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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Paltz divided in redistricting plan

The Ulster County Legislature approved a redistricting plan which divides New Paltz, village against the rest of the town.

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.

23 comments:

john logan said...

A redistricting plan that recognizes villages as viable political communities is just what is needed. We have three villages in Ulster County and each has been awarded its own legislator and that's the way it should be. (Ellenville seems to have a considerably extended district).

The redistricting commission deserves our praise and thanks for an extremely difficult job well done. Is the plan perfect? No. Could any plan be perfect? No.

The plan, as presented by the commission, largely respects town and village lines, is within population guidelines as set by the courts, shows no particularly partisan protection of incumbents, and even allows Democrats an outside chance at control of the legislature. What more could you want?

John Logan

Terence said...

John, I agree that the commission accomplished the job it set out to do. The fact that the only significant split for New Paltz is along an already-existing line is a good thing.

Whether or not it's good for consolidation may depend upon whether or not our legislators like each other, or choose to run the section of New Paltz as separate fiefdoms rather than parts of a whole.

bd said...

what C R A P !!! This was done to placate the Dem leadership. No wonder old school Dem - John Logan - likes it.

It was done to keep Hector & Zimet, not for any other reason, the Dems like to lie & say it was done to maintain the "integrity" of the villages. HOOOEY !

If ya believe this I have an oil field in Israel you might want to buy, too.
SHEESH. I never cease to be amazed at the SPIN you folks buy into.
" Pay no attention to the Man behind the curtain"

I have been involved with this "non-partisan" process since the beginning & i have seen the Dems' puppet, Dare thompson, manipulate the Commission since the inception.
Wake Up People,,,

Terence said...

I don't know if I like or dislike the results, but I agree with Butch's opinion that it was NOT non-partisan. I thought it would be until I discovered that the same rules which prevented NOTARIES from serving had no prohibitions against political party committee members and officers. Seriously, how can a party chair be even close to non-partisan?

john logan said...

The commission seems to me to be quite well balanced - republicans, democrats, and independents. If anything, it might lean to the conservative side, but, it seems, to the distress of b.d. (a character from Doonsbury ?), the conservative side was well balanced by a strong, well informed and intelligent woman with, perhaps, a more liberal slant on politics.

If NY State law prohibits notaries from membership on a panel such as out reapportionment commission, the law should be changed. But, this complaint about the make-up of the commission is nothing more than an attempt to distract us from the facts of the real accomplishment of the commission - a plan better and fairer than any we might expect from a handful of town political party chairmen sitting down to secretly
whack up the county for their selfish benefit.

Too bad, b.d., but there is no plan you could devise in your wildest dreams that would not favor the election of two Democrats from the New Paltz area.

John Logan

Martin McPhillips said...

Does a sort of perpetual and willful virginity as to the most obvious facts account for the ongoing perplexity about why the village is carved out of the town and why the town outside the village is also a horse of its own color?

Despite some inconsistencies, the distinction couldn't be any plainer: Core built-up settlement with sewers and water mains vs. rural and exurban spread-out place with septic tanks and wells. These conditions precipitate different senses of culture and approaches to life, especially civic life. Town-outside-the village New Paltzers see and understand the village differently than do village New Paltzers. Nothing remarkable about that, and a smaller village government accomodates that difference in viewpoint.

These are different elements of a delineated geographical place called New Paltz, for which some practical wisdom in the past dictated two municipalities, one within the other, so that things common to both could be handled by the town government, while things distinct to the core other are handled by the village government.

It's not rocket science. It's not a grand mystery lost in a mysterious past. There is some competition between the two governments, which is good. Some checking of each's authority by the other, which is good. And though in the larger scheme of things it might not seem important, it has its own degree of importance in daily life around here and something vital will be lost if it is surrendered to the latest iteration of the recurring civic fad to do away with it.

I would take more village if I could get it: get out of the arrangement with the town on police, for instance. Invite the gendarmes from campus to have more to do with the problem created by the presence of the campus in the first place: the bars. Their mission is to protect the safety of students, so let them play the dominant role in the problem where students face the most risk. Major crimes are for the state police to handle. A small village constabulary can provide oversight and handle peace among the notoriously uncriminal permanent population. Students go straight into the hands of the campus police on minor matters. Killers, rapists, and bank robbers go straight to the troopers. Any overnight guests can be given a ride to that wonderful Ulster County facility. The town of New Paltz made the first move here by relocating the police two miles away from where most of the need for police exists. Jump on the opportunity.

And whatever the motives behind the redistricting by the County legislature, they took a clear and obvious and dare I say natural path according to the nature of the thing they were dividing.

Terence said...

My dream would of course be for districts populated by people who don't care about party registration, and prefer to do the hard work of deciding who to vote for themselves instead of voting a party line.

Terence said...

Martin, your approach to police is the opposite of what I prefer.

