F R E E J a n u a r y 13 , 2 0 2 1 / V o l u m e X L I , N u m b e r 2 1 / O u r 4 7 t h Ye a r
Online @ ITH ACA .COM
Struggle & Gratitude 2020 Readers’ Writes Issue
Health Dept. administers vaccines
Kelles seat in legislature Up for grabs
Enfield Town Board Member resigns
Veronica Pillar In the running
Cornell Expert answers FAQs
Tompkins Financial Wins 2020
Corporate Philanthropist of the Year
Ithac a Times
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VOL.XLI / NO. 21 / January 13, 2021 Serving 47,125 readers week ly
The Vaccine������������������������������������� 8
Vaccine safety and efficacy
The Tompkins County Health Department scheduled three clinics this week for COVID vaccinations.
information from the experts
Readers Writes���������������������������� 11
NE W S & OPINION Newsline��������������������������������������������������3-9 TimesTable������������������������������������������������17 Classifieds������������������������������������������18-20 Cover: Photo: Edna Brown, Design: Marshall Hopkins
ll three are already full, however, we wanted to share an update on eligibility and registration for our readers who get their information from our print edition and not online. Currently, eligible parties include: individuals 65+, first responders/public safety and support staff, teachers and education workers, corrections workers, public transit employees, homeless shelters, grocery store workers, in-person college instructors and healthcare workers. Eligible individuals can register on the Tompkins County Health Department vaccine web page. Or, for people without access to the internet, family and friends can register others for the vaccination clinics, or you can call the NYS COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline, open 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day, at 1-833-697-4829. Individuals ages 65+ can call Tompkins County Office for the Aging during business hours 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. for assistance with vaccine registration and transportation options at 607-274-5482. Alternatively, Kinney Drugs is distributing vaccinations for those ages 65+ beginning Jan. 14. For more information, visit https://kinneydrugs.com/pharmacy/covid-19/vaccinationscheduling/ny/. All appointments are currently booked, but the website will continually update as more vaccines become available.
ON T HE WE B Visit our website at www.ithaca.com for more news, arts, sports and photos. Call us at 607-277-7000
Seat for NY State Assemblymember Anna Kelles who was sworn in last Wednesday (photo: Anna Kelles via Facebook)
Special election to replace Anna Kelles is ‘awkward timing’
n November of last year, Dr. Anna Kelles was elected to the NY State Assembly after overwhelming support in Tompkins County. She then resigned from her position as a Tompkins County District 2 legislator at the end of December. The Legislature recently scheduled a special election on March 23 to fill her vacancy. Despite several of Kelles’ colleagues having run for higher positions before, Kelles
is the first active legislator to win. “We are certainly proud of her for that,” said Chairwoman Leslyn McBean-Clairborne. However, a precedent for how to go about filling a vacant seat in the Legislature was set long ago. “It’s not really a choice we made,” Legislator Amanda Champion said. “Numerous years ago, the Legislature changed the County Charter
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▶ Tax bill corrections The City of Ithaca announced that there are a number of errors on the 2021 Tompkins County property tax bill. Due to a computer error the figures in the total tax levy and the rate per $1,000 or per unit columns are incorrect. However, the tax amount due is correct.
T a n n e r H a r d i n g , M a n a g i n g E d i t o r , x 224 E d i t o r @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m J a i m e C o n e , E d i t o r , x 232 SouthReporter@flcn.org C a s e y M a r t i n , S ta f f P h o t o g r a p h e r P h o t o g r a p h e r @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m C h r i s I b e r t , C a l e n d a r E d i t o r , x 217 A r t s @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m A n d r e w S u l l i v a n , S p o r t s E d i t o r , x 227 Sports@flcn.org Steve L awrence, Spo rts Co lumnist St e v e S p o r t sD u d e @ g m a i l .co m M a r s h a l l H o p k i n s , P r o d u c t i o n D i r ec t o r / D es i g n e r , x 216 P r o d u c t i o n @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m
so that we would hold a special election when a situation like this came up. Our charter says we will hold a special election within 85 days of the resignation. Anna resigned on December 31, so we have 85 days to hold a special election for that spot.” Chairwoman McBean-Clairborne states of the special election in March that “the constituents Anna represented are very active like most of our constituents are in local politics, and so I know people will come out and vote
T o n i C r o u ch , x 211 A d m i n i s t r a t i o n Sharon Davis, Distribution J i m B i l i n s k i , P u b l i s h e r , x 210 j b i l i n s k i @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m L a r r y H o ch b e r g e r , A ss o c i a t e P u b l i s h e r , x 214 l a r r y@ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m F r e e l a n c e r s : Barbara Adams, Rick Blaisell, Steve Burke, Deirdre Cunningham, Jane Dieckmann, Amber Donofrio, Karen Gadiel, Charley Githler, Linda B. Glaser, Warren Greenwood, Ross Haarstad, Peggy Haine, Gay Huddle, Austin Lamb, Steve Lawrence, Marjorie Olds, Lori Sonken, Henry Stark, Dave Sit, Bryan VanCampen, and Arthur Whitman
THE ENTIRE CONTENTS OF THE ITHACA TIMES ARE COPYRIGHT © 2021, BY NEWSKI INC.
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The correct information is as follows: County tax, Total Tax Levy $ 52,399,459.00; Solid Waste res, Rate per unit is 70.00; Solid waste fee apt, 70.00; Solid waste fee aged, 2.59; Solid waste fee othr, 5.19; Solid waste fee w&r, 2.59; Solid waste fee sea, 35.00; County Tax, Rate per $1000 is 6.215523.
L i s a B i n g a m a n , A cc o u n t R ep r ese n ta t i v e , x 218 l i s a @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m
The actual due date is Feb. 1, as Jan. 31 lands on a nonbusiness day. The Tompkins County contact information is www.tompkinscountyny. gov or call 607-274-5551. For further questions concerning your County bill, contact the Chamberlain’s office at 607-2746580.
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All rights reserved. Events are listed free of charge in TimesTable. All copy must be received by Friday at noon. The Ithaca Times is available free of charge from various locations around Ithaca. Additional copies may be purchased from the Ithaca Times offices for $1. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $89 one year. Include check or money order and mail to the Ithaca Times, PO Box 27, Ithaca, NY 14851. ADVERTISING: Deadlines are Monday 5 p.m. for display, Tuesday at noon for classified. Advertisers should check their ad on publication. The Ithaca Times will not be liable for failure to publish an ad, for typographical error, or errors in publication except to the extent of the cost of the space in which the actual error appeared in the first insertion. The publisher reserves the right to refuse advertising for any reason and to alter advertising copy or graphics deemed unacceptable for publication. The Ithaca Times is published weekly Wednesday mornings. Offices are located at 109 N. Cayuga Street, Ithaca, NY 14850 607-277-7000, FAX 607-277-1012, MAILING ADDRESS is PO Box 27, Ithaca, NY 14851. The Ithaca Times was preceded by the Ithaca New Times (1972-1978) and The Good Times Gazette (1973-1978), combined in 1978. F o u n d e r G o o d T i m e s G a z e tt e : Tom Newton
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N e w s l i n e
PHOTOGRAPHER Health officials urge people to get vaccine By C a se y Mar tin
WHAT’S SOMETHING WE
CAN ALL DO TO TAKE OUR MINDS OFF THE NEWS?
“Stop having opinions and stop speculating.” -Jess L.
“Get outside and get some fresh air!” -Sarah D.
ccording to Public Health Director Frank Kruppa, the biggest bottleneck in the COVID vaccination distribution is just getting people to show up. “That’s what’s going to hold us back,” he said at a Jan. 6 town hall. “We need people in the eligible population to get vaccinated […] We want to use every vaccine we have.” Kruppa said that some people who are eligible for the vaccine have said they feel guilty getting it before people who may be more at risk of serious symptoms from COVID-19, but he urged people to push past that. “Don’t feel guilty. Go get vaccinated,” he said. “That’s how you’re going to help people who are not eligible — by getting vaccinated and eliminating an exposure point. You’re one less place they can catch COVID from.” Dr. Martin Stallone, president of Cayuga Health Systems, agreed. “It’s your personal duty to
get the vaccine when it’s your turn,” he said. “We still have a fair number of individuals who decline it. We lament that fact but that’s a reality. Share your stories so people can convince their friends.” Kruppa added that he was confident in the safety of the vaccine. “It went through a rigorous process,” he said. “While it may have seemed fast, it was still a complete review by the federal government, and New York State did its own review too. The experts there signed off on it. Vaccines are a key public health initiative; we’ve been using them for decades. It’s just another opportunity to use the science we have.” Currently groups 1A and 1B are eligible for the COVID vaccine. The doses are available either at the clinic at the Shops at Ithaca Mall, or at Kinney Drugs for those ages 75 and older. A list of those that are part of groups 1A and 1B can be found on the Health Department’s website.
