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December 19, 2013

Some things just mystify us

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — Even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we still seem to encounter things which leave us wondering what on earth people are thinking. We are simply amazed at what we learn.

For example, while shopping at a local store, we encountered at the check-out counter a Baby Ruth candy bar. And while it brought back memories of our purchasing said candy bar as we trudged home from school years and years and years ago, we also found the candy bar wrapper was not quite what we remembered. Emblazoned across one end of it was “4 Grams Protein per Bar.” Naturally we had to buy it in order to investigate this new claim.

Did this claim mean there was some redeeming quality to a Baby Ruth candy bar? In the small print we read, “Good to Know: Roasted peanuts are the main source of protein in Baby Ruth and add a satisfying crunch.”

Our hopes soared, until we read the list of ingredients. And try as we might, the fact that the first ingredient listed, and thus the largest percentage of the candy bar, was sugar, quite wiped out the value of the four grams of protein claim. Yet somebody, somewhere, must have thought pushing protein in a candy bar would increase sales. And unfortunately, it did. Had it not been for the claim, the Baby Ruth candy bar would still be on the store shelf.

We also are somewhat bemused about a statement made in a recent article on gas drilling bans in Hartwick and Meredith. Such bans were deemed an “... opportunity for ... residents to define the type of community they wish to live in while blocking ‘unfettered industrialization.’”

Now we have no idea what the person quoted might have meant by “unfettered industrialization” but all we could imagine is something akin to Gary, Indiana, circa 1958, rising from the slopes of the Sleeping Lion. And we just can’t imagine such development will happen any time soon. In the over 200 years of history, excluding the possible production of potash, we don’t think there has been any industrialization, unfettered or otherwise. And we are not expecting it to happen any time soon.

And not long ago we received a survey from our insurance company for which they would be most appreciative if we were to fill it out. So we sat down to do said survey and very quickly became very confused.

Question number six asked if “In the past 12 months, did you phone this doctor’s office to get an appointment for an illness, injury or condition that needed care right away?”

We answered no and were instructed to go to question number eight.

Question number eight asked, “In the last 12 months, how many days did you usually have to wait for an appointment when you needed care right away?”

We were given the options of same day, one day, two to three days, four to seven days or more than seven days. We were dumbfounded as we had no idea how long we had to wait to get an appointment we didn’t try to make. We found it puzzling to say the least.

And then, a number of people have asked us what we thought about the recent capital project vote at CCS. And while we were most surprised by a tie vote of 180 to 180, we do think it points out two very important aspects of voting that should not be forgotten.

In the first place, we are reminded that, contrary to what many people have said of late, every vote does count, especially in local elections. People on both sides of the project who did not bother to vote, should be kicking themselves for not weighing in on the issue. And secondly, we find it most troubling that only 360 people voted. Although we do not know the total number of people eligible to vote in the school district, we tend to think 360 is not a very large percentage. In fact, we would suspect that the number of parents in the district is greater than the number of people who voted.

It is indeed disturbing to think that as a society we have become so disengaged from issues that affect all of us that we no longer think our thoughts on the issue matter. We would hope that somehow this lack of involvement can in the future be remedied, at least at the local level.

Of course, we also got a much more specific e-mail about the school vote in which the sender wanted to, “ask your thoughts and those of any you have heard from about no votes: too much, lack of public info and input, short notice and December date, other.”

Now this, we think, requires more thought, and perhaps more input from others, than did our thinking on the actual value of voting.

Some of the thoughts we have heard thus far include the following: Spending is out of control at CCS. Residents are trying to send the school a message. This was a vote of no confidence. Declining enrollment and escalating costs don’t make sense. There is concern that state aid will continue to decline. School taxes are too high. The school doesn’t listen to the public. The school lacks credibility. Hiring a third principal with a six-figure salary seems unnecessary. Faculty and staff don’t pay enough into the health care premiums. The annual budget is $17 million. Not everything in the capital project is really needed. Not everyone is made out of money. A project like this does not make sense in this economy.

Thus far the list of reasons we have heard for voting no is not unsubstantial and seemingly quite varied. We suspect the there might still more reasons lurking out there that we have not yet encountered. So we would encourage everybody who would like to share their thoughts about why they voted the way they did to contact us either by telephone, e-mail or letter. And we do not think the discussion needs to be limited to just those who voted against the project. We think it is equally important to know why people voted for the capital project. There is no doubt that the school is vitally important to our community. And thus it behooves us to try and figure out not only what the best plan going forward might be but also to figure out how best to accomplish that plan.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by e-mail at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com