Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ask And You Shall Receive?

Please click on each letter image to magnify. "Tools" setting at 200% magnification also improves visibility. Visitors who are interested in the subject of non-uniform and unfair Cortland student housing assessments are referred to Student Housing Assessments dated November 9, 2011 in this blog. We apologize for poor reproduction of letters included in this post. Images are jpeg or png.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Scoop Shovels Donated to County Legislators

     Nineteen brand-new scoop shovels were donated to Cortland County legislators as they started Thursday's meeting in legislative chambers on the third floor of the county office building. The legislators were handed the shovels by the county treasurer. When questioned about the purpose and the name of the donor, the county treasurer said that an explanation and purpose for the gifts could be found on tags attached to each shovel, and that the donor wished to remain anonymous.
     Reporters and witnesses speculated that the shovels had something to do with the annual Cortland County Legislators' Manure Pile Tossing Contest to be staged at the county fairgrounds later this year. (Legislator Arnold won last year's contest.) Several legislators were asked to divulge or explain the message, but the legislators nervously removed the tags, placed the shovels on the floor, and refused comment.
     Following an executive session on the administrator's new contract, a question arose about the ethics of accepting a gift of a shovel. Since no specific value for each shovel was known, and since the gifts did not appear to influence the legislators or create a conflict of interest, the question was set aside for study by the ethics committee. Meanwhile, the legislators agreed to keep the shovels.
     At the conclusion of the meeting, reporters again asked legislators about the message on the tags. Someone heard Chairman Park tell reporters that he would provide an answer to their question "later, perhaps tomorrow."
     The mystery message, however, has not been made public at the time of this post.
     Anyone who knows anything about the mystery message tagged to the handle of these scoop shovels, or the name of the donor, is requested to leave a comment to this post.
     Prior posts Historic Swap of Assets (Part A), and Trojan Jack-Ass (Part B) dated October 12, 2011, and Nineteen County Legislators Found Dead at County Landfill dated September 20, 2011,  have something in common with this current post.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

School Superintendent Spring In Running for Schenectady School Position

     Cortland Enlarged School District Superintendent Larry Spring is one of three finalists for the position of Schenectady School Superintendent. Larry Spring has been Cortland's school district superintendent since June 2006. See article in Albany Times Union:

Friday, January 20, 2012

News Article Missing Names

     This is the news article:
     "City Finishes Year on Solid Financial Footing"--January 19, 2012, Cortland Standard.
     These are the missing names:
     Former Mayor Susan Feiszli and Deputy Director of Finance and Administration Lori Crompton.
     The Cortland Standard article states: "In 2009, the city had a $150,000 deficit in its fund balance, but has seen a reversal of fortune in recent years." The article also mentions that city departments came in under budget, and that sales tax receipts exceeded estimates.
     Yes, and add a property tax decrease over the last two years. Without the leadership of former Mayor Susan Feiszli and the financial expertise of Deputy Director of Administration and Finance Lori Crompton, the "reversal of fortune" may not have occurred. These two unheralded people gave the city discipline and direction.
     Good fortune and good leadership. Give credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Governor Cuomo Talks Tough

     Governor Cuomo's address today on the 2012-13 state budget promised a 4% increase in education aid on condition that teachers accept a controversial evaluation law. The governor will withhold education aid increases in districts that do not have an evaluation plan in place by January 2013. He promised to impose his own teacher evaluation plan if pending union lawsuits are not dropped in 30 days.
     "The equation is simple at the end of the day," said Governor Cuomo. "No evaluation, no money, period."
     State Education Commissioner John King said: "The next 30 days will be a big test for NYSUT."
     At stake is one billion dollars in federal aid to New York's schools.
     The Cortland Contrarian would like to open a related discussion on this blog, and encourage readers to leave responsible, objective comments. Readers will need to establish a Google account. Post a comment with your name, or a pen name. Visit the Albany Times-Union website for a briefing on the governor's remarks about teacher evaluation:
     The New York Times has an article on this subject:
     The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has a specific case study about a veteran teacher in trouble who can't be fired:|topnews|text|Home
     The Syracuse Post-Standard has an editorial on this subject:
     The Atlantic has an interesting article about Buffalo's teachers and plastic surgery covered by their contract:
     Lobbying set record:
     Veteran Albany news reporter Fred Dicker has an article on teachers' unions in the New York Post:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Beyond Vietnam--Martin Luther King, Jr.