Embattled Enfield Town Board sees another resignation due to 'toxic' nature
“Watch The BILLS WIN!” -Simone & Dominic B.
E “Go for walks. Even if it’s just circles in your backyard…get outside!” -Pam S & Enrique G.
“Socialize as much as you can, with CBD!” -Sam M & Lauren W.
Ithac a Times
nfield Councilperson Michael Miles resigned from the Town Board over the weekend, citing the “toxic nature of our town governance.” Miles was appointed to the board just two months ago. Miles said he had joined the board hoping to bring it level headedness, but found he was unable. “Instead, most of my time has been spent reading and watching the vitriol among town officials that prevents it from accomplishing basic, non-controversial tasks,” he wrote. “I have a full-time job and a family and cannot continue to spend 20-30 hours
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a week resisting the inertia drawing me into the constant bickering and backstabbing.” Councilperson Robert Lynch said Miles was alluding to the “bitter, oftentimes personal, rivalries and criticisms most evident through internal Town emails, barbs exchanged daily — sometimes by the minute — between certain governing officials, disputes which occasionally spill forth into Town Board meetings.” Miles continued in his resignation letter saying town officials often undermine, criticize, accuse and demean each other, and skills like listening, trust and inclusion are missing. “Leadership is not just
The goal right now, Stallone said, is to vaccinate around 1,000 people per day. Currently, the distribution point is at the old Sears store at the malll. In the future as we move through the phases and the vaccine availability opens up to the general public, Kruppa said it’s possible there could be more sites. “We have a medical countermeasures plan we’ve been working on for 20 years, and that includes identifying appropriate [vaccination] sites around the county,” he said. “We’ve talked to school districts about gymnasiums and with our higher ed partners. But the hospital has a relationship with the mall and with the large open spaces it creates efficiency. It’s really a win-winwin to have that available right now, but we do have other spaces we can spread out to.” As of the Jan. 6 town hall, Stallone said the county had received about 5,000 doses of the vaccine, and he anticipated about 95% of those will have been distributed by Jan. 8. “We’re very agile so that we can make sure we’re giving as many people doses as we can,” he said. Kruppa and Stallone also addressed the status of positive cases locally and the current
hospital capacity. “We might see an increase related to Christmas, and that’s not wholly unexpected,” Kruppa said. “One of the most important things we have to talk about is we’ve seen more people in the hospital, more people in ICU and more deaths. Those things go hand in hand.” Stallone said Cayuga Medical Center is currently at 55% capacity, with 73 of 132 available beds currently in use. “We don’t want to use this capacity, it’s just a buffer,” he said. They also discussed the protocol at nursing homes after multiple local facilities have reported outbreaks, with Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home reporting 11 deaths since late November. Kruppa said when a positive test is collected it goes straight to the state and county databases, but once it’s identified that the positive belongs to a nursing home resident, that information is turned over to the New York State Department of Health for a review of infection control. However, the positive cases from nursing homes are still counted in the county’s daily numbers report.
knowing budgets and how to sign checks, it is knowing how to de-escalate and bring people together to solve problems,” he wrote. “At this point, there is not much more I can do. The toxic undercurrents are too strong. Enfield citizens should be disappointed. They deserve better. And they should remember this in November when they vote on a slate of candidates. I know I will.” In an email to the rest of the board following Miles’ resignation, Lynch wrote: “It is with deep regret that I read this morning’s resignation letter from Councilperson Michael Miles. He was a gentleman and a statesman who has now twice served our Town Board well. I found him as a voice of moderation and reason. If five like him served on this Board, our problems would be much fewer.” The resignation causes another problem for the embattled Enfield Town Board. A Jan. 12 meeting was scheduled to appoint acting supervi-
sor Stephanie Redmond to permanent supervisor until the year’s end. However, without Miles’ decisive third vote to elevate Redmond, and given Lynch’s decision to vote against elevating Redmond, the meeting’s lone agenda item seems doomed. Lynch has suggested the meeting be called off, but as of the morning of Jan. 12, it is still planned to go ahead as scheduled. For an update on what happened at the meeting, check Ithaca.com. This marks the third time since early October the Enfield Town Board has found itself at just three members, which is the legal minimum to conduct business. The board has not yet decided how to fill the new vacancy. Since Sept. 30, 2020 when Beth McGee resigned as town supervisor, three Town Board members (including McGee) have resigned.
-Ta n n e r H a r d i n g
-Ta n n e r H a r d i n g
N e w s l i n e
Hospital Pride Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a shout-out to Cayuga Medical Center as one of a handful of hospitals in that state that have distributed 100% of its COVID-19 vaccine supply. They were also featured in “The Wall Street Journal” for their use of the empty Sears store to distribute vaccines. More than 2,100 people have been vaccinated so far, with three more clinics scheduled this week. Capital Siege The attempted coup. A violent group of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol last week as part of a delusion that the presidential election was stolen from them. Five people were killed in the insurrection.
HEARD&SEEN Dr. Veronica Pillar, Candidate for Tompkins County Legislature Distrcict 2
Veronica Pillar running for County Legislature
r. Veronica Pillar today announced her candidacy for Tompkins County Legislature in District 2, which comprises Fall Creek, Cornell Heights, and the area between University and Stewart Avenues. Pillar is a local teacher and community activist who intends to push for racial and climate justice, genuinely affordable housing, resource accessibility, and open communication between grassroots community and local government. A special election is slated for March 23 to fill Anna Kelles' seat after she left the legislature to begin her tenure with the state Assembly. A resident of District 2 for nine years and Ithaca for over 10, Pillar moved here for a graduate program and became increasingly invested in the community. Ultimately, she decided to make Ithaca her home. She is a leader in the Tompkins County chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice
The People’s (dog’s) Square Leashed dogs are officially allowed on the Commons. Common Council passed the vote with pretty much no discussion on Jan. 6. For the full list of rules for dogs, visit the city’s website.
and has recently worked with the Tompkins County Antiracist Coalition and Mutual Aid Tompkins. “I am so encouraged by the grassroots movements, organizations, and overall care for each other that Ithacans show up with,” Pillar said. “I want to bring this spirit of active community into the legislature chambers.” Pillar teaches physics and math at the Cascadilla School and at Tompkins Cortland Community College. She believes science education at all levels is valuable for understanding the world and works to empower her students to succeed in a multitude of life paths. In addition to earning a PhD in physics from Cornell, she has worked locally in childcare, agriculture, and food service. These positions have given her a breadth of experience and connected her with Ithaca’s diverse community of residents and workers. As a legislator, Pillar hopes
to work in collaboration with both government and community organizations on the following: Raising the minimum wage to a living wage Municipal broadband and progress toward a publiclyowned power grid Genuinely affordable housing with paths to lower-cost ownership Increasing local green jobs in conjunction with CASE board recommendations Strengthening human rights protections through legal support and social services Exploring methods of land reparations for indigenous people. One of Pillar’s main goals is improving communication and collaboration between the legislature and the public. “I got seriously interested in running after seeing community members advocating for basic resources and safety express significant frustration that those with institutional power aren’t truly hearing these needs,” Pillar said. “At the same time, we have some great progressive people in elected office right now, so I am confident we can make meaningful
long-term improvements to the quality of life in Tompkins County.” Pillar plans to actively build relationships with her constituents and other community members and to communicate updates from the government regularly through newsletters and social media. “This kind of collaboration is critical to the creative problem-solving necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” she said. In seeking this office, Pillar’s primary commitment is to anti-racism, equity, and inclusivity in all spaces. She intends to remain accountable to the community, particularly Black, brown, trans, queer, lowincome, unhoused, disabled, native, undocumented, and otherwise historically marginalized people. The special election for the District 2 legislature seat is on Tuesday, March 23. Anyone interested in Pillar’s campaign or in sharing their views can contact her at veronica.pillar@ gmail.com, 607-252-6508, or facebook.com/VeronicaForTompkins.
