Fusco’s Law, The Amish, & Upstate NY in 2050

The local Amish situation is still on my mind.

If you have not read my most recent blogs about the town board of Locke, NY and it’s persecution of the Amish population, I invite you to read about it here:

Defending The Amish

Defending The Amish (Part 2)

Today I heard through the grapevine that the Lock town board fully intends to pass the proposed, Fusco’s Law (named after the town’s attorney, Andrew Fusco, who has drawn it up and recommends that the board pass it). The law requires that all contractors, including the Amish, have liability insurance in order to work in the town. Currently there is no state or local law requiring such insurance. Passage of the local law will effectively serve to drive the eleven recently-settled Amish families out of the town of Locke.

After having been at the town meeting (as reported in the links above), and seen first hand the strong local support for the Amish, and the strong disdain for the proposed local law, I find it incredible that the board would even consider passing the law. I hope the local grapevine is wrong. But there are few secrets in a small rural community.

The next board meeting is December 20th. I will be there and I will report on the outcome here.

In the meantime, with the Amish on my mind, I was Googling my way around the internet and I happened across a most curious web site called Upstate 2050. The subtitle of the site is Fragments From Possible Upstate Futures. The site is a collection of possible news reports from Upstate New York, 43 years from now.

Now, let me do some quick calculating here… Lord willing, I will be 92 years old in 2050. And 43 years ago it was 1964. The world was a much different place when I was six years old, and it will be a much different place in 2050. The continued growth of Amish population in upstate New York (not to mention other areas of the country) over the next 43 years will, no doubt, have a profound effect on those areas.

Here is the text of an “Upstate 2050” report titled, Amish Upstate, posted on September 24, 2007:

After the 2020 census, it was painfully clear that most of Upstate was losing most of its population rapidly. Businesses had left cities, and people had followed. The only stable institutions seemed to be universities, which remained as attractive as ever, but weren't generating new jobs.

One group of residents was growing rapidly, however. Amish communities had started moving into New York in large numbers around 1970, and continued immigration from Pennsylvania combined with their ability to make tired farmland prosper and a high birthrate to create new agricultural communities. They weren't the only farmers in New York, but their numbers grew and grew.

The combination of collegetowns and Amish produced some cultural conflict, but the two groups agreed quickly on food: the Amish produced mostly organic food that fed their neighbors and even a substantial chunk of Downstate.

Amish communities had less demand for social services, reducing the need for government in some parts of New York, and as their numbers grew, the places where they lived were able to reduce their service levels and even their taxes. Roads decayed quietly under the wheels of buggies, and small towns returned to their historic role as centers of agriculture. A few roads and railroads connected the old cores of the Thruway cities with the collegetowns in the countryside, but even they were much quieter, returning to levels of traffic not seen in a century, back in the 1950s.

I don’t know about you but none of that sounds too bad to me. Fact is, I love the idea of peaceful, quiet, Amish communities, and small towns returning to their role as centers of agriculture.

But if Fusco’s Law passes in Locke, NY, the Amish have said they will have to leave. I hope they won’t go far. I live in Sempronius NY, right next door to Locke. I’d love to have Amish families for neighbors. I could care less if they hang their laundry in the front yard or recycle old house trailers into hen houses. They are frugal rural people working hard to make a living and a life close to the land. They deserve a better welcome than they are getting with Fusco’s Law.

Click HERE to check out the web site, Upstate 2050


Anonymous said...

Hi Herrick,
Keep on agitating-no need to be unchristian-just firm to what is right..... We have had to do the same here in a couple of situations.

What really makes me mad as an agrarian is the amount of time I now have to spend as an activist protecting myself and others' simple desire to be left alone. In the last year, we have been involved in petitions to prevent further erosion of our secand amendment rights, town hall meetings against NAIS and Real ID, helped a local small business against a building code official, and did some campaigning for Ron Paul.

If these things did not directly effect me and my neighbors, I would have been happy to stay home and cut more wood, tame the new heifer, and watch the dogs chase the barn cats.

Best regards as always,

Granny Miller's Husband

Goodolboy said...

Good day Herrick,

I don't know if it is just me but I get the feelin there is more to this than the town wantin contractors to have liability insurance. No state laws on this. No other towns have laws regarding this. Then, why would would a small town in NY be concerned with settin a precedent (sp?) with this deal. Was there a issue with a contractor being sued by a citizen? Why would a local government district be worried about protecting contractors? Something else is goin on here. This ain't just about insurance. It has been my experience people are afraid of what they don't undrstand. I sense fear. Can I go out on a limb here. Could it be the Amish (because of their skills and work ethics) are taking a large amount of contracting work in the area. Of what I know of the Amish they are good people that just want to live their lives as God intended. Because of their lifestyle they are somewhat mysterious. This law is aimed at the Amish and smacks of discrimination. Thanks Herrick for bringing it forward to the rest of the world.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi GMH--
There seems to be no lack of government intrusion and erosion of liberty to keep concerned citizens on our toes.

Hey goodolboy--
There have been no issues concerning contractors being sued by homeowners or the other way around. It is true that contractors who are not Amish usually have a dim view of Amish competition because they consider it unfair. That may be part of this but I've not heard so. There is, however, more to this that meets the eye. This issue is a symptom of a deeper problem. The board has a history of pushing and passing local laws that infringe on people's rights. Politics in the town have been very contentious for many years. The attorney is a willing accomplice. He has a nickname: Andrew "Fiasco."

I will continue to follow and report on this story.

Tired of Locke said...

I own a home in Locke and have personally had to deal with the board members. The major problem as I see it is the fact that the board members do not like it when a resident stands up to them or questions their authority. How can you have a town supervisor in place that will tell an Amish man that they don't need his type in Locke ( she knows who she is ), She has discrimnated against the Amish and has the town's attorney in her back pocket.
My family has lived in Locke for over 100 years and we have never had to deal with Board Members who think thier word is the final word.They are supposed to represent the residence of Locke.
I know first hand how they treat people, I have discussed this problem with many other residence. Anyone that would treat Charlie Whiteman ( Town Assessor- 20+ years)with such disrespect is way out of line. I have personally conducted business with 2 of the Amish families in Locke and found them to be honest and hardworking.
The new town supervisor and her spouse should pack up and go back to where ever they came from and let our town go back to the place where my family was proud to call home.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sticking up for my father, it's hard to do when you don't live in Locke anymore. Just to set the record straight, Charlie Whiteman has been the town assessor for 32 plus years and deserves such respect. What he didn't deserve was to have the Old Genoa Road in front of their house closed, when by law, if two or more vehicles a day use the road, it cannot be closed. It was closed to my father's only regret, " I should of had my address as 11888 Old Genoa Road instead of State Route 90. " Yes, the mailman and the paper delivery person use the closed road every day. According to the board and the attorney, my parent's vehicles and the tennant didn't count. I count five, how about you? I could go on, but we will leave that until later. Thanks again for the plug, it was appreciated - Charles R. Whiteman!

Herrick Kimball said...

Hello Mr. Whiteman,

I installed a new kitchen for your parents in their home many years ago when I worked for Jack Wellauer. Until the recent Amish debacle I did not follow Locke politics very closely and was not aware of your father's problems with the town.

Please give him my best wishes.

Herrick Kimball

Anonymous said...

From what I gather a lot of town officials seem to be book smart but don't seem to have what it really takes to make governmental decisions and that is good old common sense. Things that could be good for the community Seem to go out the window. I bet the town knows a good place to get insurance. It's bad enough they tell you how and where you can build now they want to tell you whom you can have do the work. It's crap as usual. It's also sad.