The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

December 18, 2013

Council: Rapper deserves benefit of the doubt

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — A Common Council member and the mayor urged a positive approach Tuesday to plans in the works to have a controversial rapper appear at OH-Fest in the spring.

Chip Holmes, Eighth Ward council member who has worked with college students and officials planning OH-Fest events, said Sammy Adams is a professional entertainer and that organizers have given assurances that additional, private security will be present during the concert.

Holmes, in an effort to alleviate concerns about the annual free, open concert in Neahwa Park, spoke in the open forum of the council meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night. No motions about the concert were before the council, but the selection of Adams had been recently announced.

During the business portion of the meeting, the council approved motions for a contract with the Oneonta Family YMCA, appointing a fire captain and hiring a law firm for labor relations, among other actions.

Adams, a Boston-based artist, was chosen by students at Hartwick College and the State University College at Oneonta to be the main performer at the colleges’ joint spring festival.

Adams was arrested in Manhattan, Kan., in 2010, on charges of disorderly conduct and incitement to riot at a concert, but his publicist said the charges were dropped.

Holmes told the Common Council though he can’t guarantee a “perfect show,” Adams no longer has to conduct himself as a punk to gain attention. Adams has performed in commercials for a national company, he said, and has played at five colleges in the last year without any problems.

Holmes said, based on conversations with two concert promoters, Adams might draw a crowd of 8,000 people. Content appropriateness and other factors will be part of the performer’s contract, he said.

In 2011, the rapper Pitbull performed in Neahwa Park for OH-Fest 6, drawing a crowd of about 10,000 people, which sparked concerns about public safety and the ability of law enforcement to keep the peace.

The 2012 concert was held at the SUNY Oneonta campus, and the festival returned to downtown this year.

On Tuesday, Mayor Dick Miller said he had confidence in the work of Holmes and Seventh Ward Council Member Bob Brzozowski, members of the OH-Fest planning committee.

“Our attitude ought to be ‘let’s make this work,’” Miller said.

In other business Tuesday night, the council authorized Miller to enter into a contract with the Oneonta Family YMCA to provide recreational programs and services, including operating the swimming pool and offering swimming lessons, for 2104. Miller said the city Parks and Recreation Commission will provide oversight for the scope and results of the arrangement, which will be reviewed in the autumn, he said.

The YMCA has proposed providing programming, including staff and supplies, for $65,000 for 2014, and the YMCA would seek additional revenue through applications and nonresident fees.

Frank Russo, executive director of the YMCA, said the Y will work with the city on identifying and meeting needs to mutual benefit.

“We’re open-minded to cooperating in any way we can,” Russo said.

The council approved the motion 6 to 0. Council members Michael Lynch of the Fourth Ward and Maureen Hennessy of the First Ward were absent.

In other business:

• The council approved hiring Coughlin & Gerhart LLP of Binghamton for legal services pertaining to contract negotiations for $18,000. The city has contracts with the local Police Benevolent Association, the Police Sergeants Association and the local Civil Service Employees Association that expire Dec. 31.

• Terry Brown of Otego complained about cars being towed Saturday night when a group was holding a fundraiser at the Elks Club. Ten or more cars of event-attendees were towed from High Street, he said during the petitioners’ portion of the meeting, and if the police department had waited 30 minutes the cars would have been gone. He also objected to the $150 cost, plus $30 parking ticket, to retrieve the car from the impound lot and that cash was required.

The city had 112 cars towed overnight Saturday because of a snow emergency so that crews could plow streets. Police Chief Dennis Nayor told the council Tuesday that he was surprised that many cars were towed because he used social media, including Facebook, and issued media releases to alert the community that the emergency status would be in effect.

In the general forum, Fifth Ward Council Member Madolyn Palmer said she was at the party Saturday and an announcement was made “over and over” that cars had to be moved.

• The council approved the street closure and parade application for First Night Oneonta for Dec. 31.

In personnel actions, the council appointed Jeffrey Pidgeon as a captain in the Oneonta Fire Department at a salary of $54,808, effective Dec. 30, and Paul Patterson as transportation director at a base salary of $60,525, effective Jan. 1; and approved pay increases of 2 percent for administrative personnel.