Monday, November 2, 2009

Wow.

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.

NEW PALTZ BOARD OF EDUCATION
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.


PROPOSITION 414 - INCREASED FUNDING FOR THE ELTING LIBRARY
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.

TOWN OF NEW PALTZ HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT
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.

9 comments:

  1. OK, I've got a few things to say, but since it's the middle of my busy work day, I will say only this for now:

    1) Wow, you've really opened my eyes to some info about the library I'd never considered. I'm going to take some time soon to really read through this and do some serious PONDERING.

    2) Agree, as usual, about smug dems.
    However, I truly think Mike will be a better Highway Superintendent, as I think do you, so that's all it's about for most people.

    On the other hand, I also find the "I Like Mike" slogan mildly cultish and upsetting. Yes, it IS great that we have someone running who isn't an asshole, and that really does make a difference. Who wants to live in a town run by assholes? However, it sure does reinforce the idea that elections around here are about personalities and certain yuppie class/taste issues, which I suppose they are just about everywhere maybe, but it's...unsettling.

    As someone who sometimes finds common ground with and has made a decision to sometimes form alliances with the ruling Democratic party yet also knows that deep down we have serious, serious differences that will prevent anyone I'd truly support with my whole heart from being supported by them (ballsiness and anti-corporate radicalism being my #1 wish for a candidate, "likability" apparently being theirs)...well...I don't know where I was going with that sentence. Things are complicated.

    3) Is this a weird place to talk about Kitty Brown? I'm happy the Greens endorsed her, though I have a sneaking suspicion you are not. I believe she has a real Green heart, and by showing our support for her more left-leaning projects and policies we are influencing the Town Board in a positive way. I know many Greens are unhappy about us ever endorsing a Democrat, but as far as I'm concerned she is a dem in name only--she really puts the work in to do a good job, as far as I can see.

    Which is, of course, what's lacking in the Green Party. Not only are we lacking candidates, as well as members who do anything other than throw themselves blindly behind centrist dems, but we are lacking WORKERS.

    I've watched Mike Nielson really educate himself about the position of Highway Superintendent over the past few months, and I respect that. I am always happy to vote for someone who is willing to WORK. An awful lot of non-dem lefties in town are willing to go to meaningless little "awareness" fairs and listen to bands and sign meaningless little petitions, but very very few are willing to WORK.

    That's what we need.

    4) Oh! And that sign is HORRIBLE. Yes, immediately I thought the same thing: I'm sure all those signs were caused by snow plow damage. I think it was a silly move.

    5) OH!!! AND: MY GOD "THE CHILDREN"!!!!!! god damn I can't tell you how much I hate that argument. grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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  2. Libraries are obselete.

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  3. Lagusta -

    1) Glad I could be helpful. Seriously, let me know if you want to talk about it anymore before voting tomorrow. As a community, do I think we should support the library? Of course. But I think the library (or School District or SUNY or etc. etc. etc.) should respect the community in return. I have serious concerns when that isn't happening and when there is no recourse for the people subsidizing it.

    2) Of course I think Mike will be better. It doesn't change the fact that it's the freaking HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT for chrissakes. It also doesn't change the fact that they're TOTALLY cultish/catty/cliquey/irritating like no other. I guess we do have so many assholes running around that it should be exciting when we have someone who isn't a complete douche but, IDK, I guess I still expect just a little more from my candidates than "vote for me, I'm not a douche!" I mean, it doesn't really apply to Mike as much as others, obviously, because he has many merits as a candidate. But you get what I'm saying.

    On the other hand, I also find the "I Like Mike" slogan mildly cultish and upsetting.

    I always have and always will approach Dems, Repubs or anyone in between (actually, there's no room in between, so I guess I should say "or anyone on either side of them") at face value. If you're an asshole, you're an asshole and I don't give a shit if we see eye-to-eye on reproductive rights. I'm not going to interact with you. The same is true when I disagree with someone on just about everything but find them to be a pleasant, decent person. I can work with people and I can look past differences. I have a much tougher time looking past overall crappiness, even if the ideology might be right. (BC honestly? If you can't practice what you preach, then you're probably useless anyways).

