What was slated to be a ho-hum New Paltz Village Board meeting with only one agenda item quickly turned to an all-out attack on mayor Jason West by his four trustees.
Following the public comment portion of the meeting, deputy mayor Sally Rhoads read a statement that she was resigning as Mayor West’s deputy mayor, due to several comments that he made about the joint town/village consolidation Finance Committee in which he called them “liars,” as well as her feeling that instead of participating in the consolidation process, he has “chosen to stonewall and obstruct” the process.
She said that, while she always knew that she and West respectfully disagreed on consolidation, in “recent weeks, it has become clear that I can no longer sit by and tolerate his maligning of my colleagues and his recent and still-continuing defamation of respected community members who have worked long and hard for tax relief for our taxpayers.”
This came as a complete “surprise” to West, who said that he greatly “respects Sally,” and is “sad that she is resigning,” but that he “completely respects her decision and her reasons.” He said that he has never been “against consolidation,” but rather the process, from the “Fairweather report, which left more unanswered questions than it did answers,” and that he “engaged in the process from the very beginning, writing a 36-page response to the initial report, which was never acknowledged or responded to. I was told that the Finance Committee would answer all of those questions, and I trusted they would, and I waited. When their report finally came out, there were so many contradictions and incorrect figures that I was astounded. It’s not personal; it’s a professional opinion.”
West said that he was not going to “throw the village under the bus for a poorly written, researched consolidation plan that could ultimately hurt them, just to make ‘friends’ with my board members or others.” Could he have chosen better words to the press other than “liars”?
“Yes. It was in the heat of the moment. I said it and I regret it, and I certainly did not mean to intentionally offend anyone,” said West. “I was upset with the contradictions and false conclusions of the report. I was fed up for being attacked because I was the only one who kept asking questions, demanding answers; and, as it turns out from the joint meeting, I’m hardly the only one! They have silenced the public so much that even your pro-consolidationists are against this plan.”
Not good enough for Rhoads, and not good enough for trustees Brian Kimbiz or Stewart Glenn, who also felt maligned by West when a Times Herald-Record article came out quoting West’s Facebook page, which said that he was soliciting candidates to run for the two open positions in May, and that he would not be supporting Kimbiz nor Glenn because they lacked the work ethic that he felt was essential for the job. The problem for his fellow trustees was that this was posted on Facebook and never mentioned to them, and the next thing they knew, a reporter was calling.