Monday, November 2, 2009


I've pretty much stopped following anything political because, ultimately, it ruins my life. We are so backwards in so many things that there really isn't much point in getting invested in reform because... well, IDK, I'm starting to think people might actually LIKE it this way. I know, I can't really figure out why, but what other explanation could there be for furiously devouring HOPE(TM) and all that goes along with it?

I do a pretty good job of avoiding most of it, but without a conscious effort to close the proverbial storm windows, little bits do manage to sneak into my otherwise insulated, peaceful, self-righteous world. When enough manages to infiltrate my psyche, I have no choice but to turn to the interwebz and complain.

I wanted to bring your attention to a whole bunch of people behaving badly. I don't know if 3 counts as a whole bunch, but it should. I can't even begin to rank the order of absurdity, so "WOW" has been sufficient.

It's also election time! Normally, this would be exciting, but I have no election whatsoever. Nothing. There's a congressional special a few districts over, but when it comes to me I am SOL. Which, actually, is kinda nice for once (but I wouldn't want to make it a habit!). Luckily, I'm bi-coastal, and there's all of the usual shenanigans going on back on the homefront. Two are especially absurd.

The first is Proposition 414: Shall the annual contribution of the Town of New Paltz provided in its budget for the Elting Memorial Library, a free association library, located at New Paltz, New York, be increased by one-hundred fifty-one thousand ($151,000.00) dollars annually to three hundred twenty-one thousand ($321,0000.00) dollars annually?

This is one of those things that lefties bleed all over. We have to do it for "THE CHILDREN," you see, as "their futures are at stake!"

There are so many things wrong with this.

How incredibly skewed has our perception of reality become? If the library doesn't get an additional $170,000 annually, "the children" will suffer some sort of abstract, but horrific, fate. The thing is, though, they won't. I don't have to point out the MILLIONS (yes, literally, millions) of children who do not have access to a library at all, and the millions more who might have access to 1% of what the Elting Library provides. Now this certainly isn't a good thing; I'm a huge advocate of libraries, literacy and enrichment programs. But honestly? Nobody ever died of a lack of library funding. I'm sorry, but we really can't elevate reduced hours at the Elting Library to starvation or typhoid. It's not a hospital or a food bank; it's a goddamn library.

If the Elting Library disappeared tomorrow, it's not like "the children" would never see another book again. In fact, each school in the New Paltz Central School District has its very own library. What about the summer? Won't "the children" likely perish without access to those facilities? Oh, right, we also have an extraordinary university library that features reference, media, microform, inter-library loan, and even a juvenile and young adult collection! Community access to this resource is available at $20.00 (between 0 and 4 times the amount of Library Association membership, depending on who you ask, for over 5 times the items).

I'm also unclear as to how "the children" benefited from recent upgrades and expansion at the Elting Library. There is no question that improvements were necessary, but to what extent? The Trustees authorized capital improvements that included top-of-the-line EVERYTHING. Then, all of a sudden they were shocked to be faced with cost overruns, and came to the Town of New Paltz with their hands out. They blamed the economy, they blamed the taxpayers, they blamed private funding - not once did they say "Hmm, maybe we didn't need all that copper piping." No, instead it's everyone else's fault for not valuing "the children" enough. The only people guilty of that, however, are the Elting Library Trustees themselves. I'm sure there are many people who lived beyond their means and are now facing foreclosure who would like a similar option; build your dream house (or, in this case, library) and then when you can't pay, don't worry, the government will take care of it and you get to keep the house. At least with families there was the belief that they would be able to cover costs with their own money; the library willfully took advantage of taxpayer support and got away with it, dream house and all.

Ah, the Trustees. Surely, if the library is receiving public subsidies, the public must approve its budget and spending, right? Oh. Wrong. Well then surely the public can elect those making financial decisions about the library, right? No? Well then who, exactly, is the library accountable to? If not "the children," nor "the taxpayers," it looks as if they don't really have to answer to anyone. Of course, you could become a member of the Library Association. Depending on which staff member you speak to, this costs anywhere between $5 and $25 per year and gives you the privilege of voting in the January elections for new Trustees, as well as... well, actually, I think that's all that it really does for you. Oh, and you get to say you're a member of the Library Association when bragging to all of your friends. When I inquired as to the process of nominating Trustees, Pat* was initially apprehensive about whether or not that information was "allowed" to be explained to me. Deciding that it was not a problem, Pat told me that there really isn't a process, basically they just ask someone that they know. As for the election process, Pat told me that usually only 1 or 2 people show up to the election and that they don't really read the slate or vote. The Trustees just sort of assume office. So, those residing in the Library Association clique, are intent on protecting "the children," and while we might not be allowed to know anything about it, we should trust them and fork over $321,000. Are you freaking KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!

We now have another government in a community that is already burdened with FOUR GOVERNMENTS (Town, Village, School, SUNY, in case you're new). I guess a fifth doesn't really mess things up any worse than they already are. Except, similar to SUNY, we have ZERO say in who represents the community in this government and what they do with the money we give them. We hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, to be spent as these mysteriously anointed people deem fit, in the interest of "the children." Too freaking bizarre.

What it comes down to is this: The library is requesting PUBLIC funding for a PRIVATE organization. So, before you vote YES on Prop 414, for the sake of "the children," consider this - if Stop N Shop completely disregarded their budget and just did what they wanted, then realized it was a little too costly, should the Town of New Paltz toss a few grand their way every year? After all, "the children" could starve if hours need to be cut. We're not going to give you shares of stock, or let you have a say in selecting the CEO (well, MAYBE if you wanted to pay for that right, but we're sticking with the same pool of candidates). Of course, disregard the fact that there is Shop Rite and many smaller food stores in the immediate vicinity; we need to support Stop N Shop because... well... do we really need a reason? It's for "the children," goddamnit.

The common sense decision is to vote NO on Proposition 414. As it stands, it's public funding of a private entity. If Elting Library is willing to reevaluate its structure, and allow public governance of that funding, then it might be a different story.

Phil Johnson, incumbent TONP Highway Superintendent, is a bully and shouldn't be managing anyone or anything. His behavior is frequently of questionable ethics and legality and his tenure truly has proven problematic for the TONP (in attorney's fees alone). He is also the only Republican candidate currently holding office (I think there may also be one or two on the Board of Education, but we pretend that is non-partisan). Phil shouldn't be reelected, really. But if I was there, I'd strongly consider voting for him (before ultimately writing in a candidate who is neither Phil Johnson nor Mike Nielsen).

The Democrats are so freaking smug and it's sickening. They have managed to elevate the importance of this race to gubernatorial standing when, really, it's the freaking HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT. Get a little perspective, people. Similar to Town Clerk, being able to add Highway Superintendent to the list of Democratic offices is pretty meaningless. It's not even like the Dems are a cohesive party where that would actually mean something about the values or ideology of the department; they all seem to hate each other and the only thing they have in common is their party affiliation (oh, and their willingness to blindly vote "Yes" on Prop 414 for "the children"). And I don't really know how much ideology goes into a position like that anyways; some, certainly, but it isn't exactly a policy-making operation.

Really, it isn't about the merits of having a Dem Highway Super at all. It's about personality, as usual, where everyone hates Phil and everyone likes Mike. That's even the freaking SLOGAN; "I like Mike," AKA "I don't like Phil." The latter wasn't as catchy, though.

It's also about teaching Phil, and anyone else, a lesson for daring to be anything other than a Democrat. Of course, they're willing to overlook the faux pas of the many candidates who are endorsed on both lines (which I still can't seem to figure out, since the logic was expanding the voter base yet they're running unopposed). But if you dare to be anything other than a Democrat at your core, you've made an enemy for life. And it's become pretty easy. There's only one candidate who isn't a Democrat, so all of the vitriol and nastiness can be channelled into that person. In Phil's case, it happens to be justified. But once they've got a firm grasp on every office in the community, they will turn against each other as they always do and the outrageously obvious fact that these individuals do NOT all belong in the same party becomes painfully clear.

