He wasn’t in the room, and elected officials tried to avoid even using his name, but Tim Rogers drove a lot of the discussion at Monday’s reorganizational meeting of the New Paltz Town Board. Rogers, a member of the New Paltz Central School District Board of Education, was not reappointed to a full term on the town’s Planning Board at the last Town Board meeting of 2014, over concerns about conflict of interest. The fact that a discussion about the issues surrounding that decision — including the possible siting of a sewage treatment plant adjacent to New Paltz High School — is scheduled for January 15 wasn’t enough to keep board members from bringing him up.
Town Board member Kevin Barry did so during the public input portion of the reorg meeting, in response to a letter that fellow council member Dan Torres wrote to the New Paltz Times regarding the failure to reappoint Rogers to the Planning Board. In that letter, Torres wrote, “The notion that Tim’s role on the School Board posed a conflict is not based on legal opinion but a dubious argument asserted by councilman Kevin Barry.”
Barry responded by quoting State law on conflict of interest, which he said has “broad application regarding divided loyalties.” Rogers could have recused himself from voting on a School Board resolution denouncing the proposed sewage plant, but because he “did not ask if recusal was prudent under the circumstances,” he placed his loyalty to the school district over his loyalty for the town.
Also in his letter to the editor, Torres stated, “Councilman Jeff Logan said he would not go against the wishes of the Planning Board chair when it comes to appointments. Therefore, I found it especially troubling when I subsequently learned from Planning Board chair Mike Calimano that this was not an accurate representation of his views.”
On this point, Torres apologized to Logan, because Logan had since provided Torres with e-mails indicating that Calimano had not supported Rogers’ appointment to a new term. Torres explained that he’d written the letter based on what Calimano had told him, and later learned that the Planning Board chairman had contradicted himself.
In that e-mail conversation, obtained by the New Paltz Times, Calimano discussed his position on Rogers’ reappointment, which Logan characterized as not being in support when the issue had come up at the prior meeting. In an e-mail to Torres, he wrote, “In the case on Tim’s reappointment, there was no ‘executive session’ with the Town Board. In fact, I did not realize that the Town Board was considering appointments at last week’s meeting and only found out about it on Friday. I believe that the Planning Board should reflect the diversity of the town, which generally lead to good dialogue at the Planning Board meetings. I certainly had disagreements with Tim at the Planning Board meetings — most times on procedures and sometime on policies, as expected with any new member of the Planning Board — but Tim did his homework and did ask insightful questions.”
To former Town Board member Kitty Brown, he explained, “I agree that I had disagreements with Tim on planning issues, but it was Jeff who informed me that the Town Board was against the reappointment of Tim.”