I am proud to support One Community Party members Pete Healey, Sally Rhoads, Martin Sherow and Stewart Glenn. I firmly believe that this slate embodies the right blend of experience, compassion, openness and diversity, all qualities that become particularly important when we face critical decisions about the future of New Paltz.
The One Community Party can draw from over 100 years of combined experience in local government issues. Not only do they have the ideas necessary to envision progress, they also have the proven ability to make those ideas a reality. As we emerge from years of inaction, we have Pete, who successfully engineered numerous initiatives during just one year on the Village Board, including transportation and safety enhancements. As we develop strategies for unity between our governments, we have Sally, whose involvement with unification is unparalleled. As we face budget cuts and workforce reductions at all levels of government, we have Martin, who has facilitated contract negations at the state level. And as we continue to struggle with recession, we have Stewart, who has brought his legal expertise to economic development enterprises throughout the Hudson Valley. For a community at a crossroads, these individuals have the record necessary to effectively manage change.
I am continually impressed by the collegial and honest demeanor that characterizes their interactions, whether in a meeting or over coffee. With the One Community Party, there are no surprises. Each member is comfortable discussing sensitive issues with fairness and respect, often imbuing humor, common sense and rationality into controversial topics. This is not a group that demands a single opinion; instead, they recognize the advantage of civil discussion, embracing the validity of all opinions, even when those beliefs are different from their own. They demonstrate perspective and foresight, and perhaps most importantly, they transcend political motives, acknowledging that “right and wrong” are not the property of particular parties. These are not career politicians; with the One Community Party, we get all of the savvy without the self-interest.
As former Village Clerk, I have witnessed the detrimental effects of secrecy across two administrations. Instead of backroom deals and dismissive debates, the One Community Party brings a refreshing commitment to openness. FOIL requests won’t be stonewalled, information will be readily available in a variety of formats, and communications will be responded to quickly and respectfully (whether received by telephone, mail, e-mail or other electronic channels). This Village Board will not surprise each other with sensational plans already underway or respond to would-be volunteers with silence. They have reliably advocated for transparency in their past community work, and will bring that core value to their work on the Village Board.
While this slate may not reflect diversity in a traditional sense (I’ve heard them jokingly refer to themselves as the “gray-haireds”), Pete, Sally, Stewart and Martin reflect a broad cross-section of this community. Among these four individuals we have the authentic perspective of renters, home owners, business owners, environmentalists, labor advocates, student activists, taxpayers, landlords, parents and many more. Yet amidst these many differences, One Community Party candidates show a deep and universal commitment to one basic principle: making this community a better place for everyone, regardless of who you are or how you got here.
This is a negotiation
Once again, the New Paltz School Board has proven that they cannot properly negotiate a contract. The deal they made with the principals, as outlined in the March 31 story in the New Paltz Times, says the principals gave back about $28,000 this year in exchange for job guarantees for the next three years and raises over the following two years. Job guarantees! How many of us have job guarantees? None, I would suspect. Yet this school board voted 5-2 to give away any flexibility they had in future school budgets in exchange for $28,000 in concessions. Brilliant negotiating.
Further, the article talks about the cumulative employee “sacrifices” of about $132,000 or the equivalent of two teacher’s salaries, giving the impression that this would save two jobs. That cannot be the case, since the cost of a teacher is much more than just salary. It includes all overhead associated with the job, (benefits, electricity, etc.). That makes the cost of a teacher significantly higher that the $67,000 quoted in the article. It is less than honest for the board to not include these costs. I suspect that the givebacks will barely save one job.
There is a letter written by a gentleman asking for approval of the school budget, even going as far as to ask for a higher tax increase. He then blames “fear” as the reason for voting down the proposed 5.25% tax increase. Fear has nothing to do with the ability to pay our school taxes. Money pays our taxes. A lot of money. When I tell people who don’t live in this district what my school taxes are, they are stunned at the high amount. We are paying school taxes that are the equivalent of Westchester County, but without the high median income that residents of Westchester have and without the quality and reputation that some of the Westchester school districts enjoy.
I will not vote for a 5.25% school budget increase. It is the height of arrogance for the board to even propose this increase, much less recommend it for approval. This increase is almost three times the much-publicized 2% tax cap and is proposed on top of our already catastrophic school tax bill.
Do I wish that the community was in better financial shape and could absorb these increases on behalf of our children? Of course I do. But the reality is that in this economy, everyone has to sacrifice.
Good sign of life
Although I’m not a village resident, I feel the New Paltz village mayor’s race on May 3 is the best sign of life I’ve seen here since last year’s massive revolt against the $50 million middle school restoration.