Well, fuck you, Democrats. You're a miserable bunch of people and bully or not, I give Phil a lot of credit for saying the same thing. You guys, seriously, are just being douchebags and it's annoying. While Mike will almost certainly win, and while he probably deserves to, it'd really be nice to see those freaking smirks wiped right off of your faces.

I felt pretty strongly about all of that, and then I saw this flyer. OMFG, I hate you people. I guess it's mildly clever, but 34UOTEIRLSJDK[0;3APTUWFJOSDGKM9U4GIJRSL. Slightly crooked signs, no doubt the result of snow plows... THIS is what you're so worked up about? THIS has a significant impact on your quality of life? THIS is what you've been pouring time and money into? I know, justify it as some kind of serious threat to public safety and adequate navigation. Perhaps you can even talk about its impact on "the children." Ultimately, though, y'all need some freaking hobbies.

*My pseudonym for mystery library employee.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why We Are Who We Are

Also, since I'm finding the Democrats and, to a lesser extent, Republicans to be even more sickening and offensive than usual, I want to try to keep an open mind here, since I know there's plenty of people who think these dumb parties are our salvation.

PLEASE, explain it to me, because I TRULY do not understand.

Why are you a <>?

What does it mean to you to be a <>?

What do you get out of being a <>?

Would you ever change your political affiliation and, if so, under what circumstances?

What are 5 things about being a <> that you believe make it substantially different from other political affiliations?

How often do you disagree with the leadership of your political affilation, if ever? What do you do if/when you disagree?

I wrote an article in a similar vein for the New Paltz Times a while back, although I think even that requires some revision at this point.

Health Care, SRSLY?!?

Who are we thanking, and for what??? The Obama logo suggests we are, in fact, thanking the golden boy himself, but... HUH?!?!?!

So I'm getting really aggravated at the stupid viral Facebook status message about health care. If you haven't seen it, I'll paste it below for the sake of recordkeeping, but UNDERSTAND THAT I AM NOT ENDORSING IT!

"No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and nobody should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day."
Sigh. How can we be so misguided? It breaks my heart. So, of course, I put up a status message expressing my disdain ("believes in it, supports it, wants it to happen, but recognizes that the approach being taken is counter-productive and essentially sabotage. no number of dedicated facebook statuses will change that.") and all sorts of crankiness ensues.

One friend, a fellow Green, used the status as a basis for opening conversation with some friends who are not as engaged in the issue. OK. I guess I can deal with this, even though I don't really see the point. If you're in need of an introductory health care conversation via facebook this late in the game... um... yeah. Plus, I've never known a conversation that accuses the opposition of essentially being murderers to lead to a lot of enlightened soul searching, but who knows.
Another, this one a Democrat, hasn't participated in the homogeneous status posting but felt resentful and attacked based on my obvious disgust with all things big D. This one is kinda complicated. Instead of being offended by my hatred of this sham of a party, shouldn't she be offended by what her party has done? I'm hugely offended, and I'm not even a member!

Does she really believe in these issues or does she believe i
n the collective solidarity of standing for absolutely nothing? If it's the latter, well, whatevs, but if it's the former, she should be outraged and, more importantly, she should be doing something about it. Why not work to change the structure and absence of any values exhibited by this party for decades? Why not refuse to donate to, volunteer with or vote for another one of these lying imbeciles until "hope" and "change" actually become meaningful? Better yet, why not just walk away?
The majority of people endorsed and elected by the Democrats are manipulating and defacing whatever ideological remnants still guide the party, assuming there are any at all. Registered Democrats would be much better served by coming to terms with the fact their party's promises are hollow. They need to start supporting the issues and candidates who are actually worth something instead of clinging to a party that doesn't seem to espouse much of anything.

Another friend, this one from my hometown, embraced the "t
o hell with them all" mentality and suggested I let her know once I have that up-and-running. Which is exactly right. Because the "third parties" aren't doing much of a bang-up job, either.

Then, as if the status updates weren't enough, a Democratic
elected official from my former county of residence posts a link to a petition, begging Obama to please support a single-payer option. The first line actually reads, "We worked so hard for real change." And the whole thing appears to be sponsored by the Obama campaign itself (or else someone is seriously engaging in trademark violations). WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
So, let me get this straight.

1. Barack Obama campaigns on a platform that includes a public option for health care, available to all Americans.
2. People "work so hard for real change" and Barack Obama is elected President.
3. Barack Obama and the other Democratic hacks take the public option "off the table."
4. We beg the people we elected less than a year ago to do what they said and keep the promises that they made during their campaigns....

Is that about right?
When they refuse to "listen" (aka do what they said they were going to do in the first place), was it because we didn't have enough people at the rallies? Was it because corporate dollars somehow controlled the debate, and our elected officials can't be expected to allow their promises to stand up against the pressure? Was it because we didn't get enough facebook statuses or signatures on the petition supporting it? Or is it because we've elected a bunch of liars and can't admit that all that "hope" and "change" was BS?

We obviously can't rely on the two major parties, and third parties are sidelined due to a combination of systemic ineffectiveness, disorganization and general fluffiness. And that's assuming that we even have real third parties, rather than just branches of the existing two, which I'm really beginning to question (but that conversation is for another time).
Now what?

This entire mess just reaffirms the fact that it isn't a problem with partisanship or corporate interests or lobbyists or apathy or any of the other junk excuses that we come up with. The disaster that we know as the American political system is completely upside down, backwards, inside out and knotted up. It's a super unfunny joke and we should scrap it and start again. Yeah, that seems really complicated and challenging, but at least it's proactive rather than waiting for the inevitable catastrophe guaranteed by the existing system.

We have so much diversity, so many different views, such high stakes that we simply cannot count on a two-party-majority-but-only-by-a-little-electoral-W-T-F-is-the-point-college-but-it's-how-we-were-founded tradition. THIS IS NO WAY TO GOVERN, PEOPLE! Maybe it made sense when the population of the country was 3 million people, but so did slavery and property laws and a bunch of other really dumb ideas that obviously sucked. Why we invoke tradition so fervently to protect a system that is blatant in its disservice to absolutely everyone is beyond me.

Wayyyy back in the day, when we had our first kinda-sorta-real elections in the US, there were two parties: the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Well, guess what. We still have the Democratic-Republicans, but they've split into two wings of the same party. Aside from a few issues and a few approaches, there really aren't tremendous differences between the two (you get a prize if you can come up with one that is actually, truly, really, really, really meaningful). To top it all off, Democratic-Republicans used the terms interchangably, calling themselves Democrats, Republicans, Democratic-Republicans, and, yes, even Federalists and Federalist-Republicans! Ok, so we let a bunch of really confused people set up a really confused system.

Instead of continuing to try to create differences where, really, few exist, maybe we can try letting everyone have a say and work with the differences that are actually there? Maybe, instead of basking in the glory of shutting out thousands and, even, millions of American citizens from leadership opportunities in our governments we could try letting everyone have some representation, mixing things up a bit and see where that gets us. Maybe we should just consider the merits of a system based in proportional representation, where the proportion of votes cast for parties and candidates determines who governs. It seems to make sense and it's gotta be a helluva lot more productive, transparent and honest than the gig we've got going now.

Dontcha think?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience

I just watched The Girlfriend Experience and loved it.

If you want to watch it, don't read further, because I may have spoilers. I've been combing over the IMDB and critical reviews and am finding that most people completely missed the point, acting in the same manner that they consider to be the film's downfall.

