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June 20, 2013

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — Public campaign financing deserves Senate vote

Sen. Jim Seward has called public financing of campaigns “dead on arrival in the Senate.” This is not true. The Republican caucus will not even allow the bill in the Senate door.

Mr. Seward and other members of the GOP caucus are afraid of public financing. While they wrap their opposition in nice language, the truth is, it is difficult for a challenger to raise sufficient money to take on an entrenched politician. The GOP incumbents like it that way.

Public financing is not a handout. Candidates need to show genuine support across their district by raising donations from real people in significant amounts. Only then can a candidate qualify for matching funds.

Opponents say that the public should not have to foot the bill for politicians’ campaigns, but the truth is, we already pay for not doing so. It is no secret that politicians, particularly career politicians like Mr. Seward, know who their contributors are, and know how to give them special attention. Seventy-five percent of Mr. Seward’s donations in the last election came from corporations, especially those in the insurance industry. Mr. Seward is chair of the Senate’s Insurance Committee. Coincidence? Not likely.

We can create a system that allows regular people, people like you and me, to run a credible campaign against corporate and other special interests’ money, indeed we must.

Opposition to public campaign financing from incumbents is not a principled stand, it is just a bunch of politicians trying to protect their own jobs. Let your representatives know that public campaign financing deserves vote in the Senate.

Howard Leib


Howard Leib is an attorney based in Ithaca, NY and a former candidate for New York State Senate.

Stop spraying at golf course

It’s good to see that the Village of Cooperstown has convinced the state Department of Transportation to halt spraying pesticides along Route 80.

Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz is quoted as saying: “My hope is this is a transition to a lessened reliance on herbicides and pesticides. Every move towards the goal of having minimal or zero use of herbicides should be applauded.”

Mayor Katz had asked DOT to halt the spraying to protect Otsego Lake — the village’s water supply — from these chemicals saying that under Public Health Law, the village was authorized to create regulations, which state “no herbicides, pesticides or toxic chemicals shall be discharged, applied, or allowed to enter any reservoir or watercourse.”

Perhaps this means that now the village will act against a much greater threat to the water supply, the dousing of the Leatherstocking Golf Course with even worse pesticides than DOT utilizes. After all, the golf course is directly on the shores of the lake, closer to the village’s water intake, and covers many times the area that the Route 80 roadsides represent.

In 2006, the Leatherstocking Golf Course used 1,616 pounds and 137.1 gallons of 23 different pesticides, all recognized as dangerous compounds, a number of which are listed as having acute toxicity. The 2007 usage was even higher. The golf course has not released its chemical usage since. No surprise there.

The village has the same authority to regulate the golf course, and certainly can recognize the higher risk it poses to the lake. So will they act? Don’t hold your breath. There has long been a double standard in Cooperstown when it comes to holding the Clark Foundation and its entities responsible for their actions. Not only does the village turn a blind eye, but so do such institutions as the Biological Field Station and the Otsego County Conservation Association, who depend on the foundation for financial support.

Mayor Katz’s words regarding a goal of minimal or zero use of herbicides are great rhetoric. But until the village takes on the big dog in Cooperstown, they will remain just that.

Andrew Mason