Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Village Spending Freeze: End to Innovation?

It's a common pattern that is sad to watch: great strides toward more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices are made during economic boom times, only to be all-but-undone when municipalities start cutting their budgets and freezing spending. Is that the fate for New Paltz Village?

Like every level of government, the Village of New Paltz is struggling with the realities of the current economy. Terry Dungan initiated a controversial spending freeze last month, and there can be no doubt that the fiscal crisis is at the root over bickering about the solar panels on Village Hall. It's funny how government officials act, isn't it? During boom times they spend like nobody ever loses money and during a crisis they think that no spending is okay ever. The rest of us have to budget for good times and bad, but governments somehow are allowed to act surprised no matter what happens.

So for the Village, this surprise manifests in ways like spending freezes and fights with the Town to get more money. Since we apparently never think of saving money when the economy is good, can we think about how to use innovation to save a little money in the long term now that times are tough? Many environmentally sound practices, like the 2005 solar panel installation, cost a bit of cash up front but provide environmental and economic benefits down the line - they save us money in the long run. Does it make sense to spend money during a freeze to save money later? Probably - I for one have no faith that our elected officials will plan for a rainy day during the next boom time, so why not now when we're thinking about how difficult things are?

I was looking at various ways that roads can create energy, and honestly I think forward-thinking isn't nearly enough to finance a solar road network or anything close to it. However, the idea of speed bumps that power street lights is actually pretty cool - they're almost certainly cheaper than a road, we use or could use speed bumps in various locations, and I'm guessing that there's a grant out there somewhere that could help us finance these things.

The question is, can our mayor and our town supervisor play nice with each other for awhile and look into some serious changes, or would they prefer to continue defending their fiefdoms and use that as an excuse for not doing something exceptional with their jobs?


Anonymous said...

The population in New Paltz only supports timid leaders who follow the will of vocal radicals, like many who are behind this website. There are diverse interests in this community and leaders who try to chart a center course are massacred with attacks not only on their policies but personally as well. So who runs, only the timid or arrogant souls who are mostly incompetent. So why is there surprise when there is poor judgment or bad financial planning? The credible, wise businessman or respected leader just does not want to have their integrity insulted by "the fringe." Don't like being called the fringe and rebuff at your right to comment, then run for office and be properly attacked by the others and you will know how it feels.

Terence said...

Oh, Anonymous, whyever would I dislike being called "the fringe" by someone of your immense personal courage and character? I cannot speak for the teeming masses of "vocal radicals . . . who are behind this website," since Blogger is owned by Google and I don't know any of its shareholders personally, but I assure you that I am not at all dismayed.

Why? Because I can't put any credibility to words that are typed by someone who won't stand up like an adult and say who they are, like I do when I post here, like I do at public meetings, like the other members of this community generally do when they wish to contribute to the ongoing discussion.

I'm really glad that you consider the two contributors to this blog (I did know what you mean, but since you're hiding behind anonymity I'm going to feel free to mock your poor command of the language; it's not fair but hey, life isn't fair for the craven) to be radicals. I'm glad because I think, despite the banner at the top of the page, that your tiny brain can't comprehend the political meaning of the word "gadfly" and you are forced to substitute a term that gets through the beery fog in your head. You could probably be a good gadfly to; I'd invite you to apply but I don't think you're man enough to look me in the eye and admit your identity.

(Note to anyone who happens upon this comment: yes, I know that sounded sexist, but I can't wrap my mind around the idea that a woman would be so cowardly as to attack and not sign her post. Please forgive me for having such poor thoughts about men.)

I won't take your invitation to run for office seriously, I'm afraid. First of all, your sentence, "Don't like being called the fringe and rebuff at your right to comment, then run for office and be properly attacked by the others and you will know how it feels," is barely comprehensible to a trained chimpanzee. You phrased it as a question yet ended it with a period, chose the wrong tense for "rebuff," and should probably be brought up on charges for your comma usage - errors that passing eighth grade English would have prevented. As a writer I can assure you that we are judged by our words, and yours are worthy of the Rockefeller drug laws.

But your barely-passable English (which might be excusable if it's not your native tongue, but somehow I doubt it will be that easy) isn't the only reason I can't take you up on your offer. I can't take you seriously, Anonymous, because frankly if you're so desperate to hide under your rock when contributing here, I shudder to think what new levels of low you would reach if the likes of you decided to target me in a political campaign.

I'm proud enough of my words to put my name on every one, and I'm happy to debate them with anyone. Don't you wish you could say the same?

Anonymous said...

Well my friend, you have passed the candidate test for this community-- you certainly have enough arrogance. There are many reasons not to reveal an identity in this town. In the end, it should be the ideas that are valued and debated, not the source. This is a point that certain types of people seem to miss.