I'm not a film critic and can't get into the details of cinematography or soundtrack, although all enhanced the film and were critical components. The Girlfriend Experience wasn't about "The Girlfriend Experience," where an escort provides personal services beyond sex to her client. It may be a particular brand of GFE, where the escort provides a blank slate for clients to project themselves onto, but that isn't the common understanding. Instead, the film offers a glimpse into the daily life of one escort in a realistic manner that avoids both the black-and-white moralistic judgments or trendy romanticism that tend to characterize all films dealing with sex work.

Most of the negative reviews criticize Sasha Grey's real-life work in pornography, flat acting or failure to act as a girlfriend to any of the men she engages with, including her boyfriend. I found the acting to be far from flat; instead, it was delicate and nuanced, depicting a 22 year old beauty who is not only in complete control of her life but also unsure of what life actually is. She's good at her job, knows what needs to be done to move forward in her career and is also subject to bad decisions, with regard to both work and also her personal life. She could be anyone.

Ah, yes, but she's not. Because she charges $2,000 an hour to have sex with strangers. The film, however, contextualizes sex work as it should be -- a job, just like any other, with good days, bad days and indifferent days. Leading up to the 2008 Presidential Election, we see each character dealing with apprehension over politics, the economy and sex. And we see those same individuals who are so quick to judge falling prey to the same opportunistic tendencies that they attribute to someone like Chelsea. Because they don't cross that line, selling themselves isn't the same game. But it is.

One of the most striking interactions is between Chelsea and her boyfriend, Chris. She certainly appears to provide GFE to her boyfriend, albeit probably unknowingly, yet Chris is also offering his own brand of BFE. At one point, he lashes out, proving her suspicions that he detests her career and finds her spiritual beliefs silly, without any recognition of the fact that he is a willing participant in their lifestyle, underwritten by her career and guided by her values. This argument shows the unwillingness of either character to truly respect and appreciate the other, highlighting the fact that each has a selfishness that will ultimately compromise the relationship. In Chelsea's case, her selfishness relates to her honesty, with herself and her partner, and her desire for personal growth and fulfillment. In Chris' case, the selfishness seems focused on having a beautiful, successful girlfriend and a beautiful, successful lifestyle in an apartment financed almost wholly by Chelsea's profession. While both may be selfish, only one comes across as shallow and it isn't the hooker.

The lack of explicit sexual interactions between Chelsea and her clients is notable. It allows the film to explore an important part of their interactions, which is rarely the sex and more often the customer service. In only one instance does Chelsea appear to provide the true GFE, in an interaction with a man who she doesn't even have sex with. She tells him what he wants to hear and this is helpful to him. In each instance, she offers something beyond sex that, while perhaps not exemplifying extraordinary GFE, is something that each man is seeking. In some instances, it's enough, in others it isn't, but Chelsea rarely finds herself sacrificing her boundaries in order to go that extra step, although she does come dangerously close at least twice, and not without consequences. Any time a career is so reliant on interactions with other people, an individual will walk that very fine line and encounter some difficult situations as a result.

Many reviewers have focused on the final scene before the credits as being a sad, repulsive and pitiful commentary on Chelsea and her decisions, but I found the contrary to be true. The film isn't a grand and striking commentary on escorts. It simply reaffirms the idea that for Chelsea, this is a job and one she does well. For her clients, it has the potential to be so much more.

I'm not done formulating my thoughts on the film and I consider that a good thing. Highly recommended, especially for those interested in watching with an open mind and a willingness to see everything in shades of gray.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I want to offer my sincere congratulations to the NPHS Class of 2009. These kids are absolutely incredible and I have been so lucky to get to know many of them over the past few years. I have never met such a fun, talented, intelligent and inspiring group of people and I wish everyone the very best in their future endeavors!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Celebrity Death Watch

OK, the phone calls earlier were fine but now this is getting a little ridiculous...

Here's the rundown:
Ed McMahon - Dead
Farrah Fawcett - Dead
Michael Jackson - Dead
Jeff Goldblum - Not Dead
Harrison Ford - Not Dead
Brad Pitt - Not Dead
Chesney Hawkes - Not Dead

We're good now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joining the ranks of the Bikeys

So, now that I'm in Sacramento surrounded by beautifully wide, paved, flat streets, bike lanes and sunshine, I have decided to join the ranks of the bikeys that I so deeply admire (yes, Rebecca, Rachel, Lagusta, etc., this would apply to you).

But, because I'm still me, I'm facing the difficult dilemma of exactly what color/style bike to purchase. It needs to be skirt friendly, needs to have great options for baskets, bells, streamers, etc. and it needs to be classic.
I've pretty much settled on an Electra because they are so beautiful and perfect and there are a lot more color and design choices than Schwinn currently offers. The fenders on nearly every model and skirt guards on the Amsterdams are also a HUGE incentive. Plus, Electra is my Aunt's middle name, so that's cool.
The frontrunners include:

The Alexander Girard 3i Tree of Life Amsterdam. So beautiful and probably the most expensive choice, but there simply are not words for HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS BICYCLE!!!

The Original 3i Amsterdam... this is probably in my top 3 choices right now...

The Holiday 3i Townie... I love the front basket but there have also been some safety problems with this model. Apparently, the basket can separate from the rest of the frame and make contact with the front wheel, causing injuries such as "bruises and scratches." Which, in my world of perpetual bruises and scratches, would probably mean sudden death.
The Original 7D Townie... not my hugest favorite, but I'd certainly be happy with it. The Townies seem to have some bolder color options than the more pastel Cruisers.

The Original 3i Townie... again, I'm not going to fall down and marry this style, but it's nice.

The Jenny 3i Cruiser... fun design, love the dots.

The Navy 3i Cruiser... I'm crazy about this one, although I'm not sure that it matches enough of my wardrobe? I have been increasingly obsessed with everything sailor, but it doesn't negate the fact that I have a lot of prissy, pastel flowery things. Will they work with this?? I'm not sure... I just might not be cool enough to pull off the Navy.

The Gypsy 3i Cruiser... the Gypsy is super fun and I love the accessories available for it. In a lot of ways, it is *similar* to the Girard Amsterdam, but will probably be much closer to my price range.

The Blanc Et Noir 3i Cruiser... this one is definitely beautiful, but I think it'd be better for me if it had the black and white floral without the green accents and multicolor seat, etc.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Committed Volunteers

Sorry for the hiatus, I've been packing up everything I own to get a better tan 3,000 miles away. Luckily, I'm done with that now.

This week's Village Board Meeting, the last for The Gatekeeper and The Renegade, was a disaster. Because there was no meeting. See, The Mayor and The Gatekeeper showed up, but The Renegade, The Butterfly and The Financier were all absent. Apparently The Financier's absence was excused (this time) due to a personal issue. No one seems to know where The Butterfly was, although her husband was present for the first time in anyone's memory. The Renegade was simply out, due to personal obligations and priorities that may or may not have been communicated or excused. So, without a quorum, the meeting was never called to order and business in the VoNP is stalled, yet again.

In the wake of The Butterfly's unjustified and unprofessional tirade against the NPFD, many of her defenders are pointing to the meager stipend and supreme level of commitment that she has demonstrated in her capacity as Trustee. So, as is my way, I did some data entry and found even my overly cynical self disappointed by the results.

Instead of dealing with the personal qualities of The Butterfly as Trustee, and without even attempting to tackle the subjective issue of voting record, let's stick to something we can all agree is a requirement of office: attendance. We all know that Trustees should show up and participation is apparently a bonus. But I've been stating that The Butterfly and The Financier fall far short of even this basic obligation and we don't need to have a philosophical debate about positions or abilities; the facts back this one up.

