News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
DAILY FEATURES >
 CROSSWORD  
 HOROSCOPES  
 CARTOONS  
 DEAR ABBY  
 EMPLOYMENT  
 DINING & ENTERTAINMENT  
 REAL ESTATE  
 AUTOMOTIVE  
 REMEMBRANCE  
 GOODS & SERVICES

Mike Zagata

Revisiting Clinton Playbook

Column

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Revisiting Clinton Playbook

Think back to the days of the Clinton Presidency and the words “I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman.” Stains on her dress would seem to indicate otherwise – but it was her fault because she was a woman.

Then Hillary runs for the presidency and she and the DNC hire a foreign agent to work with the Russians to dig up dirt on her opponent – Donald Trump.

After losing the election, they claimed the President colluded with the Russians to affect the outcome of the election – in other words, they tried to blame the new President for doing exactly what they had done – attempt to impact the election outcome.

When folks started to look at the origin of the fake dossier, the Clinton playbook kicked into action – blame someone else and deflect attention away from you.

Guess what, my fellow readers – former Vice President Joe Biden may be using that same play – deflect attention away from your perceived or real wrongdoing by attacking someone else. The person being attacked is, and this should be no surprise, President Trump.

You see, the former vice president is on record that he used his position to threaten the Ukrainian government with withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees if that government didn’t fire the prosecutor who was investigating corruption of the leadership of Burisma Holdings – a very large gas company owned by a Ukrainian official.

His son, Hunter, was placed on the board of that company and paid $50,000 per month to do something – exactly what no one seems to really know.

This was happening at the very same time Joe was serving as the Obama point-person on the Ukrainian government assigned to root out corruption. That’s a no-no and “Joe” bragged to his colleagues about having done it by stating, “I said: ‘We’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Mr. Biden recounted at a 2018 event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, … he got fired.”

Whether or not his threat was the actual cause for the prosecutor being fired and whether or not his son was the target of the investigation, we’ll likely never know. What we do know is that if it looks like
a skunk and smells like a skunk, it likely is a skunk.

To deflect attention from even the perception of wrong-doing, the former vice president went on the attack, accusing President Trump of an abuse of power for allegedly asking the new Ukrainian minister to investigate if there was any wrongdoing with regards to The Biden Affair. It is no surprise the media jumped at the chance, bolstered by cries of “fowl” by the Democrats, to attack the president.

However, before choosing sides on this, let’s dig a little deeper. There were at least a dozen people listening in on that phone call. Our president may be a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.

Do we really think he would ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent with that many people listening in – especially after being dragged through a two-year investigation over alleged “collusion”?

A few days after the feeding frenzy in Washington, we’re learning the “whistle-blower” didn’t actually have first-hand information – he wasn’t on the call. Could it possibly be this person has an axe to grind – maybe an agenda involving starting yet another investigation to distract both the Congress and the president from working on behalf of the American people?

As a taxpayer, I’m fed up with the waste of time and money. There are things that need doing, and it’s time the Democrats work with the president on things like infrastructure, the drug epidemic, violent crime and illegal immigration. Enough is enough.

Beyond that, however, I am ticked off that our media and politicians assume the American public is that gullible. Let’s be sure we do our homework before going on the attack or agreeing with the media – and that applies whether it’s a Democrat or Republican that’s being accused.

Mike Zagata,
DEC commissioner in
the Pataki Administration
and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in
West Davenport.

