As it stands, regrettably, the Town of Richfield’s proposed Comprehensive Master Plan hasn’t yet accomplished its mission.
So the Town Board – it meets on the second Monday of each month, and may act on the plan in either April or May – should put it on hold, at least for the time being, until the community’s will can be dispassionately determined and the plan revised to reflect it.
A Comprehensive Master Plan’s goal is to capture the aspirations of a community and write those goals down so they can be systematically pursued; Richfield’s has been captured by a faction, judging from interviews recounted in this newspaper’s last edition.
So all townsfolk of good will – and their leadership – should stop, reflect and try again.
Here’s the story, as best we could determine it.
When the six-turbine Monticello Hills Wind Farm was proposed in 2012 on the town’s west end, some neighbors objected.
According to Dan Sullivan, one of the founders of the resulting Protect Richfield, which sued to block the wind farm, the neighbors found town government had little interest in their concerns.
Town government, they concluded, was under the control, primarily, of people living in the Village of Richfield Springs and other parts of the town, many of whom saw the wind farm as
welcome tax relief.
The suit would eventually fail, but when Otsego Now’s effort began in August 2015 to update the town and village existing comp plans for economic-development purposes, the neighbors saw it as another opportunity to protect their neighborhood, and got involved.
Others began seeking appointed or elective office on the key town boards and commissions.
By the time the draft of the updated
Comp Plan went to public hearing March 12, wind-farm opponents controlled the Zoning Commission that prepared it, the Planning Board that must review it, and the Town Board that must approve it.
As you might expect, the plan prohibits “industrial wind farms.”
That, however, was not the limit of Protect Richfield’s vision: For 95 percent of the town’s land space, the updated Comp Plan envisions only farms, single-family homes and agri-tourism.
After the public hearing, Andela Products President Cynthia Andela said, she met with Sullivan, and obtained two concessions:
►One, a “Route 20 overlay” in the plan, which limits development to 500 feet on each side of the center line, was expanded to 1,000 feet, although she’s not sure even that is enough.
►Two, “home occupations” permitted in rural parts of the town – that includes such activities as building contracting – were limited to three employees each, and Sullivan agreed to lift that limit altogether.
But she was also concerned that a limited commercial-industrial zone around the village itself, where municipal water, piped-in natural gas and sewerage are available, isn’t big enough to accommodate future growth.
And, she said, other sites should be considered for such development, perhaps around the NYSEG substation on Federal Hill, which Otsego Now thought promising enough to put down $50,000 on a right of first refusal.
The point is: Comprehensive Master Plans are intended to map a route to achieve the will of the community, and the Town of Richfield plan fails to do that.
Yes, it fills the goal of the resurgent west end to block wind farms, but even with wind, is there another area of town where turbines might help deliver tax relief?
Even Otsego 2000, the environmental group – Sullivan is a board member – is touting Richfield, where natural gas is already available for development, over the City of Oneonta’s D&H yards. Doesn’t it make sense to expand the commercial zoning around the village?
With Richfield Springs Central School’s K-12 enrollment at 425, isn’t there a desire for more single-family homes for young families with children, and jobs for the parents?
And is the potential for lovely Canadarago Lake sufficiently reflected in the plan?
As to agriculture, a couple of weeks ago, in response to a question from Otsego County’s Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19th, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue painted a bleak picture of dairy farming in Upstate New York. “We’re not compelled to keep anyone in business if it’s not profitable,” he said. Does any local community want to hitch its wagon to that star?
As it happens, there’s something that people of good will can do about all this: Run for town office this Nov. 5.
But time is running short: Petitions to run for town supervisor or the two Town Board vacancies must be submitted by April 1-4. The good news is, only 16 signatures are required to run as a Democrat, 33 as a Republican, two as a Conservative, five as an Independent, and less on other lines.
To their credit, Protect Richfield members were motivated to get involved in town government. But town government should be everyone’s. And Protect Richfield’s success is an inspiration others can follow. Individuals do make a difference.
In the Town of Richfield, as everywhere in a Democracy, everyone should help chart everyone’s future.