Vitamin D! After weeks of the sun clearly being busy elsewhere, we got two whole days of sunshine over the weekend. It was a nice break from those gray, Ithacan skies.
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QUESTION OF THE WEEK N ext Week ’s Q uestion :
Which animal would you like to see allowed on the commons next.
-Staff R eport Ja n ua ry
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Visit ithaca.com to submit your response.
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County Legislature chooses chair, gets COVID update
Yogic Distancing By St e ph e n Bu r k e
he Tompkins County Legislature met for the first time in 2021. They re-elected Leslyn McBean-Clairborne and Shawna Black as Chair and Vice Chair respectively. The group also heard an update on the efforts against COVID, and scheduled a special election for March 23 to replace former legislator Anna Kelles, who began her term as a state Assemblyperson this month after being elected in November. Leslyn McBean-Clairborne Unanimously Elected for Second Term as Chairwoman, Shawna Black Unanimously Re-Elected as Vice Chairwoman Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne (D-Ithaca) was unanimously (13-0) elected as the 2021 Legislature Chairwoman following nomination by Legislator Shawna
Ithac a Times
Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne
Black (D-Ithaca). This will be McBeanClairborne’s second year as Chairwoman. While nominating McBean-Clairborne, Black stated, “Leslyn started [last year] in a world that would be forever changed when COVID-19 entered our community. She assumed the role with confidence and a sense of calm.” Black continued by praising McBean-Clairborne’s charisma, intelligence, and connections to the community. The nomination was seconded by Glenn Morey (R-Groton). McBean Clairborne stated “This past year has been quite a challenge … I’ve been thankful for colleagues like all of you
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thaca is a college town that always empties out this time of year. Normally, after a few weeks, thousands of vagabond scholars return from visits with family and friends in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Long Island, New Jersey, and the rest of the nation and globe, and the town starts humming with energy and work again. This year will be different, with everything different, as some will choose and some will be forced not to return. Usually not so heart-breakingly, Ithaca has always been a place of impermanence. Ithaca shares that trait with its big sister city to the south, although here fairly one-dimensionally and less grandly, simply responding to school calendars and graduations, whereas New York City explodes, shoots up and changes unendingly, seemingly just for the hell of it, or at least by its defining nature. In Ithaca the transformations are less wholesale, but people are constantly coming and going. If you choose to live here you have to learn to like it, if you’re not so disposed already, or at least not mind it. Anyone who lives here for any length of time steadily loses the company of many friends following the imperatives of transience. Change can be a source of excitement and beguilement, but also sadness. Is there wisdom that can help with such struggles? Ithaca is a town of thinkers who grapple with all issues under heaven. We are also, somehow, a haven for many yoga practitioners who deal with issues even beyond. The yogis range in breadth and depth, but a fundamental concern for most is the nature of impermanence and detachment. (One supposes mutable Ithaca is an apt area for pursuing such interests.) T. (she will remain anonymous, as we recast this story to a degree) is a yoga instructor who has lived many places besides Ithaca. She knows of impermanence both in theory and, so to speak, practice. Her work (or life, to the degree they are intertwined: the word yoga means “union,” roughly) has taken her to Tibet and Japan. She has taught in New York, California, and Washington state. She has lived in Ithaca, moved away, come back, left again. “The first time I returned to Ithaca I was a little embarrassed,” she said. “I had gone back to California, I thought
for good. I had made some major goodbyes here. But after a while, the gig there wasn't working out and I came back here. “The first time I saw an old friend on the Commons, she didn’t even know I’d been gone. The next one did, or at least asked. I said I’d been in California. She said oh, how was that? I said okay, you know. She proceeded to tell me everything she’d been doing. I realized I could have said I’d been in Kenya and the response would have been the same. So I stopped worrying. “Of course, we worry about a lot of things we shouldn’t. That’s mostly what we worry about. My practice should have taught me that already. At that point it did, or taught me again. “I mean, I think in a sense I knew it anyway, that I shouldn’t be worried about what I was doing or where, or whether my move would work out. “When I left I bought presents for people here. By design I gave mostly the same present to everyone, candles. “Candles are good because they suit people who like lovely things that make a home. They’re pretty, or clever, and are fragrant and give light. That’s practically a by-word for yoga, or a preoccupation or goal, to give light. “But they’re also good for people like me, who don’t have many possessions and don’t really like possessions much, or keeping track or holding onto things. Because if you use candles like you’re supposed to, they burn away. “So we’re all like that, you know? Stay or go, you’re still serving the purpose you should.” It is probably not imprecise to say that the disciplines of movement and breathing in yoga are meant to supplant heedless worry. Another important precept is that the present is all we have, thus where we should live. The past and future are places of murk, or twilight at best, not places for focus or action. T. and I are both baseball fans. I mentioned to her the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige’s famous saying, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” “Yeah,” she said. “Or too far ahead. You might think something’s beating you that isn’t.” Thus one breath, one step, one pitch, one semester, one season at a time, not encumbered by the past or afraid of the future, embracing chance and change. It’s probably the best we can do.
LEGISLATURE Contin u ed From Page 6
to help support my leadership. I can assure you that this year we are going to continue to do the business of County Government even while the pandemic continues … We may not always agree with each other, but we do not need to be disagreeable. We will be the beacon of hope and an example to other elected bodies on how we can work together.” Legislator Shawna Black, nominated by Deborah Dawson (D-Lansing) and seconded by Anne Koreman (D-Ulysses), was elected unanimously for a third year as Vice Chair. Legislator Koreman lauded Black as being “excellent while navigating this stormy year, she’s steady at the helm.” Black stated, “It’s been a very difficult year for many families in Tompkins County and mine is no different. I’m looking forward to a less eventful 2021.”
Among Other Business Legislators heard a presentation from County Planner Nick Helmholdt on a proposed change to the Hotel Room Occupancy Tax Law. The proposed change would increase the room tax for small lodging establishments (including AirBNBs) from 3% to 5%, and follows a survey of small lodging establishments and deliberation by the Strategic Tourism Planning Board. The current two-tiered structure, where small establishments are taxed at a lower rate (3%), was described as not being currently necessary, as it was originally designed to help increase demand for small establishments. The change will be proposed in the next legislature meeting and follows review and discussion by the Strategic Tourism Planning Board. The change would go into effect March 1, 2021. -Staff R eport
ANNA KELLES Contin u ed From Page 3
in high numbers.” The newly elected legislator to replace Kelles will be responsible for picking up where she left off, joining the 13 other Tompkins County legislators and finishing Kelles’ 2018-21 term. So rather than beginning a four-year term on the date of their election in March, the new legislator will be up for re-election in November. Champion explains that “the timing is awkward for whoever it is that has to run in the special election in the next twotwo-and-a-half months; that in itself is a really big challenge since it's such a short amount of time.” Of course, the new legislator can choose to only finish the rest of Kelles’ term and resign thereafter. “Petitioning starts at the end of February,” Champion explains, “so they'll be running for a seat in March but also potentially thinking about running again in November. It's a big challenge on that person's plate. Although some might want to just fill out this term, and others might come in and say 'No, I want to run for four years.'” However, if the new legislator decides to run for their own full term, they will be faced with a challenging double campaign in one year. The district that Kelles represented — District 2 — includes Fall Creek and Cornell Heights and consists of a generally liberal-leaning community. Kelles herself was an active member of the Environmental Management Council, the Human Rights Commission, and the Public Safety Committee to name a few. She heavily focused on issues that dealt with livable wage standards and environmental protections along with other social justice initiatives. The question of whether the public will be looking for someone with a similar set of values as Kelles to fill the vacancy left behind is perhaps too hard to answer at the present, but Veronica Pillar, local teacher and community activist has already risen to the challenge and declared
her candidacy in the special election. Pillar, who will be serving in public office for the first time if elected in March, is a nine-year resident of District 2 and deeply invested in the local community — something that’s needed to learn the role of County Legislator. “When I came on three years ago,” says Champion, “it was a lot to learn. It’s a big learning curve if you’ve never served in public office before. Whoever the new person might be will have to quickly get up to speed. There’s a huge focus right now on COVID and vaccine response. Later in the summer, our focus turns to the yearly budget which is a really big operation that takes a lot of time and energy. It’s an intense year, definitely.” However, both Champion and McBean-Clairborne agree that the Legislature is more than prepared for the work ahead. “For us as a full body, it doesn't change the work,” McBean-Clairborne said. “It certainly helps to have the full confidence of the Legislature available for community assignments and so on and so forth. In the interim while we wait for someone to be elected to fill out the rest of Anna's term, some of us will do double duty just for a couple of months until the new legislator gets on board. For things like that, it'll be a little different. Although legislators are used to picking up the slack or substituting on committees if someone has to be absent. The work really does not change and we will share the load. We certainly welcome whoever the new person might be.” The special election will be held on March 23, and there are currently two candidates. Leslie Schill, the director of campus planning at Cornell, announced her candidacy at the Jan. 5 County Legislature meeting. On Jan. 8, Dr. Veronica Pillar, a teacher, announced she would also be running for the position.
