In our readers' opinions - Cooperstown Crier: Letters To The Editor

In our readers' opinions

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 8:00 am

Proud to be a Redskin

Why the hullabaloo over my Redskins?

I am a Redskin alumni who proudly played on all Redskin teams and wear the Redskin jersey during pick-up games — or with my boys. Nobody has inferred that I’m insensitive. The Redskin mascot is appropriate for our town so rich in Native American history. If I were of American Native decent I’d be mighty proud to see a community respect and memorialize my heritage with a Redskin mascot — to keep my people’s culture alive — to have their athlete teams symbolize our bravery. If the Native Americans differ, one might expect to hear drum beats long before now since Cooperstown has been the cradle for many tribes. But we don’t, leading us to question when is political correctness good or bad?

Clearly we needed corrective action to right our racial prejudices of the ‘50s. The politically correct process made us a more-just society. But today the process has morphed more into an ideology with too many cowering to the whims of a few protesters — whom often are not subjects of their own protests. Everyday words acceptable to most people are transformed into new buzz words more fitting to an ideology. Those failing to comply are shamed or intimidated, thus stifles many from speaking freely. It all starts so innocently, but when carried too far it becomes a slippery slope for any society as proven by ideologues like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and others.

Kids should be proud of their mascot and they can be by educating them on how the mascot is a symbol to memorialize our respect for the rich Native American culture and history so germane to our environment. Let’s put a positive spin on education and let our educators spend their energies making our kids smarter.

William De Sena

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

 Origins of Redskins

By chance I ran across a reference to the origins of the terms “red men” and “redskins” in an historical account of Newfoundland. In 1610 a group of British “planters” known as the Merchant Venturers encountered native Beothunks covered in red ochre. They reported this in doccuments to their backers in England. The terms became fairly widely used.

Ironically, the name of their settlement was called Cupids but relations turned sour very quickly.

The use of red pigment is common in portraits that I have seen of Native Americains. Apparently the term “redskin” had nothing to do with racial differences in the beginning. Its negative connotations didn’t come about until much later.

By the way, I kind of like the name “Pathfinders.”

Pete Farmer, CCS ‘74

Lancaster, Mass.


Lessor’s Regret?

Many landowners in our region leased their properties for gas drilling five to 10 years ago when there was scant, hard evidence of the risks and dangers of unconventional, horizontal, high-volume, hydraulic fracturing. Every month now there is a new study issued on the negative impacts of shale-gas development on public health, water safety and long-term climate health. People who participated in the recent DEC public-comment process know just how flawed and flagrantly unprotective the proposed regulations are.

Even if a leased landowner is unconcerned about the risks, the prospect of lucrative royalties has evaporated with natural gas prices at an all-time low. The argument for energy independence is also moot if our finite supply of shale gas is harvested, liquefied and exported overseas. The more time that passes, the more reasons there are for anyone to come to the conclusion that high-volume, horizontal, hydraulic fracturing is simply a bad idea. More and more landowners are having lessor’s regret.

Gas companies have tried to use the state’s de facto moratorium as just cause to extend gas leases beyond their primary term. In a victory for landowners, the recent force majeure decision in Binghamton shot that down. But generally it is still up to landowners to officially terminate their gas leases and clear the land records at the end of the primary term.

Even landowners who are not in an active gas lease are realizing that they need to check their deed papers to verify if there was ever a gas lease on their property. If a gas lease — even decades-old — is not properly released by the gas company and filed as such at the county clerk’s office, it remains a liability to the current landowner. How many of us purchased our properties with assurances from our lawyers that a filed affidavit — from the previous landowner stating that the gas lease expired on its own terms — would suffice? These affidavits have no legal effect. Many of us are in this situation and are unaware of the steps necessary to obtain an official surrender from the gas company, pursuant to NY General Obligations Law, Section 15-304.

To help landowners understand their rights, geologist Ellen Harrison and Attorney Joseph Heath, of, will present an informational forum on gas lease issues. FLEASED FORUM will take place on Thursday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m., at United Church of Christ, 11 West Main St., in Norwich. It is free and open to the public.

Mina Takahashi


 TREP$ a success thanks to many

The fourth annual 2013 TREP$ Marketplace was successful thanks to support from parents, volunteers, teachers, administrators and our community.

The award-winning “TREP$,” is taken from the word entrepreneurs and it was created to teach students the basics about starting a business. The program meets after school for six sessions and culminates in a flea-market style TREP$ Marketplace where the students launch their own business! This year’s marketplace offered jewelry, candies, candles, journals, glassware, tie-dye shirts, trivets, stress balls, photography, shower timers, iPod cases, seltzer, soap, car services, cards and even plant fertilizer.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible TREP$ team, which includes: Mrs. Rebecca Stone, Mrs. Marcy Birch, Mrs. Lori Nicholson (workshop facilitators), Mrs. Erika Idelson (publicity coordinator , Ms. Emily Cadwalader (marketplace coordinator), Mrs. Ann Brown and all of our volunteers that helped us with our workshops, marketplace and publicity. We could not offer this program without their hard work and guidance.

We would also like to thank Mrs. Carolyn Lewis and Otsego Economic Development for their continued support and encouragement, Cooperstown Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Gozigian Family, Farm Credit East, Cooperstown PTA, and NBT — this year’s official bank for the TREP$ Marketplace.