A columnist – a dad, too – wrote in Psychology Today a few years ago:
“My hope is that their involvement in sports will help to build their character in positive ways. I’d like them to learn to cooperate with others, work together for a common goal, respond appropriately to victory and defeat, and grow in virtues like courage, humility, patience and perseverance.”
Why did the CCS Hawkeyes varsity basketball team come to mind?
One, because they just claimed the first-ever state championship in a highly competitive sport. Not everyone plays golf, or even football. But it’s the rare American boy who hasn’t spent many an hour playing pickup basketball, dribbling and shooting and, from time to time, spraining an ankle.
But, two, because this Hawkeyes basketball team stuck to business, stayed cool when challenges arose, worked hard on their skills, and supported each other on the court the way the best teams do.
How often do any of us, over the course of our lifetimes, get the opportunity to save another human life?
But the Otsego County Board of Representatives and Cooperstown Village Board have been presented with that opportunity in the case of Mike Covert, 58.
Covert, a 25-year county employee (mostly as a deputy sheriff) and village police chief since 2013, has suffered the health travails of a modern-day Job in the past year, from kidney failure to a triple bypass to failing eyesight and deteriorating disks in his neck.
In the midst of this, he received wo
In Oneonta, go figure.Five Common Council members retiring – not a record, Council member Dana Levinson reminded us: there were six retirements in 2016, but an exodus nonetheless.And the resulting ferment: Len Carson confirmed Thursday, Feb. 21, he was running in Ward 5, and within days, 11 more candidates emerged. Most were Democrats in that Democratic enclave, but three were Republicans, signaling party politics – missing since 2011 – may be coming back to life in the City of the Hills again.Undoubtedly there will be more candidates forthcoming – petitions to get on the ballot in the June 25 primary aren’t due until April 4 – so keep track of the day-to-day developments on
If anyone was looking for a bomb-thrower – Urban Dictionary: “A colloquial term used to describe people who stir up trouble” – Antonio Delgado isn’t he.
That had to be the conclusion of any objective ear at his Feb. 18 “Town Hall” in Cooperstown Village Hall, where one speaker, opining President Trump is “mentally ill,” asked the freshman congressman if he would vote for impeachment.
The reply was perfectly circumspect: “I’m going to do whatever the truth requires me to do. This process has been thorough and extensive, but I intend to read the Mueller Report and make my decision from that.”
No one’s painting oneself into a corner here.
It all began with a technological breakthrough – in Syracuse. Air conditioning.
Its development by General Electric in that central New York city opened the way for the industrial development of the South and Southwest, and the decline of the Mohawk Valley, which post-WWII was the most powerful and prosperous manufacturing corridor in the history of the world.
“We invented a technology that allowed industry to shift internally,” particularly in textiles, an irony noted by Gerry Benjamin, director of New Paltz’s Benjamin Center, formerly the Center for Local Government. He’s perhaps the wisest and most insightful observer of New York State government and politics, drawing on more than a half-century of involvement.
He was posed the question, What’s the matter with New York? Coincidentally, that very morning Amazon announced it was abandoning building its HQ2 in Long Island City, on the shores of the East River across from Manhattan, and taking 27,000 jobs, most in the $100,000 range and up, somewhere else.
Benjamin was rueful: “25 to 40,000 jobs are being declined downstate – while Upstate has no work. It’s a contextual fact.”
Editor’s Note: This column, by LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal, is the final in a 12-month cycle of columns by Otsego County Opioid Task Force members, and the news is good. Read on!
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
I did not know when this day would happen, but it finally has. It looks like we have just begun to turn a corner in the public health crisis of opioid addiction, overdose and death.
It is not over and we cannot let our guard down.
However, by most measures, things are getting better in New York State and in our county.
The Otsego County Coroner’s Office reports a 90-percent drop in opioid overdose deaths since 2016. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that opioid related deaths in New York State have dropped 15 percent since last year.
In light of the 72,000 people that died from
overdose in the U.S. last year, our local and state numbers are the hope we needed to see.
So, what changed to make the difference? Actually, a lot of things changed.
It was vital that we as a society began to accept that addiction is a disease. It is a chronic, progressive, relapsing disease with too-often fatal consequences.
