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ElmiraTelegram last won the day on November 15

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  1. My Father's Centennial

    by Kathleen Reed While my own birthday won’t come with any festivities this year, my thoughts are on someone else’s birthday. One very dear to my heart. April 26, 1920. This year would have been my father’s Centennial. Happy Birthday, Daddy! You know how we see toddlers’ eyes widen in awe at the sight of an airplane….as wonder and amazement registers with the realization that there are people flying through the air? I found it fascinating that as a child, my Dad watched adults share in that childlike wonder. And he held onto some of the wonder and amazement through his lifetime. At the age of nine, he witnessed the stock market crash that would plunge the nation into the Great Depression. But he witnessed so much progress in his lifetime (1920-2006) that it makes my head spin. His boyhood home on Hudson Street was lit with gas lamps. His family didn’t get electricity or radio until he was a teenager. As a youth, it was still a big deal when a “talking movie” hit the local theater. The concept of home movies and camcorders were inconceivable back then. Television didn’t come along until he was a grown man, and he saw that evolve into the technology to change channels with a remote control, then record on VHS – and later DVD. Live streaming from your phone to social media across the world would happen a few short years after his passing. He witnessed telephones that didn’t have dials (requiring an operator) evolve into technology that allowed rotary dialing….and later direct dial even for long-distance calls in the late 1950s. By the 1980s, he saw phones without cords…and then they left the house entirely. And a few short years later, cell phones shrunk from shoebox to pocket size. And my adult children scarcely recall a time before smart phones. As he grew into an adult saw many societal change changes – some that caused concern. When he was young, the Bolshevik Revolution that spawned the USSR (after a massacre of Russian royalty and culture) was still practically “current events”. With that in mind, he instilled values of Liberty in us and warned that we “would” see a similar fate in our lifetimes. Having experienced the Great Depression, he’d seen ‘poverty’ in its original definition and was concerned as the word began to include lack of things that he considered comfort and conveniences – rather than necessities. As social programs and government “safety nets” steadily expanded, he worried that growing dependency would inevitably result in widespread loss of independence. Many of the tremendous strides in ‘human evolution’ brought on by the Industrial Revolution were very ‘recent history’ that his parents and had witnessed firsthand. Historical rises in literacy and life expectancy….while destitution and infant mortality declined at record rates. He was perplexed as he watched the “heroes” he’d learned about as a child become regarded as evil capitalists and “robber barons”. Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller, the “Great Entrepreneurs” of the Industrial Revolution. Railroads and automobiles that created mobility, freedom and opportunity – the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the invention of ocean travel. And using their fortunes to build hospitals, libraries and schools that elevated disadvantaged populations as never before. He was dedicated to finding old books and magazines….and often pointed out when contemporary publications contradicted them. It saddens me that many were lost over the years. Even with some trends that he found unsettling, he remained in wonder at the leaps mankind took in his lifetime. When he taught us to drive in the 1980’s…Dad still considered automatic transmissions to be a “new-fangled” thing that just wasn’t as ‘tried and true’ as standard. But he still marveled that the technology existed. Although he’d always favor his trusty slide rule for calculations, his amazement at our first pocket calculator was clear. I was about eight. As he went on and on about the liquid crystal display and how many things we could soon be doing with a printed circuit board so small, I sort of felt a little guilty that I didn’t understand enough to share in his delight. But there were so many other things that he showed me, that I did share the enthusiasm. The way he showed excitement over everything made him a powerful storyteller and teacher. Whenever he’d have me ‘help’ with a simple household chore it turned into a colorful presentation that may take hours……but usually left me certain that science was magic and my Dad was a wizard. He never wanted or expected me to memorize facts, figures or formulas. He showed me. We wanted me to see it, question it, understand it. And he usually made it seem fun. To this day, I couldn’t tell you which one of Newton’s Laws was applied….but after spending the better part of an afternoon trying to meet Dad’s challenge to make it up a down escalator, I had a better understanding of how motion in opposite directions will counteract one another. And we had ice cream afterward even though the escalator won. He truly appreciated that learning by watching, understanding by doing and teaching by demonstration was how humans evolved. When he was a boy, learning how the world around us works wasn’t necessarily giggles and ice cream. Carrying water in a leaky bucket was learning the ‘hard way’. Understanding the how and the why was the best way to improve things. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how many medical breakthroughs he witnessed, in addition to the technology that fascinated him so much. The Polio outbreak began a few years before he was born. Through the 1940’s when it was paralyzing 35,000 Americans each year, it was for his generation, a tragic fact of life that seemed to have ‘always been. Then it slowed to hundreds, then dozens a year. And for the last few decades of his life, it was gone. He watched a few pandemics make it to the USA, including the “Hong Kong Flu” that took a million lives worldwide, and 100,000 here. And after nearly 30 years of watching the world suffer from HIV, he barely missed seeing a cure developed. I think if he were still here, he’d tell me to be sensible and make good choices….but that this will pass. And he’d probably consider staying home a fantastic opportunity for everyone to spend time learning how everything we take for granted works….and building a greater appreciation for the modern marvels that we rely on every day. And instilling the same in the younger generation. "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." –Ellen Parr Kathleen Reed is a resident of Catlin.