Tom Reed should stand up to the president
THE TALK AT
YOUR LETTERS Less government interference would benefit us In reply to Barbara Regenspan’s December 2020 Letter to the Editor: We Have the Wisdom to Interrupt Business-as-Usual. mongst continued demands that our government “provide us” with more stuff, namely green energy, livable wages, and universal healthcare, I think we should judge the possible outcomes by the one activist policy mentioned that has been aggressively implemented in Ithaca: Affordable housing. Despite a bevy of acts taken by Ithaca politicians, including mandates on affordable housing, an affordable housing fund, legislative bodies taking an active role in the planning, layout and development of new construction, and zoning that favors high density development, the cost of living continues to increase in what is already one of the least affordable places to live nationwide. Home-ownership is made difficult or impossible for lower- and middle-income families in Tompkins County by devastatingly high property taxes. Looking at realtor.com, the cost of property taxes for many homes approaches that of a mortgage! The high taxes likely suppress new home development and cause many would be Ithacans to move elsewhere. The overall result: People have voted with their feet as fewer homes are owneroccupied and the population in Tompkins County has barely grown, or has possibly shrunk, according to 2018 Census estimates. Housing has been and remains grossly unaffordable. If Ithaca’s policies aren’t evidence enough, consider the decades-long results of the Big City mandating housing at a specific price and restricting new development. If you enjoy spending upwards of $1,000 on a bedroom that shares a kitchen with six other students and at least one cat, Ithaca and New York City have you covered. I don’t want a bureaucracy that moves with the alacrity and grace of the glaciers that formed Cayuga lake to be in charge of healthcare, green energy, or affordable housing. After more than a decade living in Ithaca I no longer believe that the lack of affordability is because we haven’t mandated it hard enough or legislated it into existence. Quite the opposite: It would benefit Ithacans if we decrease property taxes and reduce the influence of bureaucratic dictate on new development and apply these lessons to other areas of government. We would be the wiser to do so. -Jason Evans, Ithaca, NY
-Rhiannon Coleman Ja n ua ry
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am calling on Tom Reed, who has supported our current President for the last 5 years, who has not challenged the misogynist and racist statements this President has made, nor called him out on his false claims of a fraudulent election even though all court cases have shown that there was no legitimate cause to question that election, to stand up now and finally do the right thing by this democracy & the American people. It is too little too late to say he accepted the election results and that is enough, while he & his republican cohorts sat back as the President continued to incite the anger and hatred of a minority of Americans that led to the atrocity that occured at our nation’s capital on January 6. Congress must act now to impeach this President now. If this attempted coup is not met with the strongest possible response, the foundation of our democracy will be fractured perhaps beyond repair. -Margo Alexander, Trumansburg, NY
Questions about Jan. 6 events
have a question and I hope you have an answer. Why, when an organized, peaceful protest across the street from the Oval Office, people holding signs and orderly, no visible weapons or attempting to rush across the street, are people pepper sprayed and shoved by police in riot gear and called terrorists by Trump and his supporters? And yet a huge, massive, wellplanned out and aggressive attempted siege of people charging across federal grounds en masse — trespassing on federal property and breaking and entering through barricades, doors and windows of a (supposedly) locked federal building — is now being called a protest and demonstration? Because no visible weapons were seen? How many truly peaceful protesors against wars, bombs, toxic chemical plants, etc. are now (or in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s) sitting in prison cells for simply standing on lawns of federal or state property with their signs and no weapons? I Know many join me in wondering why when this event was all over the internet that such a ob, obviously organized and expected to appear at that time and place since they were welcomed and encouraged by our sitting president — who then left the scene of the crime — why were there no more police or guards present on the street, at the doors, in their riot gear and with pepper spray? Who moved the barricades and left doors unguarded? One guard/officer was killed and another is apparently being investigated for murder for wounding an intruder who had broken out a window and was climbing into the the building, trespassing, with obvious intent to damage property and to assist in taking over the building. She was breaking the law and yet is being called an unarmed protetor, and this officer doing his duty is now investigated for murder. Can you clarify? Can anyone? -J. B. Davis, Ithaca, NY
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C i n dy L e i f e r , A s s o c i at e P r o f e s s o r o f i m m u n o l o g y at C o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y
We talked to an expert to get all the information about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine as the county begins to vaccinate.
By Ta n n e r H a r di ng
he COVID-19 vaccine is here, and people have questions. Is it safe? Are there long-term effects? How was it produced so quickly? How long will immunity last? To answer some of these questions, we sat down and talked with Dr. Cindy Leifer, an associate professor of immunology at Cornell University. The cross-disciplinary research in her lab uses immunologic and bioengineering approaches to investigate regulation of immune recognition of pathogens through 8 T
Ithac a Times
innate immune receptors, as well as novel types of vaccines that exploit this new information. So yes, she’s an expert. Part of people’s wariness of the COVID vaccine seems to come from the speed at which it was produced. In under a year, Pfizer and Moderna (and AstraZeneca in the U.K.) had vaccines ready to fight the novel coronavirus. However, Leifer clarified that things didn’t happen quite as quickly as it seems. “What’s different about this vaccine is a lot of the groundwork was already laid to
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be able to plug and play,” she said. “Other vaccine manufacturing methods require the growth of large amounts of virus, so it takes a lot of time to figure out how to grow that, package it and test it. But that pre-clinical groundwork was already laid [for COVID-19].” This makes another important point, and one that is integral to understanding how the vaccine was produced in the timeframe that it was; the COVID-19 vaccine does not use any live/weakened/inactivated virus.
This vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which teaches our cells how to make a harmless piece of the “spike protein” that is found on the surface of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. When our cells make that protein, it triggers an immune response inside our bodies, which then produce antibodies that will recognize that protein and fight it to protect us from becoming infected if the real virus enters our bodies. With that said, mRNA vaccines are not a brand-new concept. Leifer said they have been under study for more than 20 years,
but until now none of the other vaccines have advanced to the point of approval. Once scientists were able to get the sequence of the virus for a prototype vaccine, they started clinical trials. Again, many people have been asking why the clinical trials seemed to happen so quickly. Leifer explained that the way clinical trials work is that you give half of a large group of people the vaccine, half a placebo, and then you wait. You wait until the half with the vaccine gets exposed to the disease to see if it works. “Usually not enough people get a disease in a short enough time,” Leifer said. “The good and bad of this disease is that it spreads so fast.” So people who received the vaccine in clinical trials in the different hotspots around the country were exposed to the disease fairly quickly, and the scientists were able to get results in just eight weeks. “It’s just from happenstance, because this virus is spreading so fast,” Leifer said. And even though the vaccine was approved through emergency use authorization, the trials aren’t ending, and people who received the vaccines in clinical trials are still being monitored. “They didn’t shortchange any of the time frames that we need to test the safety and efficacy,” Leifer said. “We could just manufacture it very quickly, and get it into trials quickly, and get it approved quickly.” Essentially, the process isn’t what’s different — the disease is what’s different. There have also been reports recently of a new strain spreading throughout the U.S., even as close to us as Saratoga. However, Leifer doesn’t think that will affect the efficacy of the vaccine. She uses a Christmas tree as an analogy; if the spike protein is a Christmas tree and you create antibodies that recognize each ornament on the tree, changing a couple bulbs won’t prevent you from recognizing the Christmas tree. So now that you know how it’s made and how it works, should you be worried about its safety? Leifer doesn’t think so. “My personal opinion is I’m not scared,” she said. “They’ve been able to deliver this [vaccine] using lipids that are already present in your bodies […] So should we be scared of lipids that are already present? No. Should we be scared of mRNA? No. Based on the composition of the vaccine there’s no reason to think there should be long-term effects.” Leifer added that the long-term effects and risks of actually contracting COVID-19 are scarier than getting the vaccine, and that there’s already proof of people suffering from them.
