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.
“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.”
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)
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.
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)
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.”
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.
COOPERSTOWN – The state Legislature’s ambitions are going to be paid for at the local level.
That could be the lesson members of the Otsego County Board of Representatives took way from the Q&A this morning when state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, reported as follows at the board’s monthly meeting:
• The state Legislature has reduced AIM funding (Aid & Incentives to Municipalities) to the state’s 1,326 towns and villages by $59 million. Every municipality in Otsego County, except the villages of Laurens and Otego, will feel the cut. For Otsego County, that will take the form of a $331,320 withholding of sales tax revenues by the state Comptroller’s Office.
By State Sen. JIM SEWARD • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Death by a thousand cuts. Nickel and dime. If those adages come to mind when you think of New York State government, you are not alone. Now the latest example: the governor’s push to require millions of drivers to buy new license plates, needed or not.
Recently, the governor’s office launched a statewide survey to select a new license plate design. On the surface, this appears to be a fun contest (although there are several questions regarding the plate designs) but the fine print reveals what this really is – a massive cash grab.
This is the language directly from the governor’s press release:
ALBANY – Governor Cuomo has signed legislation to stabilize Schenevus Central School’s finances by allowing it to borrow against future state aid, as much as $500,000 in the upcoming school year, and to put together a long-term financial plan for the district.
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblyman Brian Miller, the Republican who represents Schenevus, today announce the bill they sponsored has become law. It also establishes a long-term plan to stabilize the school district’s finances.