By Mitchell Lynch
The Daily Star
---- — I wrote in my last column about things that make living in our area great. Well, to quote Lynn Anderson’s 1971 hit song “Rose Garden” … along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometimes. Here are some issues that might hinder but also can help our future and continued quality of life in upstate New York.
Our newspaper, “The Daily Star,” is based in Oneonta and covers four counties: Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie. The city of Oneonta is primarily liberal (with two liberal arts colleges in town, this is no surprise and expected); the outer rural areas are primarily conservative.
This diversity, while it makes life interesting (depending on how someone views it), also creates polarization of our communities. I have never in all of my life seen our country and our communities so polarized as they are right now. Animosity and Apathy are bi-products that create a stalemate of ineffectiveness and blame-game. These two issues left unchecked will be the downfall of our communities and our country. Whatever happened to the art of moderation?
It amazes me how so many people will take information and put their spin on it to fit only their agenda. This is the age of the 24/7 access to the Internet, and news information is easily accessible. But remember this, more than half that information on the Internet is incorrect. Make sure you are looking at viable news sites that have unbiased reporting. (Yes, they are out there.) Why not look at the opposing view to see what you might be missing or haven’t thought about?
Step up and be involved in your neighborhoods, communities and schools. Let your voices be heard. Write a letter to the editor of this newspaper or to an elected official. Make sure you register and vote. Only 57.5 percent of voting age citizens turned out at the last presidential election. Compare those results to the majority of other nations, which average 90 percent to 70 percent turnout for elections.
I have said for years that we should teach civic responsibility to high school students. How can we expect the children of our future to be engaged unless they know what is expected of them? We have a lot of work to do. If you do nothing, then you have no right to complain. But alas, most still do. It’s easier to complain, rather than actually do something.
Why can’t we as local citizens, civic and elected leaders be Benevolent and do the right things that will be Beneficial for all of our community? It seems easy enough to do … right? But sometimes the pressures from our family, friends and political parties make it difficult to do the right thing. Remember this: If we do the right thing, it will always work out!
No matter which political side you place yourself on, one major issue we have to embrace is Collaboration. I have watched this past year as many different political parties, organizations and individuals assign blame, and do nothing. It’s time to sit down and find a way to work together. Nothing gets accomplished until this is done. Yes, there will have to be Compromise.
How did these two words — collaboration and compromise — get a negative connotation? These words are positive and yield positive results. Yes, it will be difficult. But nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. There is always a common ground between divided parties, people and organizations. The key has always been finding it and building from that point going forward. It’s easy to be divided; it takes hard work to come together.
Consolidation is one tough issue that will continue to surface in our future as our local economies struggle and hard choices have to be made. Private industry has over the last several years consolidated services when it made sense and kept costs down to our customers. Now, government will have to follow the lead of the private sector and do the same.
Notice, I did not write the word “merger.” Our school systems will have some tough choices to make in the future if the tax base and enrollment continue to trend down. Our local governments will have similar choices with water, police and fire services. We will have to be reasonable and use common sense going forward and understand that just because we have always done it this way, it will not work anymore.
I will finish this column as I began, but with another 1971 hit song, John Lennon’s “Imagine.” You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
Mitchell D. Lynch is the publisher of The Daily Star and Cooperstown Crier. He can be reached at email@example.com or at (607) 441-7214.