After you get the vaccine you may feel a little yucky, your arm might be sore, you could have a slight fever but frankly, this is a good thing — this is a sign of your immune system working. But other than those mild side effects, you shouldn’t expect any other long-term issues. As far as how long immunity will last, that’s an unanswered question at this point. There have been reports of people getting COVID more than once (though it’s rare), and some studies have shown that four to six months after someone has COVID, there are no longer antibodies found in their system (though Leifer said it could just be the level the testing is done at). And though immunity is unpredictable, Leifer said there is evidence that suggests immunity from a vaccine could last longer than immunity from actually getting the disease.
For example, when you’re a child you get your TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine. Then as an adult, you get a booster every 10 years. “That tickles those memory cells,” Leifer explained. “It’s saying ‘wake up, remember this.’” Memory cells do differ from person to person and depend on how good an individual’s immune system is. If you’re an immunocompromised person, a baby or a senior citizen, you likely won’t have as good of an immune system as a healthy, younger adult. “But once you’ve had the disease or vaccine, there will be some memory,” she said. “It might not be a lot, but it’ll be some.” She added that the vaccine will likely generate better memory in your cells because the virus actually messes with the immune’s system’s ability to generate memory.
C i n dy L e i f e r “What we can say is a lot of data from immune responses to COVID shows that the immune response is kind of wimpy,” she said. “People who get the vaccine get a stronger response. So it is possible that it will give longer immunity than a natural infection, but there’s not enough data at this point.” And she added that even if there aren’t antibodies in someone who had previously had the disease, there should still be memory cells left. “The reason why vaccines work is because they provide memory to the immune system, and they bank that information so they can recall it really quickly,” she said. “So if you had the disease, the vaccine should boost that.”
“It’s a very crafty, sneaky virus,” she said. One of the most important parts of stopping this disease is creating herd immunity, Leifer said. When fewer people are susceptible to the disease, the virus can no longer jump person to person. So in this way, vaccines work at two levels to eradicate disease — protecting the individual and eliminating new hosts. The COVID vaccine has an exceptionally high rate of efficacy at around 95%. This means if you immunize 100 people, about 95 of them will be protected, and in clinical trials there were zero instances of people who got the vaccine getting severe cases of the disease even if they were infected. As for what percentage of people need to be immunized to create herd immunity, it’s a bit of a moving target. There are variJa n ua ry
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ables that are difficult to account for such as infectiousness, mask wearing, physical distancing, etc. “So we don’t really know,” Leifer said. “Our best guess is 70-85% of people either having it or being immunized [creates herd immunity].” With Tompkins County’s relatively low infection rates, it means many more people need to be vaccinated. “We have a long way to go because we’ve done a really good job of keeping people healthy,” Leifer said. As for if you’ve already had COVID, Leifer said she can’t make a recommendation on whether or not you should get the vaccine. “There hasn’t been testing or safety studies done on that yet,” she said. “Talk to your primary care doctor and monitor the CDC website.” Leifer also addressed the issue of vaccinating children. As of right now, the CDC is only recommending people ages 16 and older receive the vaccine. “It’s mostly an ethical issue with kids,” Leifer said. “They usually require safety and efficacy data at each stage.” The stages, or age groups, for testing vaccines on children are usually 16+, 1612, 12-9, 9-5 and so on. “There are differences between a child’s and adult’s immune system,” Leifer said. “Even men and women have different reactions […] In this pandemic children don’t typically get as severe a disease, but they can pass it along. So it’s important to get it into children’s trials as soon as we can so we can get it to school age children.” She added that Pfizer is currently working with children ages 12 and up, and will continue moving down in age once everything is proven safe for those children. And lastly, if you’re wondering which vaccine to get, Pfizer or Moderna, Leifer said there isn’t much of a difference. “[They] are very, very similar,” she said. “They’re pretty much the same thing. They’re using the same mRNA sequence, the same technology. In my mind, they’re equivalent. My gut instinct is to take whichever one is available first.” After all, Leifer’s tagline is simple: “Vaccines save lives.” For the latest information on eligibility and availability regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, check the Tompkins County Health Department’s website (https:// tompkinscountyny.gov/health) or Ithaca. com.
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Reader’s Writes The rest of this week’s Ithaca Times is dedicated to you, readers, as we encapsulate the roller coaster of emotions we were all on in 2020. Enjoy, and fill the pages with your poems, stories, musings and photos in our annual any submissions that were sent in and didn’t make it into the print issue will Readers’ Writes issue. Our theme was “struggle & gratitude” as we tried to be posted online at Ithaca.com.
2020 Haikus By An o ny m o u s
The business died.
Don’t wait! Take care of you.
Right here. Postponing health appointments or ignoring what could be serious issues because you don’t want to risk COVID-19 exposure? Cayuga Health is strictly following all infection controls and has safety monitoring in place to ensure your wellbeing. Don’t wait. Take Care and make an appointment today!
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I shot lysol for the cure. Fauci, come save me!
St. Vitus dancers pirouette outside the polls --Vote or be damn'd, all!
To win, spades are trumps. Racist agonies linger--Dip those flags in blood.
The readiness is all By Jea n n e La wles s I The insanity of it all
Toothbrush swallowed People peering Fire balls burning skies. And you, unable to pack for vacation. Duffle bag on the kitchen table, asking me about all the things you thought you would need, and how to fit them in. None of them clothing, footwear, toothpaste, soap, shampoo None of them things we deem necessities of life, of vacations.
It simmers in life forms Is brought to boil by Appetites well satiated, Thirsts fully quenched, Chills kept at bay. Magnified by the human lens Dimmed under redundancies of daily struggle. Rekindled by the spirit of the rise and shine of our sons and our daughters Despite each successive generation bearing the brunt of all that came before. Einstein’s definition of insanity all over again.
II Making amends I’m told don’t ever expect gratitude; It isn’t yours to give. Why should it be? Nor mine to ask. Why would I? One thing has become crystal clear: Your needs are not mine I can live with that So long as your needs are met without harm to self or other Always the qualifying question A mantra to live by: Do no harm!
IV 2020 Vision: Moving forward Clear as crystal; do you not see? The Crown is but a symptom. Not rocket science; humane science. Evolutionary. Revolutionary. Each with our own part to play To sustain the light. Lest the planet be plunged into darkness unlike any before. Perhaps that is life’s destiny; to arise anew. A perverse form of diversity. Is the readiness all? Are all ready?
t’s 9 AM when the young woman in scrubs greets me in the waiting room. Erica is armed with an instant read thermometer. She points it at my forehead and, satisfied with the result, invites me to follow her. We pause at a station equipped with a bank of monitors, where her partner, Caitlin, confirms my date of birth. We then move on to the inner sanctum, home to the robot I’ve come to visit. CLINAC looks like a cross between a giant Transformer toy and an outsized Kitchen Aid appliance. It squats silently in the middle of the room like a wise Buddha. Erica and Caitlin help me onto the glass and metal table. My legs rest on a plastic mold that conforms to them, my head on a concave headrest. I’m given a large rubber ring to hold with both hands. The purpose of these objects is to help me remain motionless while the robot does its stuff. But it’s hard to keep still.
