Letters to the Editor


Look Across The State Line to Pennsylvania – The Gas Drillers Are Patiently Waiting
To the Editor:It is interesting how two people can view the same thing and yet see something different.
I was part of the group that visited Pennsylvania to see firsthand the effects of gas drilling on local communities.  My observations lead me to a very different conclusion that Ager Publicus who stated, “A gas lease may be your best protection against gas drilling.”
I concluded that local ordinances against heavy industry may be your best protection against gas drilling.  Here are some reasons why we should think long and hard about the gas industry and whether we really want it here:
• Pennsylvania has a history of extraction-coal, oil, timber etc. The extraction industry is not new. When fracking came along, many people accepted gas drilling, looking at it as the next resource to be harvested. The gas that is being extracted is sold on the global market: The resource is not used locally.
• Susquehanna and Bradford counties are “company towns.”  They are owned lock, stock and barrel by the gas industry. The gas industry has inserted itself into every aspect of people’s lives and now the two are co-dependent. Because Pennsylvania does not have a severance or production tax, all royalties are shared only by the leaseholder and the gas company. Except for increases in sales tax, municipalities see no revenue from the industry but are burdened with the fallout from the drilling i.e. roads, EMS, social services etc. The gas companies’ “gift” the towns with a park here, or a library there, and the communities are expected to feel thankful.  I noted a real lack of prosperity in the areas we visited and drove through. Except for the McMansions sited where the old farmhouse used to be, there was little evidence of the promised riches the gas companies have dangled before us. Not all boats are floating.
• Tourism as we know it in Otsego County does/did not exist in the counties we visited. When asked about hunting, the response was the hunters no longer have anywhere to stay since the drillers have rented all the rooms. How would this intense industry jive with Cooperstown or the local breweries or Chobani or the new wave of young farmers – can they co-exist? I would say no. We will exchange one for the other.
• The drilling companies are learning as they go, and this type of drilling is in its infancy.  Everyone is trying to play catch-up. How does local government function in this type of environment? In the past year, the number of permitted wells has doubled and now stands at 1,666 and rising in Bradford County (pop. 62,000). Each well can take up to 1,000 trucks to frack. If you do the math, you begin to understand what heavy industry can mean to small rural towns.  I know I would not want to live in these communities – yet I do want to live here.
• The pace at which Pennsylvania is changing staggers the imagination. The engine of transformation is hydrofracking and all that comes with it – compressor stations, miles of pipelines, tainted water and polluted air. What does it say about a community that places local children in foster care because rents have gotten so high that local families are forced into homelessness?  Once this engine gets started there are no brakes. It is full steam ahead. To expect the experience here to be different than how it is progressing in Pennsylvania is wishful thinking. In my head I kept thinking this is how the Wild West must have been.
The DEC will not protect us. The governor will not protect us. But we can protect ourselves – through home rule and enacting local ordinances against heavy industry.
I have this mental image. I am standing on the border of New York and Pennsylvania looking south. As far as the eye can see, there are drillers patiently waiting. They are covered in the grime of their industry and they are gripping pipelines and looking north with squinty eyes waiting for the signal to proceed. Just waiting and waiting as any army of invaders might be.  And they are coming for us and what we have and they intend to take it. And it isn’t just the gas they will take. It will be our whole way of life. We can stop it.
Roseboom Town Clerk

 News Of Chobani Success Recalls Kraft Memories
To the Editor:
 My sister, Gloria (Van Vranken) Chandler of Oneonta (former Otsego Clerk of the Court) sent us your newspaper about the new yogurt company.
My husband Carroll Munson was born and raised in the Burlington/Edmeston area and I was born in Otsego County but spent many years living in the Edmeston area, thus we were very familiar with the “old” Kraft plant and all the dairy farms in the area.
It does our hearts good that this business is happening there at this point in time.
In 1959, I became a Realtor out of Oneonta until we moved to South Carolina near Hilton Head Island, where I am still in real estate.
My husband and I were the original developers of Woodhaven development and golf course in West Oneonta. I read Albert Colones article in your paper and it is true, the taxes killed us and so have they killed the new owner, among other things.
However, despite grieving to the tax offices that golf income in the north is very limited and taxes should be adjusted accordingly, we never won. The amount of the taxes amounted to a month’s income or less out of four to five months operation.
Bluffton, S.C.

