Thursday, July 16, 2009

Will the Village Board please show up?

We've got a fiscal crisis in our little village, and it's a really controversial one. Terry Dungan unilaterally issued a spending freeze to all departments, including our firefighters, which has caused all manner of to-do. The fire cuts have the Town Council screaming even as they slash things like the library and the YMCA funding for similar reasons. People are pointing fingers, assessing figures, and laying blame.

Well, today I have a special request for the Village Board. I'd like you to show up.

Erin Quinn reports this week that when a motion to modify the controversial spending freeze came up before the Village Board, one that would have permitted department heads to make important purchases with approval, it failed. Here's how the vote went:
  • Terry Dungan: aye.
  • Patrick O'Donnell: aye.
  • Jean Gallucci: nay.
  • Shari Osborn: unable to be found at the time of the vote.
  • Brian Kimbiz: didn't even show up.
I don't have a problem with a vote for or against, as I assume that any vote cast was done with some thought. I do have a problem with a vote this important failing because two board members weren't around to vote.

Here's a news flash: we elected you, and pay you, to show up and meetings and vote. That is what you are supposed to do. I understand that things come up, but maybe it's time to reassess your priorities.

I don't think expecting 95% attendance at meetings would be unreasonable. Things come up, and sometimes they're actually more important than the residents of the village. Missing one meeting a year should cover emergencies. If your life is such that this is unduly burdensome . . . maybe it's time to resign.

It's a tough job, it's an underpaid job, and it's a job that makes you a target more than it makes you a hero - and you all knew that when you decided to run. Make a commitment to show up. This is a small enough village that I don't think it would be that tough to make a really, really tough attendance policy the law, but I would rather see you just do your jobs.

This isn't personal - or rather, it's very personal when the lives of the people you have pledged to represent take short shrift because you just couldn't make it to the meeting, or you were far too busy to attend the entire thing. No, I have seen other former board members pull the same stunts, and it's time to suck it up and do your jobs.

On behalf of the village, I"m begging you - don't miss another meeting. We trusted you with the job, please . . . do it.


Maria said...

Here Here!!!! Great post Terrance! I'm glad it's business as usual in VoNP

Anonymous said...

Dear Maria,
I'm not sure if your last line "I'm glad it's business as usual in VoNP" is sarcastic, but I have to assume it is.
Yes, the new board member missed the third meeting of his term, will that be his usual? Show up for two, blow one off?
At least now we have a grant to study how to make one government out of two, and I'll suggest an attendance requirement, with sanctions, be in place for any combined or consolidated New Paltz governing board.
Pete Healey

Brittany Turner said...

It's amazing that we don't hold VB members to the same attendance policy as committee and commission members, which is specifically outlined in the Village Code. It's even more amazing that we even have to consider it.

I guess on the bright side, Jean has started showing up again. I haven't been keeping track of attendance during my little hiatus because there isn't a really good way to do it, short of checking minutes as they become available. (Is Carol recording Shari's many soujourns during each meeting? I hope so.)

In light of the problem, perhaps the NPTimes can include the attendance of our elected officials in their coverage.

If anyone is interested in the attendance records leading up to this year's election, it can be found at

This is beyond disgraceful. I'd argue it's criminal. You are elected AND PAID to do a job that you refuse to actually do. These absentee trustees are stealing from the taxpayers.

Billy D. said...

Look, when people tried to keep Kimbiz off the ballot because he wasn't even registered in New Paltz, the same people who are now complaining so loudly about his absence cried that it was the "establishment" (whatever the hell that means in NP) trying to keep down the people. Now they're surprised that, like most students, he's not hanging around NP for the summer. I guess board meetings are not enough of a draw. Check his parent's house, where he was registered until just before taking office. I'll bet that's where you'll find him. As to what his excuse will be once the semester resumes, we'll have to see.