Photo: Edna Brown
By F ra n k Kelly The women shift me slightly; pulling the sheet I’m lying on one way or another, poking and prodding, until I’m where they think I should be. I’m not sure where the freckle size tattoos on my hips and belly come in. Maybe the red eyes behind the amber disc mounted to the ceiling can sense them? I close my eyes and listen for the sounds. First, there are chirps, as the robot takes X-rays. In between, I hear footsteps and feel small jerks, as small adjustments are made to the table’s position. When everything is just so, I hear whirrs, as the robot’s huge mechanical arms move in an arc above me. These are followed by a series of whines, as CLINAC zaps its target from different angles … like a Star Destroyer, equipped with heavy weapons, circling its prey. And then it’s over … one more sortie closer to the mission accomplished number of thirty-eight.
It’s all about precision … bombard the enemy positions with minimal collateral damage. The robot has “Intel” on the tumor’s likely whereabouts based on reconnaissance imaging. It learns the unique terrain and uses sophisticated software to plan its attacks. This is the latest battle in a campaign that began three years ago, with a cancer diagnosis, followed by surgery, followed by eighteen months of remission, before blood work revealed my invisible enemy was preparing another assault. It’s an ongoing struggle. But I have much to be grateful for. I have a support system. My brother, daughter and grandkids live nearby. The pandemic robbed us of close physical contact but we make due. My friends are scattered across the globe but we’re in touch electronically. I’m a Rotarian. I’m on familiar ground. I’m a Medical Ja n ua ry
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Family Therapist and spent years working with patients dealing with serious illnesses. I know the language. And, when the vocabulary gets too technical, I have a translator. My wife’s an M.D. … and a fierce bodyguard and inspiration. Most of all, this rollercoaster ride – giddy one minute, terrified or depressed the next - is making me more aware … of who I am, what I’m made of and the priceless value of time. And time is what it’s all about – not just fighting for more future but squeezing more life out of the present and even learning to savor the past. I spent years trying to encourage patients facing life altering medical issues with such ideas. Turns out there are truths in those clichés, valuable lessons to be learned … from experiences, fellow travelers … and, yes, even a machine.
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A COVID birthday By He n r y Pete rs o n
t’s a call you never want to get. I was into my second Chivas at my virtual birthday party with my editor when the phone rang. It was my friend, Naomi. “Oh, how sweet of her to remember my birthday,” I thought. I started to text her, but she called again immediately. I sensed something might be wrong and stepped away to answer. “Hey, I have to talk to you,” she said in a grim tone. “My friend, Chip, who I hung out with last week, tested positive for Covid yesterday.” “Holy cow” I thought. “And I started feeling a little weird over the weekend,” she said. “I got a test tonight — and I’m positive.” My heart sank. I had contact with her four days ago. I went back to the party a jabbering bundle of nerves. “So what do you think my chances of getting this thing are?” I asked my editor. “My sister’s a nurse. She said it’s the most contagious virus they’ve ever seen,” he told me. I felt doomed. I had given Naomi a ride to have her wisdom tooth removed. We were in the car together with the windows up. I walked her out after the surgery and took her to pick up a prescription afterwards. We were wearing masks the entire time, but still, it was way closer
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than I wanted to get to this thing. I’ve been super vigilant, too. I haven’t been to a bar or restaurant since March. I’ve been a hermit, getting lost in YouTube, and catching up on reading, working on a three-foot stack of back issues of The New Yorker, as well as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Hunter S. Thompson’s Kingdom of Fear. To come this far only to get the virus now, with a vaccine on the horizon, it felt like getting killed in Vietnam at the end of your tour, a week before you’re supposed to go home. I scheduled a Covid test for the next morning at the college where I teach and poured a tall glass of Chivas to calm myself. I laid in bed unable to sleep, and got up at 5:45, brushed my teeth, and drove an hour and a half in the rain and early morning moonlight for my test. Now there was nothing to do except wait for the results. The whole situation racked me with guilt. I wasn’t even thinking about myself. I live with my elderly parents, and I don’t want to kill them just yet. I also had contact with my friend, Matt, a 264-pound diabetic who had open heart surgery last year. I started obsessing about the virus. After all this time there was still so much I didn’t know. What exactly was
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the incubation period? And how soon would I be contagious? It was a white-knuckle, nail-biting 36 hours, with dismal scenarios ping-ponging through my mind: I infected my mom. She gave it to her friend, Merrilee, when they had coffee. Matt’s kids are going to be orphans. I kept seeing the creepy preacher from Poltergeist II at the door screaming, “You’re gonna die in there. All of you!” I felt like an irresponsible jerk. I monitored myself furiously for symptoms. Was that a sore throat I felt coming on, or was I imagining it? I did random smell tests and checked my temperature every few hours. Finally the results came in through my patient portal — “undetected.” The sweetest word I’ve read in months. What an ordeal. Knowing that my decisions could catastrophically impact my family and friends was maddening. I never want to go through that again. The Covid vaccines can’t come soon enough. I can’t wait to get my dose. I’m going to party like Jay Gatsby when this thing is finally over.
Nana and Papa, A First Grade Grandson, and The Virus
By B a rb a ra D. Kat z-B ro wn
he phone rang at 11:30 p.m. in late August. I was already in bed, slowly drifting to sleep. I picked up the phone. It was my daughter. I could hear the desperation in her voice as she was trying to speak. “The School Superintendent just made school online for the first half of the year.” “Mom, how am I going to work my full-time job at home online, teach my 1st grader, entertain my preschooler and take care of everything else?” She broke down sobbing. “I didn’t plan to be a teacher. I can’t do this. My husband works full-time too and he can’t really teach either.” The virus. The COVID-19 had crept into their town, their school district, and their lives. I took a deep breath and said, “Don’t worry, Dad and I will help you. Go to sleep now. We will figure this out.” We live about a Georgia@ithacatimes.com 607-277-7000 x220 4-and-a-half hour drive from her house. I didn’t plan to spend my retirement teaching children after spending Newspaper: my entire professional career as an educator. But, I was grateful we had the time to help the family in their time of need. Spending precious time with grandchildren is one thing, being responsible for implementing curriculum is another. First, we needed to secure a computer for the little guy. Although their school district had offered a computer, the school superintendent had issued a warning to the parents that not all students could be supplied one immediately. We decided to purchase one similar to the school’s model
Ithaca Times/Fingerlakes News
to be able to free up a computer for a family that did not have the resources to buy one for their child. We were lucky enough to be able to provide one for our grandson and have it available for the first day of first grade. Next, we made plans for the family to come back to Ithaca and spend at least 10 days as the school year started. This would enable the parents to work continuously online from Ithaca as I supported the first grader grandson online and my husband entertained the 4 year old brother. We felt this would be a good way to get the family rolling in these strange Corona times. “Why do women always bear the burden of everything?” This was a daughter phone call the next day as we were deciding dates for them to travel to Ithaca. The task of dealing with how she was going to work online, teach, entertain a preschooler and take care of household duties was always a topic of discussion. “I am now a procurement officer,” she said one evening as she described buying groceries online, wiping them down and finding a place for them to go in their house. In yet an additional phone call a subsequent evening the daughter said, “Why are more women than men having to quit their jobs to be able to take care of everything?” With each question she asked I tried to explain that the COVID-19 had not really changed anything, that it was always the burden many women had to bear to do everything but yes, social scientists would be in agreement, during this pandemic more women would Client: lose their jobs or have to leave their jobs to fulfill their motherly duties. I told her how I was glad she had healthy, retired parents to help. And yes, there would be long-term consequences for women during their retirement years if they had to leave the workforce during this time period. The family came to Ithaca and through trial and error, with lots of error, this grandmother began honing her computer skills beginning with learning how to access a “conference” as the first grade year began. I felt as though we had entered the “Grandparent Stepping Up Program,” without any computer skills training. I struggled along
Kendal at Ithaca
Vital for Life
150 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE
by Betsy Schermerhorn Director, Marketing and Admissions
KNOW THE SIGNS OF ELDER ABUSE Everyone wants the best care for their aging relatives, and that often means hiring others to care for them in their homes or in a nursing facility. Unfortunately, the people we trust with their care are not always trustworthy, and elderly abuse has become a serious problem that may go unnoticed by those who do not recognize the signs. Neglect is the most common form of abuse, so keep an eye on medications and check for bed sores and symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition. Indications of physical abuse can include bruising, signs of being restrained, and overuse of sedatives. Emotional abuse is more dif-
with other adults in the same position to make sure my grandson did not miss a minute of instruction despite internet glitches like drops in the internet signal, not being able to find the correct site or “Don’t touch that button Boy!” We got better in time and by the third day, I had mastered the school program, somewhat. I discovered that multiple grandparents and relatives were helping their grandchildren’s education in some way, shape or form. You could hear the other grandparents on the ZOOM morning meetings. You could hear the aunts, uncles, older children and in the background, the younger children and the pets because people had forgotten to mute themselves. It was like being in a unique club and thankfully, the classroom teacher had ten years of regular first grade teaching behind her. Nothing was getting past her screen, “Johnny, sit up and look at me,” or “Desiree, you have to eat your breakfast before you come to online class,” or “Norman, please mute yourself.” I wanted to reach into the screen and give the teacher a hug. She was doing an amazing job and was so very patient with the adults as well as the children. At the end of each day, we took walks around the neighborhood, shared endless games of “Candyland” and made sure the family had the courage to return home and work as a team to make this school experience fruitful and as productive as possible. Both Papa and I were satisfied with the help we could give and appreciative that we could be part of the pandemic online schooling process. Before the family left Ithaca to begin online schooling on their own, I shared a list of words I thought they would need to keep in mind. I explained to our daughter and son-in-law that this year would require them to consider a number of things: adaptability, fortitude, creativity, resourcefulness, patience, resolve and finally, resilience. I reminded them that we had much to be happy about in spite of everything, to give help to those less fortunate, and when online, please, please, mute yourself!