Is Dog-Fight Ring Operating Locally?
To the Editor:
 My Rottweiler Titan has been missing for the last seven months from Davenport Center. Maybe you have seen the billboard on Roue 7 outside  Oneonta.
While searching for my dog, I discovered a nasty rumor in my town that he was stolen by someone who fights dogs.
At first I thought it was a mean joke of some kind. But I started asking anyone I spoke with if they had ever heard of anything and I believe there really is a dog-fighting ring operating in our area. There is really no way to find these people other than anonymous tips.
I would like your paper to do an article about dog fighting. How to notice the signs, why people should care and how to take action.
The Humane Society of the United States has some good information as do ASPCA reporters.
Davenport Center

Save $$, Ride Gus The Bus
To the Editor:My husband and I started riding the bus from Hartwick to Cooperstown a couple weeks ago when the price of diesel fuel for our car went well over $40 a gallon.  The fee of $1 per bus trip seemed like a no brainer.  What we can’t understand is why there is no one from Hartwick on the bus with us.  Let me do the math for you.
$4 a gallon in a vehicle that gets 18 miles per gallon versus $2 for a round trip ride on Gus the Bus.  Which is the better deal?
A half a gallon of gas each way equals $4 per round trip – which happens to be the cost of a round trip on the bus for two people, so my example is the break-even point.
If you live farther than nine miles or have a vehicle with worse gas mileage, then you can save money by riding the bus.  And I haven’t even mentioned the reduced miles on your car or the reduction in maintenance expenses.
Also, using the bus takes you door to door and you don’t have to find a parking space.
The carbon footprint of the bus is already being shared by all those who ride it.  One of the best ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to jump on someone else’s ride. 
So why drive your car?  Save the money! Instead of driving yourself, hop on the bus – read a book or look at the scenery; close your eyes and take a break!  Either way, it’s an enjoyable ride, pollution and your carbon footprint are reduced, and you save money.
If the schedule to Cooperstown or Oneonta doesn’t work, send me an e-mail at martha.clarvoe@gmail.com and let me know when you want to leave Hartwick and when you want to get to Cooperstown. Give Gus the Bus a try!  I bet you will enjoy it.  For more information, go to www.otsegoexpress.com.
OCCA Special
Projects Manager

SUNY Townhouses WON’T Be Good For Everyone
To the Editor:
 In response to your April 1 editorial, “New SUNY Oneonta Units Will Be Good For Everyone,” in truth, not quite everyone.
First, although the new plan makes access to the townhouses’ parking lot via campus roads, that doesn’t mean that Clinton Street, one of the steepest and, in winter, most difficult streets in the city, will be spared an enormous increase in traffic. Many townhouse students will choose NOT to drive their cars, especially when going downtown to drink. Instead, they’ll choose to walk to the bars, probably walking down Clinton Street IN THE STREET as most students do now, since the sidewalks either don’t exist or are not maintained in winter. Others will choose taxis, meeting them at the top of Clinton Street or dropping them off there, practically at their front doors. Still others will have friends pick them up or drop them off, again, at the top of Clinton Street.
With 200 students living within a few feet of the top of Clinton Street, we will see dozens of automobiles and scores of students making their way up and down it, often in the dark of night when visibility is lowest and alcohol content is highest. Especially in winter snow and ice, we will see injuries, perhaps even fatalities, and certainly accidents, as cars, taxis, and pedestrians negotiate this treacherous hill.
Second, the northern end of Clinton Street is one of the worst maintained in the city, partly because for decades only 10 or so cars used it. Now add the daily traffic of probably 100 or more cars and imagine the cost to the city of maintaining this street. It will be substantial, an added burden for every city taxpayer.
Third, the state’s Dormitory Authority which pays for dormitory construction, reports that the city sanitary sewer which would handle waste from the townhouses is inadequate to the task. Moreover, there is at present no storm sewer on this part of Clinton Street and will certainly be needed to handle all the increased water running off seven new townhouse roofs and a 200-car parking lot. Who will pay the costs of CITY sanitary and storm sewers? Another tax burden for Oneonta’s citizens.
Finally, those of us in the vicinity of the proposed townhouses have probably already lost substantially in the value of our property. The nearest townhouses will be within 100 feet of several of us, so close that any student activity outside the dorms will impact the quiet of this very quiet neighborhood.
The same will be true for the frequent practice of students opening their windows to treat anyone within several hundred yards to whatever is the students’ choice of music, be it rap or heavy metal or punk or rock. Quiet? Rest? Peaceful enjoyment of one’s home and property? Gone.
In fact, all the residents along Clinton and Spruce Streets and Monroe Avenue will find the ease and relaxation they’ve enjoyed in this quiet corner of the city disturbed by the heavy increase in foot and vehicular traffic and the accompanying noise.
So: No, no, Hometown Oneonta. “New SUNY Oneonta Units” WILL NOT BE GOOD FOR EVERYONE. Some of us are about to pay, and pay dearly, for the college’s intrusion into our lives, and all Oneonta residents will pay more in taxes.
Most of us can agree, as the editorial states, that additional dormitories will be good for Oneonta’s housing stock, freeing many places now in student housing for conversion into apartments for more permanent residents. The issue is not whether the college should build new dormitories, but WHERE they should build them. The townhouses are only the beginning of intrusion. SUNY Oneonta, or its property holding surrogate, Oneonta Auxiliary Services, has already bought up 10 properties along this southern rim of the campus, properties that either have, or could have, houses or small apartments built on them.
Moreover, Dormitory Authority offers a map on its website at http://www.dasny.org/construc/procurement/in_progress/356/356.php (click on “Site Utility Feasibility Study”, scroll to page 8) which shows the planned acquisition of many more private properties now in the city.
SUNY Oneonta apparently has a reasonable alternative to its encroachment on the city: it owns a great deal of land north of the campus where dormitories could be built and still be close to all campus facilities. Many of us feel strongly that the college should build north and leave the city, with its already meager base of taxable property, alone.

