Mayor Deflects His Social Media Outing Of A Sex Offender Who
Reportedly Bought Property In Port Jervis To City's Housing Problems
Statistics from a 2015 community profile report on Port Jervis were startling

            Following up on his first Port Jervis Mayor Facebook post that identified a man convicted in 1997 for sex crimes and who reportedly bought property in Port Jervis, Mr. Kelly Decker then wondered what "lured him to Port Jervis."  Although the mayor, a former Port Jervis policeman, stated in his original post that the sex offender "just got out" he seemingly failed to see that the crime was punishable by a sentence of no more than 10 years in prison.  Neither did he apparently know that this person was paroled in 2005 and has no further record of incarceration by New York State.   Unless the mayor had other information not included on the New York State Criminal Justice website he cited then his "just got out" comment appears false.        

          What that official record does show is that the individual, whose former address was on Madison Avenue in New York City, has no "special conditions for supervision."  To be clear, rape and other sex crimes are very, very serious offenses that too often carry with them life-changing consequences. Just the same, facts are facts, the law is the law, and it is likewise true that there already are a number of registered sex offenders in Port Jervis.   Yet in a demonstration of Olympics worthy mental gymnastics, after giving it some thought the mayor somehow backpedaled to conclude the real issue is housing.   On this point he wasn't completely wrong.  For despite the great improvements seen downtown and with the opening of recreational trails, for instance, Port Jervis does have more than a few continuing problems.   Unfortunately, housing is just one of them.
          In 2015 Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, a not-for-profit organization in Newburgh, New York, released a report containing a load of statistics about Port Jervis.    One of the more startling findings noted that 65% of renters in Port Jervis faced unaffordable or severely unaffordable housing costs.  Likewise revealing was that while 10% of Orange County households received food program assistance, in Port Jervis that number at 24% was more than doubled.   Similarly, the median income for a Port Jervis household was just a little better than half that in Orange County on a whole.   High housing costs and low household incomes aren't a winning combination.

          Mayor Decker and other Port Jervis elected officials are responsible for dealing with some extremely difficult financial challenges facing the city.  Such problems are so severe that state government in Albany has the fiscal health of Port Jervis on its radar.  Adding the cost of defending against potential lawsuits like the one that resulted when the common council approved an  illegal local zoning law that discriminated against a church shouldn't be among them.   Worse yet, the mayor of a community with a history that includes the lynching of a black man on Main Street should know that inflaming the public with fear and emotion can provoke devastating and even fatal outcomes.   Our era of social media's immense power to influence makes that truth more evident than ever.   Importantly, it is one thing for someone to post a personal opinion on their own Facebook page but because of the weight and potential legalities it carries, quite another when it comes from an elected offical on a page that is specifically associated with Port Jervis city government's mayor.

        There's no arguing that sex crimes aren't dispicably horrible acts or that a high-risk registered offender moving into a neighborhood isn't reason for concern.  But why the mayor decided to single out this individual to the exclusion of all others remains to be seen.   It can only be hoped that violence against the offender stemming from the Port Jervis Mayor's Facebook posts do not result in him having blood on his hands that further stains the character of a community already burdened with identity issues, a bad reputation, and plenty enough problems as it is.

Posted 4:18pm 27 June 2017 on Port Jervis Mayor's Facebook page



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