Planning/Ethics Board Member Removed
by Doug La Rocque
At a public hearing on Wednesday, April 21, the New Lebanon Town Board voted four in favor with one abstention, (Board Member Norman Rasmussen) to remove Robert Smith from both the Planning Board and the Ethics Board for cause. The cause, as elaborated at the meeting and viewed on TownHallStreams, was the allegation that Mr. Smith refused to pull up a mask at a March 17 Planning Board meeting, as is part of the town’s COVID-19 policy. When asked to do so by board chair Elizabeth Brutsch, then referred to her as a b**ch.
As the public hearing/special meeting progressed, Town Attorney Jon Tingley outlined the procedure by which a sitting board member could be removed, with Mr. Smith’s attorney countering that state law says one cannot be removed simply for stating an opinion. Her contention was that was all Mr. Smith was doing.
Also entered into evidence were four affidavits, three of which testified as to Mr. Smiths comments, while the other supported his actions of that evening.
Following the attorney’s statements, Supervisor Tistrya Houghtling offered each board member a chance to speak, with Jesse Newton asking Mr. Smith if he cared to apologize for his statement. Mr. Smith answered no. Asked by the Supervisor if he wished to make any comments, Mr. Smith was heard to refer to the Supervisor as a b**ch, his wife as a b**ch and used the term to refer to all women. He also reiterated his actions did not support removal.
With little more discussion, the board then voted to remove him from both positions. It will now be up to the Town Board to fill the vacancy on Planning and Ethics Boards at a future meeting.
The meeting was then adjourned.