Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Republican Caucus Results

Town Supervisor: Toni Hokanson
Town Board: Kitty Brown, Jeff Logan
Highway Superintendent: Phil Johnson beat Mike Nielson by 1 vote, 24-23.

Mike was not there, this was not a nomination he was seeking. He was nominated from the floor by Terence Ward and seconded by Jerry Benjamin. (According to reports, there was a crowd of seconders.) This nomination was a complete surprise to Mike.

Turnout was the highest it has been in years. I don't have the actual numbers, but I do not think Toni, Jeff, or Kitty had any significant opposition.

Well, now we know who the Republican candidates are, on Monday we'll find out about the Democrats.


Brittany Turner said...

So what are you going to do, KT? It certainly poses an ethical dilemma, right?

kt tobin flusser said...

BT - I'll be at the Democratic caucus nominating Mike.

Brittany Turner said...

And on election day?

Anonymous said...

I am so sickened, I can't even tell you. There LITERALLY is no difference between the two parties in New Paltz!!!

kt tobin flusser said...

Remains to be seen.

I have been public in my criticisms of Toni on Crossroads and Jeff in general, no surprises there. I am very conflicted about Kitty's pursuit of this line, it makes no sense based on her record.

That said, my votes on Monday and in November will have to be determined by what I think is best for New Paltz. I'll keep you posted.

I do agree, this is totally lame and completely feeds into (reinforces) the argument that the two parties are the same.

Jason West said...

Perhaps "Les Greens" could live long -- it depends on if the Greens are running anyone in order to provide an alternative.

The Green Party hasn't run any independent candidates since Margaret Human ran for Town Board a few years ago. The party leadership has also spent quite a bit of time drafting a 'candidates questionaire" which they circulate to all the Democrats and Republicans who are running for office. I know they sent the endorsement questionairre to Toni, Kitty, Jeff, Mike and Phil. Kitty, at least, has responded. The presumption being that the Green Party endorsement is available to Democrats and Republicans.

It's too bad the Greens have chosen not to run candidates for public office this year.

kt tobin flusser said...

Jason, Mike also filled out the qnaire,link here:

I don't think Kitty's is up on the web yet.

Jason West said...

I'm not sure I fault either the Republican Party or the incumbent candidates in this situation.

For a myriad of reasons I won't go into here (i.e. voter apathy, party-line obedience, shifting demographics, failure to organize among smaller parties, etc.) the Democratic Party runs New Paltz.

Neither the Green Party nor the Republican Party seem either willing or able to recruit more than an occasional viable candidate, and even those viable candidates face an uphill, knock-down drag out fight for every vote. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination, on the other hand, can pretty much coast to election day. At this point, the Democrats get roughly 1500 votes no matter who they run, the Republican get roughyl 1200 votes no matter who they run and the Greens get roughly 400 votes no matter who they run. A popular or effective candidate can add a couple hundred to those totals based on their ability or organization, but it's pretty much a Democratic game unless and until the Greens and/or Republicans, or a faction of the Democrats changes the game.

So the incumbents are in an internal party battle with the elected leadership of the Democratic Party, meaning the Democratic chair is actively trying to stop her own party's incumbents, and trying to make sure they're not on the ballot. The Republicans can't get anyone good to run, and may not like the incumbents, but they're tolerable. So rather than run no one, they get to possibly help widen the split within the Democratic Party (if Chairwoman Nyquist manages to win the caucus votes and get another group of Democrats on the ballot) or be bi-partisan and get more of a voice if it ends up being the same people on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.

Or maybe not, just guessing here.

kt tobin flusser said...

Thanks Jason, spot on.

I'd like to elaborate on the "ethical dilemma" posed.

What is the ethically right decision: 1) To not vote for someone because of a party affiliation or endorsement? or 2) To vote for someone because their values and the issues they prioritize are closely or mostly in line with your own, irrespective of party affiliation or endorsement?

I lean towards the latter. Would I have preferred for the incumbents to no seek the Republican line and for New Paltz to not have a Democratic Party monopoly (for all the reasons Jason outlined)? Of course, but that does not mean I won't vote for someone who is strong on social justice and the environment, in an act of punishment that could change our leadership in a very negative way.

Martin McPhillips said...

What a ghastly result for Republicans. Unprincipled, an abdication of responsibility, a void where the moral imagination should be, and flat stupid.

It doesn't even rise to the level of moral or intellectual vanity, it's just plain empty vanity, and nothing more.

And I take no pleasure in my expectation that the Democrats, from their position of political control, will proportionally do even worse.

rachel lagodka said...