     "I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice." Martin Luther King, Jr.--Beyond Vietnam--a speech delivered at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967.
     He was a prophet, a man who sought justice. War, poverty, and race were subjects dear to his heart and he spoke eloquently on these subjects.
     "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
     For transcript and audio of this memorable speech, please visit this website:, a special feature provided by African-American Involvement in the Vietnam War.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Partial List Of Useful Government Or Government-Related Websites

     Regular contributors and readers have suggested a list of useful government websites. The list is incomplete--a start--but expect to find information and data that will enhance your knowledge and understanding of government.  and  New York State Governor Cuomo  Office of State Comptroller  Fiscal Policy Institute  Empire Center-- payrolls, pensions, contracts, expenditures, etc.  Department of Taxation and Finance. Navigate to "Property Taxes and Assessments" by clicking "Individuals" (next to "Home") and clicking on the appropriate tab on left side.  Citizens for a Better New York  Office of State Attorney General  Citizens Against Government Waste  New York State Conference of Mayors  Cortland County  City of Cortland

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Say A Few Prayers For Al Kryger"

     Rev. Farley Smoot of Virgil, a close neighbor of county legislator Sandy Price and rumored to be her spiritual advisor, claims the reason Cortland County didn't get much snow in December and January is because Greek Peak President and CEO Al Kryger offended God.
     "He extended his business model and went against the laws of God and nature. Building Hope Lake Lodge and the Indoor Water Park were sinful acts," said Rev. Smoot. "Al Kryger got on the wrong side of the Lord, and now the Lord has withheld snow from Greek Peak Mountain Resort."
     Rev. Smoot went on to explain that he had a dream about the weather and business climate.
     "Rev. Martin Luther King had a dream too, but not about lack of snow and the cause of it. It's sinful ambition that did it. Say a few prayers for Al Kryger."
     For local residents who believe that lack of snowfall is related to climate change, Rev. Smoot has a much different explanation:
     "Climate change is a political and scientific snow job with no basis in Revelation."
     Rev. Smoot is a retired prison chaplain. He is an avid skier. He has an opinion for everything.
     "You should hear what he has to say about the county legislature," said Clementine Phelps, who lives near Hollenbeck's Cider Mill. "Nothing positive or praiseworthy. He blames the county legislature for ignoring legislator Sandy Price's ridiculous suggestion to relocate the county landfill to state land near Greek Peek on Valentine Hill. She may lose the next election for that crazy notion."
     At the moment Al Kryger was informed of Rev. Smoot's opinion on the weather, a skier standing by his office door heard him exclaim:
     "Snow job? That guy is a nut job. Who let him out of prison? I don't give a hoot for Smoot. We have man-made snow at Greek Peak. We could use a lot more natural snow. Let's all THINK SNOW."

For more information about Greek Peak Mountain Resort, visit link:

Monday, January 9, 2012



Recently, a friend chided me for being overly concerned with the issue of corruption in Congress and in the Executive branch of our government while ignoring the other important issues confronting our country. He's forgotten, perhaps, the issues on the need for generating more wealth in the private sector, on useful stimulus vs. wasting money, on taxing the rich, and on the increasing burden of our debt and its inevitable consequences. But he's right in one respect: I do believe that corruption is the biggest elephant in the room. Further, I believe that until this elephant is put down, we have no reason to expect other problems to be resolved in the interest of the American people. So here's my response:

Dear Friend,

In the early days of logging in New England, trees were cut in the winter as snow was necessary for transporting logs to the edges of rivers and streams where they would be piled up to await the spring floods. At that time, the logs were pushed into the water to be floated downstream to mills and ports.

Along the way, there were numerous narrow spots, at which men were posted with pikes so as to assist the logs through. In spite of their efforts, logjams occurred, and it became the duty of the foreman to locate the KEY log and remove it with a pike. Loggers knew that to move other logs was worse than pointless because more logs would continue to pile up in the jam until the KEY log was removed. When the foreman was successful, he had to run for his life across moving logs. When he failed, dynamite had to be used (and no, they did not use Chinese for this work--a tidbit of history)

All the best,


As an optimist, and Rootstriker, I fantasize about what will happen when Lawrence Lessig and others are successful, and we get rid of government by special interests. As a realist, I wonder what life will be like if we don't, and how can my children, grandchildren, and all those I care about, preserve a decent quality of life?

Meanwhile, go to the poles, but do not vote for candidates of either party for national office, to do so would merely validate the system, and the pols and special interests will continue to have their way with us (never change a winning game). Fill in a real name, or leave it blank. And staying home is not an option, doing so adds power to the special interests in a perverse way.

