Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

November 15, 2012

It's time to work together ...

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — As the recent election drew near, we found ourselves restricting more and more of our Facebook friends from posting on our wall because we were simply tired of all the negative comments from both sides. We assumed, once the election was over that we would welcome all of them back. However, we have been reluctant to do so as it seems the negativity continues, which has actually resulted in our eliminating even more comments not only from Facebook but also from our email inbox.

We knew we were in trouble when after the election the following post showed up on our Facebook wall: “...Everything is going to be alright. ... I promise. The world isn’t ending and no one is out to get you. I think both the candidates have the best interests of the country in mind ...  I think both are good men and I think both care deeply for this country. I honestly think that’s the case. Where things differ is how they foresee America getting there. And it’s OK to disagree ... But PLEASE, the negative ‘the world is out to get me, look how stupid the other guy is, we’re screwed, and the other side is UnAmerican’ posts and attitudes HAVE GOT to STOP.”

We, of course suggested doing what we had done and simply blocking such posts. However, the response to this, and rightly so, we suspect, was:

“I’m very hesitant to remove anyone from my Facebook feeds because I firmly believe that it’s important to hear both sides of everything ... I’m glad folks have a difference of opinion but come on, the divide in this country is going to get us nowhere. Politcis have become about making sure the other guy fails, not about making sure the country moves forward. I’m talking about both sides here, but until that thinking changes, this country IS in trouble. It’s not the guy in the White House, it’s us. American citizens are the problem ... It is time for ALL Americans to stand up and be nicer people, both to each other and our leaders. Stop nit picking everything someone does and put some faith in your fellow man ... ask ‘What can I do to help?’ or ‘Is what I’m doing helping or potentially hurting?’ Because if it’s hurting, then you my friend are part of the problem and you need to stop...”   

We could not agree more. In fact we wish we had written this. But alas, we did not, instead leaving it to the next generation to point out what we should all already know. It is indeed time to move ahead as a country united, instead of a country divided. 

We would also like to suggest that during the ongoing budget process that Otsego County work toward a united goal of serving the needs of the residents of the county. We fully understand the angst that the county’s decision to sell Otsego Manor has generated. It is indeed difficult for those dependent upon the Manor for their home to envision losing it. At the same time, we do think it would have been helpful if the county had done a much, much better job of explaining the situation. There would seem to be all sorts of unanswered questions, paramount among them an explanation of exactly what the county will and what it will not save with such a sale. This is a very complicated situation, the details of which seem to have been glossed over which makes it hard to really reach a decision based on the proposal’s merit.

Likewise, we are rather bemused by talk of raising the county sales tax as an alternative to raising property taxes to balance next year’s county budget. In a Nov. 8, article in the Daily Star titled “Tax hike could cover Manor costs,” written by Joe Mahoney, it was pointed out that:

“More than all surrounding counties, Otsego County derives a higher share of its overall revenue from sales tax, as a result of tourism driven by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and other attractions largely clustered in the Cooperstown area.”   

It continued with “Board members have expressed reluctance to enact a budget that goes above the state’s 2 percent property tax cap, saying they want to spare homeowners from escalating property taxes. Part of the tab for a higher sales tax would be picked up by tourists.”

And while we think that may be marginally true, the greater burden of increasing the sales tax would fall on the residents of Otsego County.

After all, we rather doubt that many tourists purchase large ticket items, such as automobiles, trucks, home appliances and so forth while visiting the area. But those of us who do live here will be facing not only higher costs for such items but also higher costs for items related to every day life.   

And while we definitely need to be worried about the fate of Otsego Manor, we also need to be equally concerned about what will happen to the county if the cost of living here continues to escalate. At a time when many people are already struggling with the cost of living here, it makes little sense to hasten their departure by making the cost of living here beyond their means. In short, raising any taxes makes little sense in the long run.

Instead it is time for the county to prioritize its needs. 

For example, it has also come to our attention that the county’s Office for the Aging is once again on the chopping block. We were distressed several years ago now, when the decision was made that the Cooperstown Nutrition Center could be eliminated without affecting those residents who participated in the program. We still think that was simply not true. And now, if what we understand is correct, there may will be decision made to eliminate yet another position at the Office for the Aging, namely the coordinator of health insurance information services.

Now, we must admit, the county is getting personal. Since we will be joining the ranks of those on Medicare as of Dec. 1, we know firsthand how very important this position is for those senior citizens in the county who need to make decisions regarding Medigap programs, Medicare Advantage programs and, even more difficult we think, Medicare Part D programs. We speak from experience when we say eliminating this position has the distinct potential of putting senior citizens’ understanding of the health insurance maze beyond the reach of many, ourselves included.

Therefore, we would hope that the county board will make certain that the best interests of all county residents are taken into consideration when making tough decisions. It will not be easy. But we should expect our government to make fair and sound decisions concerning the welfare of their residents.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com