Poverty? Don’t Blame The Rich, But Ourselves

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Poverty? Don’t Blame

The Rich, But Ourselves

Talk about getting things backwards and exposing your political bias at the same time, while totally ignoring the facts – and you’ve identified Oneonta’s mayor, as reflected in a column he writes elsewhere.
We have poverty because of folks like him who deny reality when it comes to renewables vs. fossil fuels, who even fight renewables like solar and who do everything they can to keep industry that would create jobs out of Oneonta – witness the 2008 proposed biofuels plant farce.
For once, let’s put the blame for our economy where it belongs. It’s not with corporations but could lie with Gary’s disdain for the “rich” – the very people who create jobs.
Our economy didn’t turn south with Trump’s election – it has been there for decades.
There wouldn’t be a need for OFO if it weren’t for folks like our mayor and his allies – folks would actually have jobs and earn a living wage.
Remember, unemployment is at its near all-time low right now and Donald Trump is president.
With regards to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the mayor is right in that the U.S. withdrew. But it wasn’t President Trump who withdrew from the Kyoto Agreement – it was President George Bush and he withdrew, not for environmental reasons, but for economic reasons.
France is 80 percent nuclear when it comes to producing energy and President Bush knew the U.S. couldn’t compete economically because it would have been too costly for the U.S. to meet the stringent targets and not costly at all for France.
(We still have groups in the U.S. that profess a desire for clean air and oppose nuclear energy).
That situation hadn’t changed when the Paris Accord was proposed – the U.S. was still at an economic disadvantage.
But guess what happened in spite of the fact the U.S. wasn’t party to the Accord? The U.S. was the only country that met the Accord’s goals with regards to reducing carbon.
How could that be, you say. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it came about as a result of fracking and the tremendous increase in the availability of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas!
The mayor goes on to say that renewables, with the right subsidies, would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
He totally misses the point. It’s not the cost of renewables that makes them unable to compete with fossil fuels, but rather their unreliability.
Do you want to depend on the sun or wind to keep your pipes from freezing at night (sun’s not shining) and it’s 10 degrees below zero outside? The wind is generally calm on the nights when the temperature is coldest.
That’s the situation we face right now – today.
Is there research underway to help address the issues with renewables – yes. At some point I hope to be able to write an article proclaiming victory in our battle to find viable energy substitutes for fossil fuels.
But I can’t write that article yet.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Life Without Fossil Fuels? Where Would We Start?

COLUMN

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Life Without Fossil Fuels?

Where Would We Start?

Do you really want to stop using fossil fuels?  Your immediate answer may be a resounding “yes.”  However, that could change your life in a way you hadn’t anticipated.  That’s because so many of us grew up in cities and have no real tie to the land or to how the things we rely upon in our daily lives come from or how they are made.

Do eggs, tomatoes and bacon come from the grocery store?  That may be where you purchase them, but that’s not where they originate.  They are grown on farms, often located thousands of miles from the store where you purchased them.  When you purchase a tomato during the winter, it likely was grown in California.  The eggs you buy likely were hatched by chickens residing in huge poultry farms in the South that were fed with grains from the Midwest.  The bacon probably came from hogs grown in Iowa.

ZAGATA: The Cost Of A Free College Tuition

COLUMN

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

The Cost Of A Free

College Tuition

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

You might read the headline and ask, “How can something that is free have a cost.  First of all, nothing is really free.  That includes the free lunches at school, the free grants the City of Oneonta receives from time to time to pay consultants or deploy flower pots, and free college education.

A public school education is free to the students who attend grades one through 12 yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York spent an average of $22,366 per pupil at its public schools in 2016 – 90 percent above the national average.

Are those things really free?  Governor Cuomo is running a $2 billion budget deficit this year alone and the federal government has accumulated a national debt of $82 trillion ($60 trillion of which is tied to unfunded pensions).

Mike Zagata: Do Renewables Make Sense Yet?

COLUMN

Do Renewables

Make Sense Yet?

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

I see the left is at it again.  If you disagree with or question their agenda, then you are labeled as “evil.”

Now I’m being accused of being opposed to renewables.  If you’ve read my writings on the topic, then you know nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone who is aware of the concerns regarding climate change and understands that fossil fuels are not renewable, i.e. we’re going to run out of them, would be looking for new sources of energy.  Renewables like solar and wind must, at some point in time, be part of that mixA

What I am opposed to is being asked to drink the renewables Kool-Aid without being told what’s in it.  That’s what happened to the cult members who died in Jonestown, Guyana – the results weren’t good.

Is Any Government Agency Efficient?

COLUMN

Is Any Government

Agency Efficient?

By MIKE ZAGATA • View From West Davenport

When Bernie Sanders starts a sentence by saying “The truth on this matter is,” it’s time to reach for your wallet to see if it’s still there.  He’s not alone in that regard, as there are lots of candidates trying to sell us on the virtues of socialism.  To learn how socialism has affected you, read the last three paragraphs.

book, “Our Revolution,” developed by the Stephen Colbert show, that has been circulating on Facebook.

The major differences between socialism and capitalism can be defined by the role of the government.  In general, capitalism affords economic freedom, consumer choice and economic growth. On the other hand, socialism, which is an economy controlled by the state and planned by a central planning authority, provides for a greater social welfare and is expected to decrease the business fluctuations likely to occur in a free market.

Capitalism is a market-based economy made up of buyers (people) and sellers (private or corporate-owned companies). The goods and services that are produced are intended to make a profit, and this profit is reinvested back into the economy.

The U.S. is considered to be a capitalist economy, along with most of the modern world.  Economists, however, are quick to point out that almost every society has a socialist aspect or program within it, i.e. Social Security.

Nothing Is Perfect, But Green Movement Is Looking For Answers
from CARL SEELEY

Nothing Is Perfect,

But Green Movement

Is Looking For Answers

To the Editor:

I don’t always catch Mike Zagata’s column, but every time I do, he’s revisiting the same two themes—one right, one wrong.

