Otsego County voters finally know their political home for the next decade after a state Supreme Court judge last week finalized new election district boundaries for the state’s congressional and state Senate representation.
A combined five courts – including the state’s highest – rejected boundaries drawn by the state Legislature after the voter-approved independent redistricting commission failed to agree on districts.
The court-approved, final lines keep Otsego County entirely within the state Senate’s 51st district, rejecting original boundaries that sought to combine the region with a wide swath of Montgomery, Schenectady, and Herkimer counties. Senator Peter Oberacker, the Republican incumbent, is campaigning to keep his seat.
“There’s a real sense of relief that I finally know where I’m running,” Senator Oberacker told The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta after the new lines were made public. “I feel regret for the counties I lost; I met some great people and built strong relationships. There are projects underway and I want to tie up some loose ends before I hand it off to the new Senator.”
After testing positive for Covid, Governor Hochul issued the following statement over the weekend: “Today I tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, I’m vaccinated and boosted, and I’m asymptomatic. I’ll be isolating and working remotely this week. A reminder to all New Yorkers: get vaccinated and boosted, get tested, and stay home if you don’t feel well.”
[Editor’s note: This week’s edition goes to press just as the news about Rep. Delgado is breaking; we offer here a brief analysis of the situation as it stands on the morning of May 3.]
For Otsego County, Governor Kathy Hochul’s May 3 announcement appointing Rep. Antonio Delgado as her new second-in-command in Albany is nothing short of politically seismic — a move that could send aftershocks throughout the entire state and even into Washington, D.C.
Certainly Rep. Delgado was a Washington up-and-comer, an important part of the Democratic Party’s hopes to keep its majority in the 2022 mid-term elections. That he was pitted against a popular Republican challenger, Marc Molinaro, in an electoral district whose boundaries hang in the balance of a federal mediator, might have had something to do with his decision to take the offer.
Political machinations notwithstanding, Governor Hochul’s choice is a wise one. Rep. Delgado has proven himself to be a tireless and energetic voice for Otsego County and his district as a whole. Smart, approachable, and affable, when he shows up at an event or to tour a business, he shows up with good questions and displays a genuine interest in the issues at hand.
Poor Kathy Hochul must feel like she’s smack-dab in the middle of the television commercial with that guy Mayhem; there she is, crawling from the wreckage amid a heap of smoldering cars and destroyed streetscape. Walking through the disaster, a little bruised, scarred, bandaged, and battered himself, is a guy in a suit, smirking and warning that maybe she should have thought twice before taking that deal that seemed too good to pass up.
Portraying Mayhem in our little scene here is our former governor, Mr. Cuomo, dusting himself off from the wreckage that brought his term to a premature end in 2021. He has to be taking stock of the situation: Governor Hochul’s well-financed campaign is in a heap of trouble after her lieutenant, Brian Benjamin, resigned last week following his arrest on a stack of federal corruption charges. She’s under fire for picking a second-in-command whose record on campaign ethics wasn’t all that great to begin with, but she chose and stood by him until the end got too bitter.
Her primary opponents immediately chastised her perceived lack of judgment — after all, people might not know who the LG is, but since two of our last three governors (Hochul and Paterson) assumed the chief executive role after their bosses had to resign, it’s an important post. Chances are her primary opponent, Tom Suozzi, thought it a great chance to gain some traction — but then word arose that he and a few dozen other members of Congress might be in a little ethics mess of their own owing to a potential failure to report stock trades. Whoops.
It was just one month before COVID shut the world down in 2020 and tempers were short in New York’s state Capitol. I don’t remember exactly why the governor and legislature were sniping back and forth, but I do recall sitting down for a mid-February meeting with one of Governor Cuomo’s top policy people.
“I know it’s chaos around here,” I said to her, sympathetically. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.”
“Hey, It is chaos,” she shrugged. “That’s the way the boss likes it.”
Andrew Cuomo strolled to the microphone in New York City last week with characteristic swagger, carrying the binder that contained either his prepared remarks or, perhaps, a playbook filled with trick plays that end with the ultimate Hail Mary pass – a trip back to Albany as governor of New York State.
It was his second appearance on what looks like a mea culpa tour of friendly locations in New York City, and this time, he spoke with gubernatorial intonation about the need to revisit bail reform to combat the region’s rising crime rate. (This would be the same bail reform that he jammed through the state Legislature in 2019.)
Within hours, his successor, Governor Kathy Hochul, leaked a memo outlining a 10-point bail and discovery reform bill she plans to inject into state budget negotiations, the process over which her
New York lawmakers meet this month to finalize a state spending plan for 2022-23 due April 1, and included in the debate is a proposal that would allow restaurants to again offer the ‘cocktails-to-go’ permitted under an Andrew Cuomo pandemic executive order that expired eight months ago.
Governor Kathy Hochul made waves in January when she announced the proposal that make permanent the chance for restaurants to sell alcoholic takeaway drinks when accompanied by food-to-go orders and after the State Liquor Authority would establish rules and regulations on the practice.
