A plea to “stop the arrests” for violations around noise, marijuana and alcohol in New Paltz

Many of the people who packed into the New Paltz village meeting room for the May 9 joint town-village meeting had one thing on their minds: stopping what they see as excessive citations of people for violations around alcohol, marijuana and noise. Speaking on their behalf, attorney Celeste Tesoriero presented a petition to that effect which had been signed online by 436 people as of the meeting. The petition seeks “a reasonable fine” in lieu of arrests for these “minor, non-violent, victimless offenses.”

Deputy Mayor KT Tobin spearheaded the response, which was focused on marijuana laws specifically. Possession of that drug in New York for amounts under 25 grams carries fines only for the first and second offenses, which are deemed violations rather than misdemeanors. According to her review of town court records, 97% of marijuana offenses result in adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.

Moreover, an attorney opinion indicates that to write a more lenient law locally would contravene “preemption doctrine,” and could be challenged by the attorney general.

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Tobin said that it appeared likely that further reform of marijuana laws might come in Albany this year, and passed around copies of the report debunking the “gateway drug” myth published through the Benjamin Center, where she works. “Many of us are interested in this issue,” she said.

Ryan Verity, of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, expressed skepticism that change would come at the State level soon, saying that such a bill has languished in the assembly for “decades.”

Tesoriero took exception to the tight focus of Tobin’s approach, which did not touch upon alcohol or violations of the village noise ordinance. That piece of legislation has been a hot-button issue; the last time there was a push to change it then-trustee Brian Kimbiz ran a public campaign to thwart amendments he said would be discriminatory to those who stay awake at night. In the end, the only change that was made was to put up a few signs that requested passersby be a bit quieter.

“You’re begging to be replaced,” Tesoriero told the elected officials at last week’s joint meeting, most especially for too readily agreeing with an attorney opinion based on a very narrow question, in her view.

Others who spoke during public comment spoke of the high involvement of town police officers in these issues, and described an environment of excessive policing. Some tried to compare this issue to the same-sex weddings held in the village before same were legalized by court decision, a comparison which Deputy Supervisor Dan Torres called “disrespectful.”

“You’ve never been arrested,” replied Tesoriero.

There are 21 comments

  1. A Proud Military Retiree

    Marijuana is illegal PERIOD! I don’t want that garbage in my community and around my family.

    1. Alt Right

      After the coming small nuclear war a new USA govt directed by President Trump and Mike Pence and jeff Sessions strict new Drug Laws will be enforced under a national law system of Law and order.

      We will rebuild America great and strong drug free. Death penalty and canning as in Singapore type laws will be enforced. Drug Dealers should get the death penalty.

      After NYC is Nuclear attacked and mostly destroyed the surving and starving population will obey all laws as food will be very scarce, and rationed to the survivors.

      If You survive the nuclear attacks on the USA You will be thanking President Trump for your govt rationed meals.

    2. William S. Burroughs

      Opiate deaths are down 6.4% in states of recreational marijuana, said the Poughkeepsie Journal yesterday. I get opiates and smoke dope. Ya never know?

  2. Villager

    We are hiring a lawyer at what cost to come up with this kind of crap? Why not just have a Smoke-In? Its a lot cheaper and we can all sing Kumbyah, my Lord, Kumbyah.

    1. Republican Conservative Voter

      You Will Be Quietly Taken Away To A New Govt Detention Center For Drug Users Where You will Be Sentenced To Hard Labor For Your Crimes Against Society of Promoting Drug Use.

      Soon we will have a 100% drug free America with drug testing of all citizens as in China and Singapore where Police have Legal Right to Drug test and arrest any citizen.

      Also we must make law of No Video Taping Police, Trump supports this new Pending Law, it must stop.

      SUPPORT NEW LAW NO MORE VIDEO TAPING POLICE A FELONY

  3. Villager 99

    Nobody can make “noise” without lowering property values, according to NY State real property law. The village abolished its assessing unit in 1978, uses the Town police department and the Town Courts as well. Why these numbskulls, with a lawyer no less, are showing up at the Village Hall with complaints about not being able to make noise is just that, noise. (It’s 10% off of property values if the noise is a valid complaint for the property owner.) Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

  4. Former resident

    Back in the 60’s they used to close off a side street off Main on weekend evenings and do some pretty bizarre things. Maybe revelers should have a designated play area? Even dogs have special parks to frolick in.

        1. Shalehead

          Sure did.
          In 1976, the town and village purchased the already privatized park including $75 for three picnic tables, barbecues, a cement pad with overhead wooden roof,swing set and a galvanized fence with an entrance/exit gate its southwest side. All that has been privatized, year 2,001 until today.
          Its a matter of public record.

        2. Taxpayer?

          The National Park Service sign and Department of the Interior sign were removed when the park was privatized. Craig Shankels of PDQ got paid for making the signs and planting them in front of the juniper bush, a pioneer species all butchered and mangled to hell now in order to give a line-of-sight to Bill Russel when he leaves the park. So much for public-property. All privatized, can only use the swing/picnic/barbeque area now if you pay to join the pool and go thru the new entrance on the south side of the park. Talk about a dip?

  5. S Rell

    The same people wanting less police presence, are going to be the same ones calling police when there’s a rise in mischief. Ridiculous

  6. your friend who's a lawyer

    The argument this group is making is based on a 73-year-old case involving illegal chicken sales in which the local penalty was harsher than the state penalty. The defendant argued that the local law was unconstitutional because it sought to regulate the same thing the state law regulated. The court affirmed the conviction. But the principle here is not that local governments can select and reclassify state laws at their choosing. Local laws can operate in concert with state laws “if such laws have substantial relation to matters over which legislative power is vested in the local legislative body of the city and are not inconsistent with laws of the State, they are valid ( Good Humor Corp. v. City of New York, 290 N.Y. 312)(emphasis added). Deciding that marijuana possession of an amount equal or above the weight spelled out in NYS criminal law for a misdemeanor is not longer a criminal offense is most definitely not consistent with the laws of the State. The best way to handle achieve the goal of fewer arrests is discretion- look the other way, let people off with a warning. Once you create an official record of an interaction, which would happen when you write a civil citation for something that should be a misdemeanor, you need to follow the law to the letter. Before that, you can do whatever. After that (in court), it can be dismissed. But not during- that has to be done a certain way.

    Noise is a different story as it generally comes from subjective complaints.

    Finally, police have the option of citation in lieu of arrest. It’s still the same charge, but it gets around the issue of arrests and their effect on human psychology which this group is interested in addressing. http://www.stopthearrests.com/index.html

  7. Not In Good Humor

    Noise is a scientific issue, not subjective? You get a noise measuring device from the police any day of the week, and turn it on and bring the results to the assessor, who will lower your assessment if only you are somebody with pull. Witness the noise problem on Huguenot street where the police chief himself came out with the device to deal with an illegal boarding house on the corner.

    As to Home Rule, every parcel in New York should be issued a Federal Identification Number for real property assessment in order to prevent village, town, county and state fraud.

    1. Village Resident

      Strongly Agreed, People Have No Right To Disrupt Or Disturb The Peace.

      Quiet Time Should Be 10:00pm-10:00am.

      1. Chief

        Set off the fire alarm on top of the Village Fire Department at 9 p.m. as a curfew for under 21 year olds. That will help the police budget.

  8. "The Postman Always Rings Twice"

    A weighted ounce of home grown dope in Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona is $100. Delivered to your crib too. In New Paltz, its $300, delivered. Not by mail, though, we all learned from that one.

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