Theme One is that even “green” technologies have negative environmental impacts. This is true, and it’s important to understand and keep in mind. When we get electricity from photovoltaics rather than coal or gas, we reduce our CO2 emissions, but we increase other impacts related to the mining of particular materials and the manufacturing process for the panels.

Examples are easily multiplied, because very few technologies are actually zero-impact, never mind restorative, leaving ecosystems better than we found them. To the extent that people are naïve about that, it’s good provide a reminder of reality.

Mr. Zagata’s second theme has two forms. Theme 2A is an explicit claim that something being touted as a “green” technology is actually worse than what we’re doing. This is what he said back on Jan. 24-25 about electric cars, and as discussed in my response published the next week, he was factually wrong.

Theme 2B doesn’t go as far as 2A. It’s not an explicit claim that some “green” technology is actually a bad idea. It is, instead, a focus on the green technology’s environmental impacts, with an implication that it’s not worth adopting.

This argument makes little sense, and sometimes Mr. Zagata blends it with other misleading or false statements. His recent discussion of geothermal heating is a case in point.

Yes, geothermal uses some electricity for the operation of the system (though Mr. Zagata’s April 25-26 column on the subject suggested he didn’t understand the basic workings of heat pumps). And yes, most people’s electricity still comes – at least in part – from fossil-fuel combustion.

It’s nonetheless true that heating your house with geothermal produces less CO2 than running electricity through a baseboard heater, or burning gas, oil, or wood. Why is Mr. Zagata trying to talk people out of that?

Most recently, in his May 23-24 column, Mr. Zagata takes apart a reader’s claim that their electricity is “clean” because they get it from a supplier of renewable energy. Mr. Zagata here is partly right, because it’s true that all the power in the grid gets mingled together in ways that we don’t usually think about.

If I go to the farmer’s market and buy a steak from Tauzel’s, the beef I’m eating actually was raised in Schenevus; it’s not mixed in with a bunch of other beef from, say, a Nebraska feedlot.

Electricity is different. If I buy power from a solar farm in Laurens, I’m not getting those “electrons.” The power produced there is put onto the grid and finds its own best route through the vast web of producers and consumers.

As with geothermal, we’re at Mr. Zagata’s theme 2B: you may think your electricity is clean, but you’re still getting power from gas-fired plants, so don’t bother with your “green” efforts. But this is misguided.

When you buy from a solar farm, you aren’t purifying yourself of involvement with fossil electricity, and you aren’t eliminating your environmental impact, and you shouldn’t tell yourself that you are. Nonetheless, you are helping. You’re increasing market demand for sources like solar that, while not perfect, are better. As that demand increases, our power system shifts to a mix of sources that are cleaner. Not clean, but cleaner. Not perfect, but still an improvement.

Green technologies are not miracle workers. Our daily lives will always have impacts on the world around us. But there are vitally important reasons for reducing those impacts, and there are practical ways of doing that, such as electric cars and geothermal heating.

Mr. Zagata’s crusade against these efforts is a disservice to the public.

KARL SEELEY

Professor of Economics, Hartwick College

Oneonta

ZAGATA: Power Grid Mixes Good, Bad And Ugly Electrons

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Power Grid Mixes Good,

Bad And Ugly Electrons

A few weeks ago, an article appeared about installing a geo-thermal system to heat and cool the family home.

The subject was very transparent about the fact geo-thermal systems require considerable electricity to run the pumps that circulate the fluid and to provide the energy necessary to make up the differential between the temperature of the water sourced from beneath the ground (normally 55 degrees) and the thermostat setting during cold nights (usually about 68 degrees).

He then explained that he buys his electricity from a co-op that buys it from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) via a purchase contract.  The source of the power in that contract with the NYPA is hydro.  The author went on to say that because of this arrangement, they are not burning any fossil fuel.  Unfortunately, that may not be the case.

How can that possibly be?  They buy their power from a company that sells hydro-power to their supplier.

It’s because the power that is purchased by the co-op from the NYPA must enter the “grid” of transmission lines in order to be delivered to their home.  Once a given electron enters the grid, it is co-mingled with other electrons from other energy sources including coal, gas, oil, solar and wind.

ZAGATA: Hidden Consequences Of Saying ‘No’ To Gas

COLUMN

Hidden Consequences

Of Saying ‘No’ To Gas

By MIKE ZAGATA

When we live in a community for a lengthy period, we tend to become “comfortable” with those with whom we attend church, purchase services from, hire to do household repairs and who sell us the various products we need.  Indeed, over time we simply assume they will always be there.  Is that true in Oneonta or, for that matter, in Upstate New York?