The Republicans in this town have a ballot line but no candidates this time around, so they just went ahead and nominated the Democrats. There’s not much difference in the result of that as there is with not having any candidates at all. Of course there is a big difference between Mike and Phil, even if there is no difference between Toni and Toni. If Terence is a Republican and he prefers Mike, he has the right and perhaps even the obligation to nominate him whether anyone else wants him to or not.
By keeping my registration Green I am depriving myself of the right to vote in either caucus. However, since they have the most voters, the Democratic caucus is where the decisions are made that most affect my crucial local issues: environmental preservation, and youth empowerment.
As a political party, the Democrats do not have a set of values like the Green Party’s 10 key values, and so I have chosen to hold on to the affiliation even though it has deprived me of voting in primaries or caucuses and therefore de facto deprived me of my vote. Because my party is so small, there is even less likelihood that I would get someone on the ballot from my party in the general elections. I want my party registration to stand for something, but I also want to be able to participate in a process that will determine who gets elected. As an activist, I value the votes I can bring, more than my own individual vote. That is what I’m doing at the Democratic caucus, even though I am not a Democrat.

There have been quite a few events over the last few years that have made me feel angry and betrayed. No promised wetlands law was passed, I don’t like the work of the planning consultants the town hired, and thought the whole deal with the planner they didn’t hire was shady. And, by the way, there are still a few police officers who are not respecting the students’ rights. I also don’t feel that the town board has done enough to defend the community from the onslaught of McMansion subdivisions.

It is important to have elected officials who share all the information about the way they operate. Regardless of who gets elected, it is up to us as citizens to demand transparency, and to monitor the activity of our government. A government needs to be ready to answer for itself and that includes everyone paid for by our tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

Heya Jason, just two comments on your post:
1) "The presumption being that the Green Party endorsement is available to Democrats and Republicans."

The questionnaire is not only, or even primarily, to be used for endorsement. As I'm sure you know, there are some very loyal Greens who will NEVER vote to endorse a Democrat or Republican, and since we strive to work on a consensus model, it is unlikely that we will often endorse a candidate from a major party. Unlikely, of course, doesn't mean it will never happen.

From my personal perspective, I think it's useful for candidates to fill out the questionnaires simply so we can see how they stand on issues important to Greens and so individual Greens can decide whether or not to vote for them and/or work on their campaigns.

2) "It's too bad the Greens have chosen not to run candidates for public office this year."

Uh....we didn't "choose" that. As you know so well, the Greens are a small number of very very independent-minded people, and most of us are admitted anarchists (including yourself). Trying to get anarchistic Greens to run for office (as you know so well) makes herding cats look like a cakewalk.

Greens are always on the lookout for candidates within the party. I think for such a small party in such a small town, we're doing pretty good. Perhaps if Greens on the sidelines such as yourself would use their considerable political expertise to contribute to the party once in a while, we'd be doing even better.

rachel lagodka said...

If there aren’t any other candidates, it hardly matters who you vote for. So in this election highway super is really important because there is an actual challenger to the incumbent. At this point I don’t believe that the Democrats have any viable alternatives for board or supervisor they would have come out of the woodwork by now; they would have tried to get the Republican nomination. But of course I could be wrong.

I am supporting Mike Nielson for Highway Superintendent because I this is a position where it is crucial to have someone who will protect the environment and change our practices where it really maters, our watershed, our air.

I want to put in a good word for Kitty on the environment as well.
Kitty was asking the right questions when the town went to hire a planner. Kitty has kept those people who have expressed an interest up to date about the comprehensive plan. Kitty has taken a stance against poor development practices. Kitty has also put some effort into bringing the wetlands law back on the books where it belongs, though that has not happened yet. That is why I am urging people to vote for Kitty and Mike—to show support for the environment and open government, and in Mike's case to unseat the incumbent.

You never know whether someone might decide to run at the last minute, but at least there's no chance of "spoiling" for the town board this time because there are no serious challengers.

Brittany Turner said...

If I hear one more "Green" talk about "spoiling," I SWEAR TO EFFING GOD...

Pete Healey said...

Thank you, again, Martin McPhillips, for the only commentary worth reading here. Everyone else seems bent on rationalizing the irrational. At the state and national level, there is more and more a Democratic stranglehold, and that's reflected and even magnified locally. What we now have is the direct result of the two-merging-into-one party system that has been rumored for years, except that this one party has three wings, not two. There are the liberal, conservative, and very conservative wings. Face it, this is a one-party system and if you play along you accept a one-party state, with Corrine Nyquist in charge locally, with David Patterson and Pedro Espada(and add your own nominee) in charge in Albany, and Barack Obama and Harry Reid(and add your own nominee) in charge in Washington, DC.
Rachel, please, you have my permission to switch parties so that you can do what it is you've been wanting to do, which is of course to be an 'active participant' in the Democratic one-party state.
So the only contested race is for highway super and it's between two Democrats, one of whom was a Republican twenty minutes ago? And the Democrat lost in the 'very conservative Democrat' caucus by one vote? Phil, why don't you just stay home on Monday night and watch the game? Call me, I'll come over and bring some beer, the good stuff. I'm exhausted, can we all go home now?

Billy D. said...