In addition, we thank the Cooperstown Board of Education; Mr. Mike Cring, secondary principal; Mr. CJ Hebert, superintendent of schools; Mark LaValley, network systems coordinator; Jeff Katz, mayor of Cooperstown; Mr. Walter Bennett, Superintendent of buildings and grounds;  and the custodial staff at the Cooperstown Middle/High School.

A very large thank you should go to the following individuals who volunteered their time to mentor our students: Ms. Susan Bruss, Mr. Frank Capozza, Mr. Doug Geertgens, Mr. and Mrs. Tim and Connie Haney of Cooperstown Bat Co., Mr. Gary Kuch, Mr. Doug Thompson, Mrs. Carol Waller of Mohican Flowers, Mrs. Andree Weidemann and Mr. Brett Wilhelm of Andela Glass Co.

Please know how much we appreciated everyone’s help with our program this year. We would like to also congratulate all of our new and returning TREP$ students for a job well done! We hope to see all of you next year!

Carina Franck

TREP$ Committee chairperson


The Manor, it’s more about people

Running for public office seems simple enough, especially at the local level. You pledge allegiance to the principles of your party to gain financing and initial support. You talk publicly and write about local and national issues, and you highlight your pet causes. You debate your opponent to convince the listeners that you are the better choice. You talk in broad generalities about your political beliefs and what you would to do if you were elected. You seek endorsements of newspapers and others who influence public opinion. Then, if the gods of small-town politics smile on you, you are elected.

Mission accomplished! Now you can participate in making decisions that will affect the lives of everyone in our community often at the most-human level.

It is here that the disconnect between our elected officials and we the people begins. The machinations of local government seem to treat as abstractions serious issues, having real consequences on real people. The controversy over Otsego Manor is a case in point.

The facts are not in dispute. Otsego Manor depends on a substantial and growing subsidy from Otsego County to continue to function. The subsidy grows for a number of reasons. The federal and state rates of reimbursement for services (Medicare and Medicaid) continue to be scaled back. Operating costs continue to rise and the Manor’s management has not been able to control them adequately. As the subsidy continues to grow, other county services are feeling the strain.

Something has to give, and Kathleen Clark, James Powers and others have the simplistic answer: sell the Manor. According to them, all of the county’s financial issues would disappear. The county would pocket the proceeds of the sale and it could redirect some of the money toward other more important county services. The county would be in great shape if the Manor were sold. Really? The fact that Clark, Powers, et al. believe this is a testament to how poorly our political process functions in producing real leaders. They believe that the problem is about balancing the budget.

Real leadership begins with understanding the real problem. The reason that Otsego Manor exists is that we the people of Otsego County took responsibility for providing excellent residential health care for all of us including our poor and elderly. Throughout this debate, no one has repudiated that decision. It still stands. So the real issue is how do we continue to meet this obligation going forward?

Selling the Manor is not a solution. The purchaser would be in all likelihood a for-profit corporation. If the new owner were to continue to run the Manor as the county has, it would encounter the same financial impediments. So, how would it turn a profit for its stockholders? Only three choices come to mind. They could cut back on the quality of care (e.g. staff, activities, food quality, medical care, etc.). They could forgo limited government reimbursements and charge much higher rates directly to the residents. Or they could do both. In the end, Otsego Manor would cease to be what we the people of the county intended. It would become an exclusive health care facility for those who can afford to pay top dollar or it would degenerate into a second rate nursing home meeting only minimal standards.

For the more short-sighted board members, sacrificing the quality of health care for our poor and elderly seems to be a fair price to pay for balancing our books. Since balancing the books seems to be their only concern, they refuse to consider more enlightened alternatives such as John Kosmer’s proposal, that are consistent with answering the real question, how do we continue to meet our commitment going forward?

I use the term commitment because that is exactly what it is. A long time ago, the county government, acting on the people’s behalf, took responsibility for assisting the indigent and created what came to be known as the poor house. Since then, it has overseen its evolution into a modern, long-term health care facility that is available to virtually anyone. We the people have come to depend on it. Deciding to sell the Manor does not absolve the county of its moral responsibility. It must provide a viable alternative for most of those who currently occupy its 174 beds and for the future generations who will be deprived of its services. So, what’s the plan?

Lest the average reader and our county representatives think we do not know of what we speak, actually we do. My wife and I have been in ministry to the elderly for 25 years. We lived in southern Westchester and have visited dozens of nursing homes in Manhattan, the Bronx, Rockland County and Westchester. While some were considered to be quite exclusive, most were not. All had one thing in common, they were privately owned and for-profit. And very depressing.

When the time came that we could no longer continue to care for my wife’s mother at home, we were incredibly grateful that she was able to live her final 15 months in such a beautiful, nurturing environment. Do our elderly and infirmed deserve anything less?

Despite the sarcastic and insulting comment made by Representative Stuligross, the constituents of Representative John Kozmer do “read the papers” and do understand the financial difficulties faced by the county. Hence, we need to explore his proposals and look for alternative methods of subsidizing Otsego Manor. It is a large enough facility that some seemingly small measures could yield significant results. For example, steps could be taken to conserve electricity now, while we look into alternative sources of energy, as the county has already installed at the jail. The technological resources exist right here in Otsego County and the location of the Manor in such an open area makes it a prime candidate for either solar or wind power.

We need to take a lesson from our neighbors in Delaware County. We have a moral imperative to care for the weak and vulnerable among us. They are our parents and grandparents and the Greatest Generation . And they are us.

Randy and Connie Velez