Tuesday, May 31, 2011
According to Dungan, the outstanding personnel issue which led to the special meeting "became moot" after discussion with the village attorney, but there was not enough time to cancel it in advance.
A journalist who was present asked about "rampant speculation" that the personnel issue was, in fact, an attempt to replace Trustee Kimbiz. Dungan asserted that such was not the case.
I asked the mayor about his letter to the New Paltz Times, asserting that mayor-elect West should remember that Trustee Kimbiz was elected with over 900 votes, while West was voted in with around 400.
"It was off by a factor of ten," he said, with no further explanation.
The reorganization meeting for the village will take place on June 8.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
From the Village website re: the special meeting on 5/31 (which still looks to be their last meeting):
Special Meeting of the Village Board of Trustees
|When:||Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 07:30 PM EDT - 11:00 PM EDT|
|Where:||Large Meeting Room|
|Description:||VILLAGE OF NEW PALTZ|
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a special meeting will be held by the Board of Trustees of the Village of New Paltz on May 31, 2011 at 7:30PM at the New Paltz Village Hall for the Board to enter into executive session to discuss the employment status of particular individuals and upon coming out of executive session, any other lawful business.
Any resident of the Village of New Paltz is entitled to attend the public portion of the meeting. The Village of New Paltz will make every effort to assure that the meeting is accessible to persons with disabilities. Anyone requiring special assistance and/or reasonable accommodations should contact the Village Clerk.
By order of the Village Board of Trustees of the Village of New Paltz,
Dated May 25, 2011
Amanda M. Erickson, Village Clerk
Wetlands Info Session
(New Paltz) The Town of New Paltz will host NYSDEC Biodiversity Outreach Coordinator Laura Heady who will offer an informational program on wetlands, Thursday, June 2nd at 7:30pm in Town Hall, 1 Veterans Drive. Ms. Heady, of the DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University, states, “Most communities recognize the importance of functioning road networks, water and sewer systems, and utilities and communication lines. Sometimes less understood is our dependence on functioning natural systems – those that support clean air and water, for example.” The program will highlight some of the diverse wetland types in Ulster County, the environmental and economic benefits of wetlands, and how local conservation efforts can contribute to the protection of wetlands for future generations. This presentation is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Remember the excellent condition the town roads were in?
I had the opportunity to talk to Highway Superintendent Mike Nielson today about the season. For a guy who people feared wouldn't be able to do the job because he's a firefighter in Kingston, the results are pretty damned impressive.
Mike set himself the goal of keeping our roads clear while saving money. Then, he got hit with the nastiest, harshest winter we've seen in a generation - I've confirmed how bad a season it was by checking with Wayne Kelder, who oversees the highways in the Town of Rochester on the other side of the ridge.
This winter was the one where every single highway department in Ulster County - including the county's - was over budget. It's just one of those things that happens when you're dealing with the mysteries of weather, and towns have budget mechanisms to move money around when that much snow hits the plow.
New Paltz, however, spent 60% of its snow removal budget, and did it without those nasty sand buildups which are pretty much expected during the long, dark days of winter.
How 'bout that?
Here's a few more interesting details about the highway department:
- Past practice has dumped 1,800 pounds of sand and salt on the roads. This season it was cut back to 700 - and Nielson feels that it can be done with even less material.
- To put it another way, Ulster County spent $35 per lane mile on snow removal. New Paltz did the same job for $13 per lane mile, and Nielson has set a target of $7.
- This represents a savings to the New Paltz taxpayers of $84,000 for the season. The superintendent's salary is approximately $43,000, so Nielson has effectively worked for free.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I'll let you get the details from her... here's the big take aways:
* Kimbiz/Kazmin may not even be in Americorps. Yikes!
* There are three legal routes to remove Kimbiz/Kazmin from his seat. (Martin, I believe you owe Brittany a dollar.)
* Pete Healey and Brittany are going to try to get the Kimbiz/Kazmin seat declared vacant via the Public Officers Law. If you would like to participate, contact Brittany via her blog.
The outgoing board was supposed to have held their last meeting and take their last actions last night but after going into executive session during last night's meeting for purposes of discussing "the employment history of a particular individual" they later announced that they would have a special last (yes, I said "last" again) meeting on 5/31 - which just happens to be the last day of their terms. One can only speculate about what that will be about because they did not specify. I seriously hope it is not last last minute shenanigans.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
According to owner Bob (who is more notable for his mustache than he is for his gut; blame his kids for name of the place), a braided steel pipe in a toilet broke Sunday night in an apartment over the pizza place, and was unnoticed by its residents. Some ten hours later, an employee came by and discovered that some 10,000 gallons had crashed through the ceiling into the dining room.
