Two candidates, two different offices – neither complete newcomers to public service but each, in his own way, relative newcomers to political battlefields.
The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta spoke last week with Matt Castelli, a Democrat looking to unseat Republican Elise Stefanik in the 21st Congressional District, newly drawn to include the Village of Cooperstown and the northern half of Otsego County. The newspapers also spoke with Harry Wilson, the Johnstown, New York native and Harvard University graduate running in the Republican Party primary for governor of New York State.
That primary election takes place June 28; Mr. Wilson is competing against putative frontrunner Rep. Lee Zeldin, Andrew Giuliani, and former gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino for the chance to run against the winner of the Democratic primary, which pits incumbent Kathy Hochul against challengers Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
“I’ve spent 30 years turning corporations around,” Mr. Wilson said. “In just about every circumstance, a company’s failures come from mismanagement by leaders at the top. We’ve got a professional class of politicians leading the state. We need a turnaround expert.”
[Editor’s note: Here’s this week’s opinion column from the Editor of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta, Ted Potrikus.]
Elmer Fudd is out hunting, as he does, when Bugs Bunny informs him that it’s duck season. Daffy Duck isn’t having it; he lets Elmer know in no uncertain terms that it’s ‘wabbit season.’ Elmer, confused, can’t figure out which is correct.
“Say, what’s the matter with you anyway?” Daffy demands of Elmer. “Don’t you know a wabbit when you see one?”
Welcome, then, to an election year March in New York. Is it politics season? Or policy season? Can we tell the difference?
This month, your representatives will wrangle a spending plan into place for the state’s fiscal year that begins on April 1. Thanks to a 1998 Governor George Pataki lawsuit victory over Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York’s governor wields an enormous bit of power over the annual budget and can cram into it policy priorities that sometimes have only tangential reference to fiscal matters.
Governor Kathy Hochul – her high standing in polls among likely Democrat primary voters notwithstanding – has to think carefully this year about how hard to play the power the executive won in Pataki v. Silver. It’s a tough political tightrope: the left flank – behind gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams — will march for untold millions for lofty-minded but undefined policies like ‘green energy’ and ‘education spending,’ the right flank – behind candidate Tom Suozzi — will want changes in bail and discovery reform policy. None of them can discount the looming spectre of Andrew Cuomo; the guy whom one big-bucks Democrat consultant once called ‘the Dracula of politics’ showed up last weekend at a New York City church to deliver what pundits think is the first of many speeches he hopes can reclaim what’s left of his tattered reputation.
Then there are Gov. Hochul’s negotiation frenemies, the Senate and Assembly, each with their own political tripwires. A slew of left-leaning incumbents in both houses — some of them long time, popular incumbents — face June primaries from candidates who skew younger and even farther left (think AOC acolytes). It’s political suicide for them, at this time of the year, to vote on even the slightest tightening of things like bail and discovery reform. Or to vote against more money for whatever.
At the same time, Republicans are battling it out over who can be tougher on this or that. The party endorsed Rep. Lee Zeldin as its gubernatorial candidate; as experienced a campaigner as he is and despite the party’s designation, he faces a hefty challenge from millionaire Harry Wilson, whose get-tough ads already blanket upstate media markets. Here in Otsego County, our incumbent state Senator, Peter Oberacker, finds himself in a primary challenge against fellow Republican Senator Jim Tedisco of Schenectady, forced by Democratic-drawn redistricting into a race neither wants but which both must now deal.
This is a thumbnail sketch of the backdrop against which these officials will negotiate a state budget that, despite protestations to the contrary, likely will be chock-full of not-fiscal policy priorities designed to appease the parties’ faithful who will turn out in June for the primary votes.
At some point between now and the budget’s April 1 due date, we’ll most likely hear the Governor and/or the legislature’s leaders tell us that politics has nothing to do with the budget. That it’s policy season, not politics season. It won’t be politics season, they’ll say, until after the budget is done, until after the state Legislature wraps up its regular session on June 2.
Only then will it be politics season, they’ll say. Only then will the challenged incumbents shift their work from pure policy to pure politics, giving them nearly an entire month to woo voters in time for the June 28 (with a 10-day early voting allowance) primary elections. And then the state Legislature will most likely go back to Albany in July or August to vote on those policy matters that would have been political Kryptonite any time before June 28. Because it’ll be policy season all over again, at least for a little while.
GET ON BOARD – Noon. Zoom meeting for local non-profits to pitch their organizations to the public and discuss what they need, from board members to volunteers to furniture. Presented by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. 607-432-4500 or visit otsegocc.com
The future of agriculture locally may be in the hands of a three-member board. The decision they make will impact our farms immediately.
