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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"The work of freedom"

ALBANY, May 19 -- Approaching the observance of another Memorial Day in America, I thought it was worthwhile to turn to the following lead on a news story out of New York City from Friday, May 10, 2013: “Construction workers bolted the last pieces of a 408-foot spire into place atop One World Trade Center on Friday, symbolically capping New York's comeback after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The spire brings the iconic building to a height of 1,776 feet -- an allusion to the year the United States declared its independence.”

It’s a story – and an achievement -- speaking volumes about the fundamental challenges facing this generation of Americans and, in many ways, the future of this nation.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has often reflected on the post-9/11 world. He once said, “The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom."

We are more determined, I agree. But we also have to acknowledge that living our lives in freedom today, as much as at any other time in history (maybe more) takes enormous effort.

We readily know and honor the commitment and sacrifice of our military men and women in this mission.

The rebuilding of One World Trade Center is another powerful achievement in the ongoing work of freedom.

There’s also no denying that we have emerged and continue to emerge, out of necessity, more on guard in our everyday lives.

One perfect example of post-9/11 America focuses on the digital age, which has accelerated by leaps and bounds in the years since 2001. It’s fraught with security concerns that become more challenging (and more troubling) every day – from the level that most of us are most familiar with, the computers in our homes, to the complex and far-reaching systems operating at the highest levels of government.

So a press release out of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office drew some interest early last week, if for nothing else than because its subject matter – cyber security – isn’t the first thing that comes to mind about state government. Last week’s announcement about the creation of a Cyber Security Advisory Board put it this way: “U.S. officials at the highest levels continue to stress the serious threat that cyber attacks pose to the nation. Major cyber attacks on both public and private systems serve as a warning to all levels of government that they must do all they can to protect critical cyber infrastructure, including telecommunications networks, physical infrastructure systems, and transportation systems…to ensure that New York is in the forefront of public cyber security defense.”

Again, the work of freedom. The idea of “public cyber security defense” wouldn’t have crossed our desks a generation ago, but here we are and there’s no turning back.

It’s not just about preventing terrorism anymore. The digital age is now inextricably bound with everyday public safety.

We constantly read stories highlighting the across-the-board challenges and threats that make “cyber security” one of the inescapable facts of modern life. We can do a pretty effective job of protecting our home computers with specialized software systems, but it becomes a much more complicated and difficult challenge for governments, corporations, health care systems, and so many other large organizations.

The threats range from straightforward identity thefts to more sophisticated attacks that pose at-large risks to public security. It even bores right down to daily priorities, such as the ability of police, firefighters and other first responders to share real-time information, or the speed at which a police officer can run a check on a license plate.

New York’s cyber security advisory board will be comprised of some of the world’s most experienced and knowledgeable cyber security experts – a group that brings to bear vast experience in both the public and private sectors.

The goal is to ensure that statewide safety and security keeps pace with the ability of cyber terrorists, cyber thieves and any other would-be cyber criminal to cause harm. It’s also to ensure that our existing public safety and security systems are as up to date, effective and responsive as possible.

Again, it’s not what most of us think of when we think of state government – but it’s the work that the post-9/11 world demands.

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