The proposal pits restaurants against liquor stores – a public policy debate last seen when lawmakers allowed restaurants to seal unfinished bottles of wine for diners to take home after their meal. Restaurants say cocktails-to-go is an important post-pandemic lifeline, liquor stores say the plan “will threaten the livelihood of thousands in our industry.”
Wayne Carrington owns Oneonta’s Autumn Café and B-Side Ballroom with his wife, Rebecca, supports the governor’s plan but does not believe the discussion demands a zero-sum outcome.
“This is not about territory,” he said. “This is about community. Restaurants serving to-go drinks and liquor stores co-exist for the better of every community.”
He said to-go cocktails made a big difference for the Autumn when pandemic rules prohibited in-person dining. That experience, in turn, changed diners’ habits.
The New York State Department of Health on Monday (December 20) added Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown to its list of health care facilities with “minimal capacity,” forcing a temporary halt to elective surgeries and procedures for at least two weeks beginning later this week.
Under a November Executive Order from Governor Kathy Hochul, the state bars facilities with a staffed bed capacity of 10 percent or less from performing certain elective procedures and surgeries. Certain electives remain allowed, including those relating to cancer and diagnostic reviews, neurosurgery, intractable pain, trauma, cardiac with symptoms, and others.
Yesterday morning we had not heard of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529. The New York Times did not mention it and The Economist had no information in their morning news feed. It was then one of many variants of the virus that causes COVID. Then the World Health Organization named it Omicron. WHO reserves Greek letter names for variants of particular concern. Omicron is one of them.
The global stock markets plunged with U.S. major indices losing more than 2% in a half day of trading. Lockouts have been instituted and announced. Governor Hochul has declared a state of emergency. Doctor Fauci is making the rounds of all the major media news organizations. How severe Omicron will be and whether the current vaccines will be effective, and if so, to what extent is unknown.
Below is a compilation of what is known and unknown as of the time this article is being written. Most of it is open to revision.
Healthcare groups in Otsego County are dealing with the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and the need to keep their facilities staffed.
Bassett Healthcare Network, one of the largest employers in the area, is determined to vaccinate its entire workforce in spite of backlash and the potential loss of employees.
Bassett has made some progress on the vaccine front. According to an internal email penned by Bassett Healthcare CEO Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, vaccinations of its employees are at 90%. About two weeks ago, the vaccination rate was only 75%, according to Bassett officials.
As a result of severe flooding that affected the Butternut Valley area in July, the Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans to businesses and residents affected by the flooding.
Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for repairs and $200,000 for homeowners to replace and repair real estate as well as $40,000 for personal property.
Interest rates are 2.8% for businesses, 2% for non-profits and 1.6% for homeowners and renters.
SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman made the announcement on Monday, Sept. 13, in response to Governor Kathy Hochul requesting a disaster declaration for Otsego County, which also affects neighboring counties such as Chenango, Delaware, Herkimer and others.
“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help Otsego County’s small businesses and residents impacted by the severe storms and flooding,” Guzman said in a media release. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”
A disaster loan outreach center will be set up at the Morris Fire Department starting on Tuesday, Sept. 14, in order to answer questions about applications for the loan program.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation in a televised address Tuesday, Aug. 10, effective in two weeks.
While the governor denied accusations that he was intentionally inappropriate with anyone, he said that the “politically motivated” allegations against him would plunge the state into disarray.
The three-term governor has been rocked by sexual harassment allegations which included unwanted kisses and touching.
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will become the next New York State governor.
Reactions to the resignation were swift.
“While we can now turn to rebuilding our state, it does not mean the end of multiple investigations into the departing governor and his retaliatory enablers,” State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, said in a statement. ” The brave women who stepped forward to tell their stories deserve justice, along with those who lost their lives needlessly due to the governor’s irresponsible COVID nursing home directive. ”
“New Yorkers can breathe a collective sigh of relief that Andrew Cuomo will no longer be able to wield the immense power of the governor’s office to commit his corruption and abuse, but make no mistake, this resignation is simply an attempt to avoid real accountability for his numerous crimes,” NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a media release. “Thousands of lives have been destroyed by Andrew Cuomo and the legislature must continue to move forward with impeachment to ensure he can never run for office again.”
“Gov. Cuomo finally stepping down is ultimately for the good of New York and something I am glad to see finally happening,” Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, said in a statement. This resignation is a definitive new beginning. We deserve a better leader.”
“New York now has a chance to move forward and build a new culture of leadership,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, in a statement. “Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is an exceptional public servant and will be an excellent governor. I look forward to working together to continue serving the people of our great state.”
“Gov. Cuomo’s resignation is welcome news for all New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, in a press release. “He has finally acted in the best interest of the people. His actions have been disturbing and inexcusable. I am pleased to see the governor step aside and allow government to function properly. I will continue to stand with these women and fight to hold the governor accountable. Congratulations to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, I look forward to working with her in a positive and bipartisan manner.”
“I again want to thank the women who came forward for their accounts and applaud them for their bravery, because today we sent a message to everyone that conduct of this nature will never be tolerated, from anyone,” Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schohaire, said in a press release. “I wish to congratulate Kathy Hochul, the next governor of our state, and hope that we will be able to establish a productive, bipartisan relationship to do all we can for the people of New York.”