Newpalzians are very good at stopping big evil things like a Walmart, the Crossroads project and the middle school restoration scheme, but apparently not very good at getting the right people to lead. This year, hopefully, it may be different. The mayor’s race seems to have three interesting candidates in Jason West, Pete Healey and Jonathan Cohen. Village trustee Jean Gallucci is also running for mayor, but I know little about her.
Of the three candidates, I like the Groovy Blueberry Party’s Jonathan Cohen the best because I’ve known him for years and he is an outsider to the political clique that runs the town and village of New Paltz. More importantly, it is because he has promised to reduce the mayor’s term of office from four years to two. This would correct what I feel was one of the Village Board’s biggest mistakes. The four-year mayor’s term (which I believed was instituted in the Jason West administration) reduced the accountability of the mayor to the public. By the way, Jon was knocked off the mayor’s race ballot four years ago under suspicious circumstances.
I’ve always admired the former, energetic New Paltz mayor Jason West’s innovative ideas for New Paltz. However, I think he made a big mistake in not informing and involving the people of the town and village with his plan to marry same-sex couples. I don’t think we should find out about important issues affecting us when network satellite trucks are parked outside the Peace Park. Also, Jason was a big supporter of the defeated $50 million school bond and even made promotion videos (along with town supervisor Toni Hokanson) supporting it. I’ve heard school board member and fellow $50 million school bond clique member, KT Flusser, is Jason’s campaign manager. The plot thickens.
Speaking of plots; as I was writing this letter, I noticed that a show that I made for my 7 p.m. Friday time slot was pulled from airing. Apparently, the public access TV committee of two (Don Kerr and Andrea Russo) felt it was too “political” because it included a rally and interview with Jonathan Cohen. They actually quickly drew up new rules this week to remove videos supporting candidates. I noticed they did this after a month of airing ads for a Jason West fundraiser. That apparently didn’t bother public access TV chairman Don Kerr.
All of this once again proves that the people of New Paltz have to do more than vote down an outrageous school bond scheme or project in our effort to make a better community. We have to keep the architects of political cronyism, favoritism and corruption -- that belong more in a Middle East sheikdom than New Paltz -- from controlling us.
Equal and fair treatment for candidates
As a member of the joint New Paltz Town and Village Public Access Committee, I believe that Channel 23 offers an opportunity to hear from political candidates at election time. There are several candidates running for office in the upcoming village election.
I believe that the guidelines we chose at our recent meeting will help ensure that all candidates receive equal and fair treatment. Without pre-empting scheduled government meetings for one month prior to the election, there are now prime viewing slots reserved on Friday and Sunday evenings and Sunday afternoons for political programs. Candidates are encouraged to submit DVD’s no longer than 20 minutes long so that everyone can be heard during these times. Videos will be broadcast sequentially in the order in which they are received. You can find a copy of the Channel 23 Program Policies and necessary submission forms at town hall.
Candidates debates and forums sponsored by neutral parties will not be limited to these times.
Good luck to all of you and thank you for your offer to serve,
Apologies and an explanation
As Public Access Coordinator for Channel 23, I would like to extend my apologies to Bill Mulcahy and Jonathan Cohen for not informing them in a timely manner about the recent implementation of political programing guidelines.
Those guidelines were adopted on Monday, March 28 for reasons explained elsewhere in the newspaper. It was my responsibility to have called Bill to inform him since he had a program on Jonathan Cohen’s mayoral candidacy that was to repeat on Friday, April 1, having run the previous weekend. Unfortunately, according to the new guidelines that were to begin April 1, any political candidate show needed to be 20 minutes or less and Bill’s was nearly an hour long.
To tell you the truth, it was a simple brain freeze and there was no ill intent meant, although it may easily be seen that way. In the long run, his show and Mr. Cohen’s voice were not heard that weekend due to my error. The 20-minute interview of Bill Mulcahy’s interview of mayoral candidate Jonathan Cohen will run this Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m., as well as repeats on Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 23.
Public Access Coordinator
New Paltz Channel 23
Support for Pete Healey
I have known Pete Healey for many years. Through the years, we have had many conversations over cups of coffee about local and national politics. There are many qualities that impress me about Pete and these qualities are why I strongly believe he is the right person to be supported and elected mayor of New Paltz. For over two decades, he has been committed to making this community a better place to live in. Whether it was during periods of time he served as a village trustee or as a private citizen, he has actively participated in New Paltz life and improved our community through his involvement.
Pete is a vocal supporter of inclusive government where the broadest number of voices and constituents are part of the governing process. Pete has advocated for one government for close to 20 years, going back to early efforts in the 1980’s. He was instrumental as a trustee in putting together and encouraging the village and town board’s to pursue the $50,000 grant which supports the New Paltz Government Efficiency Project. Though not a member of the study’s working group, he attends meetings regularly, as well as the Community Advisory Committee meetings. He hosted a program on New Paltz public access television to help educate the public about the issues.