If you'd all pull your head's out of the little hole in the ground that is our beloved new Paltz, perhaps you'd notice that this kind of thing is hardly rare. It happens every elections cycle in munipalities everywhere. If it sickens you, take two Advil and a dose of perspective.

Martin McPhillips said...

Argumentum ad populum.

Very popular, locally.

Anonymous said...

The issue that is being missed once again, see 1st and 2nd story of Republican caucus, KT Tobin Flusser is only telling part of the story, and of course it’s the part that makes her appear to be above everyone:

1. She is disgusted at the Democratic incumbents, that are not being supported by there own party selection committee (and she has abandon most of these candidates) that were supported by the Republicans. But if it serves her or her candidate it is O.K.

2. KT is on Mikes election staff, non-paid but working for Mike (as listed on Mikes response to Green Party). Why then did KT choose to have him nominated at the Republican caucus and not tell him? KT made arrangements to attempt to stack the caucus in Mikes favor with her boss seconding the nomination. What else is KT doing for Mike and not telling him? Is this her example of open government? A suggestion is Mike may want to meet with his staff; decisions should be made by Mike and not by his staff without his knowledge, in my opinion.

3. A very important difference KT and others are missing is that the Republicans are endorsing the Democratic candidates the candidates are not endorsing the Republican Party. I will speak for myself, I did not interview with the leadership of the Republican Party, and I have not endorsed the Republican platform. I have received the endorsement of the Republican Party. Kt was very upset when informed that Mike did not win the endorsement from the Republicans (I was a first hand witness to this) but she condemns me for accepting it. Is this a double standard?

4. KT is upset that I have not joined her in endorsing her candidate, I do believe in the Party system and should Mike win the Democratic caucus I will support him along with all the others on the ticket. This is what I stated last year and I have not changed my position on this issue. I do like Mike, he is my neighbor (our back yards adjoin each other). I know his family and they are hard working well principled people that care for our community and in making it a better place to live. I know Mike is asset to our community and have no doubt that he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

I believe I am supported by the many diverse groups of New Paltz not for my party affiliation but more for the way I live. I speak with integrity, I don’t take anything personally – I welcome others views to learn more about them and there concerns. I don’t make assumptions and have the courage to ask questions to understand, and I always try to do my best. My short record on the board is that of protecting our environment (building moratorium, regulation of wood burning stoves, use of permeable sidewalks in developments, support of wetlands law….) and watching our tax dollars to ensure they are spent prudently (not increasing payrolls, not adding to Town fleet of vehicles, looking for alternative ways to decrease our fixed expenses). Thank you and please feel free to contact me if I am involved in the story, gossip is the lowest form of communication and only leads to misunderstandings and poor communication.

Jeff Logan

Terence said...

Jeff, let me set the record straight on one detail: no one on Mike's election staff knew I was going to nominate him at the caucus. It had been suggested to me by more than one person prior, but only when I was told by someone at the caucus, "If you do, you will have a second," that I seriously considered it. I consulted with no one on Mike's team, and based my decision to nominate on the information I have gathered about Mike from various sources.

I don't like the fact that people can run on more than one line in New York. I think it weakens third parties, confuses inattentive voters, and makes it too easy for politicians to avoid taking a stand on anything. However, I've decided that I can't fight it on a local level (unless we actually get my dream of NO candidates on ballots, an idea inspired by last year's bizarre and highly democratic Town Council election). It's a tool I don't care for, but it would put any candidate forgoing it at a disadvantage.

That being the case, since there was not expected to be a Republican running for the position and Mike in no way appears less qualified to me than Phil, I decided to nominate him. When I saw you outside of the Community Center beforehand, Jeff, I could not have told you I was going to do so, because I literally made my decision as Phil was being nominated.

Martin McPhillips said...


"I believe I am supported by the many diverse groups of New Paltz not for my party affiliation but more for the way I live. I speak with integrity, I don’t take anything personally – I welcome others views to learn more about them and there concerns. I don’t make assumptions and have the courage to ask questions to understand, and I always try to do my best."

You speak well of yourself, but from watching you I think it is largely justified.

In reference to my comments above, about what happened at the Republican caucus, I can say that had you been selectively endorsed/nominated I could have lived with that. But not with the other two. That was too much for me.

Anonymous said...

Terrance - thank you for clarification of your part. I will clarify my point.
I was in the parking lot after the caucus with Toni and Kevin. As we were talking KT arrived asking to hear what happened. When told of the result she declared an expletive and was very upset. Steve Greenfield then also arrived and was looking for the news; he also was upset by the news. In speaking with Toni, KT and Mike a few nights later she wanted to make it clear that Mike knew nothing. He was in class in Kingston during the caucus and was shocked to learn he was nominated. I believe him, Mike didn’t know of the plans. KT seemed to be aware that he was going to be nominated during the conservation; she never stated that she didn’t know about the plans. If I am wrong in this, I apologize to all and KT. The larger point is still true; she says I am wrong (along with other Democrats) for being supported, but if Mike was, then its OK for her candidate, as seen by her display of strong disappointment of him not getting the Republican support. So the reason for this dialog is I am wondering if it OK to set different standards for the candidates or are we better off judging people by there words and actions and not by there party affiliations in local politics?