Section 31-5 of the Village Code outlines that "Any person appointed to a board, commission or committee of the Village shall be expected to attend at least 75% in number of the regular and special meetings of such board, commission or committee during a period of 12 consecutive months." There does not appear to be an attendance policy for elected board members, but I think it is reasonable to assume that these officers should be held to this standard at a minimum. I'm assuming the absence of this specification is for this exact reason; we shouldn't have to hold elected officials to an attendance policy. After all, they're the ones who chose to seek public office!

Of the 54 available meetings for all of 2008 and 2009 (38 available meetings for The Renegade), who actually shows up?

For the purpose of my averages, "attendance" is considered complete attendance. You show up to the meeting, on time, and stay until the meeting is adjourned. I did not count instances where someone leaves the meeting for a few minutes, as these are expected to occur. Also, as a courtesy to The Butterfly, I did not count instances where she left for significant blocks of time, as it would be nearly impossible to calculate due to the frequency and duration of such "emergency" phone calls, snacking, socializing and web surfing. Each instance of arriving late and leaving early, even from the same meeting, is counted as a separate, distinct violation. I could've weighted lates and earlys as being less offensive than full absences, and also could've formed penalties based on the extent of lateness or leaving-earlyness, but I didn't. They're all equally offensive as far as I'm concerned, plus it's early and I'm not that big into math. I'll gladly email my spreadsheet to anyone who would like to tackle it.

- 100% Attendance Record. The Mayor has attended all joint, special, and regular meetings of the Village Board. He has not been late, nor left early, for any of these meetings. This isn't surprising; The Mayor strikes me as exactly the type of person who would graduate High School with the prestigious K-12 Perfect Attendance Award. Plus, they're his meetings and his agenda and clearly nobody else is going to run them, so it makes sense that he would have to be present in order for business to be conducted.

- 87% Attendance Record. The Renegade, with fewer meetings being counted since he did not take office until June 1, 2008, has missed 1 regular meeting and was late to 1 regular meeting (although, at the request of the VB, was present at a School Board meeting as the Village representative on the evening in question). He was present at both joint meetings and missed 3 special meetings, one of which he would've been late to had it lasted longer than 10 minutes.

- 83% Attendance Record. The Gatekeeper is in third place, being absent from 2 regular meetings, late to 1 regular meeting and leaving early for 4 regular meetings. The Gatekeeper has faced a tremendous loss in his family in 2009, thus excusing one of these absences. He was absent from 1 special meeting and 1 joint meeting.

- 65% Attendance Record. The Financier, in a dead heat with The Butterfly, has an abysmal attendance record. She has been absent from 7 regular meetings, late to 5 regular meetings, and left early for 3 regular meetings. She has also been absent from 3 special meetings.

- 54% Attendance Record. The Butterfly comes in last, being absent from 6 regular meetings, late to 12 regular meetings and leaving early for 5 regular meetings. She has also been absent from 2 special meetings.

Now I know there will still be some who are uppity and defensive about the attendance record.

"But the meetings run so LATE!" Well, shorten the agenda or your soliloquies. Either way.

"But they can't be expected to be at everything, all the time!" I agree. But Village Board meetings are a basic requirement of their office. Showing up occasionally is disrespectful to the voters, the community and the other officials.

"Well, The Financier CALLED into a meeting, shouldn't that count?!" No, it shouldn't. If you're not present to vote, you're not there. For all we know, Scott Schulte could've taken the called-in Trustee hostage, forcing them to make comments at gunpoint.

I am sure there are plenty more pathetic excuses for why Trustees shouldn't be expected to participate in their own meetings. Please, let me know. Especially The Butterfly and Financier. I think an explanation is long overdue.

Also, I think it's worth pointing out that the two Trustee-Elects, Patrick O'Donnell and Brian Kimbiz, have been showing up to meetings for a few weeks. Kudos. Sadly, no one has ever seen their faces at a meeting until recently. We can only hope that they follow the example of The Mayor, The Renegade and The Gatekeeper when it comes to attendance. Actually, we can hope O'Donnell does. We might be better off if Kimbiz just stays home.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SUNY New Paltz Sucks

The academic standards are clearly slipping (as demonstrated by our newest Village Trustee), to the point where I am embarrassed to call myself a graduate of the institution. It obviously has no interest in working as a partner with our community, instead overburdening our local infrastructure and refusing to communicate, consult or compromise with either the Village or Town government. Now, SUNY New Paltz is shutting local union workers out of the ongoing construction projects being built on campus. Instead of contracting with our local workforce, SUNY has chosen Niram Construction, based out of Boonton, NJ.

Come show your support for our local union workers!

Thursday, April 14, 2009

Demonstration: 6:30am-9:30am
Student Rally: 12:00pm-1:00pm

Activists and union members will remain for a Student Rally beginning at 12:00pm and ending at 1:00pm. Students will rally on Rte. 32 with union workers, followed by a march to the Haggerty Administration Building to let the SUNY New Paltz know that students stand behind local workers!

Rte. 32 across from the SUNY New Paltz campus.

Please stop by any time during the morning demonstration and be sure to bring yourself and all of your friends for the rally at 12:00pm!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Wall of Shame

When an election is as close as the one on May 5, you just KNOW there's at least a few people wandering around in a daze, kicking themselves thinking they could've been that ONE vote. I've reviewed the voter rolls and there are surely a few local noteworthies who are doing exactly that. Who do you think feels the worst for skipping out on election day?

Shari Osborn (who was at Village Hall an hour after the polls closed, presumably for a secret and illegal meeting with the Mayor and Trustee Gallucci, who were also sneaking around the building)
Don Kerr
Guy Kempe
Ray Curran
Eric Roth
Dawn Elliott
Valerie Erwin
Linda Welles
Karl Budman
Charlie Karsten
Judy Mage
Dave Holt
Susan Holt
Dorothy Jessup
Judy Swallow
Amos Sunshine
Steve Stanne
Donna Smith
Steve O'Shea
Amanda Sisenstein
Jamie Levato

More to come... I have omitted named of people who forgot to change their registration to their current village addresses, but you know who you are. Seriously?? Change it. Jeez.

When Kimbiz vacates his seat in the near future, these are probably the very individuals who should be responsible for leading the movement to appoint Pete Healey to that vacancy and ensure his reelection in the anticipated special election next year.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reader Responses

Some reader responses to the VONP election results:
  • Wow.
  • This is about as depressing a blog posting as I am ever going to read. A schmendrick on the village board. I wondered if it was a waste of time to vote since only 2 candidates are on the ballot for 2 positions. I'm glad I voted for Pete, so at least this is not my fault. Jesus.
  • Wow. Good Luck Vo'NP! You will need it. And let us remember NOT to paint all student candidates with the same brush: Dan Torres (for NP school board) is intelligent, responsible, aware, and erudite, and he can even speak in complete sentences!
  • Good to know the I's will be crossed and the T's will be dotted!
  • Brian is scary.
  • Now a minimal lesion, perhaps acceptable, but a great lesion?
  • What a turn of events... unbelievable...
  • Are you serious??
  • No!!!! Doucher Brian is in??? Kill me now!!!!!!
  • Pete was going to be the only voice of reason left on that board and the only one that would question the Mayor. This is really bad for the village... are people asleep?

A sad day for New Paltz and a happy day for democracy

Brian Kimbiz, write-in candidate for the Village Board, has just usurped Pete Healey by 1 vote in a recount.

I've been arguing with people for weeks on the merit of write-in candidacies, while they constantly dismissed the possibility of a write-in victory, instead choosing to sidle up to candidates who are on the ballot, insisting that they WILL be our new trustees. That's how our system works. It's democracy.

For those of us that support the elimination of unnecessarily restrictive and convoluted election laws, student participation and an open electoral process, this is a victory.