Wal-Mart Being Renovated To The Latest Store Design
To the Editor:
This is to advise your readers that the Oneonta Wal-mart recently began extensive renovation.
Store manager Paul Wasko says that customers have already been asking about all the activity in the store, so we wanted to make sure you knew what was going on.
The store will receive a full remodel from the inside out and will bring the latest in Wal-mart’s store design and customer experience to area residents and students.
The remodel began on March 27 and is expected to be completed in May.
Among the many improvements are a new layout, low-profile shelving, bright interior paint scheme, enhanced lighting and easy-to-read signage.
The store is hiring approximately 50 associates to help with the remodel.
The store is the only Wal-mart in Otsego County and has served residents and students for more than 15 years.
Media Consultant

One of Wal-Mart’s futuristic designs from 2008.

Chamber Must Show Greater Urgency On Fracking
To the Editor,In regard to the March 4 editorial asking the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce not to duck the issue of hydrofracking:
Brewery Ommegang first asked to address the chamber board on this issue early in December 2010. In response to our request to go before the entire board, the chamber said it requires this to move through the committee system. The chamber’s Business Action Committee subsequently heard a presentation from both Ommegang and Gastem on Jan. 24.
However, the Feb. 27 Business Action Committee meeting, which was to further address the issue, was canceled with less than one day’s notice and rescheduled for a month later. The reason given was that further perspectives from landowner’s coalitions and environmentalists were not available. Otsego County environmental advocates as well as members of our business coalition of 200+ members have been and remain available.
This is urgent. Gastem is preparing to drill multiple new wells in Middlefield in the near future, and other companies may be right behind them. Once drilling begins it is much more complicated and expensive to address. From our perspective the Otsego County Chamber is wasting valuable time.  Whether it’s deliberate or not makes no difference, as the drilling companies are moving ahead and they are not going to reschedule their drilling.
We too ask the Otsego County Chamber to get out in front on this issue, to address it openly and widely, and to do so sooner rather than later. We too encourage the Otsego County Chamber to acknowledge the timeliness of the issue and to move with a greater sense of urgency.
Ommegang Brewery
Thanks To All Who Helped Fight Fatal Fire Feb. 26 On Main Street
To the Editor:I am writing to express the deepest gratitude of all the members of the Oneonta Fire Department for the extensive assistance we received during and after the devastating fire Saturday morning, Feb. 26, at 540 Main St.
Thank you to all the departments that provided mutual aid. They were West Oneonta, Otego, Worcester, Franklin, Sidney, Laurens, Milford, Schenevus, Unadilla, Wells Bridge, Pindars Corners and Davenport.
Our brothers and sisters in the fire service are true heroes, and assist whenever they are called.
We are grateful for the specialized assistance from the state Office of Fire Prevention & Control. Two highly trained investigators drove from the Capital District and spent several hours with OFD investigators in an effort to determine the cause.
Thank you to the city departments that helped in many ways. They included the Oneonta Police Department, Department of Public Service and Water Department.
State employees assisted also. We are grateful to the state police and the state Department of Transportation.
Thank you also to the many friends and neighbors who provided assistance, including the Salvation Army for their canteen, the Oneonta Price Chopper Supermarket for food for all the hungry firefighters, Munson’s Building Supplies for delivering materials to shore up the inside of the building, and NYSEG for the quick response to cut power.
A very special thank you to the two ladies who arrived at the scene of the fire with coffee and donuts. We don’t know who you are, but you were special angels!
We are very fortunate to live and work in a community where people care about each other and are willing to step forward to help, many times without being asked.
To each and every person who provided help, we extend our most sincere, heartfelt thanks!
Fire Chief
City of Oneonta

