The unsigned anti-West election eve attack postcard that I received at home on the day before the mayoral election -- with accusations too late to refute -- was one of the more cowardly and sleazy things I have seen in a local election.
Calling on the New Paltz Times to employ its resources to investigate and report: Who paid for that despicable mailing? Who has embarrassed our election process with this sort of gutter tactics? The individuals who orchestrated this unsigned mailing have chosen to hide -- begging the question of who they are.
This was SUCH an honorable and responsible campaign until that postcard. We are better than that.
Support Brian Cournoyer for New Paltz School Board
More good news -- not only has the New Paltz School District produced an admirable school budget for the coming year, but an outstanding member of our community, Brian Cournoyer, is running for school board.
This has been a difficult budget planning year for all school districts in New York -- coping with $1.5 billion in state education cuts and double-digit increases in benefits. In New Paltz, the administration, BOE, teachers’ union and many other district unions compromised to minimize the negative impacts on our school system. Brian was an active public contributor in the community involvement during this recent budget planning process.
Brian is running for the Board of Education because he believes in the importance of an excellent public education for our children. He is the father of a nine-year-old boy, and soon-to-be stepfather of an eight-year-old girl in the New Paltz district. He is an exemplary candidate, due to his ability to listen to all sides of an issue, have thoughtful contributions to a discussion and capacity to help build consensus. Brian has a strong moral center, is well informed, humorous and has an optimistic view of the future. As we enter more difficult years ahead for our district, Brian will be a positive force in our school system. Please join me in voting for Brian Cournoyer for New Paltz School Board.
Vote for wisdom on school board election
Please cast your vote on May 17 to re-elect our incumbent school board yrustee, Patrick Rausch. I make this recommendation without any reservation. As a school board trustee myself, I have worked closely with Patrick on such issues as the auditing of the school district books, financial procedures and financial planning through the district Audit Committee, as well as lowering our next budget and tax levy. Throughout those years Patrick and I have had our differences and challenges, which have served to enhance our knowledge and depth of issues, rather than divide us. I can always count on Patrick to be honest and fair in all board decisions and school operations. Over the past 13 years he has developed an institutional knowledge and wisdom that stabilizes the board, by asking the right questions and by voting for issues of equity that have impacted our children, staff and community. After May 17, the board will be faced with decisions regarding facilities maintenance and long-term financial planning. Patrick’s administrative and financial planning background is essential to do what is right for the school district, our children and for the community. Patrick has been significant in working hard these last months with the board to preserve teaching positions, educational programs and in decreasing the tax levy. Although, I have a long history representing our New Patlz community on the school district going back to 1973, I continually learn from Patrick and depend on his guidance and wisdom. Patrick brings a broad perspective when voting on an issue, knowing how it will impact the children, staff and community. Patrick also represents the fistrict on committees and special task forces. Patrick is often a team player, yet will not go along with the group if he feels an inequity or injustice or when politics enters the voting process. Patrick has no political agenda. He does not follow the ‘group think’ to get his ego or personal needs met. Patrick believes in diversity in the current mix of the board, believing diverse opinions help produce the best agenda decisions and guidance for the school superintendent. He believes the school board’s work is to guide the superintendent and not the other way around. I guess this is why Patrick and I can disagree, yet work hard together to work towards our common goal of making the New Paltz School District the best it can be without sacrificing values and community needs.
The current economic situation of our nation is fragile and the next two-to-three years is a critical time for all of us. The composition of our seven-member school board is extremely important and we need Patrick to represent us. Unfortunately, our current school board is guided by political block voting. However, you can count on Patrick to vote with integrity. You can count on Patrick to be fair-minded. You can count on Patrick to continue to do an excellent job for our school system. Please join me in voting for Patrick Rausch as school board trustee on May 17.
Please keep in mind that there are two seats available and four candidates. Next week I will make a second recommendation from among the three other school board candidates. As it has been my practice for many years, if you have any questions about my recommendation or any issue in the school district please feel free to call me at 255-9652.
I endorse Maria Peterson and Kim Sweeney
I’ve been mulling over “conflict of interest” and “code of ethics” policies for several school boards, both New York State and out-of-state boards, to determine what a representative policy is with regard to a school board member whose spouse or family member is employed by a school district. Most school districts/boards do not permit a school board member whose spouse is an employee to have an interest in a contract relating to their spouse or other family member employed by the district.
For example, one policy reads: “A school board member whose spouse or dependent child is employed by the school district shall not participate in negotiations, discussions or vote on the contract relating to their spouse or dependent child.”
Another policy states: “A board member who has a personal or private interest in a matter proposed or pending before the board, shall disclose such interest to the board, shall not vote on it and shall not attempt to influence the decisions of other board members in voting on the matter.”
Al Barone is a seated member on the Highland School Board and is seeking reelection. His wife and sister-in-law are employees of the district. Mr. Barone has participated in contract negotiations and has voted on contracts relating to his familial relationships. Although no law(s) have been broken, I do not endorse Mr. Barone for another term on the Highland School. It’s time that we have objective representation on the board. I endorse Maria Peterson and Kim Sweeney.
Meet Brian Cournoyer on May 5
In economic tough times for all, we must always remember that the education of our children is a very important thing. We must have the best teachers and buildings and programs in place to keep our community’s educational standards up to the level of greatness that we have achieved. We must always be thinking about energy and environmental factors when thinking about educational system decisions. And, we need to smartly balance this all with the community’s ability to pay for it.
When a person who has a child in our schools and has already shown a dedication to the district decides to run for school board, I for one want to support him. School board is a thankless job that needs to be done. Without good, smart people who are willing to dedicate themselves -- and I remind you VOLUNTEER -- to do this job, our school district will go down the tubes.