Brittany Turner said...

Jeff, I don't agree with you on all points, but I am SO GLAD YOU ARE TELLING IT LIKE IT IS.

This sneaky insider bullshit needs to be exposed as the hypocritical high-and-mighty nonsense that it actually is and I am glad you have the guts (and the facts) to do it.

It's one thing to deeply hold a values system and to vehemently defend those beliefs; it's another thing to be a spineless, simpering fool who goes whichever way the wind blows while pretending to be some sort of pundit, team-player or visionary (depending on the day and who is around to see it).

We differ politically, but you are an honest and intelligent person and certainly more gadfly-esque and principled than some who scream about their gadfly-ness and principles louder than anyone. Incessant whining and belligerence doesn't make it so. You, on the other hand, have actually earned your good reputation and my respect.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Martin McPhillips said...

If New Paltz Democrats want to turn themselves around (and despite their current automatic election advantage, they need to do that) by making serious changes on the town board they can nominate two new candidates:

1. With apologies to Michael in advance for dragging him back into this, the Dems should nominate Michael Zierler for supervisor. He is deliberate, serious, and will always try to do the right thing. I wouldn't want to confuse anyone by leaving the impression that he and I agree on anything. I just trust him to be honest.

2. For the seat held by Brown, they might want to consider someone with an agricultural background, i.e., someone connected to a family farm. That's a perspective that could add a lot.

3. Logan has given a good showing in his year on the board and should be renominated.

Restructured along those lines I think that the new town board and government would be much less like a bureaucratic political clubhouse that has the aura of a back office at the DMV.

kt tobin flusser said...

For the record, I did not know there was a movement to get Mike nominated at the Republican caucus - as I said multiple times to Jeff, and others - if people had told me, I would have done my best to prevent it. Terence and my boss can attest to this.

My expletive was in response to the fact that Mike was in that race at all.

Jeff, for all your talk about hating gossip you seem all to eager to call me a liar based on your limited version of the events.

And once again, we disagree on the issues, but you insist on making it personal.

Lastly, Jeff, you said I pulled my support for the other candidates... did you not read all my comments or did you choose to cherry pick? Because you missed this: "my votes on Monday and in November will have to be determined by what I think is best for New Paltz"

Martin McPhillips said...

While you're waiting for the next slap back from Logan, KT, could I ask you a question about Mike Nielson?

What is the nature of his involvement with the Working Families Party? How did he show up in the race with its endorsement?

kt tobin flusser said...

~Qualifier: I do not speak for Mike, but will answer to the best of my knowledge~

Mike has both the Working Families and Independence Party ballot lines/endorsements. When looking at these alternative parties' platforms, Mike felt they were in line with his values. He did not feel similarly about the Republican party.

Mike is a Democrat, and since announcing, he has been very clear that he would not seek the Republican nomination, and would focus his attention on getting the nomination from his own party, Democratic.

Martin McPhillips said...

Yeah, O.K.

My question really goes a bit deeper to the nature of his connection with the Working Families Party. That is, how that connection was made. How far back it goes. How casual or serious it is.

Brittany Turner said...

Martin, as a former steering committee member for the MHV WFP, the answer is simple: Mike is the only candidate who actually filled out the questionnaire and showed up to the interview. His answers were in line with the WFP principles, and I believe the interview committee voted unanimously to endorse him. Guy Kempe could probably give more specifics; I declined to participate in the Ulster County interviews this year; I reviewed his questionnaire but did not see his in-person interview.

Kitty also toyed with the idea of filling out the questionnaire, but decided against it due to personal differences with certain MHV WFP members.

All TONP candidates were sent a link to the questionnaire with instructions and information on the endorsement process by me and probably a few other steering committee members. To my knowledge, no one other than Kitty and Mike expressed any interest.

Brittany Turner said...

KT, actually you pulled your support early on and then halfway un-pulled your support this time around with the non-committal, wishy washy "I guess I'll see what happens in November" answer. More of the same, really.

Steve Greenfield said...

Logan -- I sorta like you, so I don't know quite what to do. I was upset about Mike not getting the Republican nomination? Are you sure of that? To any degree that I was upset, it was at hearing he'd been nominated -- we were all in agreement that he would not seek or accept the Republican line, so I was trying to find out who was responsible. Since only Republicans can make nominations, and I didn't know of any Republicans who might attempt something like this, I couldn't know how this happened. I was also laughing the whole time -- I found the whole situation hilarious, in a pathetic sort of way, although not quite as pathetic as whatever the heck might be going on in the NP Democratic Party right now. The only thing I know for sure is a handful of party insiders are doing everything they can to deny the right of the citizenry to freely elect their own choice of public servants for this town.

