from CATHE ELLSWORTH
To the Editor:
In last week’s newspaper, Cooperstown Village Trustee Richard Sternberg penned a column in which he went to great lengths to point out all the various village projects that need to be completed. Included on the list such things as the roads, not to mention other infrastructure needs, and the wastewater treatment plant as well as the Doubleday Field upgrade.
When added to this list of needed undertakings, a new, and very expensive, aerial ladder truck for the fire department and the problematic almost-100-year-old water and sewer pipe system, there would seem to be little doubt that the village is facing some rather overwhelming projects ahead.
In response to last week’s editorial regarding Cooperstown purchasing the old CVS building … What rot! I can only believe that this is either sarcasm or your newspaper trying to roil the waters for the sake of selling more newspapers.
It is not the position of a very small municipality that struggles to put together a balanced budget every year while maintaining an adequate reserve, to be buying up public property for the sake of commercial development, especially on spec. What is the village now, the People’s Republic of Cooperstown? Where is the money to come from?
Sean Miller, top photo, right, looks admiringly at MacGuire Benton after nominating him for a one-year term on the Cooperstown Village Board at the Democratic Caucus this evening in the top-floor ballroom at Village Hall. Two incumbents, inset, Jeanne Dewey and Richard Sternberg, were nominated for the two three-year terms that are open in the March elections. The village Republicans failed to caucus this year, so the three are assured reelection, absent a write-in candidacy. Newcomer Benton is a graduate of Cooperstown Central School and has studied at Cazenovia and SUNY Oneonta. Most recently, he has been a staffer for such candidates as Brian Flynn, who ran for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 19th District. His parents are Mark and Marianne Benton of Cooperstown. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Editorial for November 16, 2018
State Zigged To Democrats,
But County Zagged To GOP
The Wall Street Journal headline was sly: “Blue Wave Breaks Softly.”
The article reported that, as of Nov. 6, Election Night, Democrats gained 27 Congressional seats in the midterms, regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
That pales compared to Democrats losing 63 in the first Obama midterms in 2010, and losing the House as well; still, even one-vote control is control. (As canvassing ensued, it looks like Democrats may end up with plus 35 to 40 new seats; still, not the GOP Armageddon some were salivating over. And Republicans increased their margin in the U.S. Senate.)
Whatever – nationwide. But when you look at New York State government, the Blue Wave broke hard Upstate, not least over Otsego County, with some unnerving implications.
The state Senate zigged, turning from enduringly Republican to Democratic, a feat accomplished for only two years in a half-century.
But Otsego County zagged: With the loss of Democratic Assemblyman Bill Magee of Nelson, the one state senator and four assemblymen representing our county are all Republicans, about to dive into a Democratic sea.
That can’t be good.
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who will be operating without Magee’s steady support in the Democratic House for the first time since 1991, said he’s used to working in a bipartisan manner.
In an interview, he used the term “equitable distribution” twice, hoping the Democrats will extend the concept that has allowed the state’s largesse to be enjoyed statewide.
That would be great, but we’ll see.
More of an issue than Democrats and Republicans is Upstaters vs. downstaters, Seward observed. Only three of the state’s 30 senators are from north of Westchester County. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The GOP county chairman, Vince Casale, addressed the legislative picture. Now in control of Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Office, he predicts Democrats will seek to legalize marijuana as soon as January, and will press for adoption of the NY Plan, Medicare-like coverage for all Empire Staters – exciting, but perhaps bankrupting.
Depending how hard and fast the Democrats push, what went around in 2018 may come around in 2020.
Meanwhile, even local Democrats are a bit uneasy. Richard Sternberg, the Cooperstown village trustee who is also a member of the state Democratic Committee, said he hopes that, since our mayors are Democratic (Oneonta’s Gary Herzig and Cooperstown’s Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch), the funds will keep flowing.
And, as architect of Democratic gains on the Otsego County Board of Representatives last year, Sternberg is looking ahead to creating a majority next year; he’s only one seat short.
Given the new Albany reality, becoming aligned with the ruling party only makes sense, his remarks suggested.
If anything, we here in Otsego County compounded the zag by voting heavily for Marc Molinaro, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Republican challenger.
Arguably, Cuomo’s done more for Otsego County than any governor in decades, Democrat or Republican, and did so by embracing an all-American principle: competition.
The governor’s concept – divide the state into 10 regions and make them compete for state economic-development funding, and may the best ideas win – was brilliant.
In the past five years, Otsego County has competed and competed well, winning millions annually through CFAs; (the next round of “consolidated funding application” grants is due to be announced in December). Plus, remember Oneonta’s DRI.