I’m not sure we’re there as a society, but many of our systems now are.
The government has come to understand it can play a major role through sound public health policy.
Firefighters, EMS and police are carrying the life-saving overdose antidote most commonly called Narcan. Community members are responding to training opportunities, films related to the crisis and other community forums to educate themselves on the issue.
Healthcare has changed its approach to helping the person with a substance use disorder. They are no longer “those people,” but instead are “our patients.”
Individuals can now receive addiction care by walking into their Primary Care. Emergency departments can begin medication-assisted treatment right on the spot.
Insurance carriers are being held accountable for covering addiction in the same way that they would cover any other chronic illness. No longer must a person with opioid use disorder “fail first” at outpatient treatment before being admitted into a longer-term treatment facility.
The Otsego County Opiate Task Force has been active in our communities to support, advocate, and participate in these changes.
Although we can’t take credit for the changes, we have been working
hard to be part of the solution. There is still much work to do.
The truth is, we have an addiction crisis, not just an opioid crisis. But, we
are happy to take the glimmers of hope where we can find them.
The end of what is, at best, an anomaly, may be in sight.
County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, says she plans to ask the Administration Committee she chairs to remove two extralegal
clauses from a policy it passed last month: “Use of Photographic Equipment and Recording Devices at County Meetings.”
The complete policy appears in the box below this editorial. The purported goal, “to allow meetings to be conducted in an orderly manner,” is unobjectionable, although no incident has occurred to spur that.
However, one provision, requiring photographers and videographers to “sign in” – to register with the government, Soviet style – is anathema to the press, and will be to the general public, too, as citizens increasingly use iPhones to record parts of meetings they find significant.
A second provision, unilateral “exclusion from the meeting at the discretion of the chair,” with no appeal or due process of any kind, is likewise worthy of Fidel Castro. Off with their cabezas!
Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and www.AllOTSEGO.com raised these concerns with Robert Freeman, executive director, state Committee on Open Government, an arm of the New York Department of State, and he also concluded the policy is flawed. His full statement also appears below.
County Attorney Ellen Coccoma, at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, defended the policy she developed. But when asked about the two objectionable clauses, replied, “The law is silent on this.”
Put another way, the county attorney, whom the board depends on to provide accurate legal guidance, came up with two limitations on the freedoms of press and public that are not enabled in a guiding statute, the state Freedom of Information Act, on the books since 1977.
By doing so, she also may have opened the county board to financial liability: In an amendment signed into law in December 2017, the county would have to pay legal fees if a challenge “substantially prevailed,” which Freeman’s opinion suggests is possible.
And the Coccoma Protocol, if you will, is already having a negative effect on news coverage.
As a public service, AllOTSEGO.com has been videotaping monthly county board meetings for more than two years now, but board chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said the videographer would probably have to register, so the Feb. 6 meeting went unrecorded.
Kennedy’s Administration Committee meets at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22.
The question it must answer: Who should control news coverage of the county board and the $110 million government it controls? Independent news outlets and citizen watchdogs, or the county board itself?
The answer’s clear.
As can happen, one anomaly can draw attention to others.
At some point, the 14-member county board surrendered its policy-making responsibilities to its six-member Administration Committee.
In this case, when “Admin” met Jan. 29, the county attorney characterized “Use of Photographic Equipment and Recording Devices at County Meetings” as a routine matter, according to Kennedy. Five of the six committee members in attendance – County Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, had departed – passed it routinely, and it immediately became county board policy.
Look at the county board’s makeup: Four reps are in their first term; another five in their second terms. Most, you can be sure, were unaware the authority of their elective offices had been surrendered to a committee at some time in the past for forgotten reasons.
The full board should change the Rules of Order and take its authority back. If the 14 are to be governed by a policy, it should be presented as a resolution and be voted on by the
Even the Administration Committee itself – Kennedy, Stammel and county Reps. Ed Frazier, Gary Koutnik, Keith McCarty and Peter Oberacker – no doubt agrees with that.
A final thought: Robert Freeman is available to give seminars on the FoI Act and open meetings. The county board should invite in him in to do one here. After all, you have to know the law to follow it.