The decision to be made — should the overtime threshold for farm labor move from 60 hours to 40 hours? The answer — no. According to a study from Cornell’s Dyson School and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (commissioned by New York State) 72 percent of workers stated they would not remain in their current job; 70 percent of guest workers stated they would seek work in other states. Owners of one-half of fruit and vegetable farms and two-thirds of dairy farms would redirect their operations.
Her beloved Buffalo Bills lost in a weekend heartbreaker, but aside from that, Governor Kathy Hochul has had a pretty good couple of weeks.
She’s able to talk about turning the corner against the winter Omicron surge, with seven-day averages for new hospital admissions, new cases, and cases-per-100,000 declining in every part of the state.
She laid out a blueprint for New York’s upcoming fiscal year, a $216 billion bonanza adorned with property tax rebates, pandemic recovery initiatives, infrastructure improvements, record-setting education aid, and big-spending ideas that aim to keep environmentalists green with joy. It’s a something-for-everybody package with enough in it to elate most of the disparate constituencies that constitute the Empire State
Outside temperatures might be hitting their January lows, but June’s heat and humidity aren’t too far away.
Nor are June’s political primaries — those all-important preliminary contests that determine a party’s slate for next November’s ballots. Yet the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts remain a mystery for would-be candidates.
That includes a measure of uncertainty for voters in the congressional contest that comprises Otsego County.
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced she will extend her indoor mask mandate by two weeks, keeping it in place across New York through January 29, 2022 rather than its original January 15 expiration.
“This is all geared toward keeping the economy open,” she said during her New Year’s Eve “Winter Surge 2.0” press briefing. “The alternative is to shut it all down.”
“The reason that we don’t have to do this is that we now have the defenses in place – testing, vaccines, boosters, masks – that we didn’t have in March 2020,” she said. “We can take steps to make sure we’re protected against Omicron.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul responded this week to a request from Otsego County officials and will locate a new, state-run COVID-19 testing site in Milford.
The new site — one of only 13 throughout the state — opens Wednesday, December 29 at the American Legion Post at 86 West Main Street; its hours of operation are as follows: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.
Milford will offer RT-PCR testing upon its launch, with plans to add rapid antigen and rapid PCR tests within a few days of Wednesday’s opening.
New York’s ban on single-use Styrofoam food and beverage containers, as well as ‘packing peanuts,’ takes effect January 1, 2022.
That brings an end to Styrofoam bowls, cartons, hinged ‘clamshell’ containers, cups, lids, plates, trays, or anything else used to ‘temporarily store or transport prepared foods or beverages.’ Also out: packing peanuts and other loose bits of packaging protection that contains Styrofoam.
The law allows a civil penalty of up to $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second in the same calendar year, and $1000 for the third and subsequent violations in the same calendar year.
Ah, mid-December, when thoughts turn to the wrappings and trappings of the holiday season and joy-filled activities like wassailing and hot toddying and the Jenga stack that is New York State politics.
New York Attorney General Tish James last week announced the end of her brief run chasing Governor Kathy Hochul for the Democratic Party nomination for governor in 2022. Surely that news brought seasonal joy to New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, since — at least for now — he stands to gain a decent swath of the farther-left voters who probably were leaning toward the AG. And soon-to-be former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who keeps hinting that he’s going to get in the gubernatorial chase one of these days soon, is giddy dreaming that he’s in line for those left-leaners. He also ran for president in 2016.
Farmers across New York State, including Otsego County, are speaking out in opposition as a New York State Department of Labor Farm Laborers’ Wage Board considers lowering the threshold at which farm workers earn overtime pay from 60 hours per week to 40, a move farmers say will devastate their businesses.
Farmers went to Albany Wednesday, December 1, to deliver letters to Governor Kathy Hochul opposing the move and urging the Wage Board to keep the 60-hour overtime week.
The Farm Laborers Fair Practice Act, signed into law by former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, statutorily reduced the weekly overtime threshold from 80 hours to 60 beginning January 1, 2020. The law also included workers’ compensation, one day of rest during the calendar week, unemployment insurance, disability, and the right to organize.
(October 25, 2021) – New York gas prices have risen 7.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.51/g today, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 6,118 stations in New York. Gas prices in New York are 25.1 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand $1.26/g higher than a year ago.
According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in New York is priced at $3.05/g today while the most expensive is $4.39/g, a difference of $1.34/g. The lowest price in the state today is $3.05/g while the highest is $4.39/g, a difference of $1.34/g.
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.”