It’s High Time For City Hall To Fix Low-Water Pressure
To the Editor:
In your article “Fatal Fire Used Up Pressure In Hoses,” dealing with the water pressure in the East End of Oneonta, you quote the mayor as saying, “It’s never been brought up as a problem.”
I have lived in Oneonta’s East End for 20 years and am here to say that’s it’s always been a problem and it was recognized as one in 1992.
On 1/30/92 an article appeared in The Daily Star addressing the low water pressure in the East End and it was put on the back burner.
It’s 19 years later and has been addressed again. I’d like to see it looked into and resolved if at all possible.
As I said, my wife and I have lived here for 20 years and although Mayor Miller, in his defense, wasn’t around at the time, the problem has existed and it was reported.
We have talked with several mayors through the last 20 years and mentioned, reported and complained about the water pressure and the condition of the water itself, with little or nothing done until Mayor Miller got involved. He has looked into the condition of the water but not the pressure. Both are still a problem.
It would be wonderful if you could investigate this problem and maybe stir the city into finding a permanent solution.

Clergy To Cuomo: Extend Fracking Moratorium
‘We Are Compelled To Speak Out When Good Stewardship Of God’s Creation Is At Stake And Injustice Is At Hand’

Dear Governor Cuomo,
Gas drilling under way in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the country has proved to be damaging, both below and above ground.
Care of the Earth is of great importance to us and also to future generations, and gas drilling as presently proposed could potentially constitute a grave danger to the water resources of our entire region.
Farm life in our region has been in a steady economic decline, and the possibility of signing a lease for gas drilling, even though the terms may differ greatly from neighbor to neighbor, is tempting.
However, we agree with the Session of First Presbyterian, Cooperstown, that has adopted a resolution stating, “We are compelled to speak out when the good stewardship of God’s creation is at stake and injustice is at hand.”
Therefore, we, the undersigned clergy and religious leaders, are asking you to continue the moratorium on gas drilling using horizontal hydrofracking until the State of New York has had time to examine the complete federal Environmental Protection Agency study currently under way.
New York would then be in a better position to ascertain whether high-pressure hydrofracking can be done safely and then write and enforce stringent regulations sufficient to ensure the future protection of our region’s water, air, and other natural resources.
We hope that all in our area would agree that a comprehensive scientific study is necessary before the state takes irreversible action that would risk endangering our health and the health and beauty of our land.
Sincerely yours,
Rev. Fred Albrecht
Retired, United Methodist Church, Otego
Rev. Lisa Jo Bezner
Otego and Sand Hill United Methodist, Otego
Rev. Dr. Leonard B. Bjorkman
Retired, Presbyterian Church (USA), Owego
Frederic Chrislip
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Judy A. Gage, CLP
Bovina United Presbyterian Church, Bovina
Rev. Caspar Green
First Baptist Church, Glens Falls
Trustee Ron Guichard
The Presbyterian Church of Andes
Rev. Dr. Janet Adair Hansen
PPAN Moderator, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Douglas A. Horne
Otego Presbyterian Church
Rev. Betsy Jay
Presbyterian Church (USA), Cooperstown
Rev. Darcey Laine
Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens
and Sheshequin, Pa.; Resident of Ithaca
Paddy Lane
Clerk, Butternuts Friends Meeting (Quaker)
Rev. Thomas Langdon
St. Innocent Orthodox Mission, Oneonta and Otego
Rev. John R. Long
First Presbyterian Church, Buffalo
Rev. Mark Montfort
First Presbyterian Church, Oneonta
Rev. Harry G. Myers
Laurens Presbyterian Church
Rev. Brooke Newell
Upper NY Conference, United Methodist Church
Rev. Randolph Palada
First Baptist Church, Oneonta
Rev. Allen L. Presby
First Presbyterian Church of Delhi
Mother Raphaela and Sisterhood
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego
Orthodox Church in America
Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes
First Presbyterian Church, Cooperstown
Rev. Sundar R. Samuel
United Methodist Church of Cooperstown
Rev. Eric Santamont
Southside Wesleyan Church, Oneonta
Rev. Craig Schwalenberg
Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta
Dr. Janet Schwengber, CLP
Stamford Presbyterian Church
Rev. Jerald Shave
Elder Barbara Epley-Shuck
Presbytery of Utica
Rev. Teressa M. Sivers
First United Methodist Church, Oneonta
Rev. Dr. Steven R. Swanson
The Presbyterian Church of Andes
Rev. Douglas Taylor
Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Binghamton
Rev. Judith A. Thistle
Director of Chaplaincy Program, Fox  Hospital, Oneonta
Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Worcester
Father John Udics
Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Church
Herkimer (Orthodox Church in America)
Rev. James L. Ulrich
Niccolls Memorial Presbyterian, Old Forge
Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Walton-Leavitt
First United Presbyterian Church, Oneonta
Susan Woodworth
United Methodist Church of Andes

