Friday, May 22, 2009

What's going on at SUNY?

Ira Margolis has been a tireless advocate for opening all meetings by local government to the public - even those that aren't covered by the letter of the Open Meetings Law, like the stuff that happens on campus.  SUNY New Paltz is nestled in the village, but thanks to state law is immune to local public scrutiny.  As I mentioned to Toni Hokanson not long ago, it would probably take lobbying by town supervisors and mayors in all SUNY towns to get the laws to be changed so that the SUNY system was required to participate as members of those communities, instead of the monolithic and inpenetrable powers they have become.  Like any other large company, SUNY should have to interact with local authorities and community members, particularly since it happens to be immune to our medieval taxation system.

SUNY news that comes to me is usually in the form of rumor, innuendo, and Facebook chatter.  Here are some recent tidbits:
  • The Students for Sustainable Agriculture are expecting their garden to be bulldozed this summer, when they're mostly out of town.  This is an organic garden that has been cultivated since 2005 in keeping with the club's mission to get the college to support local agriculture.
  • The college is planning to kill its resident geese this summer (it's a great time to "do nefarious deeds" according to Rachel Lagodka).  Canada geese enjoy the lawns and open spaces of the campus, and alternatives that have been proposed, such as plantings that would discourage them from landing, have been passed on.
  • The proposed expansion of the college southwards may end up being in the Village after all - I've heard they would like to hook up to our water and sewer, which would require annexation.  Our backwards system of taxing land will influence how this pans out, because the development would be taxable for the first forty years before returning the the taxless vacuum of state-owned land.
I've sent President Poskanzer an email asking for comment on the garden issue specifically - it's the one that I have the most credible information about.  I'm very curious to see if he decides it's better PR to reply or to ignore gadflies as insignificant pests.


Billy said...

This is why I always take student complaints that they're overlooked by the village government with a grain of salt. The loudest voices care about two things, police and rentals, but only so far as they impact students. So, a student getting busted for an open container is a huge matter, but that student pissing on someone's doorstep at 4am is no big deal, man. Just chill. Likewise, any zoning/planning/enforcement effort to make safe and clean up slum properties in the village is seen as anti-student, because the slum lords will pass the cost onto the students. Brilliant logic, that. And yet...the students never seem interested in addressing the greatest true inequality of power in the village, that of their institution over town government/residents. If Brian Kimbiz and his minions are truly interested in fairness, perhaps they'll join you in your crusade in tandem with pushing their narrow "students' rights" agenda. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Terence said...

I think that local oversight of more college issues would actually benefit the students, but as you suggest, quite a bit of their energy is focused on a few narrowly defined issues. I expect that being on village government will give Brian Kimbiz a wider perspective, and it's always a possibility that he'd have that kind of interest.

Martin McPhillips said...

There is a way to get the attention of the paranoid clerks who run the college: bad publicity.

They hate it.