Category Archives: Columnists

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

This past week, Gov. Cuomo presented his 2014 State of the State address.

For the first 30 minutes of the approximately one-and-a-half hour speech, the Governor reviewed what he saw as successes during his first three years in office.  During this part of his speech, his main point was that state government, which has often been labeled by the media as dysfunctional, is now working again thanks namely to his leadership.

In some cases, he has a point.  For example, we have passed several on-time budgets which were a rarity under previous administrations.  In addition, over the past three years, state spending has been held in check (although it might be argued that spending was held in check due to economic realities and not because of strong political leadership. Nevertheless, increases have been kept under 2 percent).  Cuomo also stated while great strides have been made to improve the Upstate economy, more needs to be done.  As far as “more needs to be done,” I strongly agree with the Governor.

It was at this point in his speech that the Governor pivoted away from what he labels as his successes to what he wants to accomplish this year.  I was pleased that providing tax relief was his number one priority.  If we are ever going to revive the Upstate economy, the first order of business needs to be to lower the state’s tax burden on its citizens.  In his address, the Governor proposes to:

** Eliminate the Corporate franchise tax for Upstate manufacturers;

** Speed up the phase-out of 18-A, a surcharge on utilities that is passed on to consumers; and,

** Freeze property taxes for two years by having the state provide a personal income tax credit to homeowners if localities stay within the 2 percent property tax cap and take steps to share or consolidate services.

These proposals are a good start in helping New York shed its reputation as the highest-taxed state in the nation.  Indeed, I would like to go further and address why our state taxes–primarily, our property taxes–are so high.  To provide long-term property tax relief we need to address the problem of state mandates on school districts and localities, our Medicaid system, and equitable state funding for schools.

Following his call to lower taxes, the Governor then stated that there is no greater economic development program for our state than our education system.  In many respects, he is right.  A raise in socioeconomic status begins with a quality education.  In order to improve our state’s education system, the Governor proposes a $2 billion bond referendum to provide capital for the state to improve technology in the classroom.  In his speech, he also proposed bonuses of for teachers who are deemed “highly effective.”  I think both of these proposals have merit and look forward to seeing more information regarding them.

The Governor concluded his speech by saying generally that we need to restore public trust in state government.  It would be hard for anyone to argue with this proposition in light of the rash of legislators who have been accused of public corruption as of late.  To combat this problem, Cuomo calls for, among other things, public financing of campaigns. Unfortunately, it seems lost on the Governor that the large majority of legislators who have been accused of corruption are from NYC–a place where they have public financed campaign (albeit not for state offices).  Indeed, some of the alleged corruption actually arose from NYC’s system of public financing of campaigns.  Simply put, public financing of campaigns will not help restore the public’s trust on government.

Obviously, there were several more proposal set forth in his State of the State address and I look forward to hearing more details about them over the next few weeks.  I remain optimistic that 2014 can be a very successful legislative year for New York state.

Correction: In the column dated Dec. 30, 2013, there was an error.  It stated there were roughly 1.6 billion people that have enrolled in Obamacare when it should have read 1.6 million enrollees.  I apologize for the mistake.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

 

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

I’ve always been a dog person and today, couldn’t imagine life without my lovable yellow lab “Gunner.” That’s why I’m pleased to report that just recently, a measure I cosponsored to allow municipalities to regulate pet dealers was signed into law.  The new law will give local governments the authority to enact stronger measures to protect the well-being of animals and will help to crack down on puppy mills—inhumane commercial dog-breeding facilities that may sell animals in pet stores, online or directly to the public. 

Not only am I working to prevent animal abuse, I’m also working to spotlight the hundreds of pets across Central and Northern New York who are looking to be adopted into caring homes.

That’s why I’m teaming up with the local animal shelters to feature “Pets of the Week,” on my website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov, and on my Facebook page.  There, you’ll also find contact information for local shelters that are home to hundreds of other animals looking for loving caregivers.