Gas Drilling Upstate Is Inevitable
To the Editor:
Many proponents of environmental causes are of the opinion that they are as effective as the lone man, standing alone against a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989.  Unfortunately, they fail to understand that man had brothers.  That tank crew became his brothers.  If not, he would have been road pizza.
There has been a firestorm of controversy over horizontal drilling for gas in Upstate New York.  This discussion has brought out the best and worst in both sides.  Some proponents cry “Drill, baby, drill.”  Their opponents reply “No drill, no spill.”  Both are extremists, in my opinion.
Pro-drilling extremists throw out rosy pictures of bundles of money and economic prosperity.  Anti-drill extremists respond with fictional versions of environmental Armageddon.  Both sides lie with a straight face.  Politicians fail to lead, preferring to follow the larger crowd.
I do not believe either side, preferring a moderate stance.  But why do I believe drilling is inevitable?  The North Slope of Alaska is an area of stark beauty and fragile environment.  That has not stopped oil and gas exploration and development, requiring a massive pipeline from there completely across some of the most beautiful and environmentally unspoiled land in the United States.
There is heavy pressure to allow entry into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  This pressure is increasing as reserves in the North Slope area for oil and gas have been dramatically lowered.
The eastern Gulf of Mexico is an area of crystal white sand and gentle slopes that beckon bathers far from shore.  Gas reserves there are estimated less than those in the Marcellus, yet many companies would gladly drill, with another spill threatening Florida’s lifeblood tourist trade.
Where money is to be made, companies pursue tirelessly. 
A recent article by Timothy J. Considine, Ph.D. of Natural Resource Economics, Inc., Laramie, Wyo., “The Economic Impacts of the Marcellus Shale:  Implications for New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia,” indicates recoverable reserves estimated at 489 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Marcellus.  Why is this important?  This increases estimates for the Marcellus nearly 10 times initial estimates! 
This promises a single U.S. gas reserve second to only one super site in Qatar and Iran, and that discounts potential reserves in the Utica Shale.  This article estimates potential increases in U.S. employment of 280,000 jobs and government revenues of around $6 billion over the next 10 years,  The current
value of identified reserves is estimated, at current prices, to exceed $2 trillion.  That statement will get a lot of attention.  That means we need to plan now for the oncoming juggernaut.
For those who champion a continued moratorium, Dr. Considine’s article has this to say, “There is currently no Marcellus activity in New York due to a de facto moratorium on hydro-fracturing. This study finds that these restrictive policies could cost New Yorkers between $11 and $15 billion in lost economic output and between $1.4 and $2 billion in lost state tax revenues just between 2011 and 2020.”
I am a realist.  When something appears inevitable, I determine how to reduce negative impacts, enhance positives.  We need to work on politicians before they are in the pockets of big gas companies, to get New York a severance tax to help clean up accidents.  Enhance penalties for those who place profit ahead of safety.
Make the DEC split income from drilling fees and taxes from those responsible for permitting and regulating the firms, but, concurrently, ensure that regulators have all the funds they need to do their job.
While gas exploration and production may be unstoppable, it can be directed.  Use the power of numbers to enact controls early.  Use the negative experiences of West Virginia and Pennsylvania to guide regulations.  Ask the DEC to release regularly updated versions of the dSGEIS so that we, the people it is meant to protect, can review it against new regulations our sister states have found necessary.  If you are a land owner, join a coalition.
Our strength is in working together.  We need all the help we can get.  Join us and have a chance, or fight us and we all fall to the juggernaut.

