Category Archives: Valley Viewpoints

Successful cabaret

by Nancy Fox, Director

It is with delight I say a hearty thank you for the wonderful support CNY Arts Center received from businesses, organizations, members, and media coverage, for our first Cabaret “Songs of the Seasons.”

We greatly appreciate the businesses, organizations, and artists who donated gift certificates and works of art for their contribution.

The entertainers, Adam Schmidtmann, Amy Price, Carly Farfaglia, Noel Christine and Marlina Beebe, directed by Marguerite Beebe and accompanied by the incomparable Douglas McCall, presented a wonderful evening of music and poetry in a relaxed environment. Steve and Josh Beebe provided technical design, assistance and videography while CNY Arts Center volunteers pitched in to put on a lavish feast of desserts and decorations and play host to our guests.

With the response and support demonstrated at the cabaret, we are affirmed there is great passion for the arts in Fulton and in Central New York.

We are proud to be a part of the art community and committed to promoting all art organizations, and all arts for all ages.

I personally am grateful for the hard work and dedication of so many. Thank you everyone!

Lip service

by Michael Kunzwiler, Oswego County Legislator Minority Leader

As minority leader of the Oswego County Legislature, I am going to respond to some of the baseless allegations made by County Clerk Michael Backus.

First and foremost, Mr. Backus stood in the doorway near the press table for almost the entire meeting. The NY SAFE Act discussion was held at the beginning of the meeting and there were three public speakers who were each allowed five minutes.

Mr. Backus stood in the doorway long after the vote on the resolution was taken. He should be aware that the meetings are videotaped and televised locally.

I’d be happy to provide Mr. Backus with a copy of the meeting video if he is confused as to how long he stood in the doorway. The tape doesn’t lie.

Mr. Backus said he stood where he could hear the debate. No one else moved from the back of chambers and no one complained about the inability to hear. We use microphones to speak and we have a good sound system.

The department heads aren’t “relegated” to the back of the room. This is where the chamber seating is located. My impression, and that of other members of my caucus, was that Mr. Backus was hawking over a reporter to prove something and hawking over the Republican legislators, as if to intimidate.

Although we didn’t disrupt the meeting to ask Mr. Backus to move from the doorway, it was my intention to address this with the Legislature Chairman after the meeting.

Mr. Backus claimed that “many” Republicans voted against the IQS contract. As Legislator Malone pointed out, it is a fact that only three of the 18 Republican legislators present at the meeting voted against it.  Legislator Malone backed up this fact by referencing the Aug. 9, 2012 meeting minutes, available for inspection on the Oswego County web site.

Legislator Malone pointed out that Mr. Backus, as the Oswego County Republican chairman, accepted a $500 donation from IQS, the vendor for his clerk office.

As Legislator Malone pointed out, this can be verified by visiting the New York State Board of Elections web site and viewing the Oswego County Republican Committee’s January 2013 financial report. The donation can be found under “housekeeping receipts.”

Mr. Backus seems to have a problem differentiating between an open house and offering to pay for lunch for 25 legislators and select county officials. Our caucus perceives this as an ethical issue.

One of our caucus members had inquired with County Attorney Richard Mitchell prior to the luncheon to determine its legality. Mr. Mitchell’s response was that he had better things to do than to check on who is buying lunch for whom.

A feel-good luncheon only provides a band aid to the abuse that continues in the clerk’s office.

Last month, I personally filed a complaint with Personnel Director Carol Alnutt over a recent incident that was reported to me. Mr. Backus chose to keep the two problem employees of the office. That was his prerogative and despite the well-publicized and well documented problems, Mr. Backus apparently feels the employees and the documentation are wrong.

Mr. Backus is alleging age discrimination because Legislator Malone advised him to grow up.

It has nothing to do with age. It has to do with the ability to take criticism when participating in politics. It’s called maturity.

Mr. Backus has provided nothing but the lip service that is typical of the Oswego County Republicans and he veils his defense by twisting and distorting the facts.

Basketball tournament

by Chris Hansen, Fulton

Last year, I wrote snarky letter requesting that the Fulton War Memorial somehow find a weekend for the Fulton girls travel basketball teams to host a home tournament.

Well, I am extremely pleased to announce that our tournament is this weekend (March 7-9) and we are all ready to play!

There are two teams of 7/8 grade girls and a 5/6 grade team.  Play started Friday night at the Fulton Junior High and the War Memorial. It continues all day Saturday at the War Memorial from 8:20 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

All students are free; there is an admission fee for everyone else. Please come support our girls and cheer them on to victory!

Two of our eighth-grade girls already play on the varsity and JV teams and without the travel program, we might not be as strong an organization.  Our head coach, Dan Gilmore, has spent the last few years working with these girls and making them a true team.

Our other coaches, Al Smith and Jason Waloven, have kept the program growing and together we have really developed into an exciting future for Fulton girls basketball.