This past week I had a shock to my comfort-meter.  I was in the process of purchasing a car for my wife and needed a proof-of-insurance card from my agent.  The sales person was given the contact information for the agency and I assumed all was well – well, why wouldn’t it be?  My family had done business with that agency for decades.

Then a call with a “518” area code was announced on my cell phone with a quacking sound.  When I answered it, the lady on the phone explained that she worked for my insurance agency and was calling to confirm that I was indeed buying vehicle from that dealership.  That was both good and bad.

What Are Fossil Fuels?What Are Renewables?

COLUMN

What Are Fossil Fuels?

What Are Renewables?

By MIKE ZAGATA • for Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal

Based upon what I read in our papers, there seems to be a lack of information and/or understanding about fossil fuels and the so-called “renewables.”  This might be a good time to attempt to get all of us on the same page.

The descriptive term “fossil fuels” includes coal, oil and natural gas – the energy sources that were formed millions of years ago as sedimentary deposits in lakes and oceans.  They represent plant and animal material that settled to the bottom of those water bodies and were, over millions of years, subjected to pressure.  As a result, they were transformed into coal (hard coal or anthracite and soft coal or bituminous), oil and natural gas.  Because they took millions of years to form, they are considered to be non-renewable – some day we will run out of them.

So Far, 125 Sign Up For Energy Summit, With Limit Of 200

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

With Week To Go,

Energy Summit Fills

125 Of Its 200 Seats

Seeking ‘Balanced Agenda,’ 19 Speakers

Planned; Day Expands From 6 To 9 Hours

Jay Egg of Geothermal is keynoter at the Otsego Chamber’s “Energy Summit.”

COOPERSTOWN – With a week to go, 125 people have already signed up for the Otsego County Chamber’s “Energy Summit: Infrastructure & Economy,” and the day has expanded from the original six hours to a nine-hour program to accommodate a growing roster of speakers.

Planned Thursday, Jan. 31, at The Otesaga, the summit will be able to accommodate about 200 people.   To register, call 432-4500, extension 104, or email karen@otsegocc.com.

After announcing the original concept, the phone started ringing with suggested speakers, Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan said in an interview a few minutes ago, and she kept adding speakers to ensure “a balanced agenda.”

ZAGATA: Renewables Not Ready To Replace Gas

Column by Mike Zagata for January 11, 2019

Renewables Not
Ready To Replace Gas

MIKE ZAGATA

Those who oppose using fossil fuels to provide the bulk of our energy needs without offering viable alternatives are depriving this and future generations of job opportunities. When our country attempts to keep our illegal immigrants seeking to enter our country illegally in pursuit of jobs, Nancy Pelosi and those aligned with her call it “immoral”. What should we call doing that to our own citizens?
When those opposed to fossil fuels argue against them, they point to their environmental impacts, especially their contribution to “climate change” and laud renewables as being “pure” when it comes to the environment. Is that really the case?

ZAGATA: Today, Renewables Can’t Go It Alone

Column by Mike Zagata for December 21, 2018

1. Today, Renewables
Can’t Go It Alone

Mike Zagata

We all share a concern about our environment and what forms of energy to use in order to maintain our lifestyle and position in the global economy.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable and thus the day will come when they are gone. Energy companies know this and realize that, in order to remain viable, they must look for renewable alternatives.
However, there isn’t a magic switch we can turn on to allow us to go from a dependence on fossil fuels to relying solely on renewables. We need a bridge to get us to that point, and natural gas is that bridge.

