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.