You might have also heard some confusion in my voice -- I had no idea that Terence wasn't still a Green. And this is the first time I've heard of a Green switching to Republican.

But thanks so much for underscoring your conspiracy theory by telling everyone how pissed off Steve Greenfield was to hear that Mike didn't get the nomination. Your ability to jump to fantastical conclusions does not bode well for the careful analysis required in public service. Look up due diligence in the office holder's dictionary. If you're not devoted to it, you have no business seeking, let alone holding office.

After you apologize for your baseless characterizations, you can speak to me privately about where you'd like me to stand in terms of your ambitions in November. I still have a pencil with your name on it I could use to write in anyone else's name on Election Day. I can't think of any time I voted for someone whose name appeared on the Republican line. You'll have to convince me if this year should be an exception. You know what issues I'm concerned about. Win me over.

As for your refusal to support Mike because you want to wait until after Monday night, because you're a Democrat and you support the Democratic line, let me remind you that you have not yet received the Democratic nomination, but you have received the Republican nomination. So what will you do if you lose on Monday night? Withdraw and support the Democrat? Or do you not want to answer that before the caucus? Come on, Jeff, show me some guts. Take a stand.

See, not so nifty, my fallacious friend, getting the Republican line while maintaining all that integrity and party loyalty. You're not endorsing Mike because you're not endorsing Mike, not because you want to await the outcome. That doesn't mean you're endorsing Phil, it just means you're not endorsing Mike, and Monday night has nothing to do with it. Let's not insult our collective intelligence, OK?

I'll await that apology due me as a result of your false reporting. You owe one to KT, too, and it would be pretty polite if you extended it without waiting until she asks.


Steve Greenfield said...

And before Pete, Lagusta, and Brittany start yelling (which I'm sure won't be before last call, long after I'm in bed):


Brittany, the Queen of the intransigently principled "Greens" was on the steering committee of the WFP while holding Green registration. Phenomenal. A wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. Sweet. How's that grab ya, Lagusta? Enough radioactive false piety around here to fill Yucca Mountain.

Lagusta -- there were plenty of people who could have been great Green candidates and have good enough track records in New Paltz public service to be credible, rather than stunt or protest candidates. I say "were" because most of them, perhaps all of them are now ex-Greens. This is not a chicken-egg situation. It's a long list. The qualified people who worked in committees and established interrelationships with the politically active community left as the situation in the Green Party deteriorated. You missed the deterioration, but you embrace it, and even revel in it. That's the problem, not the tendency of Greens to be "anarchists."

The Green townwide base is now actually down to around 300, not 400, and if and when a Green next runs in a partisan race we'll find the true current baseline.

Am I helping a Democrat during this election? "You betcha!" Not for partisan reasons, but for the more old fashioned kind of loyalty -- the personal kind. Mike was a helluva guy when I was struggling to learn the ropes in the Fire Department and struggling with the personal acceptance necessary to the successful teamwork upon which quality firefighting is based. You might imagine that a rural volunteer fire department doesn't get too many urban, Jewish, overtly left-wing applicants. Mike was there without anyone asking. When he asked me if I'd like to help him get this job, I didn't have to go home and think about it. One aspect of my life that's improved considerably since leaving the Green Party is that I'm no longer surrounded by people who believe they can just yell "Democrat" and make me forget that the kind of thing that brought me into Mike's campaign has real meaning in life, both personally and politically. And that's why I backed Bob Hughes last year, even though I had no reason for special concerns about Jeff, and why I would not support Brittany, Pete, or Lagusta even if they were running unopposed.

Jason, I perceive you have intentions for 2011. You may wish to discuss them with me, and not by computer. I can be counted upon to expend effort on behalf of anything that strikes me as best for New Paltz.

Brittany Turner said...

hahahahaha the ego strikes again! it's terrible, it appears that the tumors pressing on his "delusions of grandeur" and "reality is what i say it is" nerves are growing, causing them to go into overdrive. yikes!

Guy Kempe said...

Martin, et al. I am one of a handful of enrolled voting members of the WFP in New Paltz, and furthermore serve on the MHV WFP steering committee. Brittany correctly reports that Mike completed a questionnaire, and (as I recall) Jen Fuentes and I interviewed him. We endorsed Mike because he is an impressive and qualified candidate. As a resident of the town, I knew there were concerns about Phil Johnson's tenure as Highway Supt. That said, Phil would have been interviewed if he had submitted a questionnaire and sought our nomination.

For example, we interviewed both Susan Zimet and Hector Rodriguez, and ultimately decided to endorse Zimet only. If Councilwoman Brown had completed a questionnaire we would invited her to interview, and she would have had a fair opportunity for our endorsement. Although, I admit I cannot imagine under what circumstances I personally would support her for re-election, our decisions are made by the group. Anyone involved will tell you I am never reluctant to interview any candidate. I am usually prepared to ask tough questions of candidates, and then freely express my opinion of them.