This was actually a lucky break, because they were closed on Monday - there's no telling when the apartment residents would have reported the problem.
The dining room, complete with its expensive big-screen television, has been pretty much destroyed, and the shop is closed pending Board of Health approval to reopen.
Bob anticipates that they won't be able to reopen for a week and a half or more while contractors retile the entire dining room and he wrangles with insurance adjusters. I'm hopeful that he won't have to bring a law suit to get paid, but that seems to be standard practice nowadays.
In the past, posts about food have received criticism for being without depth, and rightly so. I am certainly a patron of this establishment, but it's the business disaster, not the chicken-bacon-ranch slices, which compel me to write.
Monday, May 23, 2011
If you think the assessed value of your home is higher than it should be, this is your chance to argue your case. But you can't just show up, appointments are mandatory. Call ahead - Assessor's Office at 255.0103.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Does it make sense for New Paltz to have one local government?
New Paltz Government Efficiency & Effectiveness Project Seeks Input from Area Residents
Public Meetings have been scheduled to hear your ideas and concerns.
* Tuesday, May 31st 7PM at the New Paltz Community Center (behind Town Hall)
* Saturday, June 4th 9AM at the New Paltz High School cafeteria
* Monday, June 6th 5:30PM at the New Paltz Middle School cafeteria
The Town and Village of New Paltz have joined with the New Paltz Central School District and SUNY New Paltz to explore ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local government in the New Paltz community. We would like to hear your thoughts about how local government should be structured in New Paltz. A draft report was recently completed that describes what a full consolidation of town and village government might mean for New Paltz. The study outlines the potential impact on taxpayers and raises important issues about how a single government for New Paltz could be organized.
Among these questions are:
Would consolidation improve efficiency and effectiveness of local government?
Should the consolidated municipality operate as a Town or a Village?
Should it provide some services through special districts?
Which executive positions should be elected or appointed?
Should elections be “at large” or based on a ward system?
How should fire protection be organized and provided?
What other thoughts do you have about the way New Paltz should structure its government?
The focus of these meetings is community input.
The goals of this process are to control property taxes, improve government responsiveness and deliver services efficiently, all while maintaining our community character. Please join us so your voice can be heard. You can download the draft report and/or confirm the meeting dates, times and venues at the project website at http://newpaltz.ning.com.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
The town seats that are up for grabs include:
Town Supervisor - incumbent, Toni Hokanson
2 Town Board seats- incumbents, JaneAnn Williams and David Lewis
Town Clerk - incumbent, Marion Cappillino
Town Highway Superintendent - incumbent, Mike Nielson
Town Judge - incumbent, Jim Bacon (I think, not too sure on that one.)
The only incumbent I am nearly certain will run again is Toni Hokanson.
Our two county leg seats (with the majority of constituents in New Paltz) are now currently held by Sue Zimet who lives in the town and could run for new district #17, and Hector Rodriguez who lives in the village and could run for the new district #20. I fully expect Hector to run, but the last time I saw Sue she said recently she's being introduced as "our next Congresswoman", but she was non-committal when I probed about what this meant for her future aspirations. Certainly making her district town-only somewhat increases the chances of a Republican or Independent taking a shot at that seat, but not by much. And the county Republicans are in disarray after Robin Yess's departure as chair so candidates cannot expect from a lot of help from that committee.
So, what will be the salient issues in the town elections? Government consolidation? Taxes? How about county leg - what will bring out candidates in the those two elections? Golden Hill? This is a huge issue in Kingston and in county-wide circles, but aside from a few lawn signs, there's been nary a word of it in these parts.
There is not a lot of time for contenders to step up, petition, rally committee support, and start campaigning. Of course, last minute campaigns and write in efforts are not uncommon here and the New Paltz Democratic Committee endorsed village election candidates this year, but not for town races the past few years. Pretty ironic (being kind here) considering the town elections are under their purview, but not the village elections. I'm not sure what date they have set their caucus for, which in political circles is known as the real election given Democrat enrollment numbers. I recently resigned from that committee (a blog post for another day) so I don't know what they are up to - at this point, I can only assume the caucus will be in September.
So,what do Gadfly readers think - who is going to run? (& does anybody care?)
Friday, May 20, 2011
Not surprisingly, there is no policy or law which requires trustees to show up, much less gives anybody the power to kick them out of office. To his credit, Mr. Kimbiz would be within his rights to continue to collect his salary.
