News of Otsego County

Rick Hulse

Scrappy, Innovative GOP Chair Resigns, Focuses on Consulting

Scrappy, Innovative GOP Chair

Resigns, Focuses on Consulting

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Vince Casale and wife (and fellow consultant) Lynn Krogh with a wall of memorabilia. (Jim Kevline/

It was 2013. The issue was fracking. And four prominent local Republicans knocked on Vince Casale’s door.

“It was conveyed to me that the party was in some trouble,” said Casale, who last week advised the Republican County Committee he is resigning as chairman.

“My work is done,” he said. “It’s time for a change.”

He recommended Lori Lehenbauer of Worcester, Republican county elections commissioner, as his successor.

His seven years spanned the tenures of four of his Democratic counterparts.

In 2013, the first Democrat elected to countywide office in memory, Dan Crowell, was running for reelection unopposed, Casale recalled.

There was a shortage of candidates and, “when people were asked to run, they were just left to themselves.”

The committee had been using raffles to raise money – that was illegal, it turned out, leading to a sizable fine.

“At the time, I was consulting,” Vince recounted the other day – he still operates the Cooperstown-based Casale Group with his wife, Lynn Krogh, most recently helping guide state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s campaign. “I was very happy.”

But the GOP contingent told him, “We need to win races. You know how to win races.”

Remembers Casale, “With the blessing of Senator Seward, I was good to go. I took over in September,” two months before the fall elections.

“The first thing we do is run polling,” a first in local races. It discovered not only newcomers, but longtime incumbents were in tight races, he said. “It’s going to be a drubbing like we’d never seen.”

Fracking had damaged the Republicans, but by then it had been discovered there was too little natural gas here to frack. The issue “was just at or past the peak,” Casale said.

“I told the candidates: Don’t mention it. It wasn’t that we wanted it or didn’t want it. It was political survival,”

The new message: Republicans will protect your tax dollars.

“Rick Hulse was down by over 20 points when we first did that poll,” said Casale. “I remember him cutting it to 14 points. I had him down to 7 points. ‘If we only had one more week,’ I told myself.

“I went into Election Day thinking we would lose the Town of Otsego,” including most of Cooperstown, he said. “We ended up winning by 10 points.”

Republicans Janet Quackenbush and Craig Gelbsman also won in Democratic Oneonta, and Len Carson, the retired fire captain.

Casale, then 40, was no stranger to politics. At age 5, he was handing out pencils at county fairs on behalf of his father, Assemblyman Tony Casale of Herkimer.

During school breaks, young Vince would ask to accompany his dad to Albany.

A music major, he taught for a few years before joining Herkimer Arc, then the community college, as development director.

He started the Casale Group in 2007. His first campaign: Cooperstown’s Mike Coccoma, for state Supreme Court. The next year, John Lambert for county judge. “The company just kind of grew,” he said. “I had a decision to make: Continue as is, or make the jump.” And jump he did.

This year, he managed the elevation of county Judge Brian Burns of Oneonta to replace the retiring Coccoma, and the campaign of county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, to succeed Seward, keeping both influential positions in Otsego County.

Now, he and Lynn are busy, but looking forward to 2022, the next gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

Coop Trustees Can’t Decide On Pioneer Parking Issue

Trustees Can’t Decide

Pioneer Parking Issue

Pioneer Street neighbor Rick Hulse urges the Cooperstown Village Board to restore parallel parking on the northern section of Pioneer Street at this evening’s trustees’ meeting. The trustees decided in June to re-evaluate parking on the section of Pioneer Street closest to the lake, and conducted trial periods for two different parking schemes involving angled parking on the east side of the street at Lakefront Park. Residents living on the street immediately voiced displeasure, and reaffirmed their sentiments at the public hearing at tonight’s meeting. Ultimately, on a motion by Trustee Lou Allstadt, the board moved to approve Local Law #4, essentially returning the parking back to the original layout, but the motion did not pass with a 3-3 tied vote. Proposed Local Law #6, creating six new parking spaces with a mix of angled and parallel parking, saw the same fate with a 3-3 vote. The other issue facing the board this evening, a special use permit to turn The White House Inn, 46 Chestnut St., into a hotel, passed unanimously. (Parker Fish/

Hulse, Joyner, Gelbsman, Lord To Lead Otsego Now

Hulse, Joyner, Gelbsman,

Lord To Lead Otsego Now

IDA Officers Chosen At Today’s Annual Meeting
The Otsego Now board of directors today elected acting chair Rick Hulse, Fly Creek, as chair; Fox Hospital President Jeff Joyner, Oneonta, as vice chair; businessman Craig Gelbsman, Oneonta, secretary, and Community Bank vice president Jeff Lord as treasurer. Posing after the annual meeting are, front row from left, board member Patricia Kennedy, Springbrook; administrative assistant Meaghan Marino, Oneonta; board members Sarah Harvey and Cheryl Robinson, both of Otego, and CEO Jody Zakrevsky.  Second row, from left, are directors Tom Armao, Country Club Automotive, and Lord, Joyner, Hulse and Gelbsman.  At rear is attorney Kurt Schulte, counsel.  ( photo)
Otsego Now Committee Goal: Full-Time CEO

Otsego Now Committee

Goal: Full-Time CEO

Hanft: Provision Will Blunt Momentum
Otsego Now chair Devin Morgan, left, and board members Rick Hulse, center, and Craig Gelbsman after voting aye on the committee minutes at Thursday’s meeting. ( photo)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

ONEONTA – The Otsego Now board of directors, at its monthly meeting Thursday, approved minutes of its new Reorganization Committee that includes among the committee’s goals: “engage in a search and hire a full-time CEO.”