The county attorney should be there, too.
You may have noticed that Dec. 15 piece in the New York Times, “The Hard Truths of Trying to Save the ‘Rural’ Economy.” In it, reporter Eduardo Porter wrote: “I’ve lived most of my life in big cities. I don’t pretend to understand what it’s like to live in a small town or a family farm, or how it feels when all the jobs in a community seem to be fading away.”
You might expect what follows: It sounds like one of those stories Times reporters periodically transmit from Timbuctoo or some similarly exotic locale. All impressions. As if rural economic development – the War on Poverty, if you will – is all about feelings.
Here’s a more concrete objection: Porter equates Upstate New York – criss-crossed by four lanes, peppered with international airports, abounding with excellent colleges and universities, a couple of hours from the largest metropolitan economy in the country that also happens to be the center of the financial universe – with Harrison, Neb., wherever that is.
Handel’s “Messiah,” performed every other year by the Voices of Cooperstown at Christ Church – on Saturday, December 15, this was one of those happy years – brings to front of mind the inevitable light and darkness that is part of everyone’s life.
Amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth that has characterized American life since Nov. 8, 2016 – “dumpster fire” has just been added to Merriam Webster – a whole area of scholarship has come to the fore, compiling the facts that prove: The world is actually becoming a better place.
Here are some of the points Steven Pinker, the Harvard professor and author of “Enlightenment Now,” made in a TED Talk last April:
• For most of human history, life expectancy was around 30 years old worldwide. Today, it is more than 70 years old; and in most developed parts of the world, it’s over 80.
A letter to the editor the other week drew on the Biblical injunction, “The son shall not suffer for the sins of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquities of the son.” And surely that’s as it should be.
That said, it’s legitimate for open-minded citizens to question how county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. has handled the situation involving his son, Ros, a correctional officer in the jail his father administers since it surfaced in January 2017. At the least, the situation is an awkward one; at worst, a dangerous one.
In effect, according
to a court decision on a
related matter made public on March 31, 2017, Ros Devlin told a fellow C-O he was thinking of committing suicide in front of his disciplining supervisor at the county jail, after first creating a diversion by shooting up an Oneonta or Milford school. (To read the decision for yourself, type “devlin judge’s order” in the search line at www.AllOTSEGO.com)
From the beginning, the sheriff has stood steadfastly by his son, who was suspended for more than a year – albeit, with pay; since March, without pay – by the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
The sheriff claimed a “witchhunt” was in progress; that his downfall was intended, not his son’s.
If Ezekiel was right
about sons and fathers, his declaration should be equally valid for wives
That said, it’s legitimate for open-minded citizens to question the role of Kathy Clark, R-Otego, former county board chair – and a tough-minded and determined one – in engineering her husband, Bob Fernandez’s, challenge to Devlin after Fernandez’s retirement from the state police.
In New York State, the sheriff’s position – as with county clerk – is a constitutional office, filled by election, not appointment by a county board. There’s good reason for ensuring a sheriff’s independence: to keep law enforcement and politics separate.
Clark championing of her husband sought to breach that sensible divide.
Further problematic was the engineering of Fernandez’s Democratic endorsement. It grew out of a longtime personal friendship between Kathy Clark and Oneonta’s former Democratic mayor, Kim Muller, who for the time being is county Democratic chair. (She expects to step down when the county committee meets in early October.)
There’s no secret. Both acknowledge close ties between their families going back decades, when their children played in the same soccer league. Still, as you can imagine, the Fernandez endorsement has caused a rift among the Democratic rank and file.
For his part, Devlin has argued he didn’t trust the county board, under Kathy Clark’s chairmanship, to fairly investigate his son.
To his credit, when David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield, succeeded Clark this past Jan. 3, Devlin then reached out to Bliss, and in March agreed to recuse himself, allowing the board chair to order a medical examination of the son to determine if he is fit to continue as a jail guard.
The good news is: A process is in place. In interview this week, Bliss said the medical examination by a downstate physician who specializes in matters involving law-enforcement personnel is expected by mid-month.