Finally to all the parents of our travel players, thank you for being there for your girls.  Getting a date for the tournament is the start, but it’s the parents and other volunteers that will make this a success.

The hours we spend taking our kids to practices, games and volunteering are the building blocks we give our kids on how to be good and caring citizens in the future. Keep up the good work.

See you all in the gym!

Bowling success

by Bob and Sandy Weston, Fulton

Congratulations to our high school boys and girls bowling teams for their outstanding achievements in their participation in the Section III competition. Both teams were league champions.

The boys finished in the top five and the girls finished number one in the sectionals, earning the girls a trip to the state finals.

Special recognition to the girls bowling team in winning the Section III championship for the last two years and competing in the state championships.

The Lady Raiders finished in fifth place, competing against the 11 best teams in New York State.

In state competition, some of the teams come from bigger schools with larger enrollment.

The members of the team are Kylie Clifford, Jasmin Denson, Kate Ely, Megan Guernsey, Mikayla Guernsey, Haley Noel, Danielle Rupert and Kendra Tryniski.

Individually, Guernsey, who comes from a bowling family, had the second highest score among all the bowlers.

Those of us who have or are presently bowling can understand how difficult it is to achieve the high numbers that she records: averaged over 235 with a total pin fall of 1,412 over six games. Her high game was 259.

Mike Tryniski, who comes from a bowling family and is a former professional bowler on tour, is the coach of both bowling teams and the owner operator of Lakeview Lanes.

Of special note, the bowling team competes with little fan-fare, no cheerleaders or bleachers full of fans. What they have is the support of parents and friends. Their dedication and skills is their showcase.

We appreciate their competing for their school and community.

Political back and forth

by Michael Backus, County clerk

While I am glad to read that Legislator Malone is apparently ending this back and forth, I notice that he cannot help himself but continue his pointless attack in his letter.

I learned a long time ago that people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. I believe many of the “facts” that Legislator Malone continues to portray as his own are actually rumor, innuendo and long held grudges.

Whether he choses to continue to publish them via these letters for political gain or notoriety remains to be seen.

The larger point is he could, and still can, stop by at anytime and help me understand the issues he has with the clerk’s office.  I recognize the situation that I was elected to and this public shaming that he has attempted to engage me in certainly does not help me administer my official duties as county clerk.

He also keeps up this discrimination against me based on my age. This is why I stated in my last response that this is why young people don’t get involved in politics.

In Legislator Malone’s era, this public shaming, back biting and good old boy politic was the “political arena” that he referenced. He could get away with “calling it as he sees it” regardless of the veracity of his statements.

Today these negative attacks benumb and further alienate the public from their government — its time it stopped and that’s why I continue to respond.

Additionally, Legislator Malone can’t seem to grasp the fact that the open house, which he continues to malign, was indeed called for by members of his own caucus. He should also speak with any member of the Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs committee to understand that in the letter I submitted I clearly outlined my intentions.

As stated I was elected to a challenging office with many issues, chief among them was collegiality. Having a working relationship with co-workers is critically important to an office such as the clerk’s and so is that relationship with the legislature and the general public.

This open house, in my opinion, was a good first step toward building a constructive, positive culture in my office and not one person besides Legislator Malone has had a negative comment about it.

Once again, I do take some offense to his claims of “intimidation” and his portrayal that department heads should be relegated to the back of the room.

On the legislative day in question there were a great many guests on hand as the legislature was debating a resolution in opposition to the NYSAFE Act. I stood where I could hear the debate, which consisted mostly of public comment.

Legislator Malone’s allegations of “intimidation” are laughable as that resolution passed with bipartisan, unanimous support. Quite honestly, if Legislator Malone had felt intimidated by me standing there he could have taken me aside after or even during the meeting and asked that I not stand there in the future.  I probably would have heeded his words and appreciated his tact in politely asking for consideration.

Finally, I am choosing here to not bite at his accusations regarding the treasurer’s race and my role as Oswego County Republican Committee chairman. I have stated publicly what I have been advised by legal counsel, the board of elections and many others with knowledge of the situation as to how this process should play out.

Should a court of law or the governor come in and tell us differently then we’ll adjust.  All I can do is work with the information that I have and seek as open a process politically as I can.

At the end of the day, the people of this county will elect their next treasurer this November regardless of any appointment or political back and forth.

Fantasy world

by Doug Malone, Legislator

I am not going to keep going back and forth in the newspaper with County Clerk Mike Backus. It’s apparent he believes what goes on in his fantasy world.

Backus cannot see what’s wrong with his purchase of lunch for legislators? A department head should not give the appearance that he or she is trying to gain favoritism or preferential treatment from those who are in the position to vote on his salary or anything to do with his office. I’ve been a legislator for 16 years and I don’t recall any other department head doing such a thing.