According to recent statistics, an estimated 2.7 million healthy shelter pets are not adopted each year, and only about 30 percent of pets in homes come from shelters and rescues. If you’re considering adopting, it’s important to remember that bringing a new pet into your home is a big step that comes with a lot of responsibilities.  Here are several guidelines you can use to determine if you’re ready:

  • ** Make sure you have the financial resources necessary to care for a pet—that includes being able to budget enough money to pay for veterinarian visits, food, toys, bedding collars and other necessities;

** Is your home ready for a pet?  If you rent, it’s important to determine whether your landlord allows pets, and if so, what types.  In addition, the size of your home should also complement the type of pet you select.  For example, smaller dogs, like Dachshunds, Pugs and Cocker Spaniels are well-suited for apartments and larger dogs such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds need more room;

** You should also determine whether you have the time in your schedule to care for a pet.  Pets cannot be ignored when you are tired or busy, and require food, water, regular exercise and other types of care every day of the year;

** Is your family ready?  If you have little ones under the age of six, you may want to consider waiting a few years before you adopt, as younger children typically have a more difficult time understanding the way to properly handle a pet;

When you adopt a pet, you not only open your home, you open your heart too.  If you’re ready to care for a pet, I encourage you help an animal in need by considering adopting from a local shelter today.

 

Jerry’s Journal

Let’s first begin with Bob Borek, a former Fultonian, who called me from his home in Meteraire, a suburb of New Orleans, La., to share some special memories.

Bob’s been away from Fulton for 20 years, but reads my column, and the one that particularly caught his eye was on the old pavilion at Recreation Park.

He said his father, Boley Borek, worked there in the 1940s, was a member of the park commission for about 10 years, and worked with John “Muskie” Muscalino, who he remembers as walking with a limp.

Muskie was city recreation commissioner as well as a physical education teacher and coach at Good Old Fulton High School.

“Do you remember the PLAV championship baseball team? It was sponsored by the Polish Legion of American Veterans when it was still on Broadway,” Bob said.

“The PLAV was state champions for years. Bubba Tracy, Don Smith, Stan Smith, and Jerry Allen were on the team,” he said.

He reminisced a little more and chuckled about setting pins at Fedora’s bowling alley as a kid but, “by the end of pay day he had no money because he spent it all at the snack bar!”

I thanked Bob for the nice phone call and said I actually knew his dad, not personally, but as the step-father of my good friend Doris Kenyon Taylor.

So, just before I wrote this I called Doris to sort things out. She said Bob’s mother and her father died young. George Kenyon was only in his 50s, and her mother, Frances, worked at the Woolen Mill, and at Sealright.

“She was a hard working woman who struggled to take care of us,” Doris said in reflection.

“That’s the way things were back then. We all worked hard if we wanted anything. I babysat and had a lot of little jobs growing up. . . Boley gave me a job at the pavilion selling tickets to the roller rink – when I was only 14!” she laughed.

Doris spoke fondly of her step-brother Bob and said they stay in touch, she said. The other members of this extended family are Charlotte Kenyon (Dopp), Jim and Tom Kenyon, and Gail Borek (Gilliland).

Thanks, Doris. It’s always fun talking to you! (And, thanks again, Bob Borek.)

North Sixth Street, Part 2

Go on, blame Gerry Garbus for suggesting I write a column about our old Sixth Ward neighborhood – and what great memories it has provoked!

Not to mention the wonderful phone calls I’ve gotten from old acquaintances who want to set the record straight, and/or, tell their story.

“You got me married to the wrong guy,” I heard a hearty laugh over the phone just after that column came out. It was Carol Koenig Spaulding, referring to the fact that I had written her up as being Carol Koenig Kellogg.

“Oops,” I said. “Sorry!” Wrong last name!

Carol was very good about it, though. She thought I probably got her last name confused with “that Ingersol girl” who I had also written about.

Yes, I agreed. It was indeed Muriel “Tootie” Ingersol who married Gary Kellogg (deceased), while Carol Koenig had indeed married Gary Spaulding (also deceased).

Having cleared that up, we chatted some more and I found out that Yvonne Diehl lives in Koenig’s old homestead on North Sixth Street.