It's time to quit, Mr. Kimbiz. We have had three trustees who barely show up for a long time now, and we can't afford to have one who isn't around at all. It takes trustees to run a village, and you're not here to vote, which is the only thing that you're actually paid to do. Vote on things, after studying and debating them. If you can't vote, you need to go.
Mind you, if Kimbiz leaves, there's going to be yet another special election for a single trustee seat's unexpired term of one year, and that will cost money. I certainly hope that the attendance policy which the new board passes will include a clause that would shift that cost onto the exiting trustee except in rare circumstances. Patrick O'Donnell and Robert Feldman also left their seats early, and should have paid for the election to find their replacements. Mr. O'Donnell made a business decision, and Mr. Feldman (so I'm told) resigned because he couldn't handle working with his opponent in the mayoral race of 2003, Jason West.
New Paltz residents should not have to put up with absentee trusteeism; nor should we have to pay for special elections when our trustees leave to make more money, do good deeds elsewhere, or just as a form of temper tantrum.
Mr. Kimbiz, it's time to man up and resign. We'll send you a bill for the special election in a few months.
Disclosure: I contacted Mr. Kimbiz via Facebook around the last village elections, asking him to comment on a rumor that he was planning on resigning. He did not directly respond, but he did remove me from his friends.
Update: Mr. Kimbiz has advised me that the defriending took place "well before" my inquiry.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
To the Residents of the Village of New Paltz,
Americorps is a program organized by the Federal Government that links individuals looking to serve their communities with local or national public service projects. Participants in the various programs earn a Segal Americorps Education Award to pay for college or grad school, or to pay back qualified student loans. As a recent graduate who is dedicated to public service, I decided to apply and was accepted to a three month program in Nevada. I am positive that this experience will challenge me and give me new skills that will broaden my capabilities as a Trustee.
During my absence I will remain in contact with my fellow members of the Board and constituents via email, and stay up to date on all pressing issues, ie. My copy of the Draft Study of Full Municipal Consolidation Options is packed and ready to go along with me. Additionally, I have decided to forgo my Village salary for the time that I will be away. I could not in good conscience accept a wage wile unable to execute my duties as a Trustee fully.
Although it pains me to miss a summer in New Paltz, I believe that this is something that I have to do in order to grow as an individual and member of our community. I am confident that the Mayor and Trustees’ elect will transition seamlessly to conduct the daily business of the Village. New Paltz is my home and I am excited to return with greater insight into the meaning of public service.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a great summer!
(Is this the same person that got 7 write-in votes in yesterday's school board election? Oh no, that was Brian Kazmin ;) )
This is good for the county, because multi-member districts are not only bizarre but ripe for dodging accountability, but is it good for New Paltz? The community has been studying consolidation for some time, and it should be interesting to see how having different legislators represent the village and the rest of our community impacts that process.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Bus Proposition - Passed
Brian Cournoyer 756
Stephen J. Bagley 799
Patrick Rausch (incumbent) 809
Michael Hekking 550
Brian Kazmin 7
Marianne Tozzi 1
Erin Quinn 1
Jeff Logan 1
I'm supporting Brian Cournoyer for the board in New Paltz and encourage Rondout voters to take blogger Eve's advice and Kingston voters to support Robin Jacobowitz.
Monday, May 16, 2011
- Sally Rhoads, who volunteered to be mascot, rolled up her sleeves and played in both games (it was best two out of three, no third game necessary for us). She lasted until the bitter end of both games, and hopes there will be proof to show her husband and grandchildren.
- Patrick Rausch showed up for moral support, and joined the team in his button-down shirt, dress shoes, and slacks. He showed amazing agility and took out more than one opponent, but hurt his ankle during the first game. He played on the injury for several minutes before it was noted and he was pulled. Patrick is the only school board candidate who played.
- Steve Greenfield was no lame duck on the court, particularly after Patrick's injury. Rausch was the last man standing when he was pulled, and Greenfield switched in for him for the last minute, starting at a four-to-one deficit. He took one of the cocky bastards out before going down.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
MOTHERS & OTHERS UNITED to SHUT DOWN INDIAN POINT
The tragic nuclear disaster at Fukushima is proving to be a frightening reminder of what could go wrong here. While Governor Cuomo is in favor of shutting Indian Point down, it's far from closing. Let's remind Cuomo, and other powers that be, that this should be a priority and that we want it shut down now!
If you're a mom, have a mom, want to be a mom, or know a mom, come join our... human (daisy) chain on Mother's Day--in New Paltz*, NY.
