News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
 BREAKING NEWS 
 POLICE & FIRE 
 IN MEMORIAM  
 HOMETOWN PEOPLE 
 COLUMNS 
 EDITORIALS 
 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 

 EMPLOYMENT  
 DINING & ENTERTAINMENT  
 REAL ESTATE  
 AUTOMOTIVE  
 REMEMBRANCE  
 GOODS & SERVICES

Senator Seward

Senator Seward, Let’s Say Hasta Luego, Not Goodbye

EDITORIAL

Senator Seward, Let’s Say

Hasta Luego, Not Goodbye

He has been Otsego County’s state senator since 1986. Many of us – most of us, perhaps – have never known another one.

State Sen. James L. Seward, Otsego County son and friend. (AllOTSEGO photo)

He is everyone’s friend. If you’ve ever observed him walk down the street. Or cross a crowded restaurant on his way to a table. Or appear at a parade or fair or other public gathering. The congenial legislator can’t make it more than a few steps without someone stopping him for a greeting, a friendly word or a handshake.

This newspaper named him “Citizen of the Year” in 2013. On learning that cancer had returned last year, we realized the 2000 and 10s qualified as “The Seward Decade.” Now we must sadly acknowledge the end of “The Seward Era.”

He’s been part of the Otsego County picture, and has been for his 69 years, raised in Milford, attending Valleyview Elementary, Oneonta High School, then Hartwick College.

Commuting, he immediately began work as a legislative aide in Albany, and soon was the youngest Republican county chairman in our history. Politics is the sea he’s swum in, going back to such early ventures as organizing a countywide Methodist youth group in his teens.

Elected in 1986 at age 35, he was the youngest state senator in county history, and the first to hail from Otsego County since 1952, when Walter Stokes, laird of Cooperstown’s Woodside Hall, retired.

His fingerprints are on every major Otsego County project in the past 34 years. Think of him next time you see a game at SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena, or attend a concert or gala at Foothills, or celebrate Hall of Fame Weekend events this summer at the renovated Doubleday Field.

The two Seward Summits – 2012 and 2013 – revolutionized economic development here. We’re now a contender.

Not surprising, though, it was the more personal interventions – constituent service: easing people’s interactions with a mostly faceless state government – that are dearest to his heart, he said in an interview Monday, Jan. 20, after he announced he will leave office at the end of the year.

Facing a second bout of cancer treatments, he’s handling his state Senate duties, but “giving 100 percent” to a reelection campaign leading up to Nov. 3 is just not prudent right now Looking back, he most treasures when someone would come up to him and say, “You saved my life.” As longtime chairman of the state Senate Insurance Committee, a query from the senator’s office was often sufficient for a medical insurance company to revisit the rejection of coverage and discover it was warranted after all.

Never been sick? He’s nonetheless enriched everybody’s life in the county of his birth. Thank you, senator.

But let’s say hasta luego, not farewell. A year or two of treatment, rest and recuperation, may bring you back to full strength.

Who knows what the future holds? After all, Joe Biden is 79.

Fighting Cancer, Seward Won’t Run again

ERA ENDING

Senator Seward,

County Mainstay,

Planning To Retire

Will Serve Through End Of 17th Term

Seward Seward announced he is retiring.

ONEONTA – State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, announced a few moments ago he will not seek reelection this year to the seat he has held since 1986.

“I have decided not to seek reelection in 2020 and will retire from the Senate when my current term, my 17th, expires at the end of the year,” Seward said in a statement released at 11:54 a.m .  “While I have responded well to cancer treatments, my physicians have advised me that treatments will continue for the foreseeable future, limiting my ability to maintain the rigorous schedule needed to campaign for re-election.  This is the right decision for my health, my family, and the people of the 51st Senate District.

 “I want to stress that this decision is in no way related to majority or minority standing in the Senate.  I have effectively served under both scenarios and have always fought for the best interests of my constituents no matter the party in power – which is exactly what I will continue to do for the remainder of my term.

SEWARD: Job #1: Halt Outmigration, Then Deficit, Bail Reform

VIEW FROM ALBANY

Job #1: Halt Outmigration,

Then Deficit, Bail Reform

By State Sen. JAMES SEWARD • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The 2020 New York State legislative session got its official start a few days ago with the governor’s State of the State address.  While the governor mentioned a few ideas I can back, for the most part, he glossed over or completely ignored some of the toughest challenges facing our state.