For those of us who want improvements for our community, progress and restructuring, and checks and balances for a terminally ill government, this is devastating.

Many of us fall into both categories and that might help explain why it all makes me so nauseous.

I have long been an advocate for student participation in local politics. I have also been a strong advocate for write-in campaigns, as I believe the arbitrary rules governing ballot access and the petitioning process are pointless and unnecessary. Being able to jump through a few hoops doesn't qualify someone to hold office; being unfamiliar with the silly process shouldn't disqualify someone from being a valid candidate. There are, however, many situations where the write-in candidate is not only incapable of jumping through those silly hoops but is also a horrendous candidate. This is the case with Brian Kimbiz.

We all remember the Julia Walsh fiasco and many of us cringe when thinking back to the horribly misguided decision we made in the voting booth on May 6, 2003. Did our community survive? Absolutely. Was it a painful, miserable and frustrating experience? Extremely so. Is it something I believe we can weather again, especially considering the existing board makeup? I am doubtful. Could it be worse? It pains me to say it, but yes. And it gets worse right now.

On the Brian Kimbiz for Village Board Facebook group, Brian proudly proclaimed,


(is May 5th??)

He continues...


(6 members?? Really??)

Wait, there's plenty more...


(VONP Population in 2000 census: 6,034. SUNY New Paltz student population in 2007: ~2,000. Sigh.)


(Um... wow, I have NO idea where that came from but... huh???)

So I guess we can all agree that Trustee Kimbiz certainly needs to be schooled in New Paltz 101 (grammar and proper use of caps lock may also be added to his courseload). But, to be fair, perhaps we should also consider where he stands on the issues.

From his New Paltz Green Party Questionnaire, on his priorities:

"I also feel like new development of homes and commerce is very important in and around the Village of New Paltz. The decisions that are made now have long term effects down the road. This means that any new additions to this town should go through the highest scrutiny before any decisions are made. I believe one of the greatest things about New Paltz is the size and membership of its citizens. Also housing situations concerning tenants, landlords, students, and most importantly home-owners need to be carefully considered. Housing conditions, zoning laws, taxes, health issues, among many other things needs mediated in order to create the best community for all of its members."

Wha...? Also, I tend to be a bit of a bitch when it comes to the interchangeable use of Town/Village. When I'm talking with a friend, it's just obnoxious and picky. When it comes to a Village Trustee, I think my annoyance is justified. (Throughout his in-person interview, Brian continued to talk about his vision for the Town Board and his commitment to serving on the body, so as to improve "stuff" in the Town of New Paltz. Members on the interview committee were actually becoming confused as to which office he was seeking.)

When it came to questions about specific issues, Trustee Kimbiz rarely had an answer. At one point, a member of the interview committee questioned his decision to run for an office that he clearly knows little about. Trustee Kimbiz' response was that he would like to get elected first, then learn about the issues and develop positions and opinions later. He saw no reason to understand the intricacies of concerns facing our community until after he was actually elected. He has, however, "watched Town Board meetings on TV a coupla times."

Some highlights on those local issues:

What is your position on Town and Village Unification?

At this moment I do not have a position on the unification of the Village and Town. I will have to better hear both sides of the issue.

What steps will you take to improve current tenant/landlord relationships as well as the current housing situation in general? 

I think I can be a great lesion between tenants/landlords. Being that I am a tenant I feel safe housing conditions are very important. 

What will you do to ameliorate current traffic problems?


I am not sure but I believe either making more roads, or increasing flow on certain roads are both bad ideas.

Could you describe your fiscal philosophy?

I believe government should provide services that the community desires at the best price possible, however I also think high taxes are bad, so money must be effectively directed to the things that serve the community best.

What will you do to improve the relationships between SUNY and municipal governments? 

I am again a perfect liaison between the two. I would be coming from the SUNY (working as Senate Vice-Chair) to the other.

What concrete steps do you plan to take to increase transparency in your office and make it easier for the public to participate in the governing process?

I want to use the Internet as a huge resource in staying connected to me. I think this can be so beneficial as it makes access to me almost instant. My email goes straight to my phone. Aside from that I plan to have a web forum where the public can see my day-to-day work for them and even respond. I think my tech savvy can have a large influence on getting very close to me.

You can't make this stuff up, people. And, honestly, I don't know why anyone would want to. You can read Trustee Kimbiz' full questionnaire at the New Paltz Greens website.

As for the future, we can expect that the Dungan/Gallucci reign will continue with rather catastrophic consequences. We can expect that without Trustees Zierler and Healey, the maniacal schemes of these individuals will magnify unchecked. We can expect that Village employees will continue their work, except this time without allies or security. We can expect that there will be no progress, no open communication and no innovation.

And, if my assessment is correct, we can expect that Julia Walsh can finally pass the "Worst VONP Trustee" legacy onto Trustee Kimbiz. Congratulations, New Paltz. We get the government that we deserve.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nautical and Mermaid... my two greatest joys of 2009 (Ok, and all the years leading up to 2009. It just happens to work out that this year I don't look like a *total* fool for embracing them so much.). Thanks to Fornarina for making it all possible.
All available NOW through Hautelook, which is really a perfect website and reminds me of when I first began using Zappos for shoes, Benefit for makeup or Apple for computers. It's that same kind of corporate love that you just don't get often enough in these troubled times of congressional bailouts and executive bonuses.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

100 Days Down, 1361 to Go...

I constantly find myself explaining why President Obama, and Democrats as a whole, make me physically ill. I try to come up with little analogies, try to stick to facts, try to reason and rationalize, try to appeal to common interests... these conversations are always futile and I've pretty much given up trying. Obamaites are blind and I think they kinda like it that way. The whole "hope" concept is just so warm and fuzzy that it's far preferable to our sadistic reality. It's also a lot easier to "hope" than it is to "change"... oh, right, that one has been coopted, too.

I received a 100-day report card from the US Green Party and thought it summed up just a few of the reasons why I'm not jumping on the icky Obama bandwagon. The people who already agree with it will continue to agree and the people who are obsessed with Obama will continue to be defensive and creepy. I figured I'd throw it up here regardless.

After 100 days of Obama's presidency, it has become clear that we are a far cry from where we need to be as far as civil liberties, the environment, the economy, health care, and the military. The Green Party has real solutions to the problems at hand. Please look over the 100 Day Report Card below. Keep in mind that C is "good enough"; in percentages, in order to get a "better than average" grade, you need to score 80%.

Civil Liberties: F
The Executive Branch is finally following the law by releasing and repudiating the Bush Administration's legal memos that attempted to justify torture. The President also raised the possibility of prosecuting those responsible for providing that justification.

However, the Obama Administration defends the illegal wiretapping program, leaves the door open to outsourcing torture through "extraordinary rendition," and argues that prisoners can be denied habeas corpus if they are shipped to the Bagram prison in Afghanistan instead of Guantanamo! The Administration also opposes a Congressional truth commission to investigate torture by the Bush Presidency, although citizen pressure may successfully force an investigation.

Obama supporter Glenn Greenwald, who writes for, recently wrote: "What's being asserted here by the Obama DOJ is the virtually absolute power of presidential secrecy, the right to break the law with no consequences, and immunity from surveillance lawsuits so sweeping that one can hardly believe that it's being claimed with a straight face."

The Green Party supports a ban on torture, the repeal of the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and opposes the warrantless surveillance of US citizens, 'extraordinary rendition' of prisoners to extract information, and denial of habeas corpus and due process.

Environment: D+
The Obama Administration has taken some positive steps on global warming by allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants, initiating legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, and providing funds for alternative energy in the recently passed economic stimulus bill.