UCCS, Davis Work Together
To the Editor:Oneonta Community Christian School is now affiliated with Davis College in Johnson City.  OCCS students can receive dual credits for their high-school graduation and also for beginning their college transcript.
The courses are open to all students and community members in the Greater Oneonta area, including homeschoolers. Since Davis College is Middle States accredited, the courses can also transfer to other colleges.
Davis courses currently offered are public speaking, general psychology, sign language 1 and sign language II.  We are looking to soon add other courses.
The personal Meet and Greet with Mike Huckabee last fall was given to the two students with the highest public-speaking grades at the time of the Davis event.
Oneonta Community Christian School is a non-denominational school, grades pre-K through 12, located at 158 River St., phone (607) 432-0383.
Oneonta Community
Christian School

‘New Kid’ In City Welcomed by Mr. C
To the Editor:I grew up in Oneonta between 1981 and 1988, the year I graduated from Oneonta High School.  I cherish my days in Oneonta and often think about the people that made a real difference in my life when I was there.
Fortunately, I was blessed to have had “the Voice of Oneonta” (Joe Campbell) as my sixth-grade teacher at Greater Plains Elementary School.  It was my first school after moving to the “City of the Hills,” and Mr. C was just what the new kid needed.   I will never forget the ways that he not only impacted me but also left a mark on every student that passed through his door.
I am now 29 years removed from 6th grade and have been a teacher myself for almost 10 years.  I was surfing the web today and decided to pursue the man that was (and still is) a vivid inspiration.
I tried to locate Mr. C when I was serving as an assistant swim coach at Harvard University back in 1997, but he had already retired and I was unable to find him.
Is there any way you could provide me with a way to contact Mr. Campbell?  Is there an email address or mailing location that I could send a letter to?  I would like nothing more than to be able to drive to Oneonta from my home in Virginia, so that I could shake that man’s hand.  Is he still in radio?  Are there still any Sentimental Journey broadcasts?
Please let me know.  I’m not sure if Mr. C would remember me, but regardless of whether he does or not, he has influenced me more than I could ever imagine.  And the least I could do, in some way or another, is give my thanks and show my respect.
PhysEd Teacher
Liberty Elementary School
South Riding, Va.
OHS Class President, 1988  
(Editor’s Note:  Joe’s contact has been forwarded to Rick.) 

Natural-Gas Wealth An Illusion, And Will Leave County Ruined
To the Editor:
“Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” is a phrase often used to describe trivial, irrelevant gestures made while a major catastrophe occurs. Well, welcome to the SS Otsego County Board.
Chairman Sam Dubben (who has signed a natural-gas lease) has rotated Steve Fournier out of the chairpersonship of the county Gas Advisory Committee under pressure from an increasing number of Otsego County voters who have continually expressed mounting dissatisfaction with Fournier’s staunch pro-gas stance.
But Dubben, giving a nod to the Titanic, has appointed Jamie Powers as the new chairperson in Fournier’s place. Powers has openly stated that he is in favor of gas drilling, is part of a coalition trying to extract as much money out of the gas companies as it can, and intends to vote pro-drilling on every issue that comes up.
The arrogance of Dubben thinking he can put new window dressing on a dysfunctional committee and pass it off to Otsego County voters as being responsive to their concerns is an insult to our intelligence.
We will not be distracted watching a rearranged chairperson committee perform on the deck of the SS Otsego County Board, while the gas industry tears our guts out from below, letting in a sea of toxic waste that will sink our county. Otsego County voters will not tolerate rabid slash-and-burn greed by a small group that could destroy our health, livelihoods, property values and lifestyle.
Many people across the political spectrum champion all citizens being able to do what they please with their property. They do not support a few people turning Otsego County into an industrial toxic waste sinkhole while they run for the exits with a fistful of dollars.
And there will be less booty there than they think. After the signing bonus and royalties, their properties and homes will be worthless. Un-sellable. The value doesn’t just diminish; it disappears. And the royalties will only last (if they hit gas at all) for about seven years.
Worse, everyone’s property around those who have leased also becomes worthless. And therein lies the crime. It’s one thing if you volunteer to let bad things happen to you, but it is a crime to take innocent Otsego County residents down with you who never consented to be a part of it.
Sustainable Otsego

