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South Glens Falls Planning Board chairman resigns after sexist remarks

South Glens Falls Planning Board chairman resigns after sexist remarks

He cited Bible in comments made at December meeting
South Glens Falls Planning Board chairman resigns after sexist remarks
Chairman David Linehan, who cited the Bible at a Dec. 13 Planning Board meeting.
Photographer: Ann Friedman

SOUTH GLENS FALLS — The chairman of the Planning Board in the village of South Glens Falls resigned on Wednesday, nearly a month after he requested that Mayor Harry Gutheil choose a male for an open board position.

On Monday, the Glens Falls Post Star reported comments by Chairman David Linehan, who cited the Bible at a Dec. 13 meeting.

Linehan told the newspaper, “If you go back to the earliest years of Creation, God created man first. So it was man’s responsibility to make sure the woman didn’t eat from the Tree of Good and Evil.

“So if I had a man who was sensitive to the idea that man didn’t do a good job of reminding the woman, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in.”

The Planning Board is composed of three women and two men.

On Wednesday, Linehan sent a resignation letter to the Post Star and the village.

The resignation letter read, “The Planning Board chair has decided that his faith is very important and helps form and prepare him for my daily duties. 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.

“I have decided to submit my resignation to the Village Board to better focus on daily duties at Jim Girard Landscape Maintenance Corporation and the customers we serve.”

Linehan said he decided to resign because of the comments he made on Dec. 13.

“What I said wasn’t appropriate,” he said. “We have to be more sensitive to others and relate to other people more than we relate to ourselves.

“You’ve got to be really careful what you say to people and it wasn’t appropriate.”

During a conversation between Planning Board members Brigid Martin and Thomas Wade before Wednesday’s meeting, Martin said she called for Linehan’s resignation.

“I said stop and he laughed at me,” Martin told Wade regarding Linehan’s comments at the Dec. 13 meeting. “I reported it to the mayor and the attorney and they did nothing.

“When the press asked him, he went in a whole ‘nother direction.”

Wade told Martin he was not present at the Dec. 13 meeting and if he had been he would “have told [Linehan] to stop when he opened his mouth.”

Wade continued to Martin, “[Linehan] shouldn’t have said it, but I don’t think it calls for a resignation. I’ve heard a lot worse in my lifetime.

“Maybe he should attend a sensitivity class taught by 10 women.”

When Linehan called the meeting to order, he announced his resignation to Wade, Martin and member Gayle Osborne.

Planning Board member Debbie Fitzgibbon handed her resignation letter to Gutheil minutes before Wednesday’s meeting.

Linehan’s said to the Planning Board on Wednesday, “I’ve been rationalizing the whole thing and I talk worse than that at work.”

In response to Linehan’s resignation announcement, Wade said, “I can’t see why you can’t step down and go to sensitivity training.

“It’s a terrible thing that happened, but many people make mistakes and are able to continue with their jobs.”

Martin told Linehan that she was sorry about the situation.

“I know we have lighthearted meetings and did think like everyone else that you might be joking, but you didn’t back down and you didn’t change your mind,” she said. “You stood by what you said and said that you weren’t misquoted.”

Linehan told the Planning Board members that despite his resignation, he would serve the village in any way that he could.

Deputy Clerk Randi White said she couldn't recall any complaints filed against Linehan in the three years since she's been in the position. 

Gutheil said he wasn’t shocked at the news of Linehan’s resignation, which he found out about Wednesday morning.

“I was town supervisor for 11 years, chaired the county board, and now I’m mayor, so I don’t get surprised by things today,” he said. 

Gutheil said there is a vacancy for an alternate position on the Planning Board and another opening because of Linehan’s resignation.

“I hope we get qualified people who want to step up to the plate,” he said. “Everybody who lives in the village is welcome to apply.”

Gutheil added that he wants people who want to serve the community for the right reasons.

“We don’t want anyone with an agenda,” he said. “We’re going to find the best candidates for any position whether they’re employees or appointments, we’ll have the best candidates. We won’t get into gender or religious issues.”

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