March 20, 2007

Protesting for peace

College marks fifth year of Iraq war


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Student organizer Emily Cittadino hands out anti-war literature during a protest on the steps of Corey Union at SUNY Cortland Monday.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — About 25 SUNY Cortland employees — mostly faculty — and students gathered on the steps of Corey Union in a brisk wind and snow flurries Monday to protest the war in Iraq, now entering its fifth year.
A tan single bed sheet with the word “peace” printed in black marker on it was draped across some of the steps to the union.
Some students lingered or stopped long enough to accept handouts from the student protestors or to sign a petition that will be sent to President Bush, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and state representatives in Congress.
The petition asks Congress to vote to end all government funding of the war, asking for prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops and withdrawal of multinational corporations from the Middle East. It also asks Congress to vote to pay war reparations to Iraq.
Adam Zimmerman, a senior at SUNY Cortland, said more than 250 people from the college community have signed the petition. He said students have been gathering signatures by setting up a table at Corey Union and talking to students and staff members when they pass by. He said there are a few students who shake their heads as they pass by.
Zimmerman — who served four years in the Army, beginning in 2000 after graduating from high school — said he always has questioned why the United States became involved in the war.
“I realized this was something I didn’t want to be a part of,” he said, noting he saw two years of active duty and two years in the Army Reserve. He had served for 1 1/2 years at Ground Zero as a security guard.
“I am a person who likes to take action,” Zimmerman said. He said he is hoping the protest will raise awareness of the situation in Iraq among students on campus.
Zimmerman helped organize the event, along with Emily Chittadino, a senior, and Dustin Good, a junior. The student organization Planet of Women for Equity and Respect, including the subgroup Cortland United for Peace, sponsored the event. POWER also held a candlelight vigil Monday night in remembrance of those who have died in the Iraq conflict, which includes more than 3,200 American soldiers and as many as 650,000 Iraqi civilians. This also was held on the steps of Corey Union.
Chittadino said the protest was planned about a month ago and Monday was selected for the day of it because it was the fourth anniversary of American invasion of Iraq.
The college also planned a student panel on “Women and War” at noon today, with Caroline Kaltefleiter, associate professor of communications studies, moderating.
SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum also suggested the college have a teach-in and suggested the evening of Scholar’s Day, which is in April, for a discussion of the war in Iraq.
Good said one of his roommates, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, received his deployment notice just before spring break. Good called it “sobering” to hear his friend is to be deployed for one year beginning in January 2009.
“The (current) administration sees no end in sight to this war,” Good said.
After the protest, Good said his roommate is “on the fence” in his position on the war. He said he thinks many students who are undecided are uninformed on issues surrounding the war. “We, as students, are trying to get the word out.”
At least two professors had also attended the Pentagon protest in Washington, D.C., during the weekend. Kathy Russell, a philosophy professor at SUNY Cortland, said while the group that gathered at SUNY Cortland was small, there have been protests across the country marking the beginning of the fifth year of fighting. The local group Cortland Peace Coalition protests every Saturday at the Post Office and will continue to do so.
“How is this war going to end?” Russell asked, rhetorically. She said it would end like the Vietnam War with people getting Congress to cut off funding.
Russell said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd District) and former state Democratic Assemblyman Marty Luster have called for Bush’s impeachment. “This is an illegal war. It is an immoral war,” Russell said.
Linda Lavine, a psychology associate professor at the college, said she was at the Pentagon protest also, but noticed that many of her peers who had protested Vietnam were not there. She said many people, because there is no draft, do not consider the war their problem.
“We are the future. We will create the change. The time is now,” Good said.



Rt. 281 crash cuts power to more than 600

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Cortland residents Jamie Crampton and Matt Rutkowski found Hollywood Video and the Tops plaza surrounding it eerily dark as they arrived just before _8 p.m. Monday to return a video.
“It was weird,” Crampton said.
About 650 commercial and residential _customers along Route 281 from McLean Road north beyond Groton Avenue lost power after a car crashed into a telephone pole Monday evening.
Donald Giacalone, of Apalachin, was headed south on Route 281 around 7:30 p.m. when a car traveling north veered into his lane, said Kelly Ryan, an officer with the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department.
“The roads were nasty,” Ryan said, noting they were covered in slush.
Ryan said Giacalone swerved his car — a Honda sport utility vehicle — in order to avoid the oncoming vehicle, which caused his car to spin, cross the northbound lane and crash its back end into the utility pole.
The crashed caused the telephone pole, which was located in front of the SUNY Cortland parking lot, to snap, said Tom Corbett, spokesman for National Grid.
Police did not have a record of the other driver, said Lt. Mark Helms, of the Sheriff’s Department. He said the person drove his or her car away from the scene.
The Sheriff’s Department received the call about the accident at 7:36 p.m. The Cortlandville Fire Department, a TLC Emergency Medical Services ambulance and the state Department of Transportation also responded around that time, Ryan said.
The accident caused no injuries, though Giacalone’s car was severely damaged and had to be towed.
The accident initially caused some businesses along Route 281 to lose power, though it was not until National Grid arrived around 9 p.m. that power along the entire strip from McLean Road to Groton Avenue, where city police were directing traffic, was turned off.
Businesses and homes along Groton Avenue, as well as side streets off Groton Avenue, also lost their power.
Corbett said National Grid typically turns off power when it repairs a telephone pole or power line. National Grid crew replaced the snapped utility pole.
Jeff Unaitis, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, said about 1,700 customers in Cortland and Homer lost their cable, phone and Internet service through Time Warner between 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. as a result of the power outage.
Time Warner lost some of its power so it couldn’t provide those services, Unaitis said.
National Grid was able to turn back power to all residents by 2:30 a.m., Corbett said.
Verizon also could not be reached this morning to see if its services were affected.
Some businesses, such as Country Inn and Suites, gained back their power relatively early, around 10 p.m.
Cecilia Kristof, night front desk clerk at Country Inn and Suites, said the hotel’s customers, who filled about 20 rooms, did not seem too upset about the lack of cable or power. Some of them went downstairs to read by the fire or candlelight.
“It wasn’t too bad,” she said.
Ryan said the county’s 911’s dispatch received about 15 accident-related calls from 4 p.m. to the time of the accident on Route 281, most of which resulted from the snow and slushy roads. No one was seriously injured, Ryan said.