Yvonne (sorry, I don’t know her married name) used to live with her mother and brother, Phillip, right across the street next to my grandparents. Thanks, Carol for the fun chit-chat.

This is where it gets more interesting.

A few days later, I got a call from Phillip Diehl, who winters in Florida but keeps up with the hometown news. He has a home in Oswego as well, and said he’d like to get together this summer and talk a little more about the good old days on North Sixth.

Yet, another surprise.

Who else should call me up all the way from Florida where today she makes her home, but none other than Tootie Ingersol Kellogg! Her correct first name, by the way, is spelled Maryel, not Muriel. She said she enjoys my column – especially the one about our old neighborhood.

She said she remembered the Dempsey boys — John, Earl and Dick — but couldn’t place John.

“He goes by Bill, everybody calls him Bill,” I said, to clear up that mystery. She reminded me her sister Joan married Ed Pittsley, a neighborhood boy who lived nearby on Manhattan Avenue, and that her brother Bruce married Cheryl Hayden, one of the Hayden kids that lived up back of me, (I lived on Porter Street and they lived on North Seventh) and that Bruce and Cheryl still live in Ingersols’ old home on Freemont.

And, how could I have forgotten that Geraldine Blakeslee (one of the Gerrys I had mentioned in that column), once lived on North Sixth next door to Dick Guyer. Her father was in the dry cleaning business, Tootie said.

“I think she married one of the Snow brothers,” I recalled.

“I babysat for your little sister and brother (Denise and David McKinney) when your parents went bowling,” Tootie further surprised me.

“Mike and I were probably bowling with them,” I said thoughtfully acknowledging the many years of age difference between me and my siblings, while also admitting I had no recollection of her babysitting them…but fondly remembering bowling with my Mom and Dad.

That was such a long time ago, I said. Thanks, Tootie; it was great hearing from you!

As for Gerry Garbus who started this whole thing, there’s more to come in Part 3 of North Sixth Street. Meanwhile, please enjoy the accompanying photo — the old “canning factory” on Phillips Street. Thanks, Gerry for sharing.

Now here’s my caveat:

Readers beware! I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share.

Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up. I hope you have fun reading my stuff.

Your comments, additions and corrections are welcome. Contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Call the Doctor

I remember when Milton Berle, Red Skelton and Pinky Lee were on television.

And not only that, I remember when doctors made house calls.

“Wow, you are really old. Did they come by horse and wagon?”

Well, not quite, but they came to our front door carrying their little black bag.

Dr. Ostrander and Dr. Thornton were the two who came to our home during the 40s when I was “too sick to go to school.”

I can remember both of them, but especially Dr. Thornton, who was my mother’s doctor when she was growing up.

The thing I remember most about those two doctors was that “little black bag”  they carried with them. Several tools of their trade were in that bag.

I was fascinated by the instrument that the doctor used to listen to my heartbeat, officially known as the stethoscope. I remember Dr. Thornton letting me listen to my own heart ticking.

There were always some little pills in the doctor’s bag, one for the patient and one for his little brother. We looked forward to that little pill when we discovered  it tasted a lot more like candy than like any kind of medicine could have tasted.

I especially remember a particular visit by Dr. Thornton. That day I had told my mother that I was too sick to go back to school after lunch. It wasn’t the first time she had heard that; she told me I would feel better when I got back to school.

“I think he’s really sick this time,” my friend Tucker told my mother, saying I had a hard time walking home from school.

Later in the afternoon, my mother called Dr. Thornton. After checking me over, Dr. Thornton told my mother I had all the symptoms of appendicitis.

Later that evening, he returned and Dr. Dyer, a surgeon, was with him. They had trouble finding a hospital room, but they finally did. They scheduled surgery — the next day my appendix was removed.

Dr. Ostrander was familiar with my father’s family for a long time. I don’t remember my father ever going to a doctor when I was growing up but if he did, it would have been Dr. Ostrander.

I went to Dr. Ostrander’s office when my grandfather was in charge of getting me to a doctor. I remember his white hair and I thought he was old. And, of course, I remember his “little black bag.”