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, represents the 51st District, which includes his native Otsego County.

New York State is losing population at an alarming rate.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York lost more people than any other state in 2019, the second straight year we have held that dubious distinction.  I have pointed to this concern in the past, and while the governor has blamed the weather for our outmigration, that’s not the real problem.  Taxes are too high, the cost of living continues to go up, and unworkable government regulations are discouraging business growth.

In 2019, the Democrats in charge in Albany raised taxes and fees by more than $4.6 billion.  They also eliminated the popular property tax relief checks for seniors and homeowners.  This year won’t be any better.  We are already facing a $6 billion deficit that can be traced to rising Medicaid costs and overspending in last year’s state budget.  Unfortunately, the governor’s message did not offer any remedies to these fiscal concerns.

The governor was also silent on the so-called bail reforms that officially became law on January 1.  Under the changes, there are dozens of serious crimes that no longer require bail, allowing alleged perpetrators to return to our communities with no consequences.

Since the law took hold, dozens of suspects have been released back on the streets, leaving us more vulnerable than ever.  These are not petty criminals, but individuals charged with serious offenses – like manslaughter, stalking, sex trafficking, child assault, and domestic violence crimes.

Many are repeat offenders who pose a clear and present danger to the public, but thanks to the Democrats’ new law, a judge may no longer even consider “dangerousness” as a criteria in determining whether an individual should be held or set free.

Many of these individuals quickly committed new crimes, further endangering the public and exhausting police resources. There have been a host of real life examples, including several right here in the 51st Senate District.

I have also read a number of first-hand accounts from individuals crediting their time in jail for helping them turn their lives around.  Drug addicts, who received help to overcome substance abuse, are among those opposing the bail law reforms.  Albany County District Attorney David Soares made this exact point while testifying about this law last year:

“I also need to point out the possible impact on drug courts. The way drug courts work right now is that defendants are held on bail and given the option of drug court or jail.  If everyone gets presumptive release on drug cases, nobody will go to drug court. We need to carefully examine how we treat drug crimes under any new bail proposal. I know I don’t have to tell you how bad the opioid crisis is in our state. Drug courts around have been very successful in helping individuals get the services they need and stay clean.”

I voted against the reforms last year and co-sponsor several bills to repeal the changes entirely or amend the measures to, at the very least, allow judicial discretion in domestic violence cases or where public safety is in jeopardy.  To date, Senate Democrats have shown no willingness to correct the mistakes in their ill-conceived bail reforms.  In fact, on the first working day of the legislative session an amendment brought by Senate Republicans to repeal the bail reform laws was voted down with every Democrat voting against the measure.

Moving forward, I will continue the fight to repeal this unsafe law. You can join me by signing my on-line petition at www.seward.nysenate.gov.  By signing, you will be sending a strong message to the Senate Majority that our communities MUST be protected.

Senator Seward’s Petition Urges Bail-Reform Change

TO SIGN PETITION, CLICK HERE

Senator Seward’s Petition

Urges Bail-Reform Change

Senator Seward

ONEONTA – Since “bail reform” took effect Jan. 1, dozens of criminals have been released, only to commit additional crimes.

That has prompted state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, to issue a petition, seeking to marshal support for overturning or amending the law.

“I voted against the so-called reforms and co-sponsor several bills to repeal of amend the law,” he said. “To date, the Senate Democrats have shown no willingness to correct their mistakes.”

Delgado, Seward Due At State Of The State

Delgado, Seward Due

At State Of The State

Event Moved To Jan. 24 At SUNY Oneonta

Seward
Delgado

ONEONTA — The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State breakfast will be Jan. 24, not the usual day after New Year’s, will be a luncheon instead, and will feature two novelties:

• Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19.  The date was changed to accommodate his scheduled.

• State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who is recovering from a cancer recurrence.  This will be his first public reappearance.

