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Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
“Staying focused, moving forward”
ALBANY, March 28, 2020 -- There is only one way to begin this column:
Thank you to our doctors and nurses, emergency services personnel, first responders, pharmacists, farmers, business leaders, truckers, delivery drivers, service organizations, educators, librarians, grocery store workers, government officials at every level, and an incredible, selfless army of volunteers -- throughout the public and private sectors -- working around the clock to control this coronavirus threat, and provide diligent public outreach.
The strong spirit of New Yorkers is demonstrated by over 60,000 retired medical volunteers who have already answered the call. They’re needed and deserve our utmost respect for voluntarily putting themselves in harm’s way. New York City’s 9-1-1 calls exceed 6,000 a day and our frontline emergency responders, EMTs, firefighters and police respond.
This doesn’t even begin to cover everyone, or all of the groups and organizations stepping up. I have to trust that all of you know that we are grateful and inspired by what’s taking place.
These days continue to be unimaginably demanding and disorienting. Challenging weeks remain. Consequently, we have to keep reaching out. I have said many times: One way we can stay together is by staying informed.
Please remember that on my Senate website (omara.nysenate.gov), we are maintaining a “One-Stop Webpage” to gather, in one place, key pieces out of the enormous flow of information coming from local, state, and federal agencies and organizations. My contact information is there too and we are ready to help in any way we can.
Information sharing is critical. We hope this One-Stop online location can be helpful in some small way.
I will highlight that last week the state Office of Mental Health launched a toll-free COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline (1-844-863-9314) to provide free and confidential support. Thank you to the thousands of mental health professionals volunteering their care, compassion, expertise, and support.
I will also remind everyone that in addition to the state’s comprehensive webpage, coronavirus.health.ny.gov, a toll-free Novel Coronavirus Hotline is operating at 1-888-364-3065.
Finally, the state’s new fiscal year begins on April 1. A new state budget is needed to begin carrying us into what will be one of the historically difficult financial and economic eras New York has ever faced.
Over the next two years, we are faced with fixing what’s broken. It will require all of the experience and governmental knowhow we can muster.
At this moment in time, priority No. 1 can only be getting COVID-19 under control, protecting and saving lives, and preventing further damage to communities.
Nevertheless, later this week, while working toward enactment of the new budget, we are required to take the first steps in confronting the fiscal upheaval the coronavirus is inflicting.
Here’s my bottom line for now: There’s a cynical belief that says that politicians never let a crisis go to waste. I hope that Governor Cuomo and the downstate Democrat leaders now in control of our State Legislature will not give that saying new life by trying to take advantage of this crisis. We are undergoing unprecedented shutdowns -- of government, the economy, individual communities, and daily life in so many, many ways. Everyone’s attention is focused and must remain focused on getting through this pandemic.
We must enact a budget this week that simply keeps this state running and meeting its obligations throughout this emergency -- no pork, no political agenda, and no policy unrelated to the budget, deficit, or coronavirus crisis. Then, once we have weathered this storm, we can get to work assessing the damage, determining who and what needs repair, and have an open and full discussion on the best way to move forward for the entire state, upstate and downstate.
That would be common sense. That would be responsible. That would be fair. I hope that’s the course Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders will take in the coming days.
Photo in text: State Senator
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Carl Blowers, Jim Howell, Michael
Lausell, Van Harp
Bottom row: Gary Gray, David Reed, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro
Carl Blowers, 535-6174 or 237-5469
Gary Gray, 292-9922
Van Harp, 329-2160
Jim Howell, 535-7266 or 227-1141
David M. Reed, 796-9558
Michael Lausell, 227- 9226
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482
Mark Rondinaro, 398-0648
County Clerk: Theresa Philbin, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Holley Sokolowski, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E.
United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address: http://schumer.senate.gov/webform.html
United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451
State Senator Tom O'Mara
-- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca
(Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791