ZAGATA: Knowledge Workers? Great, But Traditional Industries Needed, Too

Column by Mike Zagata for November 23, 2018

Knowledge Workers? Great, But
Traditional Industries Needed, Too

Mike Zagata

As I began to read an article in last week’s edition, I felt a surge of excitement.
The author, an elected official, had just stated that her constituents elected her twice because they understand that protecting our environment and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive policies.
That is close to a statement in my recent book, “A Journey Toward Environmental Stewardship.”
My excitement, however, soon switched from positive to anger. Aside from the statement that methane leaks erase all the environmental benefit from switching fuel to natural gas (I found it intriguing the author admits there are benefits), the author goes on the say this is a scientific fact – according to what scientifically refereed journal?
Let’s take a harder look at that claim. If methane leaks erased all the environmental benefit from burning natural gas, then the amount leaked would have to equal the amount burned. That would cut the company’s profit in half. Do you really think a company, any company, would knowingly allow that to happen?
For policy matters of this magnitude, we can’t afford to rely upon the opinion of an advocate who opposes natural gas.
As I read further, I began to feel sympathy for the author and even more so for the people whom she had just called “redundant.” According to her and her reference to a Boston consulting group, the future of our economy is tied to “knowledge-based industry.”
According to her, heavy industry and manufacturing were indeed historically vital to our economy, but we no longer need them. Low-skilled jobs are becoming redundant – in other words, if you don’t have a college degree you’re no longer needed. Wow – and she got elected twice.
Let’s take a look at the facts. When Oneonta’s economy was strong, it benefited from the presence of heavy industry and manufacturing. Companies trained their employees so they would become “knowledge based” and able to perform their jobs.
Many of the companies had apprentice programs to train workers to become more skilled and they were able to advance and make a higher wage – they were “knowledge based” without the buzzword. That’s what built Oneonta.
The notion that we have to move entirely away from that model is nuts. We stand to benefit far more from an approach that nurtures what we had while embracing new types of companies – those that don’t actually build anything. (We sent those companies with their middle-class jobs to Mexico and other countries with poorly thought-out trade policies).
Off the top of my head, I was able to create the following list of companies that can be described as heavy industry/manufacturing: Lutz Feed, Focus Ventures, Brewery Ommegang, The Plains LLC, Northern Eagle, Custom Electronics, Corning, Astrocom, Ioxus, Amphenol, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Brooks Bottling, Wightman Lumber, MAMCO, Covidian, Munson Building Supply, Cobleskill Stone, Oneonta Block Co., DOMO, Otsego Auto Crushers, Seward Sand & Gravel, Clark Companies, RJ Millworks, Eastman Associates, Butts Concrete, Unalam, Leatherstocking, P&R Truss, Medical Coaches and Otsego Ready Mix.
The list is not claimed to be complete and I apologize if your company isn’t listed. However, those companies employ about 2,500 people who don’t consider themselves to be redundant, feel very much “needed” and contribute to our economy. They also vote. Hopefully, Otsego Now will be successful in getting other companies looking for “knowledge-based”
employees to come here. We need them all.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in Davenport.

ZAGATA: Is Upstate Downbeat? Blame Slow Recovery

Column by Mike Zagata for November 2, 2018.

Is Upstate Downbeat?
Blame Slow Recovery

According to a newly released report from the Empire Center for Public Policy, “New York’s Uneven Economic Recovery: A Tale of Two States,” those of us who live in Upstate New York escaped the real estate/housing bubble that led to the economic crash in 2008. Why? Because our economy was so bad that we didn’t experience a bubble like the rest of the country. How’s that for good news?
Since the economic downturn, the Governor has claimed he has grown the state’s economy back to recovery. Have you experienced a recovery? Here’s how he’s been able to make that claim.
According to the governor, “We created 1,000,000 jobs (since 2011). New York State today has more private-sector jobs than it has had in the history of the state. Period. Unemployment went from 8.5 to 4.2 percent, and the recovery was statewide. In the old days you would see New York City doing very well, and Upstate would be struggling. Look how even the recovery is all across the State.”
The data don’t support that claim. In fact, to the contrary, it shows a sharp and growing economic divide between Upstate and downstate. According to the “Report,”, “By any standard, Upstate New York’s economic recovery has been among the weakest of any region in the country”. Only West Virginia, Wyoming and Arkansas, coal and minerals-dependent economies, have fared poorer. According to the Report, New York’s annual rate of real GDP growth has been lower than the rate for ALL states in six of his first seven years in office.
New York City, followed by Long Island and the lower Hudson valley, suburbs for the City, has enjoyed the highest rate of job growth in the state. At the same time, Upstate has gained private-sector jobs at about one-third of the national rate.
Of the State’s 62 counties,
23 of them, all but one
Upstate, have yet to recover to their pre-crash private employment levels. Knowing this, the Governor banned fracking in an attempt to court the “green community” and stopped the pipelines that could have brought much-needed natural gas and jobs to our region.
Did the unemployment rate in Upstate really drop or was it made to look that way – remember the old “shell” game? Based upon information in the Report, total private-sector employment Upstate grew by 6.3 percent since 2010. That is about one-third the U.S. rate of growth (17.8 percent) and even worse than that for downstate (21.2 percent). The Southern Tier counties ranged from having a loss of jobs to zero-5 percent growth. Guess where we fell in the ranking?
According to the Report, the 48 up-state counties saw a drop in employment “by a combined total of 87,500 from August 2010 to August 2018. Yes, the unemployment rate Upstate fell, but only because the labor force in those counties decreased by 210,000 people” – a result of fewer people looking for work because they had either given up, left the state or both.
Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103