Ben Franklin, when asked whether we had a republic, or a monarchy, replied,

"A republic, if you can keep it."

Joseph Bakewell is author of Steven's Vocation, After Barbara, A Bird Named Enza, Will's War, and Strike ISBN 978-0-9718701-6-1--available at is available in Kindle store.

Cortland Contrarian also recommends Dylan Ratigan's recent article "Auction 2012" at Huffington Post:
and Feb. 24, 2012, N.Y. Times editorial Donors With Agendas:
NYPIRG published a list of lobbying donors in New York State for year 2011. Donations totaled a record $220 million.
Citizens United attacks from Justice Stevens continues:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Frying Pan Into the Fire

Mr. Walsh was so in a wad today. He actually asked me to add him on my Face Book page. Being the NICE guy that I truly am, I obliged.

It didn't take long for "Binky" to get right to the point. Everyone that was around at the time that he was forced to tender his resignation was a liar. I found this particularly interesting, as it is my understanding that he was also forced to do the same thing in Homer, New York.

I asked him about a couple of topics. Documentation of time, missing email, and generally about why he was dismissed. At that point, what I got from him was that everyone involved were liars, and some untruthful statements about former Mayor Feiszli.

I didn't even get to the good stuff, such as having to outsource FOIL requests because he was so far behind. The charge for having FOIL requests outsourced was $ 310 dollars an hr. for another attorney to do what Mr. Walsh SHOULD have been doing !!

His Time Sheet documentation was only for his first 3 months as required by the state, so that he could receive full credit for his State Retirement Fund. He was supposed to work a minimum of 30 hours per week. It was WELL documented he NEVER did. After the first 3 months, the Finance Advisory Committee and Brian Tobin himself asked for him to keep track of his time--he never did.

Upon receiving a request for resignation, Mr. Walsh asked if he could have the weekend to take his filing cabinet, which he never took. However, he did seem fit to take files of law suits with the city out of city hall. He also wiped his computer completely clean, deleting ALL legal files and legal documents pertaining to city business. This was found by the city's IT person. It had gotten to a point where Police Chief Catalano had to call Mr. Walsh and have him return the files he had taken.

I could go on and on about Mr. Walsh's ineptitude as city attorney, but I think by now everyone will perk right up and get the picture. He wasn't fit for the job. He was no more than a bitter and angry man afterwards, to a point where he even felt it necessary to belittle and badger a true Lady, which was also witnessed and documented.

So now, BINKY, you have MY IRE, and probably that of anyone else with a desire to see things as they truly are. Enjoy the HEAT !!

Randy Fox

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Second City Attorney Appointment Draws Comments

     In the last city administration, former Mayor Feiszli was admonished for wanting to add a second city attorney. She was fought at every turn, up to and including articles in the Cortland Standard.

     Mayor Feiszli's need for a second attorney, however, was caused due to the fact that her sitting attorney, Mr Walsh, just wasn't doing his job. His desk was full of work, left undone. Finally Mayor Feiszli was placed in a position where she had no choice but to ask for his resignation. The work was so backed up, that there was a TRUE need for not just a replacement for Mr Walsh, but also a second attorney to split the workload. The Right Wing counsel and Mr Tobin in particular at this point decided to fight this with everything they had. Finally common sense prevailed, it came to a vote in the counsel. The ONLY dissenting vote was--yes, you guessed it, Mr. Tobin!!
     Today it seems that hypocrisy has no bounds, and Mr. Tobin apparently feels the need for a second city attorney--who, by the way worked on HIS campaign.
     So here we are, four days into a new regime. Already he is spending money that doesn't need to be spent, with an attitude of we will do whatever we want. Congratulations, Mr. Tobin, you are now officially under the microscope. Hope you enjoy the ride, keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times !!
Randy Fox

Editor's Note: These comments were first posted on the Cortland Forum Blog hosted by the Syracuse Post Standard, but the comments were called inappropriate, offensive and in bad taste by an intemperate politician from Cortland who had it deleted. Anyone who finds Randy Fox's comments objectionable may leave a comment or explanation, but deletion of his comments on this blog is not an option.

Mayor's Retreat

New Year, Old Habits
I am writing this letter in response to Mr Tobin's letter to his 4th ward constituents. Even though I don't live in Cortland these days, I do however keep a close eye on MY HOMETOWN. No matter where I go or what I do, I still care about HOME !!