Pete loves New Paltz. He worked tenaciously to maintain and strengthen New Paltz’s public access television station when it was in a fledging state. He himself hosted a weekly program where he interviewed a cross section of New Paltz residents over a variety of local issues important at the time. Pete is well informed about the central issues of today impacting village and town residents. With Pete’s help, I believe we can overcome the stalemates of recent years and finally reach conclusions to the betterment of the village and town.
People who know Pete well knows he is passionate about issues such as improving government efficiency and improving the system of government to make it more representative of its citizens. He is a strong believer in inclusive political discourse. Pete is an individual with impeccable integrity and endless energy. Pete’s roots in New Paltz are deep and strong. I have no doubt if he is elected, he will be an effective and a tireless worker, making New Paltz a better place to live in.
Save New Paltz. I want your vote
I am honored to again be running for mayor of New Paltz on the Groovy Blueberry ticket. As you know, we stand for open mindedness, fair treatment to all (golden rule), inclusion, open doors, education in lieu of legislation, encouraging the use of green technology, taking care of basic essentials (i.e. clean drinking water and a village where raw sewage does not flood our streets during storms) and full government transparency.
Many know me as the owner of the Groovy Blueberry (your local mom and pop independent Main Street retailer for 14 years), father of four, homeowner, local property owner and friend. It is time for the community to know me as an advocate and a voice of the people.
I first discovered New Paltz in 1970 long before my family and I moved here in 1997. I have always prided myself on my independence, trust and ethics. Therein, I propose that as mayor, residents of the Village of New Paltz will have full access to all meetings and decisions impacting our community. There will be no legislation without referendum. Though meetings must be run efficiently and utilize time to its maximum, all meetings will be open to reasonable questions and comments from those wishing to attend and participate at all times during meetings.
Along with this open-door policy, I believe strongly that the commitment to the title of mayor should be one of moral obligation and not financial. Hence, I will not, if given the privilege of being elected, be taking a salary, I am not a career politician. I wish to set an example from the top that volunteerism requires sacrifice from all of us. Supporting this, in my campaign I ask that any parties interested in donating to our cause should direct their financial support to the New Paltz Volunteer Fire Department (checks made out to the New Paltz Fire Department), or cash can be dropped off at Yanni’s Restaurant on Main Street. I would implore my fellow candidates to take a similar stance to advocate within our community a sense of charity and volunteerism.
That being said, our village needs to thrive. We need to support our local business district with better parking alternatives. I believe strongly in creating a parking lot which would grant us the opportunity to expand our integrity and capacity for economic growth and at the same time give our residents a place of refuge when the village requires them to remove their vehicles during snow emergencies. Where some of my fellow candidates feel the village should be able to put a cap on large corporate businesses, I believe the success of businesses should solely be based on residential patronage (power of the purse).
One of the other major issues is the proposal of a new village noise ordinance. I am the only candidate strongly against this unconstitutional, discriminating political threat against the village. We are a responsible, yet uniquely diverse community and should not be held captive by this kind of fascism.
As we are all awaiting the results of village/town efficiency and effectiveness study, I purpose for the time being a new era of cooperation between town and village (like a marriage without a piece of paper). I am excited and honored to represent this great village and look forward to nurturing our many incredible village resources using our local government to network people and to think out of the box, thus by working together and challenging ourselves to be more creative and to solve our many problems. Feel free to contact me with any ideas or questions. Call me anytime at 256-8787. Come meet and speak with me on May 1 at Blueberry Fields (corner of Main and Water streets) for free food, bounce houses, live music and interesting discussions. All are welcome! Bring your own frisbee. Let’s preserve New Paltz as an oasis of natural beauty and freedom of expression.
Let’s all save New Paltz together...let freedom ring. Vote Jon Cohen for mayor on May 3.
Martin Sherow: The unknown
I recently learned of the candidacy of Martin Sherow for village trustee and am writing with great excitement for the Village of New Paltz.
I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Sherow at a human services agency five years ago and as the manager of the facility, I can attest to the sheer decency, honesty and upstanding integrity of this man.
A tremendous strength of Mr. Sherow is his unfailing selflessness and attention to the needs of those around him. I had the honor of working side by side with this man and had the opportunity to see him up close and personal. He is an advocate for those who have no voice and makes his point known without hesitation, but has an incredible and innate ability to take in all opinions.
Aside from our professional alliance, I have had the opportunity to see Martin as a family man as well. He is devoted completely to his children, their well being and their future. He is the exactly what the Village of New Paltz needs at this time -- honest, fresh, new and a leader that the people of the Village of New Paltz will get to know as I have and I assure you, will be proud of.
James R. Rahm