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.