  2. Socialism Is Not The Answer

    by Linda Roorda This is simply my opinion on the socialist agenda that seems to pervade political ideology once again. Ever wonder why so many people from around the world want to come to our nation, legally or illegally? Could it be that the capitalistic United States of America offers freedoms and blessings that are limited or non-existent in their countries? Why are folks not overrunning their nations’ borders? Could it possibly be that Socialism and Communism are the great limiters of the very freedoms which we enjoy… and take for granted? What is so appealing about our far left-leaning politicians promoting Socialism? Is it Free health care? Free tuition? Free guaranteed income? Free housing? Why is it so hard for some to work themselves up from the bottom of the ladder to the upper levels in companies? Is it a feeling of entitlement? Life is not fair. Never has been, even in Biblical times, and Jesus said “the poor you will always have with you.” (Matthew 26:11) Life is tough, requiring us to work thru difficulties, help each other, and seek to better our life and the lives of others with talent and ingenuity. I, too, worked from the bottom up. Yet, I’m not angry or discontent because others earn way more than me/us. There will always be someone, or some company, who has bigger and better things than you. Be happy and content, grateful and thankful for what you are blessed with. “What most millennials mean by ‘socialism’ seems to be a mix of our welfare state and what they perceive to be Swedish democratic socialism. But Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, including Denmark, favor the free market, content with private rather than government ownership of major industries. Danish domestic spending including comprehensive health care has a high price — a top personal income tax of 57%. After decades of sluggish growth and bureaucratic inefficiency, India rejected state socialism in the 1990s and shifted to a capitalist approach that spawned the world’s largest middle class of more than three hundred million (nearly equal to the entire U.S. population)… Much of the appeal of Marxism was its scathing critique of capitalism and its 19th century excesses, which included 16-hour work days and Dickensian working conditions… In The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx says, ‘The theory of the communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property… ‘ It’s often argued that socialism is a secular version of Christianity (Acts 2-5) which describes the early Christians having ‘all things in common.’ It is true that following Pentecost, Christians sold their possessions and property and shared the results with ‘any [that] might have need.’ But there is a critical distinction between Christians and socialists: Jesus urged his followers to give up their possessions while socialists want to give away the possessions of others. St. Paul is sometimes quoted as saying that ‘money is the root of all evil.’ What he actually wrote in I Timothy 6:10 was that the ‘love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.’ Without exception, every socialist leader from Vladimir Lenin to Fidel Castro promised to initiate basic political freedoms such as free elections, a free press, and free assembly. None fulfilled those promises.” (What Americans Must Know About Socialism by Lee Edwards, PhD https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/what-americans-must-know-about-socialism ) As a teen, I read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, read about our nation’s wars, the prison camps, Corrie ten Boom’s experiences in Germany’s prison camp, losing her family, my Dad’s books The Arms of Krupp and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (the first Christian martyrs after Christ’s death which I could not finish because of the horrible persecution they suffered), books on overcoming and dealing with adversity including pioneers trekking across the nation to the Great Plains and far West, and so much more. I recently read The Ghost Ships of Archangel by William Geroux, of our teaming with Britain to send ships bearing supplies to aid USSR in their fight against Hitler. The communist regime and its effects were clearly evident under Stalin’s heavy-handed control, but we gave him aid to fight the Nazis. The first immigrants in Plymouth, Massachusetts Colony had a socialist-styled economy to start – except it quickly became evident who the hard workers were vs. slackers expecting freebies. When William Bradford privatized everything, as in you work to feed and care for your own family, selling/trading any surplus, they all