In two recently published exposes, Mike Zagata (The Daily Star) and Andrew Stammel (Hometown Oneonta) expressed their genuine concern for the economic stagnation that has burdened Otsego County for decades. They noted the impacts on families, schools, businesses and institutions. As native New Yorkers — albeit from different generations — they have personally witnessed the population exodus and economic decline. Both Mr. Zagata (former DEC Commissioner) and Mr. Stammel (Oneonta Town Board) made conscious decisions to enter public service and we should congratulate them on their willingness to serve.
In their articles, they pointed out the potential benefits of the Constitution Pipeline and the need to carefully consider the interests of the wider community. Mike Zagata’s professional career, in particular, is testament to his dedication to promoting the public good through a scientific approach that minimizes environmental impacts without threatening economic viability. We may question their conclusions, but we can agree on the need for “more jobs and the ability to retain our young and working-age people” (Zagata) and that “we should not immediately rule out any proposal that may attract new businesses or reduce operating costs for existing businesses” (Stammel).
In a recent letter to The Daily Star, Mike Zagata’s integrity was attacked by an individual using excerpts (out of context) from a 1996 New York Times article. Since I have known and respected Mike Zagata since 1965, you will forgive me if I dismiss this ineffectual and inept character assassination. I believe Andrew Stammel shares Mike Zagata’s sincere interest in serving for the benefit of all. As a new public official, his patience will be tested by the woeful state of our civil discourse. We may recognize the fact that contemptible accusations are not beneath some of our fellow citizens, but we should never tolerate it.
Rowley is a member of Citizen Voices.