I find it extremely disturbing that Mr Tobin and his mates seem to feel it is a necessity to go on a so called retreat for two days. On the taxpayers' DIME no less !! To "BOND" ?

He hasn't even been in office 2 days, and already is wasting money, smoking cigars, and no doubt revelling in his BIG victory over a mayor who brought in a budget that saved money, had no tax increases 2 years in a row , and accumulated a surplus in the city's coffers. I seem to remember a President recently who was handed a surplus of money, an economy that was booming,and a Government that was in the BLACK for the first time in decades. Eight short years later he had ran it into the dirt, spent money like water and look where we are now.

It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I for one, and there ARE many more like me that feel the taxpayer would be better served if you would merely buy a six pack, go to Yaman Park, sit under the gazebo and have a nice long bonding session, rather than WASTE our hard earned tax dollars on such frivolity !!
Randy Fox

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Binghamton Hospital Announces First Gay and Lesbian Child Births of New Year

     A Binghamton area hospital announced the first gay and lesbian child births of the New Year.
     "We are proud to announce that twins George and Myra are hungry and healthy," said Medical Director Rahm Emanuel of the W.C. Fields Children's Hospital. "Their mother is also healthy after a difficult labor. The twins sexual orientation was determined by Sex Orientation Scan Imaging. The results were positive. Happy New Year!"
     The joyful mother was not immediately available for interview. Her partner, who was visiting at the hospital, told the staff: "This is the happiest day of my life."
     The following day protest signs appeared outside the hospital. Pastor Ralph Dudley of the Church of Christ Redeemed and about twenty church followers paraded on the sidewalk in front of the hospital. Binghamton police said a permit had been issued.
     Signs were turned toward passing motorists.
     "Honk If You Love Jesus."
     "Sex Imaging Is False Positive and Immoral."
     "No more Gay and Lesbian Abomination."
     "TSA and Sex Scanners Are Tools of the Devil."
     "Family Values and Virtues."
     "Read Scripture."
     "Solitary Fracking May Cause Blindness."
     "We Don't Need Another Adam Lambert or Ellen DeGeneres."
     The Sex Orientation Scan Imaging Device was imported from Germany last month. W.C. Fields Children's Hospital is the first hospital in the United States to use it. The German manufacturer, Garfunkel, specified .005% error per scan.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lawrence Lessig on Money, Corruption and Politics

     The editor and contributors of the Cortland Contrarian recommend with enthusiasm a book by Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig: Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It.
     Lessig is Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a Professor of Law.
     Please visit Boston NPR link-- Be sure to read the many thoughtful comments below the review.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Letter Sent to Cortland Standard by Randy Fox

Cortland Standard ?
Let me preface this opinion with the fact that I am a son of Cortland. Raised there, and hold small town values close to my heart.
Although I have not lived in the city for some time now, I do however keep track of what goes on in MY hometown. Point to fact, I still care very deeply for the city that I grew up in, and still love to this day.
Growing up in Cortland, I at one time delivered the Cortland Standard and was an avid reader. I never ever recall a time when the Standard was a tabloid and NOT a TRUE newspaper. The news was ALWAYS reported fairly and accurately with no slant. So now I see that unfortunately it has become little more than a biased and one way street leaning towards the right wing, and cowering to special interest, with no regard to the citizens need for the truth.
Your article last night on Mayor Feiszli's wish to start a homeless shelter not only was incorrect, it slanted so far out of the norm, it commanded that I write. Not only did you ONLY interview those who are obviously against such a thing, you never bothered to contact those that the Mayor had already reached out to. Folks who also see and believe there is a need. People that are pastors, people that actually see and deal with the homeless on a day to day basis. I am appalled to read that the answer to homelessness is to simply SHIP them to another county. Let somebody else worry about them, we don't want them in our backyard!! I work in a homeless shelter in Massachusetts. I see their plight every day. I know all the numbers and how to get them.Trust me, no one you interviewed has the foggiest idea how to even get a proper census of the truly homeless in Cortland County. But if you were to do your job properly you would already know this. You would have talked to me as you stated you would in your original interview with the Mayor. You would have talked to those actually on the front lines, that serve the meals in your soup kitchen, or give out food at the food pantry. Not some EXECUTIVE whose only concern is that the homeless are not in his or her's back yard.
From where I sit, Cortland was darn lucky to have a mayor that cared and still cares very deeply for a city that could only give her a fight at every turn, and a newspaper that helped them do it !! So in closing I fail to see where that is STANDARD,, far from it, it's not even SUB STANDARD !!
Randy Fox