FILM SCREENING – 6:30 p.m. Beat Cabin Fever with “Phantom Thread” (2017) about the love life of dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock. Free with donation. The Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org
COOPERSTOWN – Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and more will grace the walls of The Fenimore Museum, beginning April 2, as an exhibit, “Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits,” opens.
On loan from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, the exhibit will feature some of the iconic rock photographer’s best known portraits, including David Bowie, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Elton John and more.
POETRY SLAM – 8 – 10:30 p.m. Grand slam features top 2 poets from each poetry slam competing for 5 slots on spring SUNY Oneonta slam team to participate in regional, national competitions. Free, open to public. Waterfront room, Hunt College Union, SUNY Oneonta. Visit oneonta.campuslabs.com/engage/event/2674998
LECTURE SERIES – 6:30 p.m. Learn about Hunting, role in wildlife management/conservation from 3 speakers discussing from sportsmen’s, wildlife management, impacts of lead bullets on humans, non-target wildlife perspectives. The Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/be-informed-hunting-and-conservation/
League of Women Voters’ moderators lost control of the Monday, Oct. 22, debate between the incumbent Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr., and his challenger, retired state trooper Bob Fernandez.
Not the candidates – the League, to the point where moderator Barbara Heim of Oneonta threatened at least twice to shut it down and send home the 150+ attendees who packed The Fenimore Museum Auditorium, filled folding chairs in the aisles and crowded into the hallway, trying to hear the goings-on inside.
The dramatic highpoint came when Heim challenged the crowd: If you think you can do a better job, come up here. At that point, Tom Leiber of Oaksville, a pal of Fernandez going back to their high school days on Long Island, jumped up and volunteered.
That prompted the League’s debate organizer, Maureen Murray of Cooperstown, to jump up and, again, threaten that, if people misbehaved, she would kick everyone out.
Yes, the attendees – Devlin and Fernandez’
adherents alike – were pumped. Clearly, the League – this was the first co-organized by the Oneonta and Cooperstown chapters – didn’t know what to do.
And, of course, that was contrary to its
central mission: To help Democracy work. Why mistreat citizens interested and engaged enough to drive out, many from 22 miles hence, on a chilly, rainy night to participate in representative democracy?
Active citizens is what we all want – the League,
too – not what anyone wants to discourage.
Happily, in this season of debates leading up to the Nov. 6 mid-terms, the voting public was treated to an excellent contrasting example: The 19th District Congressional debate on WMHT, Troy, on Friday, Oct. 19, between incumbent U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, and the Democratic challenger, Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck. It was co-sponsored by Albany Times Union.
As you might expect, the experienced moderator, Matt Ryan, host of the station’s Emmy-winning “New York Now” program, was comfortable appearing before a crowd. He had three seasoned journalists – the Times Union reporter David Lombardo and Senior Editor for News Casey Seiler, and Karen Dewitt from WAMC and a 10-station network of NPR stations.
At the outset, Ryan welcomed the audience to applaud “one time” when the candidates were introduced, then to refrain for a logical reason: “So we can ask more questions” within the one-hour limit.
Each candidate was given 90 seconds to answer to a question;
the rival 45 seconds to react – and that was it. Ryan halted any candidate who then tried to jump in. However, given the brisk pace, a candidate who may have felt shortchanged had a chance to expand his comment in responses to later questions.
Blood was drawn. Delgado tried to pin “racist” ads on Faso. Faso noted Delgado moved to the 19th from New Jersey two years ago, then immediately registered to run for Congress.
By the end audience members were given ample insights to help guide their votes, which is the point
In an interview with WMHT’s Ryan, it became clear that, even with a pro, soft skills are essential.
A time clock flags the candidates at 30 seconds, 15 seconds and zero, when bell rights softly, so no candidate is surprised. Ryan says he won’t just cut candidates off in mid-sentence. He gauges whether a candidate is just wrapping up and, if so, will give him a few seconds. If it looks like the candidate is warming up the topic, Ryan will politely – important word – move on.