Once the report is submitted, Bliss, in consultation with the county’s personnel lawyers and County Attorney Ellen Coccoma will decide on an appropriate course of action. He said he will keep county reps advised of developments and welcome inputs.
If the decision is made to discipline Ros Devlin, “the officer still has rights,” the board chair said. The younger Devlin could challenge any decision in court. Meanwhile, he will remain off the job without pay.
The bad news, from the perspective if the electorate, it’s unlikely the situation will be resolved before the Nov. 6 general election, Bliss said.
All this matters right now because the first match-up between Devlin and Fernandez comes Thursday, Sept. 13, in a local Republican primary. (That’s Thursday, not Tuesday, which is 9/11 and Rosh Hashanah.) The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. across Otsego County for registered Republicans.
The vote will not necessarily settle anything. If Devlin, endorsed by the Republican county committee last March, wins, Fernandez has the Democratic county committee endorsement; he will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot anyhow.
If Fernandez were to win the Republican primary, Devlin would still appear on three lines – Conservative, Independent and Reform – on the November ballot.
The world is an imperfect place, as we know from our lives and experiences. We often have to choose between imperfect options, and this is one of those cases.
Yet, on the one hand, there is due process, independent of Sheriff Devlin’s control, that we can hope will resolve thinking people’s concerns – either clearing Ros Devlin, or removing him from his position permanently.
On the other hand, there is no due process, only cronyism and the potential that an alliance between husband and wife will inject politics into law enforcement.
For now, the only option is to vote for due process. For the time being, that option is Richard J. Devlin Jr.
When one least expects it, a breakthrough.
The Town of Oneonta’s Board of Fire Commissioners has voted, 3-2, to set a hearing to consider dissolving. The vote could come at the end of the hearing, scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Elm Park
Good idea. About time.
If the fire district is dissolved, a “fire zone” continues to exist within the town, so coverage will continue. The Town of Oneonta would assume responsibility for negotiating with the city. That’s good too.
There’s probably no one better than Town Supervisor
Bob Wood, previously a longtime fire commissioner himself, to bring talks with the city to a sensible conclusion.
For more than two years, negotiations have gone nowhere on extending the contract with City Hall for professional fire protection for the town’s Southside, and neighborhoods beyond the city’s East and West ends.
Only state Supreme Court Judge Michael V. Coccoma
imposing a two-year settlement in January 2016 assured businesspeople and homeowners coverage as negotiations continued.
The two commissioners objecting to dissolution are the newcomers, Al Rubin and Michelle Catan, who since their election last December have been foiled in efforts to get the talks moving again.
The three in the majority bloc, chair Johna Peachin, veteran commissioner Fred Volpe and Ron Peters, who is associated with Peachin’s accounting firm, have not responded to city Mayor Gary Herzig’s requests for negotiations, the mayor says.
As noted here before, Coccoma imposed a regimen that allocates one-third of the costs of the city’s Oneonta Fire Department (OFD) to property owners in the town fire district; the remaining two-thirds would be covered by city taxpayers.
An independent consultant agreed to by both sides came up with roughly the same formula.
Still, no movement.
The majority bloc has been tangled up in the issue of revenues created by the OFD’s ambulance squad, which generates about $1 million of the fire department’s $4 million budget.
In effect, those revenues – insurance payments generated whenever a city ambulance carries a patient from either the city or town to Fox or Bassett – pay down the total, meaning there’s less for city taxpayers and fire-district property owners to split.
The bloc believes the way it’s being done is illegal, but so far hasn’t found anyone with authority to agree.
Again, if an “i” or two needs to be crossed to bring everything up to Hoyle, Bob Wood has the understanding to figure it out amicably with Herzig.
There are implications for the future.
For one, a town can’t operate its own fire department under New York State law, an option the fire commissioners have been threatening to pursue in negotiations with City Hall.
However, if it came to that, the town could create a town-wide fire district that could do so, a lengthy process – but slower is probably better. Plus, that may never happen and shouldn’t – the town and city’s fates are linked.
Arguably, given the $1 million contribution from townsfolks, it makes sense for a liaison to be brought into discussions with Common Council on policies regarding the OFD. Perhaps Al Rubin, who has tried to be an honest broker since joining the fire board, would be a good prospect for this role.
