unprecedented: Republican Sam Dubben and the late Rich Murphy, a Democrat, shared the leadership in 2010; and Republican Don Linberg was chair and Ron Feldstein vice chair in 2007.
Editor’s Note: This is the editorial opinion of www.AllOTSEGO.com, Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal. Letters to the editor on political topics received after 10 a.m. Tuesday will appear on www.AllOTSEGO.com; email letters to email@example.com. Polls will be open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The first vow in physicians’ Hippocratic Oath is, “Do no harm.” It’s not a bad standard to apply across the board, and county board Chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego/Laurens, failed to meet it.
After standing at the podium on Jan. 10, 2014, with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller to herald a new era of economic development in Otsego County, Clark withheld funding, withheld cooperation and hammered through appointments of directors hostile to the goals of what became Otsego Now.
On Thursday, May 25, 2017, she accomplished her goal. Otsego Now’s director, Sandy Mathes, was forced to resign, all the staff quit, and the most promising economic-development initiative in Upstate New York, which had garnered tens of millions of seed money for Otsego County’s renewal, collapsed.
When your high school graduate departs for a construction job in Florida or the Carolinas, or your college grad for the Silicon Valley or Seattle, thank Kathy Clark. Meanwhile, she’s up for reelection Nov. 7, and the citizens of her districts – Otego and Laurens – should vote her out.
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.”
COOPERSTOWN – Two unopened boxes of personnel records from the county Sheriff’s Department have been turned over to the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee and will be opened and catalogued tomorrow afternoon, according to the committee’s chairman, Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla.
Frazier said today he has invited his committee members, plus county Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta – who, as an attorney, has “a unique skill set” – to review the latest material, along with County Attorney Ellen Coccoma and perhaps the county’s labor lawyer, Matt Ryan.