Sudan refugee tells of his country’s plight at Cortland High

Staff Reporter

When Peter Kuch was fleeing one dangerous land to another with his fellow Sudanese tribesman, and no water was around, he would try to quench his thirst by moistening his mouth with mud or by drinking his own urine.
He said in the latter case, he considered himself lucky.
“Some of us were so dehyradrated we couldn’t even drink our own urine,” he said.
Kuch, a Sudanese refugee living in Syracuse, spoke to social studies students Monday at Cortland Senior High School about his flight from Sudan after being forced from his home and family in Darfur at the age of 8 by an opposing Sudanese group.
The talk was part of an effort by Cortland High School students and social studies teachers to spread the world about the violence and genocide taking place in Darfur.
Kuch, a member of the Dinka tribe who is 27 years old, said violence between people from his region in Darfur and northern Sudan did not just suddenly begin in 2003 with people from his region rebelling against the Sudanese government and the Muslim Arabs in northern Sudan, as many people think.
He said for decades the northerners and the government had been trying to impose their way of life on the southerners, who were primarily Christian.
“They were trying to make everyone Muslim and use them the way they wanted to use them,” he said.
An estimated two million people have died in the war, which erupted between the north and south in 1983.
Kuch said one day in 1987, when he was 8, a group from the north attacked his village.
“They came wanting to kill all the males in (southern) Sudan and to burn down all the villages and kill all the animals … anything that we depended on,” he said.
Kuch said he had no choice but to run for his life with other members of his tribe. He had to leave his family, he said, who preferred to stay in Sudan and go to the bush during attacks.
Kuch spent four years at a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where constant rains, starvation and killing among tribe members brought death to many. He went back to Sudan, when Ethiopian rebels threatened to kill his tribe, before moving to a refugee camp in Kenya where he lived for 10 years.
“It was a messed up situation,” he said. “We were completely hopeless.”
In 2001, after a several-year application process, Kuch was able to go to Syracuse as a refugee. He has since spoken to his family once over the phone, finding out everyone is doing OK except two of his sisters, who have been missing for a while.
Kuch said he hopes to go back to Sudan, after he completes his degree in human resources from Bryant and Stratton. There, he will be able to see his family and maybe even help southern Sudan set up its own government after the six-year peace treaty between the Sudanese rebels and government expires in 2010, he said.


Nursing home neglect trial begins

Five Northwoods employees accused of neglecting patient, falsifying records.

Staff Reporter

Jury selection in the trial of one of five employees accused of neglecting a local nursing home patient began Monday morning in County County Court.
Steve Nadeau, 38, of Cortland, is accused of failing to give a patient at Northwoods Rehabilitations and Extended Care Facility on Kellogg Road proper medical treatments while he was employed at the facility as a certified nurse’s aide. He is also accused of covering up the neglect by signing Medicare documents stating he had administered treatments when he had not.
Defense attorney Edward Menkin and prosecutor Ralph Totora, of the state Attorney General’s Office, choose a jury of eight men and six women, including a nurse, a retired elementary school teacher and a Tompkins Cortland Community College criminal justice instructor.
Opening statements were scheduled to begin this morning at 9.
Nadeau is charged with 15 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, a felony, and 15 counts of willfully violating health laws.
Nadeau was one of five employees charged after the Attorney General’s Office placed a hidden camera in a comatose patient’s room from January through March 2005. Officials put the camera in the room with the permission of the patient’s mother.
Nadeau is accused of not giving the man proper oral care, proper range of motion care, of not repositioning him when he was suppose to, and not administering skin treatments to avoid infections.
The man died of unrelated causes 11 days after investigators stopped videotaping the room, court documents said.
County Court Judge Julie Campbell ruled in October that the tapes are admissible as evidence in the trial. They are expected to be shown to the jury.


Dryden land use committee to meet

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — A special town committee, which was created for the development of new land use polices, will have its first meeting on Thursday.
Town Supervisor Steven Trumbull said some of the issues the board will tackle are a stormwater management, erosion and sediment control ordinance that should be ready by January 2008 and a cluster-housing program, in which houses are put closer together on parcels smaller than those usually allowed, preserving open space around them. Trumbull said the cluster-housing program would create more affordable housing in Tompkins County.
The Town Board voted and established the cooperative board on Feb. 8. Trumbull said the board would be made up of nine to 10 members from the zoning board of appeals, town, planning, and conservation boards, with three members coming from the Town Board and Trumbull would be the chair. The town attorney and environmental planner would also be on the board.
The environmental planner, Dan Kwasnowski, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Trumbull said Stephen Stelick and MaryAnn Sumner may be the other Town Board members accompanying him on the cooperative board.
The board would have no authority to make decisions regarding land use or codes, but it can make “strong recommendations,” Trumbull said.
“Everything comes back to the Town Board, which is the legislative body,” said Code Enforcement Officer Henry Slater.
Slater said that every person on the board would have to have had experience in their department and tackle issues that they have experience in.