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Reporter's Notebook

January 5, 2013

New Year bringsnew maneuversfor old disputes

The first week of 2013 is still in progress, and we can already detect a heavy aroma of political intrigue in the air.

For starters, the founder of the anti-fracking group, Sustainable Otsego, Adrian Kuzminski, began the New Year by trying to kick the chair out from under any plans Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller might have for winning a second four-year term later this year. In a letter to Otsego County Democratic Committee members, Kuzminski urged that local Democrats distance themselves from Miller, an unenrolled independent who secured the Democratic line four years ago.

Kuzminski’s beef with the mayor stems from the fact that the latter supports the idea of having the proposed Constitution Pipeline run along the Interstate 88 corridor. The mayor, who opposes hydrofracking, has argued that the pipeline could be operated safely and could become a source of cheap natural gas for businesses, schools and other institutions in the region.

“It harms the Otsego Democratic party to support a candidate like Miller, who’s not even a Democrat,” Kuzminski wrote. “Better he runs as a Republican and the Democrats focus on finding a good opponent either this time, or the next time around. The idea that there doesn’t seem to be an alternative to Miller at this early stage bespeaks an unwillingness to fight for principle.”

We reached out to the Richard Abbate, the new Otsego County Democratic chairman, who indicated the party plans to interview Miller later this month. Abbate noted that not all Democrats are out to sink the pipeline. He pointed out that there are even individuals who have worked with Sustainable Otsego, such as retired oil company executive Lou Allstadt, who have argued that the pipeline would not necessarily lure gas drillers to the region.

We also reached out to Miller, who showed no desire to fire back at Kuzminski, a Fly Creek resident.

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