In the world of New York State realpolitik, here’s more good news in the returns.
While the county as a whole supported Republicans, Oneonta and Cooperstown are strong Democratic enclaves, supporting Senator Seward, the county’s favorite son, but breaking blue on everything else.
Oneonta, for its population, and Cooperstown, for its iconic status, are not to be ignored, whatever party controls the state political apparatus.
Whoever’s in charge in Albany, there’s a lot to be done here, so fingers crossed.
Dave Bliss, Republican chair of the Otsego County Board and a Rotarian, pours coffee for state Sen. – and candidate – Jim Seward, R-Milford, a few minutes ago at the traditional Cooperstown Rotary Club Election Day pancake breakfast at the Vets’ Club. With the senator are, from his left, daughter-in-law of two months Kelly Ann, daughter Lauren, wife Cindy and son Ryan. Seward is being challenged today by Democrat Joyce St. George, Margaretville area. Inset, Democratic kingmaker Richard Sternberg joined the Republican table that includes, at left, county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr. and County Clerk Kathy Sinnott Gardner; at right is Republican County Chair Vince Casale, who is also a top adviser to Republican Marc Molinaro’s campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Devlin is being challenged by Republican Bob Fernandez, a retired state trooper who appears on the Democrat line. Sinnott Gardner is unopposed. “I like these people,” said Sternberg. The polls are open across Otsego County until 9 p.m. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, a memorial service is planned at Oneonta’s Temple Beth El, 83 Chestnut St.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, Village Trustee Richard Sternberg has organized a vigil in the second-floor ballroom at Cooperstown Village Hall, 22 Main St.
To the Editor;
I have been involved in the Democratic CD-19 congressional primary race since January 2017. I have interviewed all 10 candidates (three subsequently dropped out) and have hosted and sponsored individual town halls for all of the remaining seven.
I produced and hosted the debate in Cooperstown on June 12. I can safely say that I know the candidates in aggregate as well as anyone in CD-19. It’s time for me to pick one to vote for.
Most of the candidates are good, honest people who would support a centrist or liberal position far different from that of the current administration. I think five of them have the necessary skills and could garner the support to beat John Faso.
I have decided to vote for Brian Flynn.
Flynn has campaigned here in Otsego County far more than has any other candidate. He has been a regular visitor for over 15 months. I understand he has had as many or even more appearances in other parts of the district. From where I sit he has shown the most knowledge and interest in every part of CD-19. He listens and takes notes as much as he speaks. If he doesn’t have a complete answer for a question, he researches it, develops a thoughtful response, and gets back to the questioner.
Flynn’s knowledge and ability to quickly and smoothly express his response are great strengths in dealing with John Faso and his proxies either in direct debate or in other situations. Overall, he has been the most prepared and the most comfortable when being questioned in a debate, a forum, or an interview.
Flynn’s intimate knowledge of my home county and its issues speaks to my desire to have a congressman who knows us – not just the “Hudson River Valley” area.
I have listened to the concerns of people about Flynn’s perceived liabilities. I have also heard concerns about all the others. I am satisfied with the responses I have received from Flynn and with what I have learned on my own. Flynn’s positives very greatly outweigh any negatives.
In my opinion, no other candidate will be a better congressman for this district and my region than Brian Flynn. I have heard the same sentiment from activists throughout CD-19. I will actively support almost anyone who wins the primary, but at I am convinced that Brian Flynn has the best chance to win the election.
RICHARD J. STERNBERG, M.D.