ficult to determine, but notice how your loved one reacts when his or her care giver arrives.
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The older adult population is growing faster in the United States than are younger populations. Many older adults require care and are vulnerable to violence perpetrated by a caregiver or someone they trust. More research is needed to uncover the causes for, and solutions to, abuse against older adults. Call the marketing team at (607) 266-5300 to schedule a tour to see our facilities and learn more about lifecare at Kendal at Ithaca. F Find us on the web at http://kai.kendal.org/ P.S. Emotional elder abuse includes anything that causes unnecessary stress from intimidation to ridicule and humiliation. 2230 N. Triphammer Road Ithaca, NY 14850-6513
Website: www.kai.kendal.org Email: email@example.com
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newshowerdeal.com/ithaca | 877-726-7124 *Offer valid only while supplies last. Limit one per household. Must be first time purchase. Minimum spend amount applies. Financing subject to third party credit approval. Some financing options cannot be combined with other offers and may require minimum monthly payments. All offers subject to change prior to purchase. See AmericanStandardShowers.com for other restrictions and for licensing, warranty, and company information. CSLB B982796; Suffolk NY: 55431H;NYC:HIC 2022748-DCA. Safety Tubs Co. LLC does not sell in Nassau NY, Westchester NY, Putnam NY, Rockland NY.
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Photo: Edna Brown
t’s hard to think of gratitude when one’s life is engulfed in pain, suffering, or depression. And there’s a lot of it to go around the world this year. From forest fires and floods, to losing one’s home either from a natural event or COVID; being evicted or losing a loved one. From loneliness, to the fear of catching COVID as an essential worker. Despair and hopelessness makes it hard to find gratitude. Yes, I do feel we all have gratitude, even if it’s buried inside us, with our struggles making it hard to surface. Although like our own challenges, we also have a lot to
Struggle & Gratitude By Fay G o uga k i s
be thankful for. Frontline workers, working exhausting hours and wearing a tight mask all day, holding the hand of a patient dying with them being the last contact. The essential worker that cleans the subways, bathrooms and hospitals with high-volume chemicals. The bus drive and cashier who is in one spot for hours without escape from someone’s cough. When I wash my hands I give thanks for water, a precious resource that many people in the U.S. and around the world do not have enough of. To the volunteers
VISIONS PRESENTS THE TOMPKINS COUNTY DEBIT CARD
making masks in their communities, to the endless pantries and soup kitchens and the expressions of kindness and compassion they exemplify, I give thanks. To the voices raised to the injustices of society and the poll workers who braved the political threats to their lives, I give thanks. Most of all, to the Americans whose vote gave us hope with a new president, I give thanks. It is time for healing, time for unity, time for understanding and compassion. In hope there is gratitude. I wish everyone a peaceful and blessed new year.
Just take a photo that you think best captures Tompkins County and send it our way. The person with the best photo submission will win $250 and another $250 will be given to a nonprofit of their choice. The winning image will also become a featured photo on a Visions VISA debit card that all members can order! Entries will only be accepted through January 31, so get them in now at visionsfcu.org/contest
1234 5678 9012 3456 GOOD THRU
01/23 VISIONS CARDHOLDER
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New York | New Jersey | Pennsylvania *Individual must be at least 18 years of age or older and a resident of Tompkins County, NY. (1) entry per person. Photo must be original work, appropriate for all ages, not include people, be taken in horizontal position, and must be taken in Tompkins County, NY. Entries must be uploaded at visionsfcu.org/contest; no alternate methods of entry apply. (1) winner selected by likes/reacts via Facebook; entry with the most likes/reacts votes will win. Entry period Dec. 7, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021. Winner will be announced on Feb. 15, 2021 via social media and email. Winner must respond by Feb. 28, 2021 or prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be selected, based on the second highest number of likes/reacts. Winner will receive $250 and Visions will donate $250 to a nonprofit of their choice in Tompkins County, NY. Prize value may be reportable for tax purposes; must have valid US Social Security number to win. Winner must provide consent for their image to be reproduced in a variety of mediums and relinquishes ownership rights to the work. Winner will have a consent and release option for Visions Federal Credit Union to use their name, photo, or likeness in social media posts or future advertising and promotional materials. This contest sponsored solely by Visions Federal Credit Union, 24 McKinley Ave, Endicott, NY 13760, 800-242-2120. Federally insured by NCUA.
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In October, as we worked Day and night in frenzied solidarity To Stop The Coup I went to Lowe’s and bought my first American flag (I who stopped reciting The Pledge of Allegiance in second grade) It was bigger, grander than I expected I got out my awl and screwdriver Installed the little bracket by the front door And hung my new Old Glory with More defiance than pride Even though no one passes On this quiet road Why, asks dear husband, do you do this? People will be confused to see our Black Lives Matter sign on the mailbox Then this. What will they think? Sad, I say. I never believed in America, but... Don’t it always seem to go You don’t know what you’ve got ‘Til it’s gone
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SEARCH. FIND. COMMENT.
By Pat r ic i a La dle y
By Mic h a el G ilm a r t i n
This morning I stand roadside as The Fifty roll by - volunteers on their way to New York City, center of panic and pandemic, where doctors labor to keep breath alive where thousands sicken and die. This morning I wave as they pass full of tears, full of pride for The Fifty for the hundreds the medics there who work miracles or try to.
NEWS OPINION MUSIC MOVIES RESTAURANTS THEATRE AND MORE!
This morning I see goodness travelling by bus to the hopes and needs of many Cayuga health professionals may they return to us unscathed The Fifty.
A lovely friend lost A son this early Winter, Drugs probably, Though no one could bear to ask. Then, months later, cruel Spring arrived. And she, brave woman, Took to clearing Winter's debris: Dead limbs, cracked stalks, heaved stones And muddied flower beds. She raked around a Burning Bush, Its fallen, flamed leaves haloing The barren ground. And then, she spotted a baseball, Its hide ravaged, its threads raveled, Pitched into oblivion by her son Who knows how many years ago. She hefted it, then placed it back. She fell to her knees. She wept tears of eternal grief Mixed with the rage at and of This viral Spring.
Winter Solstice 2020 By Pete r G . La dle y
We gathered masked and socially distanced, isolates by day, neighbors by night, encircling the fire crackling in an icy parking lot, wondering what moments of meaning we might share in these longest hours of darkness alert to recent choices our species have made, we, like Ancient ones, sometimes fear being left in total darkness-until Earth choses to resume her journey around the Sun will our daystar still lighten our way this winter? inwardly, we listen to the Fire in our fire, sensing how danger and possibility abide in the crises we face and in the hopes we hold for our fragile, broken and mending world neighbors enkindle a flame that declares: “Let our acts of care, compassion and kindness replace the indifference, injustice and suffering impacting our most vulnerable sisters and brothers!” are we not all KIN?!? with candles raised on the longest night, neighbors stand together and declare: “Let there be light! Let there be light!”