TV game shows

I hadn’t watched a television game show in many years until a couple of weeks ago. We were at a pub/restaurant and the room was full of men who stopped after work for  liquid refreshment.

They were all involved in watching “Wheel of Fortune” on TV.  They were shouting answers, cheering and having a good time.

A few days ago, while visiting friends, we were watching the Wheel and Jeopardy on their new digital television set. I hadn’t watched either show in many years, except for the short time with the men at the restaurant last week, but I fondly remember watching “Jeopardy” every week night several years ago when visiting my mother.

Mom rattled off the answers quicker than the contestants, while I just sat and watched.

While watching my friends’ television set I discovered that I still don’t know the answers, and when I do, I forget to put them in the form of a question.

I was glad to see that Alex Trebeck, Pat Sajak and Vanna White are still going strong. I thought that Vanna looked particularly good on digital TV.

40 Winks

I do a lot of the writing that I do while sitting in the most comfortable chair in the house. While thinking about what I want to write and how I want to write it, I often begin to get sleepy and soon drop off for 40 winks (or even a few more than that).

Sometimes, when I open my eyes after a short (or not so short) nap, I seem to have gotten new ideas while I was “resting.” Other times I have no idea what I was thinking about and have to figure out where I was going with the half-finished thought that I left behind on paper.

This is a fairly recent development created by the fact I am now categorized as a “retiree,” and as part of that designation I have also officially become a “napper”.

A good sermon

As the father of a minister, I shouldn’t be telling minister jokes, but here’s a couple I couldn’t resist.

“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, and to have the two as close together as possible.” — George Burns

“The best illustration of the value of brief speech reckoned in dollars was given by Mark Twain. His story was that when he had listened for five minutes to the preacher telling of the heathen, he wept and was going to contribute $50.

“After 10 minutes more of the sermon he reduced the amount of his prospective contribution to $25.

“After half an hour more he cut the sum to $5.

“At the end of an hour of oratory when the plate was passed he took $2.”

 

. . . Roy Hodge

Poetry Corner, by Jim Farfaglia

This Year, by Jim Farfaglia

 

Every new year is a bridge that’s crossed,

it’s a wishing well where dreams are tossed;

it’s excitement, like the first day of spring,

or the tender joy a newborn brings.

 

A new year fills you like a sky so blue

or the welcome smile of a friend to you;

it’s the first snowfall gracing the ground,

it’s the sun rising on our little town.

 

A new year can be like a first bite of fruit,

or a remembered melody played on a flute;

yes, this year is the gift of life anew,

and it was made especially for you.

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

Along with a New Year come a number of new laws for New York state.

As the calendar page turned to 2014, a number of new measures went into effect — many of them aimed at providing much-needed tax relief that will create new opportunities to enable businesses and taxpayers to succeed.

Here’s a look at a few of the new measures:

Support for small businesses

Beginning in 2014, hundreds of thousands of small businesses that pay under the state’s personal income tax will see a $35 million tax reduction.

This is the first year of a three-year tax cut phase-in, that during the next three-year period will save small businesses $140 million that can be used to reinvest in their businesses in an effort to grow and create new jobs.

Tax relief for manufacturers

Starting in 2014, the state’s corporate tax on manufacturers will be reduced by nearly 10 percent.

This will save roughly 13,000 manufacturing companies $30 million in 2014 and a cumulative, three-year total of $120 million by 2017-2018 when the tax reduction is fully phased-in.

Help for hardworking families

Providing tax relief for hardworking families is a new middle class family tax cut that will return hundreds of dollars this year to the pockets of hardworking New Yorkers — and save them $1 billion annually by 2017.

As state senator, my top priorities are creating jobs and providing relief to hardworking taxpayers.  That’s why I supported a total of 30 different tax cuts in the past three years — saving New Yorkers $3 billion.

This year, I’m looking forward to working just as hard to continue to push for new tax cuts that help to create more opportunities for New Yorkers to succeed.

Best wishes for a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

The governor recently signed a number of bills into law.