Backus claims that he was asked to hold his feel good open house luncheon by legislators on both sides of the aisle. He must be referring to the legislature seating in chambers because he sure didn’t get a request from any of the Democrat legislators. He might have had a Democrat say an open house would be a good idea but no one recommended a luncheon.

There is nothing in the minutes of his committee to say he got permission for the luncheon and he wasn’t at his first meeting. It is in the minutes that he was absent. Was there some secret meeting to approve this luncheon?

Backus claims in his response that there were many Republicans who voted against the IQS contract for the clerk’s office. I don’t know his definition of many, but the minutes show only three Republican’s voted against it. Two Republican legislators were absent from the meeting, three voted against , leaving 15 Republicans to vote in favor. Perhaps Backus meant to say that many voted in favor. I’m not sure how he qualifies it that I’m playing politics by stating the truth.

Backus wasn’t around for all the controversy but he does have access to the other proposals that were received. If he’s look, he’d find there were good, responsible companies that were a lot cheaper. If he really had concern for the taxpayer’s best interests, he would reconsider these proposals.

Backus said that last year was an expensive election cycle. The Republicans has to fight a “protracted legal battle” for the clerk’s race and that there could be a legal battle for the treasurer’s race. Of course he doesn’t want the governor to appoint any of these vacancies because that would take the power and control away from him and low and behold, the governor might appoint a Democrat.

Isn’t it funny that at least three counties have had vacancies in the treasurer’s office and the governor filled each vacancy? Just last year, Governor Cuomo appointed a person to fill a vacancy in the treasurer’s office in Jefferson County. Of course, we all know Backus wanted to be the clerk and I’m sure he had his hand-picked Republican candidate for treasurer.

Anyone watching the Feb. 14 legislature meeting on television can see Backus standing in the doorway by the press table, arms folded, as if he was the king. No one ever stands in that doorway when the legislature is in session and he should have been back with the other department heads. He sure gave the appearance that he was trying to intimidate everyone from the press to his Republican cronies. What’s he trying to prove? That he controls Oswego County?

My constituents know I don’t mince words. I call it as I see it. Backus can spin things all he wants, make excuses for taking political contributions from IQS, and stand in doorways during the meeting with his arms folded like he’s the king, smirking, but facts are facts.

I didn’t attack the clerk employees. In fact, the opposite is true. The Democrat legislators listened to the employees when no one else would. They had gone to the county administrator, the legislature chairman and other Republican’s to no avail. They came to us and we did our best to help them. The employees know we are always here to listen. There’s not much we can do because the Republicans control county government, but we can make sure the public knows what’s going on.

I’m inclined to think that Backus doesn’t want me to publicize the facts because it might “further” tarnish his personal, professional and political reputation. I’ve got news for him. He can only ride on John McHugh’s coattails for so long. One of these days he’s got to grow up and face the fact that he threw himself into the political arena and there’s more to it than a cushy paycheck.

Enjoying the poems

by Theresa Duger, Hannibal

My husband makes me happy when he says that he paid the subscription of The Valley News because he knows I read it all.

It is important to me to know what is happening in the Fulton area and Oswego County.

I would like to thank the newspaper for printing “The Poetry Corner.” I like to thank Jim Farfaglia for the excellent job he does in his poetry. He writes words that can accomplish great things capturing the power of communication.

For me, writing poetry I a sacred art; it is the communication that feeds not just the mind but also the soul of the reader. He crafts the language with thought that breathe and words that burn.

Sometimes I stayed up late and when I read a great line of one of his poems and when the meaning of it penetrated in my soul, I sleep good.

Sometimes, I said “I wish I could write like that. I wish I could write something that would make other people feel like I just felt after I read his poems.”

At times, I read his poetry after dinner for dessert.

Sometimes I read his poetry patiently, endlessly letting my mind wonder, letting my imagination get challenged with the inspiration of the priceless words printed on the page.

Office disconnect

by Ernestine Hughes, Parish

In Legislator Doug Malone’s letter in the Feb. 16 edition of The Valley News he refers to an employee problem that has been festering in the Oswego County Clerk’s office since last year.

An article in Dec. 14, 2012 edition of The Valley News entitled, “County Legislators want review of Deputy County Clerk position,” indicates “after Jan. 1, 2013 there will be four supervisors for nine employees.” This seems like too many chiefs to handle nine employees!

We have newly elected Oswego county clerk, Michael C. Backus, whose recent letters indicated he needed time to witness daily interaction among employees/supervisors and he needed to gather more information. It is March 2013, meaning two months (or nine weeks) have passed since Mr. Backus took on his new position of county clerk.

With the seriousness of this problem, it is time to have some action on “calming the storm” in the county clerk’s office. Is it possible young Mr. Backus does not have the experience or knowledge of how to handle this situation?

Further, why is the Republican party Mr. Backus leads accepting a $500 donation from IQS? Possibly, Mr. Backus should resign his position of Oswego County Republican chairman?