The meeting was about to adjourn when Rausher requested that a letter he had written to the full Planning Board subsequent to its March 20 meeting be read into the record.The letter outlined what Rausher perceives to be a conflict of interest when it came to how the board had dealt with an application by board member Paul Colucci:
"When applicant Paul Colucci appeared before the board [on March 20], he was treated differently than any other applicant. He was allowed to strut back and forth instead of remaining sitting, to use a bullying and belligerent tone in an attempt to intimidate members of the board who questioned his application," Rausher wrote. "I believe the chairman, biased because of his friendship with the applicant and the applicant's status as a member of the board, did not act in a neutral and objective manner, and allowed the applicant to act in a manner unacceptable at any other time."This led Colucci to respond rather angrily:
Colucci flared up at the accusation. "To stand here and make a statement like that, I think it's irresponsible," he told Rausher heatedly. "I take offense to it."Rausher, however, stuck by his guns and said that Boylan should recuse himself from any decisions involving Colucci's application:
"In order to maintain the full faith and confidence of the community, it's our job to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest," said Rausher, adding that in Boylan's case, in his view, "There is an apparent conflict of interest that a reasonable person might suspect to be true. It's a simple matter to recuse yourself. I don't think you should be chairing the board during these discussions."Boylan then said that, in small-town U.S.A., everyone already knows everyone, so there's no way to avoid such conflicts. Colucci, however, has recused himself in the past, so it shouldn't be a big deal for Boylan to do so now, Rausher said.
Rausher then added that he feels this is yet another example of the petty corruption seen in small towns:
"There's a reason why small towns have a stereotype of being rife with cronyism and old-boy networks, because to some extent it's true. . . I'm not the only one who thinks this is a problem."Indeed, Mark; this blog is in agreement with you. Cronyism is how these networks manage to perpetuate their interests at the expense of the residents of a community. Planning boards are the very nexus of this kind of petty corruption.
Keep it up, Mark. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Note: This article appeared in the April 26 print edition of the New Paltz Times, a publication that is more interested in preserving its brand than it is in engaging the community. Hence, no link, as the story is not, nor will it ever be, available online.