Regardless, it’s time to move forward. If the majority-bloc fire commissioners have concluded they can do no more, it makes sense to leave the scene.
The Oneonta Town Board is more sensitive to what the public wants – only a handful or two of voters turn up at Fire District elections – and the public has said it wants the standoff resolved.
With Wood at the helm, along with town board members of good will, an end to a worrisome situation may finally be within reach.
If DOT engineer Peter Larson thought it was going to be a ho-hum hearing that Dec. 15, 2008, at Oneonta High School, Kay Stuligross quickly advised him otherwise.
“My husband was killed right there,” the former county representative told Larson, pointing to a spot where Lettis Highway enters Southside, in front of McDonald’s.
Stuligross’ husband, Jack, a retired Hartwick College economics professor, had been riding his bike when it was struck by a car there on Oct. 2, 2007, just 14 months before. He died of his injuries.
Just being there, Kay Stuligross underscored: road improvements are matters of life and death. That’s often lost in the excruciating process of state and federal permitting.
Despite her testimony, the Southside roadwork – Project 9120.43 – was never done, as federal money dried up following the Great Recession that had begun just a couple of months before the OHS hearing.
That speaks to the complacency that sets in on road projects, as well as the competition among needy municipalities.
Nonetheless, the past few days has brought good news on two projects, long on the books and long debated.
One, in Oneonta, the city and town jointly applied Thursday, Aug. 16, for $8.7 million in state funds to beautify Lettis Highway, add a sidewalk there, and build a sidewalk on Southside Oneonta from Lowe’s to the east to Home Depot to the west.
Two, in Cooperstown, for a redesigned traffic-light setup at Chestnut and Main, the village’s only traffic signal. The Village Board, that same Aug. 16, let a $1.9 million contract to Upstate Companies LLC, an Mount Upton firm, to do the work, beginning the Monday that Labor Day Weekend ends.
In Oneonta – if the grant comes through; perhaps by January, Mayor Gary Herzig hopes – the sidewalks could finally address the major concern underscored by Jack Stuligross’ death.
As important, perhaps moreso, would be construction of a sidewalk on one side of the whole length of Lettis Highway, the four-lane that connects Main Street with the Southside strip.
Many Oneontans who work in the big box stores must now walk precariously along Lettis’ shoulder to their jobs, a long-ongoing danger that now may come to an end, Herzig hopes.Right now, Lettis Highway – at I-88’s Exit 15, the main entryway to the city – makes a poor first impression to the generally charming City of the Hills. Some of the city’s money would be used for less stark lighting (that would illuminate the roadway AND the sidewalk). And it would create a landscaped green median strip, a welcoming replacement for the Jersey barriers and asphalt.
Some of the Cooperstown grant – a TEP, for the USDOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program – will be used for further beautification of Main Street – more new benches and the like.
Foremost, though, it will “bump out” the sidewalk in front of Mel’s 22, narrowing Chestnut Street there, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said. “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs will clearly guide pedestrians at all four crossings.
For years, anyone trying to cross that intersection on foot – but particularly tourists, some 500,000 a year – don’t know what to do. Drivers passing through can see the apprehension on their faces.
Both of these projects are long-awaited: Oneonta’s, a decade and more; Cooperstown, five years, since the original TEP application was submitted.
As the work begins – in Oneonta by next summer, it can only be hoped – let’s keep Jack Stuligross in mind.
What happened to him didn’t have to happen. Let’s do what we can to ensure it doesn’t again to someone else.
One of the many delights in getting older is you realize some things aren’t going to be resolved in your lifetime. If you’re 65-and-holding, you
American paranoia and its companion, the National Security State, won’t be dissipated tomorrow, if it can ever. And, year to year, we witness the ever-fuller flowering of these truly abhorrent aspects of modern American life during the Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend.
In addition to all the other indignities of recent Induction Weekends – metal barricades, legions of police officers and military personnel, armored cars, frowning men in camo watching us from the rooftops – add two more for 2018.