Barber Announces Run For NY Senate

Barber Announces

Run For NY Senate

Schoharie Farmer Challenges Seward

Schoharie County farmer Jim Barber, left, was joined by Congressman Paul Tonko at Barber’s announcement Saturday that he’s running for state Senate. In the center is Barber’s wife Cindy.

MIDDLEBURGH – A fifth-generation farmer and son of a former state Ag & Markets commissioner announced here Saturday he’s seeking the Democratic nomination to run for state Senate in the 10-county 51st District, which includes Otsego County.

In he wins the nomination, Jim Barber would challenge state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, next fall.

From All, Best Wishes For A Speedy Recovery

EDITORIAL

From All, Best Wishes

For A Speedy Recovery

$10 MILLION MAN: State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, is flanked by, from left, MVREDC chairman Robert Geer, Empire State Development Corp. President Howard Zemsky, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig and Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, when the City of Oneonta was named the first DRI community on July 20, 2016. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: This editorial is reprinted from this week’s editions of Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal, on newsstands now.

The news that state Sen. Jim Seward’s cancer is back – his office issued a press release Wednesday, Nov. 6 – brings two immediate reactions.

One, fingers crossed. Advances in cancer-fighting research can mean five years, 10 years – and more – of active living. Everyone’s got a story of a happy outcome.

Two, reflections immediately come to mind on the ongoing Seward Era of Otsego County politics. It’s been a charmed one, and to reflect on it underscores how his recovery will be good news for all of us.

Just think about this decade, the State Sen. Jim Seward Decade, if you will.

Cancer Back, Seward Reports

Cancer Returns,

Seward Reports

Senator’s Offices Will Remain

Open While He Gets Treatment

Senator Seward

ONEONTA – State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, announced that the cancer he underwent treatment for in 2016 has returned.

“My physicians have recommended a series of treatments over the next several weeks that will limit my availability and curtail my normal, active district schedule,” he said in a statement. “While I will be taking some time to concentrate on getting better, my offices will remain open and my capable staff will continue to assist constituents with their state-related needs.”

Seward Lends A Hand At Food Distribution Site

UNITED WAY SERVES 300 MONTHLY

Seward Lends A Hand

At Food Distribution Site

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, lends a hand this morning at the United Way of Otsego & Delaware Counties’ monthly food distribution at Northern Eagle Beverage, 41 Browne St., Town of Oneonta.  Some 300 families participated in the food distribution, done in collaboration with the Regional Food Bank in the Capital District. “It’s another example of the wonderful work performed by caring individuals and organizations we have in our community,” said Seward.  “The high usage of this program also shows we need to do more to improve our local economy and ensure everyone can afford the basic necessities, including fresh food.”  (Jeff Bishop photo)
Jail Ministry Celebration Of 60 Years Packs House

Jail Ministry Celebration

Of 60 Years Packs House

Seward, Dostal, Brenner Recognized

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, addresses a packed house at Oneonta’s Quality Inn last evening as the Jail Ministry of Otsego County marked its 60th anniversary  in ministering to inmates at the county Correctional Facility.  At the gathering, the Jail Ministry honored, inset photo, Seward, LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal and Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner.  (Photos courtesy Otsego Chamber of Commerce)

DON’T PAROLE JILL’S KILLER, COUNTY ASKS

DON’T PAROLE

JILL’S KILLER,

COUNTY ASKS

With One Abstention, One Nay, Reps

Petition NYS Board, Back Seward’s Bill

County Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, makes a motion to urge the state Parole Board not to grant parole to David Dart, convicted in the 1989 slaying in Oneonta’s parking deck. In the foreground is Keith McCarty, R-East Springfield. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – With board Vice Chairman Gary Koutnik abstaining, and another Democrat voting nay, the county Board of Representatives today asked the state Parole Board “to deny the release, conditional or otherwise,” of David Dart, convicted of slaying 18-year-old Jill Gibbons with a “Rambo-style knife” in the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage in 1989.

The resolution, passed 12-1-1, also put the county board on record supporting a bill, S4354, introduced several times by state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, to increase the time between parole hearing for “violent crimes” from two to five years.