University police have no obligation to this community, and are uncooperative on every level. Town police are beholden to a commission of local citizens and local elected officials. When I made identical FOIL requests to both, I got my info five days ahead of schedule from the town police; the Unis had a man stonewall me until after I filed a written complaint against him.

I want to dissolve the college's police and require that they pay their fair share of the local force. Police forces not directly tied to their communities are a terrible idea.

Martin McPhillips said...

The campus police are tied directly to SUNY, which generates the revolving population that drives the bar scene, which is the major scene of problems the police have to address.

SUNY pays no taxes to the New Paltz municipalities, and that is never going to change, so your idea of having local police replace the campus police is an expensive and unrealistic one for people who do pay taxes. A rather heavy penalty to pay for a faster response to a Freedom of Information request.

The approach I suggest actually allows SUNY to contribute to the cost of policing a problem it substantially creates, relieving the tax burden on both villagers and residents of the town outside the village for the policing that they now pay for.

In fact, the approach I suggest -- going back to separate village and town police and letting the campus police handle much of the bar problem -- should substantially cut the police budget for both municipalities.

This idea that creating larger consolidated bureaucracies will save money reflects no understanding of bureaucracy, which, undisciplined by market forces and funded by government compulsion, never fails to have sugar plums about the need to expand its services dancing in its limited imagination.

Terence said...

Martin, who do you think policed the campus before they had their own police? The change happened in the last twenty Dener minutes, I believe.

Terence said...

Anonymous, turn off your CAPS LOCK and sign your name, then I will publish your comment.

Martin McPhillips said...

Before the State of New York established the university police and put them in charge of security at the various SUNY outlets, the New Paltz campus was policed by local campus security consisting of several members and who (going way back to when I was there) were unarmed. They were, in police vernacular, somewhere between "square badges" and real police, because they worked in an official capacity for the state through the local campus administration. The director of campus security when I was there was a retired New York State trooper of some standing.

I'm not sure if there was any intervening status between when I was a student and the coming of the armed state university police. It's conceivable that an outside security contractor was brought in to handle the job, but I don't know whether that ever happened or not.

I'm sure that when there was a serious crime on campus that the state or local police were called in to handle that. But the everyday chore of watching and policing the campus belonged to campus security.

Now the state university police are a good-sized and serious police agency, fully capable of looping their jurisdiction down a few hundred yards to the downtown strip at night to cover a problem that is really more theirs than it is that of local residents. And it would be a very good move for them to take charge of it.

Terence said...

Your description matches my recollection. Public Safety handled scuffles and called the police when necessary. I liked that model because the police were under the control of the local citizenry. State police are not, and it shows in their arrogance. I don't ever want to live in your dream New Paltz, Martin.

Martin McPhillips said...

Terence, it's just unseemly to retreat to that sort of dramatic "I don't ever want to live in your dream of New Paltz" business. You're not making an argument, and I'm not having a dream.

We have a law enforcement problem ("the bars") created by the presence of students at the state university; the state university has a police force whose chief mission is to protect students. There's no dark dystopian dream at work if the university police handle the law enforcement problem engendered in the first place by the presence of the students from the state university.

At the end of the day the police are the police and they are no more likely from one department to the next to be any kinder or gentler. The outfit on campus doesn't want complaints made against it any more than the town police do.

It always pays to be professional.

Anonymous said...

@Martin, these so-called distinctions of yours, the "built-up urban areas with sidewalks, water and sewer, street lights, etc" versus the so-called "rural" town landscape, are just so not-real any longer.
Look at your end of Huguenot Street, you have no water and sewer, no street lights, and if it got any more rural, there would be horses hitched to the post by your front porch.
Then look at Cherry Hill, or Duzine Road, or Meadowbrook Apartments, or the entire uptown business district- lights, sidewalks, water and sewer, night clubs, etc.
You're making it up as go along, in order to make reality fit your narrow political views. Give it up, man.

Martin McPhillips said...

"Despite some inconsistencies." Did you see that qualifier? I'm not describing Platonic forms, but general and dominant characteristics.

Yes, there are some built up areas in the town just surrounding the village. Now, drive in either direction on Rt. 32 or out on 208 or toward the mountains on 299, and get some bloody perspective for yourself.

I do have municipal water at my *end* of Huguenot St., though not sewer. I'm out just beyond the sewer line, and at my *end* of Huguenot St. there's even a farm. What's that got to do with the core characteristics of the village?

And use your name, please, if you're going to address me by mine and tell me that you know where I live.

Anonymous said...

"Dominant characteristics" you say? What about the proposal to build hundreds of apartments "just across the line" and supply them with municipal water and construct their own sewage treatment plant? What "dominant" characteristics are left to describe in this so-called urban-rural divide you imagine?
Oh yeah, there are a couple hundred people who live an upper middle class suburban lifestyle on the west side of the Wallkill, but if you call them "rural" I'm going to spit, and so are they. There is nothing rural about their lives.