flourished! (Bradford in Saints and Strangers) You may argue we destroyed the Native Americans. In a sense we did. But let me ask, what did the ancient Romans and other ethnic groups/nations do as they conquered other lands and peoples? A similar thing happened in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (New York City) when Pieter Stuyvesant was forced to give the settlers personal and governing freedoms which had been limited under the Dutch West Indies Company… the people began to thrive and the city became what it is today because of the early Dutch influence even after the English takeover! (Russell Shortle, The Island at the Center of the World). There is a socialist undercurrent in this nation that I’ve known about since my teens in the early 1970s. Socialism does not benefit the common citizen, but rather the ruling elite who determine what we should believe and how we should live. Free handouts provide a certain element of equality-for-all, until… as Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England once said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.” In an era of one-sided, taken-out-of-context, fake news, Dear Lord, help us to discern and know who’s telling the truth and what we should do. Our American freedoms have been a powerful force for enrichment and a better way of life, including unprecedented wealth for those who care to do what it takes to pursue it. Jealous? Think no company or person should be so rich? Their wealth provides jobs for the rest of us… including what their money can do to benefit others. Instead, we’re taught to feel guilt for our nation’s failings and wealth. While millions around the world long to live and work in our United States, to pursue the dreams we can freely achieve with hard work, we are supposed to be ashamed of and hate our nation. Are we always right? No! Are businesses and individuals greedy? Yes! As a nation, we paid for our mistakes of the past. Is there injustice in life? Yes, because mankind has not reached perfection, and never will. There is no perfect person but our Savior, Jesus, and no perfect society except Heaven. Socialism promises equality, and for a time it seems like utopia; but, it too often brings about the opposite in poverty, hunger, desperation, and inequality, with government control of every aspect of life. Look around you at the world’s impoverished nations. The government rules. Government tells you how your healthcare will be handled, whether you can be treated or not – like my friend’s Mom-in-law in Canada at 72 with breast cancer put on a waiting list for treatment; when it was her time, her cancer had progressed such that she was told there was nothing they could do for her and she died. Instead, my cancer was treated with appointments, biopsies and surgeries in less than a month, continuing cancer free today. They determine whether you can start your own business, remodel or enlarge your home, even if and when you can buy a home or vehicle (as per Canadian friends)… and socialism and communism typically lead to despots in control with a weakening economy and a citizenry forbidden from speaking and living freely like with our constitutional rights. Both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have projected socialized medicine will cost upwards of $30-40 TRILLION to pay for health care of all!! I’ve read that equals about 60% or more in higher tax rates for everyone - that’s every person, not just the rich corporations. But, hey, that’s socialist equality – we all pay our costly fair share… with nothing left over to enjoy, including freedom. Congressman Gerald Smith made the following statement, which is now inscribed in the Congressional Record. He said in 1958, "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give away that which it doesn't first take from somebody else." As a teen, I had several foreign penpals from Holland, Germany, France, Australia and Columbia. Andrew from Australia was shocked when I’d written about getting my own job and buying my own car… while a senior in high school. In his socialist nation, he had to wait for the government to say when he could get a car, and they would tell him where he was going to work – he could not make the same choices I made freely. That stayed with me all these years. Something else is missing today – respect and true tolerance. Socialism destroys our innate ability to pursue betterment by using our God-given gifts and talents to improve life for ourselves and others. That’s why so many people emigrate to our great United States of America – for the freedoms and blessings we enjoy and too often take for granted. Linda Roorda is a resident of Spencer.