Rural Housing Agency Marks 35th Anniversary

RECEPTION AT COOPERSTOWN BREWERY

Rural Housing Agency

Marks 35th Anniversary

After presenting them with a state Senate Proclamation, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, left, discusses the future of ORHA (the Otsego Rural Housing Agency) with Executive Director Tim Peters, center, and board Chair Greg Crowell during a celebratory reception this evening at the Cooperstown Brewery, Milford.  What would a birthday celebration be without cake, and ORHA staff Kimberly Adee, inset, made sure participants partook.  Attendees ranged from Carl Waldman and Richard Saba to the north, who are involved in a housing project at the former Cherry Valley High School, to Sue Marshall from Stamford’s WCCRC (Western Catskills Community Revitalization Council), in the south.  (Jim Kevlin/www.AllOTSEGO.com)

JUSTICE for GILLIAN Sister, Senator Plan Rally For Parole Reform

JUSTICE for GILLIAN

Sister, Senator Plan Rally For Parole Reform

Jennifer Kirkpatrick shows Senator Seward a photo of her sister on the Justice for Gillian Facebook page. (Jeff Bishop photo)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Gillian Gibbons

ONEONTA – When David Dart was sentenced for the murder of Gillian Gibbons, her sister Jennifer Kirkpatrick remembered a chilling message he gave her in the courtroom.

“He looked right at me and said, ‘I’ll be back,’” she recounted.

Now, 30 years after Gillian’s death, Jennifer is mounting a campaign to keep her convicted killer in prison. “My goal is to let the community know that he is only in his 40s,” she said. “He will offend again. It’s scary.

Working with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, Jennifer has planned a Justice For Gillian rally at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, in Muller Plaza.

“It’s important for us to do something to highlight his parole hearing,” said Seward. “We want to provide information to people so they can contact the parole board to protest Dart’s release.”

In 1991, Dart, then 29, was sentenced to 25 years to live for second-degree murder after he was found guilty of stabbing Gillian to death with a “Rambo-style survival knife” – as described in the court transcript – on the second floor of the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1989.

Dart will once again face the parole board on Monday, Nov. 4.

“Normally his parole is every two years,” said Jennifer. “But this time, it was only 19 months. I was furious, and I told myself, if I have to be a one-woman show, walking up and down Main Street protesting his release, I will.”

“It goes to my heart that Jennifer and her family have to go through this every time,” said Seward. “I’ve got a bill that would expand the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders. Families should not have to tell their devastating stories so frequently, and there’s always the chance the parole board will release him.”

As the anniversary of Gillian’s death drew near, Seward invited Kirkpatrick to his office, where they put together plans for the Justice for Gillian rally.

“I was so humbled,” she said. “He called me down and he said, ‘We can go to the city and get a permit, we can make this happen’.”

“I remember Gillian as a vivacious, smiling young woman,” said Seward. “It hit our community very hard, and it is an affront to her memory to let Dart see the light of day.”

At the rally, Seward will have sample letters and the address people can use to write to the parole board, as well as instructions for how to send a letter online. Letters should be submitted no later than Friday, Oct. 25.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money to have them go before the parole board every two years,” she said.

There will also be speakers, and Jennifer has invited the police officers involved in Gillian’s case, as well as families affected by violent crime to share their stories.

But more than just an information session, Jennifer wants to continue to celebrate her sister’s life 30 years after her passing.

“I’m bringing photos and having them blown up into posters so people can carry them,” she said. “And I’ve asked all her friends to speak. But I told them that if it’s depressing, Gillian will be rolling her eyes. I want memories and funny stories.”

Where Does Money Come From?
LETTER from JOHN RUDY

Where Does Money Come From?

To the Editor:
Senator Seward’s lament over taxes and fees passed in the recent legislative session (“A Little Here, A Little There. Suddenly, It’s Many Millions,” Sept. 5-6, 2019), provided a source of bemusement to this reader.
I kept remembering the multiple times over the years that Senator Seward has been part of a photo-op presentation in the media
where he was shown handing a New York State check (often around election season) to a local government or private organization to support a certain program or need.
Where does Senator Seward get those checks? The answer is obvious – from the coffers of the New York State treasury, funded by those very same taxes and fees he rails about.
I had hoped that we only had to put up with this type of hypocrisy at the federal
level; apparently, it has seeped into our state politics as well.

JOHN A. RUDY
Cooperstown

Posts navigation

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