Sunday, May 8 · 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Please bring a daisy or another flower of your choice. We will hold or wear these flowers for Mother's Day--to celebrate nature, life, simplicity, and beauty. For peace.
The chain will start on Route 299 near Wallkill View Farm Market in New Paltz, NY. (15 Rt 299.)
We will have a moment of silence for Japan and its people.
RAIN DATE: SUNDAY, May 15th at 1pm.
*New Paltz is about 50 miles from Buchanan, NY, the site of the Indian Point nuclear plant. FIfty miles is significant, as the US NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) recently recommended a 50-mile-radius evacuation at Fukushima.
Here's a little clip to get you in the mood for Sunday's Human (Daisy) Chain to shut down Indian Point!
Friday, May 6, 2011
I got this tidbit from Hector Rodriguez, a county legislator for New Paltz who has a lot of experience in the mailing business. His mailing experience comes from working for Cornerstone, the source of the red card, and his political experience includes working on Jason West's 2003 and 2011 campaigns, and he admits that he has some biases in this case. He's also an expert with knowledge in all these areas, which is why I picked his brain regardless.
I find the direct mail regulations to be daunting, but Hector assures me that nobody broke any laws with that mailer. However, while I have maintained that Cornerstone failed by simply taking the business, Hector believes that their expertise was critical in making it a success: he does not believe that anyone in New Paltz could have sent that mailing and kept it legally anonymous without expert help. Not only was red a good choice to avoid having to use a bar code, the permit used also has two standard formats. The other one would have disclosed the name and address of Cornerstone's client.
The red card was cheap to produce and inexpensive to mail. It probably wasn't greed that led Cornerstone to take the job, because profit margins are razor-thin and Hector assured me that no one got rich off of this job.
While the mailing itself was cheap, Hector believes that the anonymous culprit didn't get his or her money's worth with the list they bought. He's been trying to reconstruct it based on his knowledge of mailing and the board of elections. The BOE will provide lists for free, but adding in a charge for acquiring the data is one of the ways that Cornerstone makes money off its clients. (I don't think there's any ethical problem with that; if Cornerstone does the work they deserve something for it. Hector disagrees, feeling it's a form of fleecing.)
Based on the people dead and alive who received the mailing, Hector doesn't feel the sender got a mailing which was very well targeted. Like many people, he believes that West's campaign may have benefited from it. And I didn't ask him if the campaign did it themselves, because he volunteered that information: "We couldn't have come up with a strategy like that if we tried."
My gut is to believe that statement. The idea of someone pulling a massive switch like this to garner votes by appearing to drive them away fails to meet the Occam's razor test. I will remain skeptical of any such charges unless evidence is produced to back them up.
My gut further tells me that no mayoral candidate was involved, but time will tell if my gut needs a checkup. Evidence is far more effective than speculation. Readers have been kind in providing me with five or six suspects, at last count, but all I've been able to compile is one piece of extremely circumstantial evidence to implicate one prominent New Paltz resident. I won't insult my readers or risk libel charges by claiming I am anywhere close to reaching an answer, but I thank the readership for helping. This is not a mystery which can be solved by only one of us.
Other readers encourage my boycott of Cornerstone until they apologize, and complaining to the USPS itself. Interested citizens may call the Newburgh office at 567-2331 or complain using this form.
Please keep your theories and evidence coming, but remember that evidence is what drives any investigation.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
|Red card front: The use of ALL CAPS immediately drew my attention to the amateurish design|
|Red card back: note the spelling errors ("in block" and "Dugan")|
I would feel this way no matter who the candidate named on the red card had been. It's the anonymity of the mailer which annoys me, and I am very interested in exposing the culprit. There are a number of opinions floating about, implicating every single mayoral candidate (yep, I meant all four) and a number of non-candidates as well.
I didn't allow the red card to affect my vote, although I have it good hearsay that other people decided to vote for West after receiving it. The hearsay did not tell me if these alleged enraged were changing their votes, or were polarized to vote when they otherwise would not have done so.
Please, do not accuse any specific individual of mailing the red card unless you are willing to provide your name and your evidence. Libelous comments won't be permitted.
- Negative campaigning doesn't work. Watching the debates, I got the impression that three people were running for mayor, but the fourth was running against Jason West. This strategy is often employed when an opponent has a hate club, but it always seems to fail. Rick Lazio has made a career out of having no qualifications other than not being Hillary or not being Cuomo. John Kerry was possibly the only man alive who could have lost to Bush in 2004, all due to his "I'm not George" campaign. People want to know what you are,, not what you're not.