  3. by Kathleen Reed The issue of term limits is important to voters in Chemung County. The Term Limits Review Committee recommended the previous resolution, but it died in the Multi-Services Committee on January 6th 2020, due to lack of a second to the motion to refer it for a vote by the Full Legislature. A new resolution that resumes the Term Limits Review Committee was introduced and details can be found at: https://www.rodneyjstrange.com/news/term-limits-for-county-executive-legislature-back-for-second-time There have been at least 3 polls posted on social media since the Term Limits Review Committee was first appointed in last year. Each had a relatively modest number of responses. They were not legal petitions with “verified” registered voters and, as such, could not be cited with a “scientific” margin of error. But the results of each were incredibly consistent, and responses showed overwhelming support (well beyond any typical margin of error) in favor of term limits. Some legislators who oppose term limits may point to the historic turnover in 2018 as “proof” that voters have the choice to elect new faces, without a “need” for term limits.……as if challengers and incumbents alike have equal footing every four years. It is obtuse to discount the clear and ubiquitous “Incumbent Advantage” that has been cited and verified by countless sources across the nation. Data shows that incumbent candidates overwhelmingly win re-election over challengers across all levels of government. While the average reelection rate of Congressional incumbents hovers in the high 90s (where costly campaigns create a greater obstacle for challengers), the average reelection rate at the local level is only about ten percentage points less. In other words, in local elections where an incumbent is running, challengers only have about a 15% chance of winning. The fact that Chemung County voters rejected that pattern with historical numbers in 2018 shows a strong desire for change. Forty percent of the incumbent legislative candidates who sought re-election in 2018 were defeated. Five out of 13 incumbents were defeated. And what speaks volumes is that the challengers who defeated them, at an unprecedented rate, all ran campaigns that stressed support for Term Limits. Additionally, the voters chose to fill the office of County Executive, and at least one of the two Legislative districts where incumbents were NOT running…..with candidates that have expressed support for Term Limits It cannot be coincidence that, of the 15 legislative seats and the County Executive race, half went to candidates who have expressed support for Term Limits. It is clear that the citizens of Chemung County desire change among their elected servants. Keeping unlimited elective terms, and perpetuating Incumbent Advantage significantly impedes that desired change. And the “Incumbent Advantage” grows stronger the longer the incumbent holds office. We should note that of all the current legislators who took their seat by defeating an incumbent, only one of the defeated incumbents had been previously elected more than once. There are numerous scholarly articles that have examined the various factors that contribute to the phenomenon of the overwhelming “Incumbent Advantage” that exists. Some of the most accepted explanations include: 1. Name Recognition This speaks for itself. Just as marketing experts know they can rely on consumers habitually gravitating toward brand recognition…voters gravitate towards names they know and have heard on the local news. 2. Institutional Support & Endorsements By running from within the system, officials can use many of the advantages that come with their office. Interest groups and other supporters are much more likely to get behind someone with a track record of responding to their needs than an unknown challenger. 3. Access to, and Control Over Government Resources There are many tools and resources available to office holders that challengers have more difficulty accessing, like voter databases as well as contact information that can be used to their advantage. And finally….. 4. Voters' Inertia and Risk-Aversion Simply put: when people are uncomfortable or unsure if they have enough information to make the most informed choice, human psychology defaults to leaving things as they are. Inertia can stop us from taking action over all facets of our lives. From things as inconsequential as replacing an outdated fixture…to vital cancer screenings when we feel ‘fine’. We reflexively avoid action. For instance, maybe a lack of exercise plan isn’t working so well for us. We know we need to do something different. Maybe we have even bought a membership to a gym. But we may wonder if some new plan, like cardio or weights, might have their own drawbacks. We haven’t completely weighed ALL the pros and cons of different options….so we haven’t made any changes just yet (even though we know there are better choices than the current course). Just because we have not yet overcome the inertia that keeps us from immediate change…does not mean that we believe the current course is best for us, or that we have no desire for change. This “mental” inertia we encounter regularly