In a Fish Bowl By Lil i a n a Pea rl Kres s , age 13
110 North Cayuga St., Ithaca repstudio.com • 607-272-4292
Ithac a T imes
ere, think about this: we go fishing, but think about the fish, all the sudden, they see a line coming down from what they think is the sky, and it has food on it. So of course, they are going to try and get the food from it, and that is when we pull the fishing line up. To the fish, it would be an "alien abduction." They think that there are aliens above pulling them up from their home place into cold air that they can’t breathe in. But to us, we are just eating. Have you ever gone swimming in the ocean and wondered why do the fish swim away? It is because to them we are aliens that are flying in the sky. But to us, we are just swimming. Now flip it…what would you do if a rope dropped down with your favorite food on it? You would probably go investigate. All the sudden it pulls you up
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and you are brought into a place you have never been before and you can’t breathe. That is exactly what we do to fish, except we don't think that it matters that much because supposedly they are just fish. Well to the other living beings above us we are just humans or whatever they call us. And up there, further than you can imagine, there could be what we would call aliens, or other beings, and say those other beings went “swimming.” It would look to us that they are flying. Our world, even the solar system, is just layered from living being to living being, and we are not even close to understanding how the world works. Many human minds do not think that there is anything important but us. We think that all other animals are not as smart and that we know so much. We pride our self so much over what we
already know that we often forget that we can still learn more, from technology in the future, and especially from listening to other animals. The solar system alone is so big! We have only gotten to walk on the moon. Who really knows what is out there. Are there other planets that can hold living organisms? And for all we know there could be other multiverses, an exact replica of our Earth but with different people that we can’t see. What do we really know even about out Earth? How do we know if the Earth is really round or not? If it is round, and we’re at the bottom, we are upside down, but it does not feel like that. It feels like we are right side up. There is no way to really know without going up there in space and seeing for yourself. And that is something I would like to do.
Virtual 1/13 Wednesday Visual Arts Virtual Cinema from Cinemapolis | 1/13 Wed Literary Arts Break for Books | 12 p.m., 1/13 Wed | Tompkins County Public Library, 101 E Green St Tween Book Club | 3:45 p.m., 1/13 Wed | Tompkins County Public Library, 101 E Green St | Free
Uncertain Terrain | 12:00 PM, 1/14 Thursday | State of the Art Gallery, 120 W Martin Luther King, Jr./State Street, Ithaca | State of the Art Gallery’s first show of 2021 and seven gallery artists will show paintings, drawings, photographs, digital work and sculpture. Show dates: Jan. 7-31. Hours:† Thurs. & Fri., 12-6pm and Sat. & Sun., 12-5pm. Learning
pitfalls of post-#MeToo culture in Los Angeles. | 3 day rental available for $12 Performing Arts
Virtual Cinemapolis: Some Kind of Heaven | All Day 1/15 Friday | First-time feature director Lance Oppenheim cracks the manicured facade of The Villages, Americaís largest retirement community ñ a massive, self-contained utopia located in Central Florida. | 3 day rental available for $12 New Year Fitness Fridays | 11 a.m., 1/15 Fri
Science in the Virtual Pub | 7:30 p.m., 1/14 Thu
Pursuits & Hobbies
Western NY Virtual Career & Internship Fair | 10 a.m., 1/13 Wed | register at www.careereco.com
Secret Syllabics: A Poetry Workshop for Sneaky People | 6:30 PM, 1/14 Thursday | This workshop, led by Dan Rosenberg, is open to all poets who want to explore this persistent and subtle approach to writing poems.†https://artspartner. org/content/view/spring-writesschedule
Virtual Cinemapolis: 76 Days | All Day 1/16 Saturday | On January 23rd, 2020, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, to combat the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. Set deep inside the frontlines of the crisis in four hospitals, 76 DAYS tells indelible human stories at the center of this pandemic. | 3 day rental available for $12
Western NY Virtual Career & Internship Fair | 10:00 AM, 1/13 Wednesday | Meet dozens of employers in a variety of fields, including business, technology, healthcare, government, non-profit/human services, and more.†Candidates are strongly encouraged to preregister at www. careereco.com/events/wnyaccc so they can upload their resume and review participating employers. Virtual ESL Talk Time | 3:45 PM, 1/20 Wednesday | The group is open to English learners hoping to improve their conversation skills. Visit tcpl.org for the Zoom link. Science Together: Flubber | 10:30 a.m., 1/13 Wed | Sciencecenter, 601 1st Street Lifestyle Pet Clinic | 6 p.m., 1/13 Wed | GYMSouthside Community Center, 305 S Plain St Book a Librarian: Borrowing eBooks with Libby & OverDrive | 11 a.m., 1/13 Wed, 101 East Green Street
1/14 Thursday Visual Arts State of the Art Gallery Ithaca at State Of The Art Gallery | 12 p.m.,
Book a Librarian: Sewing & Craft Basics | 11 a.m., 1/14 Thu, 101 East Green Street The Revivalists (Livestream) Tickets - DSP Shows - Ithaca, NY | 9 p.m., 1/14 Thu | DSP Shows | $15.00 | dspshows.com
Virtual Cinemapolis: I Blame Society | All Day 1/16 Saturday | Written, directed, and starring Wallace Horvat as a warped version of herself in a razor-sharp satire of the
National Flatpicking Champion Tyler Grant | 7:00 PM, 1/16 Saturday | Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts, Congress at McLallen St, Trumansburg | Tyler will be focusing on traditional music & bluegrassrelated Flatpick style material, with some originals included songs and instrumentals. Free livestream concert. PetVet @ Tractor Supply Company | 1 p.m., 1/16 Sat | Tractor Supply Company, 378 Elmira Rd Visual Arts “Topography of Light” Exhibition at North Star Art Gallery | 12 p.m., 1/16 Sat Sports & Outdoors Virtual Series: What is Yoga? (Session 3/4) | 10 a.m., 1/16 Sat | Cortland Free Library, 32 Church St Professional Network Nights 2021 - Virtual at Online | 3 p.m., 1/16 Sat Food & Drink 2021 Winter Ithaca Farmers Market at Triphammer Marketplace | 10:30 a.m., 1/16 Sat | Triphammer Marketplace, 2255 N Triphammer Rd
Virtual Cinemapolis: Rock Camp: The Movie | All Day 1/15 Friday | Summer camp meets Spinal Tap as we journey to Rockí ní Roll Fantasy Camp, where dreamers from across America and around the world gather to shred with their heroes ñ and learn to rock like the legends. | 3 day rental for $12
introduce and read poems from his
Symphoria Casual: Your Favorite Things | 3:00 PM, 1/17 Sunday | Virtual concert, | Last season, you loved it when we played our favorite pieces. This season, you got to pick your favorites. Virtual Concert. | Family Livestream $35, Individual Livestream $20
recently published ‘Constants of the
Book a Librarian: Makerspace
Software Tutorials | 2 p.m., 1/19
Break for Movies | 1/18 Mon, 101 East Green Street
Tue, 101 East Green Street
Community Arts Challenge Exhibit | All Day 1/19 Tuesday | Center for the Arts of Homer, 72 S Main St, Homer | The Annual Community Arts Challenge exhibit now in its eleventh year is currently open to the public through the end of February at the Center for the Arts of Homer. The theme of this yearís challenge is ìWindowî with entries from local artists in art, photography, music, and writing. Call ahead for a viewing appointment.
Parenting: The Hardest Job in the World | 6:00 PM, 1/19 Tuesday | Join other parents and guardians online via Zoom to discuss issues that directly influence parenting and family life in this FREE 8-week
Roald Hoffmann in Conversation with Roger Gilbert | 7:00 PM, 1/19 Tuesday | Buffalo Street Books, 215 North Cayuga Street, Ithaca | Roald Hoffmann, in conversation with Roger Gilbert, will†
series, led by Mary Hicks & Zach Sims. Visit ccetompkins.org for more info.
Giving has a wonderful ROI
Virtual Cinemapolis: My Little Sister | All Day 1/15 Friday | Lisa has bid goodbye to her ambitions as a playwright and the Berlin arts scene and now lives in Switzerland with her husband, who runs an international school. When her twin brother falls ill, she returns to Berlin. | 3 day rental available for $12
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