Unfortunately, the Administration has committed to spending only $145 billion on alternative energy over the next 10 years, about 0.1% of our country's gross domestic product (GDP). In contract, the proposed military budget for 2010 alone is $664 billion. The Administration supports nuclear power and "clean" coal, and its proposed cap and trade scheme is vulnerable to abuses such as free giveaway licenses for utilities to emit greenhouse gases. In the European Union, free licenses have resulted in increased emissions from coal plants that have offset the reductions gained from new wind power.

The Green Party advocates a moratorium on new coal fired power plants, ending subsidies to the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, increasing CAFE standards, and ending mountaintop removal mining.

Economy: D-
The Obama Administration's economic stimulus bill is headed in the right direction with new infrastructure projects that can put Americans back to work. Plans to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire are also encouraging.

However, the stimulus was too small and too focused on tax cuts. The Administration's plans for repairing the financial system are likely to result in a great deal of wasteful spending, reward those who got us into the current economic crisis, and ignore the fundamental problems. It is unfortunate that the Administration has rejected calls to nationalize the largest and most insolvent banks in favor of a plan that loans nearly $1 trillion to hedge funds to indirectly subsidize the banks. By contrast, Wall Street Journal recently reported that only "10% of borrowers in some stage of foreclosure appear to be eligible for the federal aid to homeowners program."

The Green party advocates ending trade in the highly speculative financial instruments that helped cause the crisis, restoring regulations on banks, breaking up financial conglomerates, promoting small local banks and credit unions, implementing a much larger public works program, and working to build a steady state economy based upon sustainability.

Health Care: D+
The Obama Administration has proposed substantial increases in federal spending in order to extend health coverage to more Americans. The Administration's spending plans will extend coverage only to about one-half of uninsured Americans are are short of effective methods for cost control.

The Green Party continues to advocate the single-payer health care systems as the most efficient and effective way to deliver health care to all Americans.

Foreign Policy/Military: D
The Obama Administration has taken a few encouraging steps, such as starting to at least open talks with foreign leaders. The President has shown an increased willingness to negotiate with Iran, and has stated plans to discuss nuclear arms reductions with Russia. However, there are numerous loopholes in the agreement to withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, and the Administration is re-deploying some of the troops to Afghanistan. The US is also continuing to launch military operations in Pakistan that have killed and displaced many civilians and contributed to destabilizing the country. The Administration also plans to maintain unnecessarily high levels of military spending.

The Green Party advocates the complete and immediate withdrawal of all US troops and contractors from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq and deep reductions in military spending.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Educated Voters are Happy Voters

The New Paltz Green Party has initiated yet another a wonderful public service. It has established a "Candidate Questionnaire" process where candidates have an opportunity to fill out questionnaires related to the party platform and a number of other relevant local issues.

The candidates are then interviewed by the GP and given an opportunity to revise their questionnaire. The completed questionnaires are posted online for the sake of voter education. This interview is also where decisions regarding endorsements are made, when applicable.

I want to commend the candidates who participated in this process: Dan Torres, KT Tobin-Flusser, Brian Kimbiz and Pete Healey. These candidates recognize that writing down and sharing their positions helps contribute to the overall education of voters in our community and demonstrates a strong commitment to their platforms and priorities.

I also want to commend the New Paltz Green Party for creating this wonderful opportunity. It certainly highlights the competence, organization and political savvy of this group, as they are the only New Paltz-based political party that has instituted a questionnaire process in conjunction with their endorsements and interviews.

Completed questionnaires for the Village Board candidates Healey and Kimbiz (O'Donnell has, thus far, declined) are available under the "Elections" section of the New Paltz Greens website. Completed School Board questionnaires for Tobin-Flusser and Torres will be available on the website by the end of the week (Kerr has, thus far, declined).

Blank questionnaires may be filled out by any person seeking elective office, including those launching write-in campaigns, and will also be available on the website. There are 2 versions of the questionnaire: a general questionnaire based on the GP's platform and an office-specific questionnaire tailored to address local issues as they pertain to the position being sought. Candidates should fill out both.

The Village election is Tuesday, May 5, from 12:00pm-9:00pm at the Village Firehouse, located at 25 Plattekill Ave.

The School Board election is Tuesday, May 19, from 12:00pm-9:00pm at the New Paltz High School, located at 130 South Putt Corners Rd.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Village Candidate Forum

On Friday, May 1, Bill Mulcahy will be filming a Candidate's Forum for all announced Village of New Paltz Trustee Candidates. Invited participants include Pete Healey, Patrick O'Donnell and Brian Kimbiz.

The Forum will be broadcast live at 7:00pm (assuming the modulator is working) on New Paltz Public Access Channel 23. To submit a question in advance, please contact Bill Mulcahy at Alternately, a call-in number will be available during the live broadcast.

The Village Elections will be held on Tuesday, May 5, from 12:00pm until 9:00pm at the Village Firehouse, located at 25 Plattekill Ave. There are 2 Trustee seats open, each with a 4-year term. Healey and O'Donnell are both on the ballott; Kimbiz has announced a write-in campaign. Any other person can also be written in as a candidate.

To cast a write-in vote on a lever machine, follow the instructions below.
1. Find the column for the office where you wish to cast a write-in vote.
2. Lift the metal door at the top of the column.
3. Behind the door, there should be a blank piece of white paper. If there is ANYTHING written on the paper, alert an election inspector without opening the curtain; just stick your head outside without pulling any levers.
4. Write in the name of the candidate you wish to cast a vote for.
5. Finish casting your votes by pulling levers and/or writing in names. When you are finished, pull the large lever at the bottom to open the curtain. This will record your votes.

***Please note: Lifting the metal write-in slide at the top of any column will count as a vote. You will NOT be able to pull a lever in that column once the slide has been lifted, even if you write nothing on the paper.

***Please note: Write-in votes for candidates whose names appear on the ballot will not be counted.

***Please note: You may cast a write-in vote for anyone you want, for as many offices as you want.

***Please note: You may bring pens, pencils, palm cards, voter guides, etc. into the polling place and voter booth. These do not constitute electioneering materials.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Village of New Paltz -- April 22, 2009

The Village Board had another rousing meeting last evening. While the agenda was lengthy, the majority of the board meeting was spent discussing the proposed budget, which must be adopted by April 30.

It was long. Really, really long. I stuck it out until 10:30pm and then proceeded to watch from home, but it went on until about 2:00am. Luckily, I was accompanied by the lovely Lagusta, which makes everything more enjoyable (as does the alliteration of "luckily," "lovely" and "Lagusta"). There were also antics in the hallway that proved to be far more interesting than the meeting itself, but I digress.

If you really need a play-by-play, you can probably see a repeat of the meeting on New Paltz Public Access Channel 23 this weekend (at least, the 4 hours that the Village actually pays to have taped. You'll get the idea).


The Butterfly showed up. It's true. Only about 20 minutes late (she got there before me), she came, participated (if weird outbursts and ADD qualify as participation) and stayed almost until the end. Good job, Butterfly! You get a gold star.


"Candidate expected to assume The Gatekeeper's seat" also showed up. I won't say his name because, really, does it even matter? Take him out and plug in any one of those idiot nobodys… digressing again. Anyways, he stayed and, more impressively, stayed awake for almost the entire meeting. David Lewis could learn from his example.


The VB spent a pretty sizeable chunk of time going over paperwork from Ulster County regarding the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for Woodland Ponds. Most of the questions during this portion of the meeting could've been easily answered by a representative from the county, which is where I really started to get worked up.

See, in Dutchess County, the majority of County Legislators believe it is part of their job to attend local meetings in addition to their county meetings. So, for example, a legislator would routinely attend village, town and school board meetings in addition to county committees and the legislature. I know, the whole thing is kinda crazy (don't even get me started on the regular communications and newsletters that are sent in-district to keep constituents informed about what their legislators are actually doing!).

