SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Saying he was contrite and made remarks “unbecoming of any servant,” Planning Board Chairman David Linehan resigned Wednesday.
“Please know that I now consider the remark made to Trustee (Nick) Bodkin at last month’s meeting as prehistoric and unbecoming of any servant (public or private),” he wrote in a resignation letter that he also emailed to The Post-Star. “I sincerely apologize to you Brigid (Martin), Mayor Gutheil and Trustee Bodkin — with a contrite heart — because all of you are sincere in your efforts to better the Village of South Glens Falls. I most of all will need to apologize to friends of the (World Wide Web) who are also deserving. The many apologies will be a heavy lift — but I do believe anything is possible.”
Linehan had asked Bodkin, as the Village Board representative, to consider choosing a man for the next appointment to the Planning Board. There are currently three women on the five-member board, with a vacant seat for an alternate member.
Linehan defended his request Monday by citing the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Good and Evil. He said that story indicated that men are “a little more considerate and mindful of what the rules are.”
But the mayor said gender would not be a factor in any appointment, and the Conference of Mayors said gender also could not be a legal factor.
Linehan faced quick criticism from others, who viewed his remarks as sexist.
Board member Brigid Martin, who was the most recent appointee and pushed the board’s gender ratio to 3-2, asked him to resign.
Martin said he should resign because his comments were “bigoted.” She worried that he might not treat women as well as men when they present projects to the board, and said it was possible he would “not put the law before his faith.”
“I do not see how the board can do the people’s work with such direct gender bias,” she said.
Linehan said he now saw his remarks very differently.
“I obviously need to practice my faith a bit more diligently. Believe me when I say that a good and contrite confession is on another agenda,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
In his last act as Planning Board chairman, he asked members of the board to attend Wednesday night’s Village Board meeting and give the board a status update on a zoning change request.
Linehan was first appointed to the Planning Board in 1987 and had been the chairman for nearly 30 years.
Linehan had, until now, an unblemished record and was well respected by applicants and Planning Board members, some of whom said they had assumed he was joking when he said he wanted a man to be the alternate member.
While Linehan made it clear he was not joking, he took an unusual step and did not blame the newspaper for printing his controversial remarks. In his resignation letter, he thanked a Post-Star reporter for her work.