The set-up of the room is important, too. Remarking on the argumentative Cuomo-Molinaro gubernatorial debate a few days later, he noted the candidates were too close to the moderator, allowing them to dominate. At the WMHT debate, Ryan was at a lectern, with candidates seated on one side, reporters on the other, establishing an air of formality.
Likewise, with proceedings being aired on live TV, candidates and audience alike tend to be better behaved, Ryan said. Locally, the debates have been videotaped for rebroadcast in the past, but that didn’t happen this time.
Bottom line, mistakes were made by people of good will. But a repeat should be avoided. The League organizers would be wise to convene a conversation of stakeholders – League organizers, the county Republican and
Democratic chairs, a winning and a losing candidate, representatives
of the press, and frequent attendees from the public – after Nov. 6 to talk through the whole approach. Maureen Murray was intrigued by such an idea.
Some additional issues:
• Two Otsego debates were cancelled because one of the candidates, Assemblyman Magee in the 121st District then Delgado, demurred. Thus, one candidate’s refusal to debate can prevent another from communicating his/her message to voters. That’s not right.
• A media representative from this newspaper was removed from the panel because a candidate objected. The reason given: the newspaper had endorsed the other candidate in the primary. The League shouldn’t punish a free press for making endorsements; the candidates shouldn’t control the League’s debate.
• Should the League have the exclusive franchise on local political debates? Maybe it could take the lead in forming an independent entity – it would include League representation, of course – to make sure all the local expertise available is brought to bear.
In commenting on AllOTSEGO’s
Facebook page, former Hartwick Town Supervisor Pat Ryan ended her critique with: “This opinion in no way is meant to disparage all of the good work the League does in supporting our right to vote and be informed on the issues!”
But, she added, “Let’s talk about the ground rules for the
Lincoln/Douglas debate, which was a true debate!” A true debate, indeed: frank, content-rich,
pointed and sufficiently polite, leading the best candidate to
victory at the polls. Indeed,
that’s the goal.
LECTURE – 7:30 p.m. Join Mick Moloney for 2018 Buckley Lecture. Learn about Percussive Dance Traditions in North America ranging from Appalachian, African American flat foot, clogging to Irish sean nos, step dance. Donations welcome. 607-547-2586.
HISTORY SERIES – 7 p.m. “Scots-Irish Immigration and Defense of the Colonial New York Frontier including the Cherry Valley Massacre, 1740 to 1778” by Terry McMaster, independent historian whose research focuses on American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley, settlement patterns, family connections, border warfare along New York’s western frontier. Suggested donation, $5. Fort Plain Museum, 389 Canal St., Fort Plain. 518-993-2527 or visit www.fortplainmuseum.com/viewevent.aspx?ID=1032
PONY PALOOZA – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Horse rescue opens doors for family friendly celebration. Includes pony hugs, tours, games, local vendors, rides, food, face painting, more. Rosemary Farm, 1646 Roses Brook Road, South Kortright. 607-538-1200 or visit www.facebook.com/RosemaryFarm/
HOPS FOR HISTORY – 2 – 8 p.m. Downtown venues offer food pairings with local beers. Tickets, $30 day-of. Available only at Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org
GET KIDS OUT – 10 – 11:30 a.m. Bring kids out for Columbus day, explore world of trees. Kids explore property, learn tree identification, understand trees roles in world, have fun. Mohican Farm, 7207 St. Hwy. 80, Cooperstown. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/get-the-kids-out-trees/
GARDEN CLUB – 7 p.m. Presentation by Dr. Robinson, curator of The Jewell and Arline Moss Settle Herbarium containing specimens from the North East spanning 1898-2015. Learn about history, function of teaching herbariums, their importance to past, future of plants. Club also offering free bags of daffodil bulbs. Includes refreshments, free, open to public. St. James Episcopal Church, 305 Main St., Oneonta. E-mail Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org