News of Otsego County


Butterman: Too Much Gun Violence
Letter from Dan Butterman

Too Much Gun Violence

Gun violence takes the lives of too many New Yorkers, and it is taking more and more each year. When elected to the Assembly I will work to make our gun laws fairer and more effective. I will not take weapons away from law-abiding citizens, but will work to take them away from criminals. And I will do this with input from gun violence experts – law enforcement professionals.

In 2014, gun-related deaths in the U.S. numbered 33,508, but by 2020 that had risen to 45,055. Nearly every state has experienced an increase. New York rose 26% – almost 200 more people each year by 2020 than in 2014. Something must be done about it. Our state legislature passed several laws focused on guns in 2022. The new laws include limits on where guns can be carried, added background checks for ammunition purchases, mandated annual handgun training, and even required applicants for concealed carry permits to provide character references and social media accounts. Some of these actions were in response to the Supreme Court’s decision eliminating New York’s long-standing concealed carry permit application requirements, and others were in response to the supermarket attack in Buffalo.

Wager: Need for Winning Ticket
Letter from Henry Wager

Need for Winning Ticket

New York’s shake-up of congressional precincts has left the 21st District red and in need of a political candidate primed for a creative winning ticket. Elise Stefanik, who can’t strut her incumbency because of a historic dereliction of duty owing to January 6th, will face off against the primary victor in the contest between Matt Castelli and Matt Putorti. A moderate and progressive respectively, whoever is tapped will set in stone the Democratic party’s real chances in the general election. Boundary reform in the 21st has left Democrats less-than-optimally positioned for victory in November, yet a partnering democratic stance, like that of Matt Castelli, is the key to coalition building and the foundation of a successful campaign against Elise Stefanik.

Progressive candidates like to insinuate that moderate Democrats fail to “take a stand” on important matters. In truth, they cling to a false equivalency between tempered politics and a supposed surrender to rival views. Coalition, compromise, and a willingness to seek the support of a majority of NY-21 voters requires stances that resonate with the majority of our individual views. With the integrity of our democracy at stake, choosing to constitute the level-headedness of the central American voter is a powerful and meaningful move to save our country. In our political climate, moderation is an olive branch to democracy and could very well be the basis of the coalition which saves it.

Henry Wager

Seward: Positive Future
Letter from James L. Seward

Positive Future

We are at an incredibly important crossroads in New York and here locally. We need thoughtful leadership in Albany that will look out for our interests and set the state on a course for a positive future. Fortunately, we have Peter Oberacker as our state senator leading the charge.

In his first term as state senator, Peter has worked extremely hard to represent everyone who lives and works in the 51st Senate District. Employing his experience as a local government official, small business owner, and volunteer first responder, he has fought for the issues that mean the most to us here at home — not the Albany special interests.

Moving forward, we need someone who will continue to stand up for our Second Amendment rights, work for fiscally conservative measures that will help rebuild our local economy, and make sure the new 51st Senate District — the entire district — receives the attention it deserves.

When I endorsed Peter as my successor two years ago, I did so knowing he would serve as a thoughtful, caring representative of the people of his district. He has done just that, building partnerships with stakeholders throughout the region, educating himself on the concerns of families and individuals, and ensuring that we have a strong voice at the State Capitol.

I continue to offer my wholehearted endorsement and ask that you join me in voting for our senator, Peter Oberacker, on Primary Day, August 23.

James L. Seward
Former New York State Senator

Letter from Kimber Home: Supreme Court Limit?
Letter from Kimber Home

Supreme Court Limit?

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that we have to have 9 Supreme Court Justices. Nor would it require a Constitutional amendment to add more seats. In fact, Congress has expanded the Supreme Court five times throughout American history.

Pat Ryan Visits Cooperstown and Cooperstown Distillery

Pat Ryan Visits Cooperstown
and Cooperstown Distillery

Sam Aldridge

Gene Marra, owner of Cooperstown Distillery, left, and Pat Ryan, right, at Cooperstown Distillery on July 15

With political tensions simmering one degree below boiling this summer, the very first special election for public office is taking place here in District 19 between Pat Ryan (D) and Marc Molinaro (R) on August 23. Ryan visited Cooperstown on Friday, meeting with officials from Bassett Hospital, touring the Hall of Fame, and tasting the spirits of Cooperstown Distillery.