Cooperstown Village Trustee
19th District Congressional candidate Jeff Beals, a former CIA agent and State Department staffer in the Middle East, this afternoon burnished his progressive credentials before 40 voters in Sunday forums in Cooperstown Village Hall for candidates running against U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook. He embraced his endorsement by Bernie Sanders’ progressive, called for “Medicare for All,” and told the gathering when they here any of the seven Democrats being called “carpetbaggers,” they should respond that Faso is a “corporate-bagger,” given the sources of his funding. Beals, currently a history teacher at a private school in Woodstock, said his family has associations with the Catskills and current 19th District going back two generations, and said he is one of only tw0 of the seven Democratic candidates vying in the June 26 primary who actually voted locally in 2016. Listening to Beals are Bob Eklund, New Lisbon, left, and Ken Fogarty, Chenango County, right. Inset, one of Oneonta Assembly candidate Dan Buttermann’s daughter returns from handing moderator Richard Sternberg a written question from the audience. Sternberg announced Erin Collier of Cooperstown, the latest Democrat in the race, will appear at a Sunday forum at 3 p.m. April 22. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN ECUMENICAL VIGIL
The Revs. Tom LeBeau (United Methodist), foreground, and Joe Perdue (First Baptist) help Linda Kosmer, right, and others of the 50-some attendees light candles at a noontime vigil called today in Cooperstown in the wake of yesterday’s fatal confrontation in Charlottesville, Va. Pastor Perdue, who hosted the gathering on his church’s front lawn on Elm Street, said, “I was horrified, but not surprised. It’s 2017, and there are Nazis on the streets of America.” He urged attendees to “stand against violence and hatred in any form,” recalling Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is evil.” At left, the Rev. Elsie Rhodes, First Presbyterian, and Jim Atwell, the Quaker minister, also spoke, as did LeBeau, the Rev. Sharon Rankins-Burd (Fly Creek UM) and Village Trustee Richard Sternberg, representing the Jewish tradition. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for TUESDAY, MAR. 14
HISTORY PRESENTATION – 2 p.m. “America’s First Presidential Campaign, The Election of 1800 and how it Changed the U.S.” by Richard Sternberg, Surgeon and Village Trustee. Free, open to the public. Woodside Hall, 1 Main St., Cooperstown. Info, Karen Cadwalader (607)547-0600
LIBRARY PRESENTATION – 7-8 p.m. Author & historian Dominick Reisen discusses researching and writing about local history. Cooperstown Village Library. Info, www.villagelibraryofcooperstown.org/calendar
RICHARD J. STERNBERG, M.D.
CANDIDATE, OTSEGO TOWN BOARD
COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Cooperstown
EDUCATION: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, B.S., 1974; State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine, M.D., 1978
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 36 years practice as an Orthopedic Surgeon. Retired March 2015
COMMUNITY/POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT: Village of Cooperstown Planning Board. Cooperstown Rotary and Rotary Foundation member. Temple Beth El (Oneonta), Finance and Ritual Committees.
FAMILY: Two grown daughters – Marisa, 27, graduate Ithaca College ’11. Manager for ARC of Anne Arundel County, Md.; Jenna, 26, graduate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ’11. Currently studying for her Ph.D. in neurosciences at the Institute Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.
IN TWO OR THREE SENTENCES, EXPLAIN YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: The purpose of government is to facilitate those services that in a complex society are most efficiently performed cooperatively for the benefit of the citizenry and for individual citizens. Government exists by the consent of the people to protect the rights of those people and promote the common good.
WHAT ARE THE THREE MAJOR ISSUES THE OTSEGO TOWN BOARD FACES, AND HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THEM?
One: The first problem is to reestablish the concept of civil discourse in dealing with town issues and avoid the open antagonism seen many times this year. Before we can solve any other problems cooperatively it is necessary that we talk to each other in a nonthreatening manner and that we courteously listen to each other. I would start by seeking out those with different opinions especially ones that differ from mine and see if we can find common ground to build on.
Two: Maintain the wonderful quality of life and environment that we are blessed with. For all the complaints and concerns we are very lucky in the Town of Otsego when compared to the vast majority of rural towns in Central New York. We have two beautiful lakes and adequate water supplies. We have boating, fishing, hunting, and multiple sports available to us. We have excellent schools. I would diligently look at any potential needs or changes to protect what we already have. We can try to improve these things but in the process we need to be careful to “do no harm.”.
Three: Maintain cost effective delivery of the prime services of the town; roads, courts, and supervision of development. Again this is performed by diligence in evaluating these activities, being familiar with the budgets, and making sure we get value for the dollar. Only by being on top of expenditures will we be able to prevent tax increases.
WHAT QUALITIES/EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE THAT MAKES YOU THE BETTER CHOICE IN THIS RACE?
I have run my own businesses (private medical practices) with over one million dollar budgets. I have had to make payrolls, read and write balance sheets, arrange loans, manage receivables and payables, supervise eight employees, and deal with constantly shifting government rules and regulations. I have made decisions under pressure numerous times that affected people’s life and limb. Additionally being recently retired and with my children being adults I have as much time as necessary to fully investigate and evaluate any issue that may come before the council.
IS THERE A STATEMENT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH VOTERS?
There has been a lot of comments about there not being enough jobs locally. I think that comment is false. In fact we have over 2,000 jobs in an area of 3,900 total people. In terms of jobs we need to work with the current employers to help them to continue to grow or at least maintain their current work-forces. More jobs would be better but we already are in a better position than most other upstate rural areas.
I feel that I have the ability and skills to do an excellent job as council member. I love living here, most evidenced by my decision to stay here in retirement and to work for the benefit of the community. Most importantly I can approach the issues of the town from an independent perspective. I don’t have any personal issues that I want resolved in my favor. I just want to do this job well.