As much as I lament the election results that put Bob LaPietra on the Cobleskill Village Board of Trustees, attempting to enjoin LaPietra from assuming office, as the existing Board members tried, was a foolish maneuver. For the time being, we must accept that the people have spoken (however foolishly) and as a result LaPietra’s service on the Board of Trustees ought to begin when scheduled and continue uninterrupted until the criminal charges against him are proven in a court of law or until he loses an election.
But village officials, including all five current members of the Board of Trustees and Village Attorney Meredith Savitt, claim that if Bob LaPietra is convicted of the numerous felony counts he has been charged with, it will threaten the validity of Board actions undertaken while he was a member. Yes this reasoning seems to reverse the concept of being held innocent until proven guilty. However, it actually is a semi-legitimate reason for keeping LaPietra off the board, in case you think its purely politics.
Having said that, however, the voters of Cobleskill must bear some accountability for electing the man fully knowing what he’s been charged with. I can understand the appeal of laPietra to the average voter. Surely it must have been very psychologically satisfying pulling the lever for LaPietra. Village morale has been low for a long time and any new blood was viewed as a good thing.
LaPietra also very likely benefited from the widespread perception that he was being railroaded for his vocal criticism of Village Board members. The Times-Journal only fueled the fire when it editorialized that the charges against LaPietra were in part attributable to his “lightning rod personality”.
It is understandable that voters want to stand up for the underdog. However, when voters elect a man indicted on over a dozen felony counts, they must bear the responsibility for what happens when and if he is convicted. For that reason, current trustees have no business attempting to spare the village any inconvenience or embarrassment that might arise from LaPietra’s being convicted of the charges against him. He is the now the Village’s cross to bear.
I do hope Cobleskill residents enjoy the press coverage they’re going to get if and when LaPietra is convicted and must be removed from office. I’m sure it will be quite a story on the nightly news. I know I’ll get a kick out of it.