“I had really good conversations with healthcare leaders, the town supervisor and mayor, and others. The big issues that stood out are affordable housing and the need for real investment in water and sewer infrastructure,” said Ryan, speaking in the shade of a tree on Railroad Ave.

WORMUTH: Roe V. Wade

Letter from Tim Wormuth

Roe V. Wade

A letter was recently submitted stating that abortion is a constitutional right. Nowhere in the Constitution, nor any other founding document for that matter, is there given a right to murder. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life is what the founders of our nation considered a constitutional right. And this right applies to an unborn baby in the womb.

I know that it took a while for those who wrote these documents to have their practice catch up with what they believed (as with slavery and women’s rights) but catch up they did. Today, minorities and women have more freedom in this nation than almost anywhere else. Is there still more to be done? Absolutely!

But back to the issue of abortion. The problem is this has become a political issue when it is, in fact, a moral one. Life begins at the moment of conception. Science now bears this out. And a baby in the womb needs the same protections as a bald eagle in the egg. We don’t need more abortions, we need more support for women who find themselves in a difficult situations. Let’s spend the millions of dollars on that and become a nation that holds life in high regard.

Tim Wormuth
Pastor, Hill City Church

Editorial: Great Choice, Governor


Great Choice, Governor

[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.

OWENS: Editorial Unfair!

Letter from Mitchell Owens

Editorial Unfair!

The editorial that appeared in The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta on Thursday, April 28, 2022, regarding the Otsego County Democratic Committee’s Ukraine fundraising, sparked many a reaction in my mind.

Most important of them: What an astonishing example of performative outrage, high dudgeon, and holier-than-thou-ness. I do hope that the newspaper will apply equally outraged scrutiny when any seemingly altruistic local Republican initiative comes to your attention — and then devote an equal number of self-righteous paragraphs (in this case, ten) before magnanimously allowing that “we’re no less appalled when people wrap themselves in the American flag to claim moral or small-d democratic superiority…”

Depending on one’s particular perch, one committee’s fine print is another committee’s full disclosure.

Mitchell Owens

Column by Ted Potrikus Mayhem!

Column by Ted Potrikus


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.

A kind of tax holiday

Commentary: Don’t be fueled

A few weeks back I wrote in this space about New York’s gasoline tax; predicting lawmakers from various corners would be calling for its temporary roll-back as a means to relieve the price at the pump. If I remember correctly, I confidently wrote that it couldn’t be done – that lifting the sales tax on anything, however temporarily, is too complicated, too much of a political and logistical lift.

I also picked Iowa and Gonzaga for the March Madness championship, so there you go.

Albany indeed made a liar out of me last weekend with a budget that includes suspending a part of the state’s gasoline tax from June 1 – December 31, reducing the pump price by roughly 16 cents per gallon. This is nice,

New York’s new budget

Gas tax holiday, drinks-to-go a part of New York’s new state budget

It appears drivers fueling up in New York will get at least a partial break from the state’s gasoline tax beginning June 1.

The gas tax holiday looks like it will be part of a new state budget lawmakers expect to approve beginning later in the evening of April 7. Under the details available Thursday afternoon, it appears the deal will knock 16 cents off the price of a gallon of unleaded or diesel gasoline between June 1 and December 31.

The dates would cover the bulk of the state’s summer driving season, with the tax holiday taking effect before the June 28 primary elections and coming to an end after November’s general election.

Lawmakers also expect to approve cocktails-to-go – a takeaway option that became popular during the earliest days of the state’s COVID shutdown in spring 2020. Restaurants lost the authorization to serve to-go cocktails one year later.

