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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"This and that around NY government"

ALBANY, April 29 -- To say the least lately, it’s been a whirlwind of days nationally and around the globe – including right here in New York State. So like I do every now and then, it’s a good week to share some quick news and notes out of New York government:

-- They say timing is everything, and that’s as true in politics and government as it is in sports, business or just about anywhere else in life. And the timing couldn’t have been truer last Tuesday when, on the very day the Senate was scheduled to take up legislation I sponsor to further outlaw the operation of meth labs statewide, police and firefighters in the city of Elmira made yet another meth lab bust. Reports that local first responders were on the scene of a meth lab discovery came to my attention early that afternoon. By the time the Senate voted later that evening, I was able to stand on the floor of the Senate to speak in favor of the legislation, let my colleagues know that yet another meth lab cleanup operation was underway in Elmira, and urge their support to deliver a strong message that we’re not about to sit back and tolerate meth labs endangering our neighborhoods, putting responders and citizens at risk, or overburdening local systems of health care, criminal justice and social services. The bill was overwhelmingly approved with strong bipartisan support. Now it goes to the Assembly. We’ll see, but one thing for certain is that this epidemic of meth labs is becoming more and more disturbing. Read about my legislation, watch my comments in the Senate
Chamber and learn more on;

-- Staying with the “timing is everything” line of thought, there’s a strong push underway in Albany to go statewide with a system of taxpayer-financed campaigns. In simple terms, candidates for public
office, from the office of governor on down, would be able to access public taxpayer dollars to run their campaigns. Governor Andrew Cuomo, state Assembly leaders and other leading legislators and advocates have made it a high priority this year. At the moment, only the Senate Republican
Conference is saying, Let’s hold on a second. Estimates show that a statewide system of taxpayer-financed campaigns could cost state taxpayers upwards of $220 million per election cycle. As chair of the Senate Elections Committee – and with that above figure squarely in mind -- I think it’s important to be as deliberate as possible in examining the potential benefits but also the pitfalls of a statewide system of taxpayer-financed campaigns. Taxpayers at least deserve a full public airing of such a dramatic and complex change. And we think there’s one good place to start taking a closer look: New York City, where the experience of public campaign financing is well documented, though not exactly stellar. In fact, prominent election experts have labeled it abused and corrupt. We’ll be hearing from some of these critics at a public forum in Albany soon;

-- It’s been a tough run across the region’s economy over the past few years, so it’s little wonder that news late last week that Corning Incorporated's diesel facility in Erwin will be expanding was met with more than a few sighs of relief and rounds of applause. The economic body blows around the region have been hard to take, so any counterpunches we can land earn a cheer. This one’s especially good, and it’s no surprise that it’s coming from a top-flight, local economic fighter like Corning Inc.;

-- Speaking of positive economic news, the Cuomo administration recently noted that New York is now the nation’s leading yogurt producer – yet another feather in the cap of our remarkable agricultural sector. It’s an especially good development for dairy farmers, since the administration
is finally following through on some promised regulatory reforms that will create more economic opportunities for the industry and, as one farm leader stated, show that New York “can have a healthy environment, local food production and a strong economy.” The state’s also increasing support for Cornell University’s PRO-DAIRY program; and, finally

-- On the same week that the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its annual report on the 2012 hunting season showing Steuben County leading the state in deer taken, and Yates County leading the state in both deer and bucks taken per square mile, a list of hunting-and-fishing facts also came across my desk from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 2011. Hunting and fishing is big business in New York State, to the tune of more than $8 billion in annual economic activity. New York was second in the nation in total angler spending on fishing-related items, and fourth in the nation in spending by hunters.

It's a timely reminder that the traditions carried on by our sportsmen and sportswomen are truly anchors of upstate New York’s way of life – making irreplaceable contributions to the economy and the culture, and leading the way on conservation.

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