New Paltz: Jason West’s agonies

The Daily Freeman, out of Kingston, New York, reported several days back that Village of New Paltz mayor Jason West has been caught red-handed by Vici Danskin, doyenne of all that is decent in New Paltz:

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — A village resident has asked the Village Board to remove Mayor Jason West from office, saying he’s moved outside the village boundary and violated state laws in a recent election.

Victoria Danskin, in a letter to the board, contended West listed a former address when he signed candidates’ nominating petitions this year and a polling place sign-in book when he voted in the May 7 election.

“Jason West’s actions display disregard for correct process for public business and the critical importance of valid local elections,” Danskin wrote. “… He openly shows total contempt for the very basis of representative democracy.”

I have to be impressed by the forensic detail of Vici Danskin’s sleuthing, though I am reminded of Det. Mick Belker’s immortal line while working undercover in a poultry shop in an episode of Hill Street Blues: “Lady, could you pass a test like that?

The backstory on this, holding to the side for a moment the general animus that Danskin may or may not have for West, is that Danskin is an adherent of New Paltz’s current civic fad (there’s always at least one going), which is the absolute belief that the village and town governments must be consolidated, and West, much unlike himself, resists the contagion and so casts himself as the scapegoat who must be purged.

Other than the fact that there would be no clear benefit from consolidating the two governments, and that there is good reason for the village to continue to exist as it is, the belief that they must be consolidated is a perfectly good fad to keep the usual busybodies, well, busy. Danskin’s commitment to it goes above and beyond the call of duty.

West, of course, merely had to be careful about how he handled his stay across the village line, but instead misplayed it, hence this latest tempest in his fair trade coffee mug. Not that he doesn’t deserve it.

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