Under the plan, restaurants can sell cocktails to go or for delivery only when accompanied by “a substantial food item” and only if sealed with a secure lid designed to prevent consumption without removing the lid or breaking the seal. Restaurants cannot sell or deliver beverages outside of its licensed hours of operation, and the price per serving must be the same as if consumed on premises. Restaurants can offer specials only if the special is available on premises.

The deal also prohibits restaurants from selling entire bottles of liquor or wine for off-premises consumption.

The state’s liquor stores had opposed the plan from the start, but, as a part of the deal, retail liquor stores now will be allowed to operate on Christmas Day.

Lawmakers also expect to approve a tax credit for farmers intended to offset the cost of paying farm workers enhanced overtime wages. The state’s Labor Department has yet to sign off on a January 2022 recommendation that would see the overtime threshold for farm workers drop from 60 hours/week to 40 hours/week over a decade-long phase in; observers believe the new budget makes Labor Department approval inevitable.

[Look for more news and analysis on the state budget and how it may affect Otsego County in next week’s edition of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta.]

New York’s political season begins in earnest

New York’s GOP, Democrats choose slates for November

Primary challenges await candidates

New York’s 2022 political season begins in earnest this month after both Democrats and Republicans convened in February to select their party-backed slates for statewide offices.

In the top of the ticket race for governor, Republicans this week chose Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin as their choice to take on Democrat incumbent Kathy Hochul. Both face potentially difficult primary challenges, though, as Republican Harry Wilson – who narrowly lost a 2010 bid to oust state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, jumped into the race for governor last week.

The Westchester County businessman, originally from Johnstown, New York, reportedly plans to sink $12 million of his own money into the primary contest against Rep. Zeldin. His campaign began running introductory television messages in upstate media markets prior to the party’s February 28-March 1 convention.

With more than $20 million in her campaign account, Governor Hochul remains the odds-on favorite to head the Democrats’ ticket in November, despite failing to secure backing from the

This Week – 02-17-22


The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

February 17, 2022


The SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station volunteer diving team held an ice-dive training February 12 for the first time this winter with the ice one foot thick and air temperatures in the 40s. The dive team works with the field station and the Village of Cooperstown to maintain buoys, science instruments, and study the ecosystem of Otsego Lake. Pictured from left to right Ed Lentz, Lucas LaTarte (holding the safety line), Kari Minissale (noting the divers’ direction), Wayne Bunn, Tiffany Valenti, and PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer Paul Lord. Diving are Noel Odell and David Turner. Photo for by Larissa Ryan.


American Irish Historical Society plots move from NYC to Cooperstown

Blood shortage has impact on local supply

Inside The Paper

Mayor Drnek says it’s Oneonta’s “light-switch moment”

State Police recruitment tests underway

Bassett begins to lift visitation restrictions



“We’re following the science.”


The Driftwoods — Then and now and why

Legitimate Political Discourse by a Loving Crowd?

Otsego Land Trust: A year-round commitment to nature

History Column

Bound Volumes


Letter: Farmers deserve a fair return

Editors Policy


Jacek D. Rudnicki

Steven D. Brown

Leslie E. D. B. Jordan


Happenin’ Otsego


Oh, there’s a surprise!

Oh, there’s a surprise!

By Ted Potrikus

We New Yorkers used to leave it up to our state Legislature to fulfill the once-a-decade duty of redrawing congressional and state election district lines. They got so good at it they made the map of the state’s voting boundaries look like the inside of a lava lamp.

We New Yorkers got a little tired of it, so we voted in 2014 to amend our state constitution to establish an Independent Redistricting Commission. A bipartisan panel of 10 who would meet and thoughtfully accept and weigh public input to present in time for the 2022 elections a beautiful map of not-gerrymandered districts reflecting the state’s diverse population in glorious fashion. Our state Legislature, delighted to be relieved of the duty, would gratefully accept and approve the maps with a cheery “Well done!” The Empire State would stand as a beacon of electoral equanimity for all to admire.
Five Democrats, five Republicans. How noble.

What possibly could go wrong?

Don’t underestimate her

Don’t underestimate her

By Ted Potrikus

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

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