I wanted to take some time this week to make you aware of a few new ones that will or have recently become effective.

Military Tax Exemption

A6223 exempts members of the military upon returning to New York from having to pay New York sales tax on vehicles that they purchased while stationed in another state — provided they paid sales tax in the other state. The law became effective immediately. I was pleased to co-sponsor this measure in the Assembly.

New York residents who purchase a vehicle outside of New York state are required to pay sales tax upon registering the vehicle. For those who served in the military, this proved problematic.

Military service members often keep their residency and driver’s license in their home state while serving because they intend to someday return to their home state.

Unfortunately, in doing so, if a service member kept their New York residency and purchased a vehicle while stationed in another state, they would be obligated to pay New York’s sales tax on that vehicle upon their return to New York – even if they paid sales tax in another state.

This meant a veteran returning to New York State may have had to pay sales tax on their vehicle twice. The new law prevents this.

NY Farm Produce at State-run Facilities

I was pleased to support A5102 in the Assembly, which supports local agriculture.

This law requires hospitals, prisons and other state agencies to buy more local produce. It requires the state to put in place better purchasing and tracking systems to make this possible.

The law already favored that state agencies purchase locally produced food, but this new law gets more specific in terms of purchasing systems and reporting those purchases.

It authorizes the commissioners of general services and agriculture and markets to develop regulations to “establish guidelines to increase purchases of New York food products; publish the guidelines on the Office of General Services website; and provide for monitoring and implementation…”

It also requires annual reports be made to the legislature and the governor so the public can better track these purchases.

Food Establishment Inspection

Results to be Posted Online

A2116-C requires the state Department of Health to make available on its website all public food service establishment inspection results for the most recent three years.

The law also requires local health departments that maintain a website to post a link to the state Department of Health website where inspection results are available. This will become effective next year.

Animal Cruelty

A5113-A gives district attorneys the ability to seek a reasonable cost for the care of seized animals from individuals convicted of certain animal cruelty crimes on behalf of impounding organizations.

According to the law, “animal cruelty and animal fighting are serious crimes in New York state.

“Because crimes against animals often involve the seizure of the victimized animals, these cases … involve arranging for the housing and care of the animals while the criminal case is pending.

Private organizations, such as shelters, humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals have traditionally assisted law enforcement agencies by providing care for these animals with little or no reimbursement.”

I was pleased to support this in the Assembly.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, send a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, or an e-mail to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

Light in the Darkness

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

This may be one of the best know verses in all of scripture and probably the most quoted.

It speaks of the wonderful gift the Father has given to mankind. It is the gift that makes the difference between eternal life with God and eternal separation from Him.

Jesus bore our sin and its penalty, opening the way for forgiveness and restored relationship with our loving Creator. As such, it is an incomparable gift.

There never has been nor can there ever be another like it.

However, dearly beloved, have you ever considered the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 17 where He says, ““Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.” (v. 24).

Though I  touched on this in my last column, I would like to take time to consider more carefully what it means to those of us who believe.

Think of this for a moment, especially during this season of gift giving and receiving.

Even as the Son was a gift from the Father to mankind, you, beloved believer, are a gift from the Father to the Son.

Jesus proclaimed this in another place, also, as He prayed something remarkable.  As He speaks to the Father, He says of us,  “They were always yours. You gave them to me.” ( John 17:6).

I don’t know if you ever thought of yourself as a gift given by the Father to the Son, but you are. Can any thought be more wonderful?

Now there are some who think that God redeemed us because He was lonely or simply wanted a big family, but I don’t think that this is true. God did not do this because of some need He had, but because of the need we have.

Dr. John Piper writes,  “It expresses his concern for the satisfaction of our longing, not his loneliness. Jesus is not lonely. He and the Father and the Spirit are profoundly satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity. We, not he, are starving for something.”

God has done all that He has because we, not He, had a need we could never do anything about. We were in a dilemma and He loved us enough to meet that need. First by giving His Son for us and then by giving us to His Son.

Pastor David M. Grey      

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church