Just imagine the improved functionality and transparency of our government if our county legislators showed up at local meetings even once a year, let alone once a month, where their direct interests aren't being served? Given that their attendance at county meetings is inadequate, though, I'll just stick with my dreams of a perfect world where government actually communicates internally, not only from the top down, but from the bottom up, too. And if actual voters get some information occasionally, well, the more, the merrier.


The ever-present salary question rose from the ashes, as it tends to do in budget season annually. Ever since Jason West was elected Mayor, the issue of salaried elected officials has become pretty contentious.

I have strong personal feelings on this issue, believing very firmly that people should receive adequate, fair compensation for the work that they do and that we should make it feasible for regular people to govern, which includes attention to financial support. I also feel very strongly, however, that elected officials must lead by example. In situations where layoffs, reduced hours and shortened work weeks are being discussed increasingly, no one has any business hiring new staff or raising their own salaries.

We should protect existing employees first and ONLY then, if there's extra left over, should anyone else be considered. The audacity of even suggesting a pay increase (no matter how insubstantial) is abhorrent, especially during a spending freeze with a proposed budget reflecting monumental tax increases and rumors of layoffs. I am rarely in favor of the VB's tendency to nickel-and-dime, especially when the focus ought to be on reducing the budget $250,000+ (hint: you'll never get there cutting $100 here and $300 there), but this is one area where that tendency is not only appropriate, but necessary.

Last night, the Village Clerk and Treasurer grew increasingly emotional and frustrated as their supply budget had been stripped to the point where they were unsure if they will even be able to afford paper. How, in light of such petty, shortsighted revisions can the VB seriously consider any discussion of a pay increase for themselves? While The Butterfly's argument was right, in principle, her insensitivity and unwillingness to see the significance of her raucous grandstanding was completely inappropriate and unbefitting of an elected official. The Butterfly gave the strong impression that she is somehow doing this work in order to be compensated, rather than doing this work because the voters put their faith in her to act as their representative and voice on the VB. To cheapen the magnitude of that decision is disgraceful and I am disappointed to have chosen this individual to represent my interests.

Many of us attend government meetings regularly (or watch them on TV and online). These meetings often run far longer than they need to as a result of the theatrics and long-winded tirades on irrelevant matters. We don't get paid to attend, either, but we're there because it's important. Our time is not respected by our elected officials. We certainly do not request any compensation for doing our civic duty: being active and attentive to the important issues in our community through watching meetings, sharing feedback and researching different topics (which is much easier and much cheaper for elected officials than ordinary people). I'm certain The Butterfly is there for the same reasons, but she needs to start acting like it.


The Mayor defended the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) on two separate occasions, once as it related to their annual kumbaya get-together for elected officials and also as it pertained to the Village's general membership with NYCOM. According to The Mayor, the trainings and resources offered by NYCOM are incredibly informative, educational and valuable and it is simply impossible to create good government without affiliating with NYCOM.

Wow. Where do I start? NYCOM is a bunch of attorneys. We see how great the attorneys over at Greenwald Law have been for the VONP (including, most recently, work that was done at $225/hour instead of the regular rate of $175/hour). We've got at least two people on the VONP Board who are literally OBSESSED with issues of liability. Their obsession has gotten to the point where the quality of life in the VONP is adversely affected by their overzealous and belligerent pursuits to eliminate any activity that may lead to "liability", no matter how insignificant. "Liability" is quickly becoming their favorite word. Now, all anyone has to say is "liability" instead of "no"; the outcome remains the same, but no one has to be the bad guy

Either the VONP is giving NYCOM's attorneys some competition in the litigation market, or NYCOM is somehow responsible for this crazy attitude towards wily residents who go out of their way to sue the VONP without cause (like the Caribbean Latin American Support Project, who was told they cannot use village facilities without a $1,000,000 insurance policy*).

If The Mayor and his actions are an example of NYCOM's wonderful explanation and execution of good, efficient government, SHOULDN'T WE BE RUNNING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION?!?! Things have gotten so bad that not only are The Gatekeeper and Renegade criticizing The Mayor for his secretive and self-destructive actions, but even The Financier and The Butterfly are starting to chime in. He had withheld information that each of them found pertinent to last night's meeting, had budgeted for things that do not exist and, in some cases, must go before the public at a referendum and made haphazard changes on his budget worksheets to the point where no one else on the Board was able to follow his thought process (as if it were so easy to do to begin with!). If this is what we get through our allegiance to NYCOM, we're probably better off affiliating with the Chuck E. Cheese Confederacy of Dunces. It'll probably be cheaper.


The overall lack of awareness on the VB continues to be troubling. The VB has been working on this budget for months and there are still frequent questions about what is kept under what line, what different words mean, why things are categorized the way they are, etc. My personal favorite was, "What is public finance, anyways?!". If you want to get paid to be there, you ought to do something worth being paid for. I'd suggest starting with paying attention and learning your job. This is getting incredibly tiresome.


I had an outburst during the meeting. It was due to the VB's interpretation of Open Meetings Law and I'm surprised I've been able to contain it for this long. I think my TV generally bears the brunt of it, as demonstrated by scratches and chips around the frame.

Anyone who has watched a meeting of the current VB has probably noticed the interesting phenomenon of pointing, smirking and whispering. The VB is incapable of doing their jobs in open meetings, since the majority of the VB refuses to communicate outside of regular meetings and they do little preparatory work leading up to these meetings. The VB is also completely unprofessional, incapable of keeping snide remarks, underhanded comments and knowing glances to themselves.

The VB has no respect for the public. In any given meeting, at least one VB member will glance coyly at the camera and proceed to whisper, point and gesture without giving any indication what the conversation is actually about. The Financier is famous for this during Bills & Claims, as she will point to figures without saying the numbers aloud and will refuse to indicate what the claim is actually for. Trustees who are not adjacent to the Financier are SOL, as she is far more concerned with being sly than being accountable.

It is no secret that the VB's executive sessions are routinely used for business that is expressly prohibited from discussion in executive session. So, instead of using executive session for private, confidential discussion, they use that time for conversations bound by open meetings law. It only makes sense, therefore, that the VB use the public meeting for private, confidential discussion.

If a VBmember has something to say that cannot be done in an open meeting, they have two options. In situations where it is legal, enter into executive session. In situations where it is not, shut your damn mouth and do it outside of the meeting. I guess the Renegade's quote, "We act formally when we should be informal, and informally when we should be formal," has been proven yet again.


*There is more coming on Insurancegate, but I'm doing a little research first. If my suspicions are correct, I'm going to want backup documentation.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poll: Should he stay or should he go now?

In a Letter to the Editor in this week's New Paltz Times, Village Trustee Pete Healey announces a poll on Mayor Terry Dungan. Without any realistic way of assessing the Mayor's approval level, this is the next best thing.

The full letter is below:
Thanks for top billing in your story on the upcoming village elections, to be held on Tuesday, May 5 at the Fire House on Plattekill Avenue. I have spent my first year on the Village Board learning about the process used at Village Hall and getting to know the other board members, the employees and volunteers who serve the public in their various capacities. I believe I understand the frustrations and sometimes the satisfactions that come with this kind of position, and I'm willing to accept the risks that come with standing for election again.

I want to state for the record here and now, however, that I don't expect to serve out my full four year term. I'm looking forward to the day when, two or three years from now, I can decide if I care to campaign for election to a unified New Paltz municipal government, which will replace the separate village and town governments.

Until then there is of course the current election process, for two open board seats. First, I want to say that Michael Zierler's presence will be sorely missed at Village Hall since he has decided not to run for another term, and his current term expires on May 31. Second, I'm disappointed that, just like two years ago, an inexperienced petitioner and candidate for public office in this village has been removed from the ballot. Those of us who have experience in the political process ought not to use this knowledge to block others' attempts at joining this process. On the contrary, we ought to encourage people to engage and help them to work through the difficult, detailed signature-gathering and filing procedures.