Help Find Missing Palomino
To the Editor:
I am hoping to get some assistance for finding our missing horse. We are desperate at this point. Someone has either taken her in after finding her and has not reporting it, or she is in need of serious help.
We had a palomino mare (tan with blonde tail and mane) go missing on New Year’s Eve.
We live on Hathaway Road in Otego. She could have travelled as far as West Oneonta, West Laurens or Morris, because we are way up and within five miles of each town more or less! We’ve hung signs and called the radio stations and don’t know what else to do.
If you can be of any assistance, thank you.  She was given to our oldest as a Christmas present. She was spooked by a pony we have and ran off too fast to track her very far.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Farm Bureau Supports ‘Safe’ Fracking
To the Editor:
New York Farm Bureau supports responsible natural gas drilling.
Our members have benefited from vertical gas drilling for many years, using the royalty payments to re-invest in our farms.  New York Farm Bureau appreciates Governor Paterson’s recent veto of the legislature’s moratorium, which would have jeopardized ongoing vertical drilling in New York. 
As for hydrofracking, we support any technology that allows for the safe extraction of natural gas.  
We are looking forward to a fair and reasonable determination from the state on the permitting of hydrofracking and hope our farm families can profit from this natural resource that abounds underneath our farmland. 
Otsego County Farm Bureau supports road building, not road blocking, in order to get the state back on track. 
East Springfield
Otsego County Farm Bureau

Scientists Don’t Deal In Absolutes: ‘Remote’ Is ‘Never’ To The Rest Of Us
To the Editor:
Fires on the hillsides.  Broken roads in the valleys.  Streams bubbling with methane.  A radioactive landscape, childless, without commerce.  A post-apocalyptical nightmare from Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road?”  
NO,  if you believe antidriller propaganda, it’s the future Otsego County.  Given the steady dose of we read in the papers, it’s hard for the average person to know the truth.
So, how do you find the truth? Start by driving to Chenango County or Bradford and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania.  Look around.  Talk to people.  Yes, go into “the belly of the beast” – Dimock, Pa.  After two years of contaminated water wells, 13 families along Carter road will finally be compensated by the drillers.  A civil suit continues.  I wish them well.  The driller did them wrong. 
However, while you’re on Carter Road, look around.  The road?  No worse than the one I live on.  The secondary roads?  About a foot of gravel added to the secondaries.  Check the reclamation.  After two years of reseeding - not bad. 
Note the traffic on the road to Montrose.  Each truck means a job.  Truckers mean truckstops, rentals, equipment repair.  Gas production depends on over 50 different lines of work.  Talk to people in town or even people just down Carter Road.  Drop in on the hospital.  Ask about the increase in charitable donations.  Leaving Dimock, turn south to Bradford County.  Note the activity   Closer to home, visit Plymouth and Smyrna in Chenango County.
Back home, get on your phone or computer. Talk to people in the industry, to their regulators, to neighbors who are in coalitions.  Check wwwjlcny.org.  As much as possible, seek primary sources and first-hand experience, be it people, legal records, data from regulatory agencies.  Be suspicious of those with an agenda, including me.  Although a necessity, be wary of the internet, including the website above.
Preliminary homework done, ask yourself a question: Do you really believe the antidrillers’ doomsday scenario?  90 percent of all oil and gas is hydrofracked.  Do we ban hydrofracking?  About 28 states produce gas, each with a regulator for mineral extraction.  A JLCNY researcher asked each state supervisor if aquifers and drinking water were harmed by hydrofracking. They all answered NO.   Are ALL these regulators in the tank for the drilling companies? 
So what’s the TRUTH?  First, be aware of the antidrillers BIG LIE.  They say the chemicals used in fracking defy gravity and rock mechanics to migrate thousands of feet upward through strata into your water well.  Without this core lie, the fear factor necessary for the antidrilling agenda loses its potency.  (Google Engelder, Groundwater Protection Council Presentation, slides 49 to 66 for supportive technical data.) 
All reputable scientists characterize this possible occurrence as “REMOTE.” Scientists are wary  of absolutes.  They never say “never.” “Remote” is science-speak for “almost no chance at all.”  However, antidrillers would have you believe it given that frack toxins will bubble up through fissures to pollute your water and poison your children.  That’s a lie.
Drinking water can be contaminated by stray gas and salinity from below and surface spills from above.  How common are these occurrences?  Professor Ingraffia of Cornell notes 30 serious environmental mishaps involving stray gas and spills attributable to the approximately 2,000 Marcellus wells drilled and hydrofracked in Pennsylvania over the last two years, a rate of 15 per 1,000.  However, this statistic rests on a chain of references that, when traced to the primary source, the primary source never mentions the drilling target.
Given that wells are drilled for many purposes and target formations, the actual number of wells drilled in Pennsylvania from January ‘09 to the present is 4,855 (Roger Dietz, System Coordinator, PADEP).   These include coal-bed methane wells,  combination oil and gas, gas only (various formations), oil only, storage, and test wells.  Using the actual number of wells drilled, the mishap rate falls to 6 per 1,000. 
Further analysis reveals that 9 of the 30 mishaps are the result of new drilling interfacing with abandoned wells.  Pennsylvania has between 225,000 and 375,000 abandoned wells.  The Southern Tier has less than 100, all registered and easily located.  Factoring this into a Southern Tier drilling scenario, expect to have 4 environmental mishaps per 1,000 wells drilled.  That’s the ratio, as best I can calculate it.
A word about environmental mishaps.  They are mostly spills.  Anti-drillers would have you believe that nothing gets cleaned up,  the environment is trashed forever.
Finally, all that’s written above is the result of getting in a car, talking to people, observing, examining documents.  Anyone who wants to check this out can get in their car, come over to my house.  I’ll put the coffee on for you.  We’ll talk.  But better make it before July 1, 2011.  After the moratorium lifts, drillers will be out tearing up the roads, exploding charges, gassing cattle in the fields.  Better hurry!
Unatego Area Landowners Association
City Would Benefit From ‘Senior Administrator’
Editor’s Note:  This is one of periodic reports from David Rissberger, who chairs the city’s Charter Revision Commission.

