Doug Irish doesn’t live in Queensbury anymore. He doesn’t even live in New York.
Doug Irish is living in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he has taken a job as department chairman of the vehicle collision and refinishing program at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
Good for him. But what the heck is he still doing on the Town Board?
He hasn’t gone to a Town Board meeting since July 3, missing five meetings. He won’t be able to get to one until mid-October, maybe. At that point, he will have missed almost a third of the year in Queensbury.
Even someone with Irish’s notorious self-confidence and outspokenness can’t imagine he can be a good public servant without living in the community he serves or going to the meetings of the board he serves on.
New York’s Public Officers Law has something to say about this situation, under the category of “Creation of vacancies.” A vacancy is created, the law says, under one of eight conditions. The following is the fourth condition:
“His ceasing to be an inhabitant of the state, or if he be a local officer, of the political subdivision, or municipal corporation of which he is required to be a resident when chosen.”
Irish is no longer an inhabitant of Queensbury (he’s not even an inhabitant of New York), so his office, under the law, is officially vacant.
It’s irrelevant that Irish still owns his house in Queensbury, because the law doesn’t say anything about residences. The critical question is, where is the person an inhabitant? Irish is an inhabitant of Fayetteville.
Beyond the law is the propriety of the thing. It’s improper to get elected to public office, then try to hold onto your position when you move out of the community.
Even if Irish flies back for meetings starting in October, as he says he will, he will still be living in North Carolina, not Queensbury. He won’t be driving in town, shopping in town, socializing in town.
When you’re a Town Board member, you should have a sense of the pulse of the community.
In Fayetteville, Irish won’t know if Queensbury has a pulse.
If Irish had been upfront about his plans, he could have resigned back in July, and his constituents could have been represented by someone all summer.
Instead, he was keeping secrets and now is trying to perpetuate the fiction that he can remain in touch with a community and represent a district from 750 miles away.
Doug Irish has embarked on a new adventure, and we wish him luck. But he needs to let go of a position that is neither legal nor proper for him to hold.