I hope this answers your concern. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

Martin McPhillips said...

I knew there were concerns about Phil Johnson's tenure as Highway Supt.

Well, he is way down the list of NP public officials I would have concerns about. Not even in the running for a spot in the top ten. Nothing against Mike Nielson, but Phil has all the right enemies (not counting the dust-up with the fire dept. guys, which I regard as old-fashioned local barking) and that's good enough for me.

Plus, the roads always seem in good to excellent shape, and there has got to be someone in local government who doesn't use the word "sustainable."

Guy Kempe said...

The line goes something like "decisions are made by those who show up." As this applies to WFP, we only get to interview the candidates who show up. It might be interesting to compare our top ten lists of NP officials about which we have concerns.

Phil has badly mismanaged the highway crew and the relationship with the bargaining unit. For the record, I don't agree that we must have someone in local government who doesn't know the meaning of the word "sustainable."

Martin McPhillips said...

I'm sure that Phil knows the actual meaning of 'sustainable' -- as in "What was a sustainable pace for Secretariat was unsustainable for other thoroughbreds." I'm referring to its compulsive use as a buzzword that supposedly confers special grace on someone's plan to spend other people's money (usually with the special promise to save money in the "long run," something close to impossible for governments).

If by "badly mismanaged the highway crew" you mean he's a tough boss, I think that the good to excellent shape of the local roads shows that he gets results. If by "bargaining unit" you mean a municipal employees union, then perhaps the "bargaining unit" mismanaged its relationship with Phil. Two-way street.

My idea of mismanaging a relationship with a "bargaining unit" is where you let the "bargaining unit" get the upper hand and take virtual control of the institution. Cf. the school district.

Steve Greenfield said...

Guy, please stop arguing with Martin. His role here is to annoy, and you're helping him think of himself as successful by trying to provide reasonable responses. It doesn't work that way with Martin. Great job, by the way, Brittany. Your contributions continue to be invaluable.

Sustainable has nothing to do with pacing. It has to do with how many toxic chemicals you can pour on icy roads before the acquifer is screwed up, that is, people's drinking water, and the river and the fish some people still like to eat from it, etc. It has nothing to do with how well the crew keeps the ice off the roads, or how many roads they can clear per hour without rest, or how much personal abuse they can take from their boss before they quit and how much taxpayers can be milked to finance the turnover costs. It has to do with processes that negate themselves until their costs exceed their benefits. If that's not happening, it's sustainable. If it is, it's unsustainable. Simple concept.

It's not a buzzword, Martin. It has meaning. Even though you didn't learn it (or care to), you're still free to argue over it, because even though it's not a really a free country, the news shows us that we do still hold the right of people who don't know what they're talking about to say anything they want particularly dear.

Martin McPhillips said...

How gracious of you, Steve, to take a moment away from your busy schedule as vociferous fireman, conscience of the board of education, and now unofficial vizier of Moriello Pool to apply the remarkably fungible "sustainable" to highway maintainance. It works in so many places for so many things that it means, well, everything good. It belongs with its many robust companion buzzwords, like "relevant," "diversity," and "inclusive," in the buzzword hall of fame. Yet another joker in the deck of debased political language, handy for use by, uh, jokers of another sort.

lagusta said...

I won't stoop to refuting the hilarious personal attacks against me & others by Steve (I'm too drunk to anyway), but I'd like to state publicly that I, and every Green in town that I am aware of, always believes that we are doing what is best for New Paltz, as I'm sure we all do. It's painfully obvious, but I guess it needs to be stated anyway. In our own ways, we are all trying to do what is best.

Thus, to say that I "revel" in the "deterioration" of the Green Party is....well, I have no words. "Hurtful" and "untrue" and "ludicrous" work well, but..[insert comment about considering the source here].

There are a lot of haters in this town, as there are everywhere, I suppose. I'm proud to be in a party that always strives to create meaningful solutions and long term sustainability in every sense of the word, and actively tries to refrain from petty sniping and backbiting.

Guy Kempe said...

I have reconsidered, but think I got it right when I wrote Phil "mismanaged the highway crew and the relationship with the bargaining unit." You see, Martin, the relationship with workers and the union is Phil's responsibility because, as Superintendent, Phil IS management -literally. In my opinion, your suggestion that "perhaps the "bargaining unit" mismanaged its relationship with Phil" because it's a "two-way street" is silly.
The high number of grievences filed by his employees is indicative of his mismanagement. Martin, I think the taxpayer dollars spent to address and resolve these grievences result in poor morale, lost productivity and consequently higher taxes.

Martin McPhillips said...

The devil is always in the details.

A manager unwilling to do the bidding of a union can be papered with grievances. The question lies in the validity of the grievances.