Finally, it's my contention that the overriding issue in this campaign is the direction and leadership of this village government, and I have to state here that I've been sorely disappointed in Mayor Terry Dungan's efforts during my time in office. I have researched Village Election Law and can find no fair and reasonable way to hold a vote of no confidence nor conduct a special election for the remaining two years of his term, to either confirm or deny his continued leadership in this village.

I have, therefore, set up an informal poll on Mayor Dungan with essentially a "Yes or No" vote on his leadership. If you support the mayor then he should "Stay," if you want the mayor to change direction and adjust his leadership style then he should "Go." The poll can be found at Any questions regarding this poll or any of the issues I've raised above can be directed to me at

Pete Healey

New Paltz

It could be a sitcom, if only it were funny...

The New Paltz Village Board is beyond salvation at this point. It almost reminds me of a sitcom except nothing about the situation is funny. At all.

First, the cast of characters:

The Mayor - living in a bubble, working incredibly hard, accomplishing absolutely nothing and believing he is simply misunderstood as the sole protector of our community. He thinks he is a visionary, except no one else shares his vision or even knows what it is. The Mayor occasionally gives information to others, but would really rather be left to implement his plan without any consultation from the rest of the Board, the community or the staff. He willfully disregards others and consistently takes action without approval or discussion. The Mayor is generally a likeable person and a terrible politician.
Policy example: Singlehandedly instituting a "spending freeze" that is applied inconsistently and erratically, looking in all the wrong places when it comes time to balance the budget.
Priorities: ?????
Quote: "This isn't information that you need to know."

The Financier - concerned with only one thing, which is particularly problematic, since The Financier is secretive, incapable of working with other people, clearly has little interest in this job outside of "liability" and "financial" issues and has no commitment to this community outside of her rigid, narrow view which usually amounts to "When I was Clerk-Treasurer, this is how I did it, so it's right." The unspoken details involving her departure from her previous position suggest the opposite may be true and she continues to prove this in her work with the Village. She would rather be at home than at meetings, and this is apparent on the occasions when she actually shows up. She contributes little outside of her 2 specific interests and is generally unprepared for meetings except when it comes to nickel-and-diming and acting as the extremely overbearing and overprotective parent of the Village, which is usually detrimental to the people who actually live in the Village.
Policy example: Requiring permission slips to use the parks.
Priorities: Bills & Claims
Quote: "This is a liability."

The Butterfly - seems like an accidental Trustee most of the time, The Butterfly flits around and doesn't fully commit to much except those issues that pertain to her immediate environment. Moriello Pool, parks, sidewalks and trees are of utmost importance, but nuts-and-bolts aren't really her thing. She is cute, colorful and bubbly but can becomes incredibly hostile and irrational if she feels threatened. In these cases, she engages in long-winded and disjointed diatribes toward the source of her discomfort without any real suggestions for improvement. She then follows up with a Letter to the Editor reiterating her annoyance, and drops out of sight for a while until she calms down. She goes out of her way to antagonize stakeholders that she personally dislikes, while making remarkable concessions for those she considers important members of our community. If The Butterfly were a student, she'd have been run out of town by now, but because she's a mom her constant absences and latenesses are generally overlooked.
Policy example: Hmm... well, she volunteers for a lot of stuff.
Priorities: Anything that impacts her interests and those of her family.
Quote: "Sorry I'm late!"

The Gatekeeper - seems like the only veteran Trustee (this characterization surprisingly belongs to The Mayor, although The Financier will argue that she's a veteran, too). Even though The Gatekeeper has only served 1 full term on the Board, he knows the Village inside out. The Gatekeeper has been diligent, thoughtful and detail-oriented. The Gatekeeper has a slight tendency to be rigid and overly invested in his view of what is right, but has grown tremendously since his election in 2005. Unfortunately, his tenure on the Board began with a Mayor who was far from ideal. He then supported the current Mayor and... shit. It actually does get worse! So he's finally had enough and is leaving his position effective June 1. This is a huge loss to the Village, as his likely replacement is another dopey, unknown, bland, non-committal transplant from the Huguenot Street Dems (think: David Lewis). Blech. He is attentive to the concerns of Village employees and is often called upon in his capacity as Deputy Mayor to engage with these individuals, as the Mayor is far too busy in his tower at all hours of the night to actually be bothered by people.
Priorities: Process, Building, Zoning, Planning.
Policy example: Woodland Ponds.
Quote: "OK, but can we talk about the agenda now?"

The Renegade - the newest Trustee, but you wouldn't know it. A longstanding member of this community, The Renegade has a focused list of priorities and will do whatever it takes to see that these priorities are achieved. He is clear, unapologetic, driven and fully aware of the staggering political barriers to moving his agenda forward. While The Renegade has taken a tempered, patient approach, it is obvious that his patience is quickly running out. The only Board ally that The Renegade has is The Gatekeeper, probably because they are the only Trustees who are actually doing anything. The Renegade is the only Trustee who interacts with staff at all levels on a regular basis and identifies issues of concern in order to get things done. He speaks his mind and consistently highlights the hypocrisy and self-preservationist tendencies of other Board members. His view of his position as Village Trustee is realistic, characterized by humility, humor and the recognition that VONP Trustees aren't actually the most important elected officials on the planet. The Renegade is about to come into his own and the other Trustees should be wary but will continue to be oblivious.
Policy example: Revisions to the Code on Blasting.
Priorities: Unification, Public Access Television, Village Employees.
Quote: "We act formally when we should be informal, and informally when we should be formal."

Now to set the stage:

It is April 15 at a workshop meeting to discuss the budget, which must be approved by April 30. After spending the first hour of the meeting fixing a botched SEQRA process, the Board finally gets down to business.

(Absent: The Butterfly).

The Mayor: We can either have a really long meeting or a really short one. I suggest everyone send me their ideas and then I will look at them and decide if I agree.

The Financier: I agree, and I want to point out that I can't work like this and should be left to look at the budget at home. Give me original worksheets so I don't have to go through the budget line by line. When you do that, I'll look at it. There's no reason that we should go through all of this together. I have to leave early so I think we should just end the meeting now. The morning comes early.

The Gatekeeper: Well, I think there's something between going line by line and addressing obvious concerns tonight.

The Mayor: OK, great. So everyone send me your suggestions and I'll decide if I want to look at them. Oh, right, Renegade, do you have anything to add?

The Renegade: Uh... yeah.

The Mayor: (sigh) OK, what did you need to discuss?

The Renegade: All of it!

The Mayor: (BIG SIGH)

The Renegade: Well, you didn't distribute copies of my suggestions to anyone, but luckily I have a copy right here. We need to look at the attorneys, engineers, etc. etc. etc.

(A really good conversation occurs where The Gatekeeper and The Renegade make brilliant points, the Mayor pretends to concede but writes down completely different numbers in his notes and The Financier only communicates with the Village Treasurer).

The Mayor: OK, great. I'll look at this with the Treasurer and I will do what I want to anyway. Meeting adjourned!

Village Treasurer: Um, were you going to make a motion to make any of these changes? At this point in the budget process, it's necessary to make all changes by a vote of the Board.

The Mayor: Oh... right. Um... did anyone want to make a motion? Renegade?

The Renegade: Well, no one actually agreed to anything, so no. What is the deadline?

Village Treasurer: April 30.

The Mayor: OK, great. So we'll discuss this at our next meeting. Goodnight!

So... I've gotta wonder... these people are actually ELECTED to do this work?!?!?!?!?!?!