Martin McPhillips said...

Let's review the most basic facts.

These numbers are from the Village of New Paltz and Town of New Paltz Wikipedia pages, which use the 2000 census for population data.

The area of the village is 1.8 square miles (5 square kilometers). The area of the town, inclusive of the village, is 34.3 square miles (89 square kilometers). That means that the area of the town outside the village is 32.5 square miles (84 square kilometers), nearly 17 times the area of the village.

The population of the village is 6,034, while the total for the town, inclusive of the village, is 12,830, which means that the town outside the village has a population of 6,796, roughly the same population as the village but spread across an area about 17 times as large.

The population density of the village is 3,482 per square mile. The population density of the town, inclusive of the village, is 374 per square mile. But divide the 32.5 square miles of the town outside the village into the population of the town outside the village, 6,796, and you get the population density of the town outside the village: 209 per square mile.

Let's repeat that: Population density in the village is 3,482 per square mile; population density in town outside the village is 209 per square mile.

On these facts alone, before getting to infrastructure and a necessarily different political culture, what distinguises the village as a distinct inner municipality within the town could not be clearer.

Terence said...

Martin, I use the FOIL example to illustrate how a bureaucracy, when it is unfettered by any realistic need to respond to its constituents, will fail to fulfill even the simplest tasks. College students are indeed a revolving population, and the college administration recognizes their perpetual ignorance and plays on it heavily.

Because you're suddenly pretending to be far more ignorant than we both know you to be, I will spell this out again. SUNY dissolves its police. Town police handles the campus, and sends the college a bill. It's not called taxes, never will be. Town police, which are used to dealing with grown-ups, are more mindful of the rights of all all citizens, even the stupid, young, drunk ones.

Tell me again where the problem lies?

Anonymous said...

You think that SUNY New Paltz would or could dispense with its state university police force? And then pay for the town police to handle the campus?

Ahhh..uuummm...that is not going to happen, Terence. The campus police are part of a state police agency dedicated to SUNY. On what possible basis do you think that SUNY New Paltz would or could get rid of them and then compensate the town of New Paltz for police service that the state had already provided them with? Not in a million years would that happen.

My proposal is to get the SUNY campus police to loop their coverage a few hundred yards down from the campus to the bars so that they can handle the primetime crime problem. That is a practical way to get SUNY off of free rider status and helping with expenses that the campus creates. The campus police have shown a willingness to be flexible about extending their jurisdiction, so there is nothing outrageous about that part of my proposal.

What is slightly outrageous is my suggestion that the village get out of the policing arrangement it has with the town and re-establish a village constabulary. I think it would be less expensive for village taxpayers to do it that way, allowing the campus police to handle primetime bar work, letting the state police handle major crimes, perhaps even work the Ulster County Sheriff in for some things, and maintaining just a small village force to oversee the jurisdiction, and use the Ulster County jail for any overnight lock-up needs. At the same time that returns political control over general village policing to the village.

This curtails the expansion of the town police bureaucracy. And hopefully shrinks policing costs, for both village and town taxpayers. It is already the biggest budget item for the town "A" fund (expenses for the town inclusive of the village). Adding personnel to cover the campus, as you suggest, though way unlikely if not impossible, is exactly the wrong direction precisely because it expands the bureaucracy.

As for students being vulnerable to police abuses, college administrators are generally afraid of students, which is why they now trend toward overcompensation. The case of Justin Holmes, from a few years ago, was an example of wild overcompensation, but he didn't really get railroaded until he found himself in the local court, and even the Ulster County DA pitched in for that one. (And the local "activists" pretty much drooled in their soup while that was going on.)

The students will fair much better if they spend some of their organizational money to keep an attorney on retainer to handle campus police abuses. They don't need any local "parenting" to cover that for them.

Martin McP

Terence said...

My vision is harder to achieve, Martin, because it would involve addressing the problem of college-community relations on a statewide level. I believe that having their own police force is just one part of the problem.

Are you also having trouble logging in to comment? This appears to be a growing problem and it may require a radical solution.

Anonymous said...

I think that the college (or any college) having its own police force is way way down the list of its problems, but that's another discussion. I'm just interested in having a good sound village government, not dissolving it into the town. Having its policing responsibility back would be good, too.

Yes, the Blogger/Google log-in is not working today, but it's not working across the Blogger universe as best as I can tell. I have a couple of Blogger blogs and one of those is doing the same thing, looping me back to a Google sign-in that does nothing but send me back here which then sends me back there.

Martin McP

Terence said...

I can't reply to Gmail using Chrome (the open source browser Google coopted), and I can't approve comments using Firefox. Wordpress may be in the Gadfly's future if we can work out the migration details.