Land is, by definition, dirty, and it's generally accepted that money doesn't mix easily with politics. So when there's a suspicion of shady land dealings by elected officials, it's fair to call it "dirty politics."
The scenario: New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet and council member Kevin Barry had a meeting with schools superintendent Maria Rice, to discuss how the district could solve its facilities problems by expanding the high school campus. I'm told that Rice claims that Zimet and Barry initiated the meeting, but that they disagree and claim it was Rice's idea.
The problem: Barry owns a tract of land adjacent to the high school property, and could stand to gain if the district took his suggestion, and also decided that buying his land was the best way to do so. Barry did disclose being a part owner of the parcel on this town financial disclosure form, and has voluntarily agreed not to sell it while in office.
The analysis: I've been reviewing information about the underlying state ethics rules, and it seems pretty clear that Barry has created an "appearance of impropriety," which means that it looks like he's up to something. Obviously, his promise not to sell while in office simply means he could resign if he got a good enough offer. Or transfer his interest in a way that wouldn't legally be considered a sale, but would still allow him to profit.
But despite there being an appearance of impropriety, I don't believe that there's been an ethics violation. Since an appearance of impropriety exists, Barry should recuse himself on this issue. But it's not a town issue, so it will never come up. In fact, even if Barry were actively trying to convince the district to buy his land, I don't think it would be an ethics violation, because his personal interest (selling the land) does not in any way conflict with his public interest (the residents and taxpayers of the town), at least not in the direct ways that the law requires.
There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about Barry's behavior in this case, but so far as I can tell he's done his homework, and hasn't done anything wrong in the law's eyes. As I like to say, and all attorneys know, if you want to be able to wriggle out of something, make sure to put it in writing.