    But, yes, always complicated. It's always shades of gray and I'm willing to overlook a certain degree of douchiness if I agree with you (hence my blind support of Greenfield for YEARS). I'm also willing to overlook a certain amount of ass-backwards politics as long as you're a genuine, honest person (fewer examples of this scenario, sadly). But once it reaches a certain point, I don't really care how much I like you or how great your personal platform is - if you're gonna suck, you're gonna get treated like you suck. And the Democrats, as a whole, suck.

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  4. 3) It's not that I'm unhappy that the Greens endorsed her... it is, again, complicated. Do I think Kitty fits our principles? Sort of, at least as far as open government stuff. Not at all when it comes to other things like transparency and public access. But I didn't sit in on the discussions and really don't care to form much of an opinion either way. What I DO have a problem with is the justification of seeking GP support so you get enough votes when you are RUNNING UNOPPOSED. I don't freaking get it and it seems totally dishonest and just flat out weird. I also HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE when we say someone is "a Democrat in name only." If that's the case, they should change the fucking name. You and I BOTH know what it's like to deal with people who are "Green in name only." THEY DON'T FUCKING BELONG THERE and people should be what they are. If she's so Green, let's see it. I know, I know... how can she ever possibly hope to get reelected when the GP doesn't have a ballot line? Well, what has she done to help the GP have a ballot line? If she's such an amazing public servant and so universally loved by Dems, Greens and Repubs, does it matter what her registration is? Won't people elect her regardless? No, because we're dealing with a sneaky bunch of dishonest fucks. The whole thing, including the majority of NPGs right now who truly are Green in name only. I share your frustration; I guess my manner of dealing with it is very different, though.

    4) Naah, the Dems will eat it up. It's that whole smug thing. It might be off-putting to me & you because we have common sense, but they're all patting themselves on the back because of how clever they are. GROSS.

    5) "The children" is one of those things that will make me AUTOMATICALLY oppose an argument until I hear enough to balance it out. I bet you'll never guess who was running around under "the children" banner today... ;)

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  5. *Correction re: Kitty - I meant she fits regarding environmental stuff, not open government.

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  6. Ms. Turner,

    It's truly a pleasure, a reassuring pleasure, to read such well-informed material from someone who's not just coming from my age and from a similar perspective but from my area as well.

    I'm in NYC now but grew up in Rhinebeck, and New Paltz was one of my favorite haunts. What with the glorious eats of P&G's, hours to be spent in Rhino Records and more than anything October Country up the street which accomodated my unapologetic comic book fixation.

    I miss it up there and rarely get back, but your writings make me nostalgic for those hours and more than that, though I know this makes me sound more like a 40 something rather than the 20 something I actually am, it's encouraging to see others who are also hooked as political junkies at a time where it's more important than ever.

    And you as a write-in candidate no less! As a non-partisan my self I can relate more than a little bit to your views and frustration with those who play color by number politics despite the harsh reality that neither party is in it for the people anymore.

    So in summation I'm exceptionally pleased to have discovered your blog. I'm assigned to one myself, as it happens, acting as one of several contributors to the much-lauded Ministry of General Mayhem, a radical progressive-leftist blog dedicated to fanning the flames of discontent and providing a true liberal interpretation of the insane American political discourse.

    >>>

    http://theministryofgeneralmayhem.blogspot.com/

    Be well! Never waver! And I look forward to your future writings!


    Sincerely,

    Jared W. Adams
    Grand Minister for General Mayhem
    New York, NY
    Thursday the 12th of November 2009
    10:55 PM EST

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  7. happy thanksgiving, Britt, hope all is well.

    -JB

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