The 2-5 vote came over the objections of board member Bob Hanft, immediate past chairman.  He said including that line in the Reorganization Committee’s 11 “duties and responsibilities” will only serve to slow Otsego Now’s current momentum.  “I think it does more harm than good.”

Hanft said the committee had been directed to come up with a plan for the future, and that taking on the mandate of seeking a new CEO should come only after a plan is developed and approved.  “I think that’s line should be stricken,” he said.

GOP Majority Backs Chair’s IDA Nominee

GOP Majority Backs

Chair’s IDA Nominee

Otsego Now Opponent Rick Hulse

 Will Serve On Otsego Now Board

County Board Chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego, said the Otsego Now board needs more oversight. (Jim Kevlin/
County Board Chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego, said the Otsego Now board needs more oversight. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – Rick Hulse, who had been at odds with the Otsego Now board during his one term as a county board representative, today was appointed by the county board to represent it on the Otsego Now board.

“I have serious concern about oversight they have been receiving in recent years,” said county Board Chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego, who championed Hulse’s appointment.

The weighted vote was 4,125-2,100, with all four Democratic reps, plus Jim Powers, R-Butternuts, voting nay.

In explaining her choice to her colleagues, Clark apologized for the last-minute nature of his nomination – it only surfaced yesterday afternoon – saying she had been trying to identify a woman willing to serve on the all-male board.

Clark Might Appoint Hulse To Otsego Now

Clark Might Appoint

Hulse To Otsego Now

IDA Foe Would Fill One Of 9 IDA Seats

Rick Hulse
Rick Hulse

COOPERSTOWN – Rick Hulse, a foil to Otsego Now’s economic-development initiatives when he was a county representative, may be nominated by county Board Chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego, to Otsego Now’s board at the county Board of Representatives’ monthly meeting at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Clark was at a NYSAC conference in Albany today, and didn’t respond to an e-mail.

But a Clark ally on the board, county Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, said she was considering Hulse “and a couple of others” for the position on the former IDA board being opened by the resignation of Len Marsh, the Medical Coaches COO.

“But I don’t know if she made a choice,” Frazier said.

The Unadilla representative chairs the Administration Committee, which vets all resolutions before they go to the full board.  However, he said, appointments are the board chair’s prerogative, which the full board usually supports but can also reject.

Katz: Our Own Rick Hulse Derailed Tourism Assistance

Katz: Our Own Rick Hulse

Derailed Tourism Assistance

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 11-12, 2014

To the Editor:

In the county budget vote of Wednesday, Dec. 3, a bipartisan group of Ed Lentz, Beth Rosenthal, Gary Koutnik, Linda Rowinski, Kay Stuligross, Craig Gelbsman and Janet Quackenbush voted to return $150,000 in bed tax revenues to the municipalities that generate it.

They recognized, unlike our own Town of Otsego/Village of Cooperstown representative Rick Hulse, that the town and city of Oneonta, Town of Hartwick and Village of Cooperstown bear a disproportionate burden of tourism costs. At the same time, those townships and municipalities account for 78.2 percent of the $1.4 million of the bed-tax revenue paid to Otsego County. Representative Hulse is the first county representative since I’ve worked to procure bed-tax money for Cooperstown who has publicly rejected us. Nancy Iversen, James Johnson, John Kosmer, Sam Dubben and Beth Rosenthal, Republicans and Democrats, have all stood with us and supported our needs.

As mayor of Cooperstown, I applaud those representatives who voted for redistribution of a portion of the bed tax. The village does not, and cannot, run simply as a small village of less than 2,000 residents.

As host to hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, Fenimore Art Museum, Farmers’ Museum and the Glimmerglass Festival (as well as Cooperstown Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and Cooperstown All-Star Village in Oneonta), the village has to provide a level of infrastructure and services that go far beyond our own residents’ needs.

While the county happily collects sales and bed tax money that we provide, it returns nothing to us in roads, public safety and other services that we handle on our own through a full-time police force, streets department, water and sewer plants and so on. Cooperstown would welcome financial support of any kind and, had Representative Hulse voted yes, we would have gotten funds. His vote was the deciding one.

In the last few years, much talk has revolved around economic development for Otsego County and bolstering the infrastructure of those activities that draw people to the county. Tourism was clearly identified as one of our strengths and potential growth areas.

Ideally, the county would pursue an increase in the bed tax, in line with counties like Monroe, Albany and Onondaga, and redistribute that additional money directly back to the municipalities that generate it for their infrastructure needs.

Until that is accomplished, short-term help through a return of some bed tax to the municipalities that create it is the right thing to do.

I hope Rick Hulse succeeds in his publicly stated goal to create a process-driven, sustainable, long-term bed-tax-distribution plan. However, he could have easily voted for a short-term return of bed tax money to his district, while still pursuing a long-term plan. The two are not mutually exclusive. He said he supported bed tax for Cooperstown, but voted against it.

One doesn’t deserve credit for saying yes when voting no.

Village of Cooperstown

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