New Paltz: The temptation to unload on Don Kerr

“He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

That scriptural mind bender from Jesus to a crowd about to stone a woman was invoked at a meeting of the New Paltz school board, held about ten days ago, by one of the Leftist professors from SUNY New Paltz. He’s not a religious person, he says, but he likes the sound of the Lord’s merciful approach.

Why is the professor saying that? Because one of the local Lefties who serves as a member of the school board, who was just recently elevated to the presidency of the board, got stopped a couple of years ago for speeding and the trooper could smell marijuana smoke in the car. The trooper then searched the car and found some pot and some roaches. Don Kerr’s case had been taking a long rambling ride through the legal system in municipal court out in Gardiner, the town adjoining New Paltz, and as fate would have it, the case reappeared again on the docket just as the rest of the school board members voted to make Kerr president.

The local paper, the Stalinpaltz Fumbling-Crapper,* owned and run by incompetents and staffed by virtually no one of consequence, put the whole thing on the front page, with lots of play, probably in part because Kerr asked them not to.

The case was shortly resolved, after the splash in the paper, with the Ulster County D.A. offering Kerr a plea deal that resulted in a reckless driving conviction. Kerr took it, wisely, and then…and then very unwisely claimed that by doing so he was “taking one for the team,” meaning the school district and the board.

That, as far as I’m concerned, is his real offense, that nauseating elitist bit of codswallop, and I find it sufficient reason to look at Kerr from an entirely new perspective, and it’s not a pretty angle. In days of old honor would dictate that Kerr resign from the board two years ago, on the occasion of being merely caught blowing the doobie while driving. The school district has one of those zero tolerance policies when it comes to students and is constantly reminding them not to use drugs, or else. Student athletes in particular are required to remain clean and upright when it comes to intoxicants of any kind.

The standard, from my point of view, for Kerr as a board member is that if he wants to smoke dope that he has a non-negotiable obligation not to get caught. Hypocrisy is the price that vice pays to virtue. Once caught, however, his duty is to step aside with a note of regret and a brief apology. No need for humiliating oneself if you simply do the honorable thing.

But no one seems to be doing that sort of honorable thing any longer. So, that standard has flown out the window. In the Therapeutic Society, honor is of negligible value anyway, and those in service to the Therapeutic Society are not expected to have any honor…because…of their service, of course. Service is so good that it trumps honor, every time. And it’s not only not a big deal, it’s barely any kind of deal at all.

But there was yet still an easier solution: Kerr could have modestly taken a pass on being elevated to the presidency of the board, despite the fact that it was his turn. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it’s virtually meaningless. He just says, “I decline the nomination.” It’s a simple nod to the priorities of the situation. He remains on the board and life goes on. It’s not real honor, but it’s close enough for public school work.

But, no, he doesn’t have the good sense to do that, nor do his friends and colleagues on the board have the guts to take him aside and urge him to wait until the presidency passes around again. Let time heal the still open wound.

So, what happens is that we get to find out how little sense of honor these folks really have, as if we didn’t know it already, and then we get to move on, leaving parents, kids, and homeboys scratching their heads about double standards and cronysism.

Fine. I’m not enraged by all that. It’s shitty, and shitty fits the school district like a glove. But then Kerr says the thing about how his accepting the plea bargain is “taking one for the team.”

That’s it. Seriously. I’m officially enraged. You do not want me officially enraged.

What does Jesus say to the woman after his mind bending wisdom disperses the crowd? He says, “Go and sin no more.”

He did not say, “Go and make a bloody fool of yourself and everyone else in town.”

My deep authoritative recommendation to Don Kerr is that he have a deep authoritative consultation with his conscience and that he make the deep authoritative decision to simply relinquish the presidency of the school board. Now, that is going to be a bargain.

* Yes, my newest name for the New Paltz Times.

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