I appreciate the work of all of the men (and women, if there are any) on the highway crews. They are good at what they do. They maintain a high standard.

But the question of management-labor relationships cannot simply be decided on the basis of workers' complaints. Workers and bosses are often like cats and dogs, and a gruff hard-ass boss is often doing more to look out for his workers than the laid-back rollover boss. One of the first ways of looking out for workers is making sure that the work gets done. The public, for instance, is not clamoring at the door of the highway department demanding that heads roll.

Trial by innuendo is very popular around election time.

When it comes to disputes arising with a municipal worker union, I side with the elected official, who represents my interests and has a fiduciary responsibility to the residents of the town. And like I said, the roads are in good to excellent condition. A lot of kids in school buses and a lot of people driving to work and stores around town depend on that. The grievances of the workers are quite a separate matter from that primary issue.

Guy Kempe said...

If the devil is in the details, why don't you go to Town Hall and FOIL the record of legal expenses paid by the town for labor relations at the Highway garage. I am not sure if you can FOIL records of grievances, but if not, I bet the shop steward or union business manager will cheerfully provide you summary details of the number and type of grievance filed. I look forward to rading your report.

Martin McPhillips said...

Also, I should add that Mike Nielson strikes me as a good solid person. It's just that I think that Phil Johnson has mastered the job and I would be extremely reluctant to replace him with a novice. And that is not to say that Nielson could not gain mastery of the job. I just wouldn't be anxious to make a change over the secondary issue of workers' complaints. The roads are primary and the roads are good.

Martin McPhillips said...

Well, Guy, you are bringing the argument of the worker grievances. It would be your responsibility to back your position with facts. Otherwise, it remains a case of innuendo. And neither the workers who have complained nor the union steward are disinterested parties.

Haven't you yourself been subjected to a whisper campaign and trial by New Paltz Times reporting? I think that there are parallels there you could appreciate.

Steve Greenfield said...


By reveling in the deterioration, I mean quite literally that you demand a level of contrarian purity that ensures a diminishing circle of participants. Very few people can be so pure as you demand, as they have nuanced real-world lives and belief systems, and the vehemence with which you demand it makes your company intolerable. The group becomes tiny. Right now it is very tiny. At the same time, you engage in no short or long-term recruiting drives. Heck, you don't even strategize, or make plans to develop a recruiting drive. You are not being an electoral party. We have discussed this before. You do revel in it. You love to put your middle finger in the air and say "Vive Les Greens" even though the Greens aren't doing anything. Being a Green Party leader isn't about yelling "Democrats Suck!" or "There's no such thing as spoiling!" You're the chairperson. Your main job is to provide direction for party operations and growth. All you do is badger a handful of people who are impervious to the badgering and getting a credible amount of environmental work done without your party's participation, and even earning your enmity, which further isolates the brand "Green" and its members from association with their own principal issues.

You revel in it, even more than Brittany. I've read your blog. It's almost nothing but reveling from top to bottom, all kinds of cutesy finger-pointing, blaming, and superiority, and no political program whatsoever. You still don't even comprehend that you're supposed to have a political program, yet you're the chair of a political party.

I know in your heart you believe that you want what's best for New Paltz. I don't claim that you don't. But what's best for New Paltz is to actually get good things done, not just to know what the good things are and to wish for them really hard. The Green Party is not only not doing anything, but in some instances actually interferes with others who are seeking to make improvements to our local life that are straight out of the Green Party platform.

And as long as I'm here, for the sake of public disclosure you really should tell everyone that for all your anti-Democrat vitriol, all your rage against the machine, and particularly all your opposition to Crossroads, you, Brittany, and Pete signed petitions for Toni Hokanson for Supervisor, and Pete was carrying and witnessing the petition. You did not carry or sign a petition for a Green or for an independent who would run on your platform. You got Toni Hokanson on the ballot. She just barely cleared the total. Without Pete's petitions that you and Brittany signed, it wouldn't have made the ballot. You put her there. Stop yelling at people, all three of you. You're in no position.

Anonymous said...

Steve, thanks for giving me the most awesome compliments ever!!! I always thought you didn't understand me, but you do. Friends forever? I think so.

One quick thing: I'm not the chair of the New Paltz Green Party. I like screaming on the sidelines too much. I'm an anarchist (with a Green heart), not an organizer. Put your blame on the failure of the NPGP to do whatever you think it should be doing on someone else, OK? Or even better, no one.

It's almost 1 PM, I'm late for my first whiskey of the day!

PS: It's my belief that everyone should be on the ballot. I'll sign petitions for almost anyone. I believe in democracy.

Steve Greenfield said...