A city charter, like the federal constitution, defines the overall organizational structure and key roles and responsibilities for government operations.  For the past year a group of Oneonta city residents has been working to understand our city government operations and develop suggestions for improvements to our guiding city charter. 
We are now beginning to consolidate and finalize our recommendations.
Our task was identified as a priority by the city’s updated Comprehensive Plan, completed under Mayor Nader, who later established the Charter Revision Commission.  Additional members have been appointed by Mayor Dick Miller.  The commission’s mandate is to offer its suggested charter revisions to Oneonta voters for an up or down vote on the general election ballot in November 2011.
Starting our work in January 2010, the Commission’s first task was to understand current government operations.  We attended many meetings of the Common Council and its committees, and held a broad series of discussions with current and past aldermen, mayors, and appointed city officials and department heads.  We also attended meetings of standing city commissions and boards and spoke with a range of their leaders and members. 
Working in subcommittees, we carefully analyzed our current densely written 49-page charter, last substantively revised nearly a half-century ago, and compared its structure and detailed provisions against a cross-section of charters of similar cities throughout New York.  We have held 15 open-to-the-public full commission meetings and two public forums.

The picture that has emerged is of a committed city government leadership team that strives to get the job done in spite of charter gaps and inconsistencies.  From our research and discussions, we have reached two clear consensus points: 
1) The current charter is a user-unfriendly document. 
On a variety of key issues it offers confusing, contradictory, overly detailed, inconsistent or out-dated guidance.  Our goal is to have our charter be a concise document that lays out a clear overall framework, with appropriate flexibility, for our elected leadership to efficiently guide policy and oversee city operations in the 21st Century.  We believe a good city charter should be readily understood by a high school civics class, not just specialists or lawyers.
2) Oneonta would benefit from the creation of a new senior administrative position.  
The City of Oneonta is a public corporation, with a $20 million annual budget.  Aldermen spend many hours dealing with urgent but minor administrative or budget management issues.  City government functions are hampered by confusing roles and responsibilities for policy formulation and city operations.  Many department heads face confusing and inefficient upward reporting and supervisory lines.
 We are convinced that the city would reap many financial and performance benefits from the addition of a qualified professional city administrator or city manager.  This senior executive officer would be responsible to our elected officials.  He or she would administer day-to-day city business and free up aldermen and the mayor to address important policy and planning issues. 

In the next phase of our work, the commission will work with city leaders and fellow citizens to:
• Make recommendations for the specific duties and responsibilities of this new position; elaborate how this position will support the work of the Common Council and mayor; and build the case for how creating this new position is a good investment in Oneonta’s future
• Translate the commission’s findings and recommendations into a reconfigured charter document.  This work will be supported by the New York State Conference of Mayors & Municipal Officials and the Government Law Center of Albany Law School. 
The commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting is 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 26, at City Hall. 
The commission’s next public forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, in the Embury Room at the First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St.
We look forward to concerned citizens attending and helping us position our city for future success.

Editor’s Note:  This is one of periodic reports from David Rissberger, Charter Revision Commission chair...