One is drones that buzzed Cooperstown skies
this weekend, even as signs went up: “Drone Use Regulations In Effect” (for the rest of us). The other was no-parking signs that went up within block after block of Cooperstown’s barricaded-off downtown.
Who is buzzing us and what are they looking for? That information isn’t readily available. (Not the Russians, we hope.)
The vastly expanded no-parking zones, Cooperstown Mayor
Ellen Tillapaugh explained, are in the event of an incident at Induction venues – an exploding knapsack, ala Boston Marathon, perhaps: Visitors can be more quickly “evacuated” – yikes.
“These acts of mass murder,” President George W. Bush told us a few hours after the Twin Towers were felled on 9/11, “were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.
“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation,” he continued. “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
Of course, that was nonsense. Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta and his Gang of 18 won 9/11. As a people, we’ve been running scared every since, as evidenced yet again this past weekend as America’s Pastime was celebrated under Big Brother’s watchful eye.
(FYI, homeland security spending rose to $635.9 billion in the decade following 9/11, from $69.1 billion, according to the National Priorities Project.)
Ironically, how many visitors remarked to you how lovely Cooperstown reminds them of the good old days, of unlocked doors, kids on bikes, well-tended houses (where, presumably, mom and dad live with a couple of kids), for the time being, tree-lined streets? (What’s that buzzing?)
Still, you can understand the anxiety of the powers-that-be. If everything that might be done isn’t done and something happens, imagine the recriminations – in this space, no doubt, and far beyond. Heads would roll, careers would be lost. There’s a self-propelling momentum from – is it too much to say? – freedom to chains, at least e-chains.
How, as a nation, do we ramp it back? How, as a community, might we be a model? Maybe a place to start would be a community de-briefing in the next few weeks. Or is this none of our business? And more community input next spring as security is planned for Induction 2019.
To ask the question – how do we ramp it back? – is easy. Perhaps the answer will only be found in the march of history-to-come.
The Romans no doubt felt similar paranoia, with a resulting National Security State, archaic by comparison. It was solved when the Visigoths took over. Problem solved – at least that problem. Will paranoia be part of American life until American life is no more?
Meanwhile, what next? Returnees from the U.S. Open golf championship on Long Island on Father’s Day Weekend provide an inkling. All parking, all of it, was at Gabreski Airport, 10 miles from Shinnecock Hills Country Club.
To get to the open, you had to park your car or SUV there, along with 10,000 other vehicles. All attendees went through security screening, including metal detectors, then were put on buses that took them to the golf course and brought them back at day’s end.
Certainly, that model must be under consideration for the prospective Derek Jeter induction in 2020. If so, you read it here first, folks. The difference: Shinnecock is a golf course; Cooperstown – for the time being, anyhow – is a living, breathing community.
Weekend A Hit
While ever-tightening security is hard to ignore, Induction Weekend 2018 was also a lot of fun, and plenty of inspiration.
Six inductees – the most since 1971 – promised a lengthy ceremony, but it went by quickly, with Chipper Jones and Jack Morris’ humor, Trevor Hoffman’s food for thought and Jim Thome’s message: Success takes hard work, and he gave details. (Also, his daughter Lila’s rendering of the National Anthem was on it.)
Bob Costas winning the Ford C. Frick Award added a sheen of show biz, the Parade of Legends was bigger and better than ever, and the visitors were happy.
Given the crowd was the second-largest – 52,000 to Ripken-Gwynn’s 83,000 in 2007 – things generally went smoothly, even the traffic.
At 7 p.m. this evening, the Oneonta Town Board will be asked to approve spending $12,500, which will enable the release of a $50,000 state grant to study whether consolidation of the town and city into a single “Greater Oneonta” makes sense.
The study, to be conducted by the Center for Governmental Research, Rochester, would study legislative changes made in 2012 to encourage municipalities to merge when it makes sense to do so.
It is not a vote for merger. It is a vote to get the facts. The facts may show it makes sense for the town and city to remain independent. Or it may show that property taxes would drop and opportunities increase if a single larger municipality is created.
As Oneonta Common Council did last night, the Oneonta Town Board tonight should vote to spend the $12,500.
It’s about the facts. No more. The facts should be nothing to fear.