- Turn your signs around. One candidate's lawn signs were always placed parallel to the sidewalk, where they were visible mostly to residents and neighbors across the street. Unless you've got several hundred very obedient tenants, turn your signs so we can read them as we walk and drive by.
- Public speaking matters . . . somewhat. Not every candidate was cut out for public speaking. One earned my respect because he was willing to try anyway. He got nearly 300 votes despite that disadvantage.
- Knock on doors. I got two door-knocks that I know about, one of which caught us at home. Both the knockers won last night. It's the only way to reach out, particularly if you have trouble speaking to large groups. Walk around. Talk to people. Be memorable.
- The red card. Whoever sent the anti-West "red card" out just prior to the election most likely got him votes. No matter who it was, it was slimy and underhanded. One candidate was implicated by some due to his public anti-West comments (see how keeping things positive helps?), and fair or not, I think the votes West due to the red card may have been destined for that other candidate. I will publicly disclose that person's identity as soon as I have proof.
- Seniors matter even more. Senior citizens are more likely to vote, have more time to pay attention, and have the experience to form solid opinions about what works and what doesn't. Woodland Pond has made it possible to reach out to a big chunk of the senior community easily, and I saw a lot of residents voting when I did. I also heard a lot of condescending remarks aimed at seniors during the campaign ("you're lucky to be here"), and the folks on line with me confirmed that yes, they were indeed insulted. Senior citizens know more than younger people, and see things with a perspective we just can't grasp at a younger age. Ignore them, or patronize them, at your peril.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
- Osborn 337
- Glenn 377
- Cohen 37
- Crocetti 73
- Sherow 187
- Bunt 262
- Ruger 299
- Rhoads 331
- Basco 372
- Cohen 31
- Healey 158
- Gallucci 314
- West 381
|A New Paltz lawn decoration|
This has happened before, and I warned the candidates of the possibility. But I was expecting signs to go missing in the dark of night, when the students are crawling back to bed, and that they would be replaced with lawn decorations. When I have invited businesses to put a sign on my lawn, that's usually what happens. They disappear, either to be tossed into the undergrowth or to hang on a dorm room wall.
But these signs disappeared on a Sunday morning, when the alcohol which promotes mischief has moved on to creating stupor and hangovers. My previous political sign took effort to remove, so I suspected foul play; this one was much easier to take, but I think it was more likely an opponent, not an admirer, who nicked it.
I guess over 200 years of being a college town takes its toll on the adults, too. But I still love this town, despite the ninnies and cowards who share it with me.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
I like to ask questions which are unorthodox, because they provide a lot of insight. Like whether or not you'd be willing to wear a top hat if elected mayor, or whether you support a village militia. Questions like that tell me a lot about how a candidate views the job, or views the village. I know that I've only got one vote, but we all know how important one vote is in the Village of New Paltz, don't we?
I know that the clever voters are only voting for one four-year trustee spot, because they don't want their votes to counteract each other. I can't tell you which pairs of candidates would cause that to happen, but there are plenty of people closer to the pulse of the voters than I.
More and more I am finding that I trust candidates who have lived in New Paltz for more than twenty minutes (that's Dener minutes, each one equals a year). I don't care if the candidate's family hauled stones for Jean Hasbrouck, though; just because you're related to history doesn't mean that you have any knowledge or appreciation of it.
My bias towards age is in part fueled by two subpar trustees which we've elected in the past ten years. We've also had plenty of terrible trustees and mayors who were much older, so I don't completely trust my gut on this one. At least one young candidate strikes me as being completely unaware about village concerns and issues. Another seems quite the opposite.
I'd like to see the residency requirements monitored and enforced more aggressively. There's no reason for rumor or expectation of trustees not living in the village; we need a rule that can be tracked and verified so the situation can be dealt with. I'd like to add to that an attendance requirement. I don't care if the village board meets twice a year or 200, but trustees should be attendance for the vast majority of the time.
At the Chamber of Commerce forum I came to realize that village politics do not have to be dominated by people with engaging public speaking skills. This is a small town, so if we choose, we can elect someone who is shy, or suffers from stage fright, or whose reflective personality doesn't lend itself to quick, off-the-cuff answers. We also don't have to vote for one person because it will improve the chances of someone else being elected. No, we can actually choose to vote for the people that will put the best foot of New Paltz forward.
Sorry I don't have any endorsements, or even decisions, quite yet. Elections are just too important to rush.