Brian Cournoyer actively helped with analyzing the challenging budget proposals this year without even being on the school board. Given his participation this year, he is now already familiar with the process of constructing a budget with taxpayers in mind. He has a daughter in the district and is environmentally conscious. Most importantly, he understands the value of public education as a public good.
Check out “Brian Cournoyer for New Paltz Board of Education” on Facebook. You can also join Brian to talk with him about the upcoming election, his candidacy and the challenges our district will be facing in the next few years at a campaign kick-off on Thursday, May 5, 5 to 7 p.m. at McGillicuddy’s Restaurant at 84 Main Street.
Hats off to Patrick Rausch
I’m writing this note in support of the New Paltz School Board candidacy of Patrick Rausch. He’s been my neighbor much longer than he’s been on the board and through the years I’ve never know him to act unfairly or impulsively. His ideas are always well thought out and he’s willing to speak his mind. He’s also willing to listen and consider other viewpoints. Experience is the best teacher and over the years he’s learned a lot. We all know these are tough times and like other districts, New Paltz is facing some hard decisions in the near future. I trust Patrick to act with the greatest integrity and the best interests of both our students and community at heart. I always ask him each time he brings around the petition to run yet again why he’s willing to keep on doing this demanding time-consuming task and his answer is always the same. “It’s for the kids and I want to help make a difference.”
My hat is off to Patrick (and the other candidates also) who are willing to take on this awesome responsibility! Let’s do our part and remember to vote on May 17.
Getting to know Brian Cournoyer
My name is Brian Cournoyer. I am the father of a nine-year-old boy and soon-to-be stepfather of an eight-year-old girl who attends school in the New Paltz district. I’m 39 years old and a resident of the Village of New Paltz. For the past nine years I’ve been employed as a sales representative for Dutchess Beer Distributors.
After attending many of the 2010-11 school board meetings centered around the budget plan for the 2011-12 school year and being part of a community group that was actively involved in developing that budget, I decided it was time to get more personally involved with the process of educating our children. Running for a seat on the board seemed like a logical next step.
I believe education is one of the most important formative experiences of a child’s life. Giving our kids the best education possible is the whole point of the public school system, and if we take that as our starting point, every other consideration, from staff and salaries to programs, activities and sports to special education flows from it. From the standpoint of a taxpayer, a good school system only enhances property values and makes the district more desirable to potential home buyers and businesses. A great school district is a win for everyone.
Some of the issues I support:
-- Modern programming and curricula that will prepare our children for the future. A balance between the sciences and the humanities is important to a well-rounded education.
-- I am a strong supporter of reforming the way public education is funded. The current property tax system places too great a burden on lower- and fixed-income property owners. Additionally, I think we should be focused on ways to get the most out of every tax dollar by eliminating waste and investing in ways to make our schools more energy efficient.
-- I support our teachers and administrators. They do a great job for our kids, and we should make sure they have the funding and tools they need to continue to do so into the future.
-- As the father of a child who until this year was classified as having special needs, I support a strong special education program that includes teachers, aids and psychologists wherever and whenever needed.
-- I favor an active dialog between the board and the public. Communication and community support are essential to foster an understanding of the complex issues we face.
-- Finally, I enthusiastically support the proposed 2011-2012 school budget.
I am always open to different points of view and welcome ideas from other parents, teachers and all members of the community. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have either here on my Facebook (Brian Cournoyer for New Paltz Board of Education) page or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Time for a change in Gardiner
At the April 12 meeting of the Gardiner Town Board, some bright genius picked either the first or the second week in May for people to go out in front of their property or the road that they live on to clean up any trash on the side of the road or in the ditches. To me, it seems like our town supervisor’s ludicrous idea. He thinks he is king of the hill, but he must have been left out when they handed out brains. This clean-up should be done no later than the first week of April. Anybody in their right mind at that time in the spring shouldn’t be walking around when the poison ivy and poison oak are in full bloom and at its most dangerous. When the town supervisor was questioned about it, he did not even acknowledge the question or look at the person asking the question.
Another bright subject that was brought up was the spending in Gardiner. After 45 minutes it came down to they are spending more than they are receiving. It didn’t take a genius to figure that out. The Gardiner Town Board has been warned a number of times about their irresponsible and excessive spending. Once again, the king of the hill town supervisor ignored the warning and refused comment.
The Town Board seems to have trouble making money. A fine example of that is the tens of thousands of dollars lost in the celltower fiasco for the last six-and-a-half years. From what I see, it might go on for another six-and-a-half years, which is no surprise.
From what I hear, the Gardiner Town Board has given the Open Space Committee $50,000 to promote open space. That is not counting the money they have spent in the past. They say most of this money has been donated. When you try to ask if the town has given any taxpayer money, you get no answer. This Gardiner Town Board seems to cater to special-interest groups, long-time influential residents and political organizations. They forgot that they were elected to serve the majority of the people. There are three members on that board who are up for reelection, who have the majority vote and are responsible for all this excessive spending.
Don’t take my word for it. In January 2012 when you get your tax bill, you will once again see a higher tax bill. Many town residents warned the Gardiner Town Board about their actions, but they choose to ignore them. If you are not one of the gang, they do not listen. There are only certain people who are very influential who they cater to.
Come November, it is up to the Gardiner residents to elect two Town Board members and one town supervisor. If you choose to reelect the same people, who for ten year have been spending the tax money for their own agenda, you will deserve what you get. I will not vote for these people or support them. It is up to you, the Gardiner town residents, to decide.
Henry V. Tortora