is a difficult force to overcome individually. Collectively it is an even greater force. Challengers face significant hurdles in informing and motivating the public to conquer that inertia. The 2018 turnover was indeed historical and required significant effort from those candidates, as well as the public’s desire for change. But most of the districts that saw change, removed a first term legislator. I would like to believe that incumbents (especially long tenured ones) who dismiss the idea that they have had an “Incumbent Advantage” are not simply being disingenuous. Perhaps some are just unaware because they themselves have never experienced the disadvantages of running against an incumbent. The table below summarizes positions that Legislators have articulated at some point. I understand some that are noted as “undetermined”, but have expressed that they believe it deserves a vote….whether or not they necessarily support it themselves. That’s a perfectly fair position that I believe deserves respect. However…. all the Legislators who have maintained a solid position against Term Limits are among those who have already been elected to 3 or more terms of office themselves. And of those long-tenured office holders who oppose Term Limits….How many of them have ever faced an incumbent opponent? Zero. The Term Limits Review Committee will be holding meetings every Tuesday through the month of March. They are open to the public. Although the scheduling of all of them during traditional workday hours (at 3:45 pm) may be a challenge, I encourage all to attend if possible. For those who have a Facebook account wish to express their view on the topic (and/or may be unable to attend a meeting during the workday), there is a current poll available at https://www.facebook.com/elmiratelegram/ (pinned just below the reviews section) Click one button to vote, then a second button to share on your own timelines to reach as many Chemung County residents as possible. Kathleen Reed is a resident of the Town of Catlin
  4. by Anthony Pucci Through a Freedom of Information request, I have obtained a record of all of the requests for reimbursement made by members of the Chemung County Legislature in 2019. These records provide some noteworthy insights. In total, Chemung County taxpayers paid $9,016 for travel expenses (at the rate of 58 cents per mile) and meals … all of which were approved by Dave Manchester, Chairman of the Legislature. While it is certainly reasonable for a legislator to ask for reimbursement for travel and meal expenses in order to attend an out-of-town conference, my review of the documents submitted show that some legislators claim mileage for simply driving to and from their home to the Hazlett Building in Elmira where their meetings are held. I wonder how many of you reading this are reimbursed for simply driving to work? My guess is not many. Why are the legislators who make approximately $18,000 a year for working an average of 11 hours a week, and who receive health and other benefits that cost taxpayers even more than their salary, allowed to claim mileage and meal money? The answer is simple: they decided that it was allowed. It must be noted that some legislators did not make a single request for such reimbursement; others, however, clearly milk the system for every penny that they can get. Here is the breakdown of reimbursements by legislator: District 1 Michael Pastrick: $3,873.57 District 2 Dave Manchester: $477.50 District 3 Tom Sweet: $1,689.44 District 4 Joe Brennan: $50.00 District 5 Mark Margeson: $232.00 District 6 Brian Hyland: $1,579.92 District 7 Christina Sonsire: $ 0 District 8 Peggy Woodard: $0 District 9 John Burin: $239.00 District 10 Marty Chalk: $239.00 District 11 Bob Briggs: $0 District 12 Bill McCarthy: $0 District 13 Scott Drake: $418.38 District 14 Michael Smith: $452.50 District 15 Rodney Strange: $0 These numbers speak for themselves. Mr. Pastrick (District 1) alone accounts for 43% of the entire expenditure for all of the legislators for the year. Mr. Sweet (District 3) is next. Those two legislators account for an astounding 61.7% of the total reimbursements paid for by the taxpayer. As if this was not appalling enough, a close examination of the records reveals that on at least one occasion, Pastrick and Sweet each claimed a mileage reimbursement of $145 for attending the same meeting on the same day. Seriously, did either one of them consider carpooling? Pastrick even had the audacity to claim mileage for driving one mile from his home to the Catlin Town Hall for a ribbon cutting ceremony and another mile for driving back home. I commend the five legislators who refuse to take advantage of the system and the taxpayers. As for the others, look at the numbers and draw your own conclusions. Anthony Pucci is a resident of the Town of Veteran.
  5. Bookworms

    This is an open and ongoing thread to share books you're currently reading and what you thought of them.
  6. "It's The Little Things In Life"

    Family, Money, Friends- those things are all well and good. But what are some of the little things in your life that bring you happiness, that maybe someone else wouldn't understand?
  7. Ziggy's Gift