Knowledge of election law is a good thing when you're involved with an electoral party. Even if you aren't currently chairperson, you were until recently. Yeah, democracy and ballot access and all that groovy stuff is great. But since under NYS law you can only give one valid signature for any one office, you have to be pretty careful about signing. If you sign for someone you wish were not in office, and then tomorrow someone you actually like decides to run, you can't sign for that person. I mean you could, physically, but you signature would be disqualified. If the person you like fails to make the ballot by one signature, and the person you don't like makes it by one signature, well, figure it out.

You have not made a case for your idealism, only your impetuosity. That's not a useful trait in political organizing -- in fact it's totally counterproductive.

Hey, Martin. How do you know Phil's mastered the job? Have you examined the books? How long is the average lag time between reported road damage and its repair? Is the current staff as productive as the people who were driven from their jobs? How much de-icing chemicals in parts per million are found in the soil alongside our roadways, and how much of it has leached into wetlands and acquifers? There are around a hundred more aspects to examine. Have you examined any of them? Convince me Phil's mastered the job.

Brittany Turner said...

Hey Lagusta! I've been thinking about what some pompous, orange, napoleonic bullies could say about, erm, democracy and here's some ideas I came up with! My responses are below. Let me know what you think! :) xoxo

"[U]nder NYS law you can only give one valid signature for any one office, [so] you have to be pretty careful about signing."

Wait, WHY does this mean you'd have to be "careful" about signing?

"If you sign for someone you wish were not in office, and then tomorrow someone you actually like decides to run, you can't sign for that person."

Um... but you could vote for them.

"[Y]ou could, physically, but you[r] signature would be disqualified."

Assuming the petitions were challenged...

"If the person you like fails to make the ballot by one signature, and the person you don't like makes it by one signature, well, figure it out."

Then the person you like a) isn't very good at petitioning and b) could still be written in.

There is also the very big assumption that someone you like actually does run; I can't speak for anyone else, but when it comes to NP Politics I've rarely seen petitions circulated for a candidate I like and rarely had the option to "pull the lever" for the candidate I like.

So, of course, I'm with you. Anyone who asks me for my signature gets it because they're all equally deserving of that silly spot on that big ol piece of paper.

Pete Healey said...

I've been convinced for several years now that unification is the best way forward for New Paltz, and I've worked toward that end. In fact, I suggested to Jason West that unification be part of his platform in 2007, but he refused. It has been suggested by several people that he would have pulled enough Democrat votes to win if he had done so. Toni and I collaborated to bring the consolidation study to New Paltz and we succeeded. She recently asked for my help with an independent ballot line and I agreed, mainly because we're on the same page on unification. The 25 signatures I collected were not decisive according to her. She told me she needed 225 and that she filed 265.
I measured the number of full screens this thread has taken up with approximately 50 separate comments, and that number of full screens is 32. My single previous comment took up less than one full screen but Steve's 5 previous comments took up 7 full screens or about 22% of all the space used on this thread. But Steve insists that I "stop yelling"?!?!? I say throw him back in, he's not a good catch.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You'd never guess that I publicly supported Steve for School Board and worked hard on his campaign. I did, because I know that even though he is one of the most irksome people on the planet, he is a hard worker, and hard workers are what government needs.

Of course we also need idealistic people on the fringes of the political scene who never move an inch from their hard-left ideology, and I'm proud to be in that camp. You're right, Steve: I have no nuance. Someone has to stop moving, eventually, or else we'll find ourselves locally where we are nationally: right of the center and racing to the bottom.

I repeat: I never have been, never aspired to be, and never will be a political organizer. I did my best to be a good head for the Green Party for a while, while being very open about the fact that my skills and interests were not in organizing people but organizing things like files and websites and meetings.

I'm proud of the work I did and if my attempt to maintain standards and to stop the GP from becoming an arm of the Democratic Party offended people, that's fine (I sure wish Greens would come to meetings and talk about it, though, rather than simply slinking away).

The Greens are more radical than the Democrats can, by definition, imagine being, and I plan to always be there, never compromising, always striving, never watering down.

I'm going to stop wasting everyone's time with this discussion after this. See you in the streets!

Impetuously yours,

Steve Greenfield said...


There's nothing wrong with you supporting Toni because of her position on a critical issue of importance to you and your community. I know hard-core Republicans (and one independent) who helped Toni because of her support for the fire department.

What is wrong is all the sanctimonious finger-wagging at KT that was at the start of this thread, and Brittany's smug taunting that there was some kind of ethical dilemma in play, and Lagusta's rebel yell. That's the problem here. All three of you have your nuances, and all of you are able to promptly provide them when rationalization of many of the same choices you excoriate in others crop up in your own political choices, as evidenced in this thread and elsewhere.

All three of you are very destructively intolerant, pointlessly so, and most of all, hypocritically so. To Pete: it's easy to be brief when you have nothing to say. I suppose I could have written "screw you" instead of explaining the situation, if that would have satisfied you. Consider that done. And to Brittany and Lagusta, it must be wonderful to be able to be so interminably pleased with yourselves without the terrible burdens of having had to actually accomplish anything.