Over the past few weeks, as New Paltz town and village politicians have played fast and loose with the Open Meetings Law, Freedom of Information Law and Municipal Contractual Law (as reported in this paper), you may be wondering what all the “storm and stress” is about.
It’s about the consolidation of our town and village governments and whether a coterminous form of government would be the best way to achieve this. What is a coterminous government and why go in that direction? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer and I’ve been following this issue as closely as anyone for many years. I do know that the majority of our elected politicians think that coterminous is the best way to go; however, they have not helped the community to understand why. After more than two years of our local government’s focus on consolidation, only a tiny fraction of the 14,000 New Paltz residents has been involved in any discussion of this issue.
To add insult to injury, eight of the ten elected officials recently dispatched a lobbyist to Albany to lay the groundwork for a special act of the legislature to permit only New Paltz, of all the towns and villages in New York State, to become a coterminous government. This, when the town and village residents have yet to vote on whether they even want to consolidate! Only town council member Jeff Logan and village mayor Jason West fought to halt this ill-advised rush to push the special enabling legislation through the New York State Legislature. Only they opposed this ‘cart-before-the-horse’ solution.
Why is it better if the town and village consolidate? What are the arguments for and against? What are the benefits of consolidation for the residents and taxpayers? Can these benefits be achieved without consolidating our communities? The answer so far is “who knows.”
After more than 40 years of this issue being tossed around, and now more than two years of intense discussion amongst a tiny group of politicians and appointees, our community still has no clear delineation of the pros and cons of consolidation because the politicians have not broadened the discussion and invited public input.
If you are not satisfied that this small group knows best, one option would be to attend upcoming town and village board meetings and use the public comment period to call for any and all activities aimed at pushing through ‘coterminous’ to be halted. In this way, the citizens of the town and village could take back control of the process and demand a rational, orderly process of discussion. Not a discussion of coterminous. A discussion of consolidation.
The diversity of cultures and viewpoints typical of New Paltz is certainly something to be celebrated. Recently, however, I learned about the complexity of another kind of diversity which also adds to the richness of our community.
Chef Tom Ingoglia and manager Mike Katz of P&G’s taught me about the rivalry that exists between the “Giants/Yankees” fans and “Jets/Mets” fans — a rivalry that runs deep at the landmark eatery. Tom, a lifelong resident of New Paltz, is a passionate Jets/Mets supporter, while one of the ways in which Mike displays his loyalty as a Giants/Yankees fan is with the ‘Big Blue” logo tattooed on his calf. No need for a Yankees tattoo since, in New Paltz, if you support the Giants, it’s likely that you also root for the Yankees. A similar link exists between the Jets and Mets, at least at P&G’s.
The two sports aficionados estimate that 60-70% of the P&G’s ‘regulars‘ fall into the Giants/Yankees camp, 20-25% root for the Jets/Mets and a quirky few make up the difference. The chef, representing what he calls “Jets loserdom,” was forced to wear a Giants T-shirt during one entire Saturday night shift last year when ‘Big Blue‘ defeated “Gang Green” in an exhibition game.
As far as some of the other popular pubs and eateries in town, Kenny at Murphy’s confirmed that they are a Giants/Mets enclave, while Brian at McGillicuddy’s has noticed a strong contingent of Buffalo Bills fans showing up each year in the fall. He also commented that the fan base for all sports seems to swell for the team that is winning at the time! Like the other downtown hot spots, Cuddy’s aims to please by featuring all the popular seasonal games. Meanwhile, Garvan at Shea O’Brien’s would likely tell you that, although all sports are given equal time, the ‘real football’ is best played in Ireland.
Governor Cuomo visits New Paltz
Last week I attended Governor Andrew Cuomo’s first public announcement and explanation of his Tax Free NY initiative. It is meaningful that he chose New Paltz and our SUNY campus as the venue for this event. We all need to learn more about the details, which are now available at https://www.governor.ny.gov/2013-tf/tax-free-ny. From what I heard at the event and have since read, I know one thing: If enacted, this will be a big deal for New Paltz. It has the potential to have as significant and positive an impact on our village and town as the arrival of the Thruway and the Rockefeller years of investment in the 64 SUNY campuses statewide. We all have reasons to learn more before adopting a position for or against this proposal. Exciting times ahead.