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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"What do you think?"

ALBANY, Jan. 7 -- One of the season’s great movies (including what’s being hailed as one of the finest acting roles of all time), Lincoln, has sparked renewed interest in the nation’s 16th President and one of the singularly trying and tragic periods in American history – including somewhat of a cottage industry of historians and others finding parallels to modern-day political divisiveness and national struggle.

Of course Abraham Lincoln’s unparalleled recognition of the power of language and words to stir action stands out. So taking this first opportunity to look ahead to the upcoming 2013 session of the State Legislature that begins later this week, I’ll stick with the opening reference and begin with this thought from Lincoln, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offers up his third State of the State message in the Empire State Plaza’s Convention Center on Wednesday, officially kicking off the Legislature’s 236th annual session, it’s going to offer all New Yorkers, I believe, the very first look at what our state will be forced to confront for at least the remainder of this decade – particularly the governor’s opinion of where we need to stand firm. Viewed in this light, then, it may well turn out to be the most significant political and governmental statement in New York in a long, long time.

What we know for sure at the moment is that this week’s reaffirmation of one of New York government’s key traditions won’t be delivered in the State Assembly Chamber for one of the very few times throughout most of the past 100 years or so, a move this governor first made in 2011 to allow for greater public attendance. The setting’s intended to be symbolic, of course, of this administration’s ongoing priority to serve up a new era in New York government, one that puts “people first.”

So it’s well to start a new year in New York government by recalling what have widely been seen as the hallmarks of this government over the past two years: on-time state budgets, fiscal plans that have contained no new or increased state taxes or fees, and year-to-year state spending decreases, something that’s been about as rare in state government as finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

In other words, many long-time state government watchers believe we’ve dug into more than a few new (and right) places over the past two years and then stood firm in our determination to produce some long-overdue successes.

But as Governor Cuomo’s about to make crystal clear, we’ve got our work cut out for us to match these past accomplishments. It’s worth making the point that “standing firm” might be as good a guidepost as any other for the legislative session that’s about to get underway. Will we stand firm on taxes? On controlling state spending? On the need for even more aggressive economic development? More efficient, effective and cooperative government? I sure hope so. Put it this way: the crowning achievements of 2011 and 2012 continue to spotlight the right priorities this year.

So where, exactly, do we go from here? The governor’s about to offer his answers to that question, and we all should tune in and pay close attention.

At the outset I’d also like to encourage all of you to share your own thoughts. In Lincoln’s day, individual citizens often undertook long journeys and took their place in long lines outside the President’s door to have their say. Thankfully, it’s much easier today. One way to share your views will be through a new online Legislative Questionnaire I’ll soon be offering on my Senate website, The 2013 Legislative Questionnaire will focus on questions surrounding the continuing and deep-rooted economic and fiscal challenges facing the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, as well as all of New York State – including mandate relief, ongoing Medicaid reform, job creation, infrastructure development, health and education.

Obviously a short questionnaire can’t possibly address every single issue or concern, but your voices should be heard on these and other challenges. It’s still the best way to begin a new legislative year.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869