Donah says DWI statements were taken out of context

TUPPER LAKE – A discussion on public transportation here ended with an apology from village Trustee Rick Donah.

During Monday night’s meeting, the village board discussed whether there should be a shuttle service from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from the Little Wolf beach to Municipal Park during the Little WolfStock event this weekend.

Tupper Lake fire Chief Carl Steffen told the board there was also talk of shuttling people to various locations around town, including motels and bars, but he said that would require a chauffeur’s license. Village Mayor Paul Maroun and Trustee David “Haji” Maroun said the village shouldn’t be responsible for providing that service.

Donah said the issue speaks to the larger issue that Tupper Lake needs a public transportation upgrade, whether it’s by means of a taxi service or a nonprofit transportation group like Mac’s Saferide taxi service in nearby Old Forge.

“We need to do some outreach and try to incentivize somebody to start a taxi service here,” Donah said. “It’s an expensive proposition, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying.”

Donah used that topic to segue into a statement regarding comments he made during the board’s June 16 meeting. At that time, Donah questioned village police Chief Eric Proulx on the occurrence of driving-while-intoxicated checkpoints in Tupper Lake and asked if businesses could be given notice before those checkpoints happen.

Proulx explained that state police run the checkpoints, and that their purpose is to stop drinking and driving. He also said state police are under no obligation to warn anyone about when or where DWI checkpoints would take place.

Donah, who manages P2’s Irish Pub in Tupper Lake, said that the checkpoints are bad for business and tourism.

Before his apology Monday, Donah claimed his statements were taken “out of context in the newspaper.”

“I’d like to simply apologize to anyone if I have offended them, if they felt my statements regarding DWI roadblocks were in any way meant to infer that the police shouldn’t do their job in enforcing DWIs,” Donah said. “I’m very sorry to anyone who may have lost a loved one, or suffered at the hands of a drunk driver. I’m in no way advocating that driving under the influence is acceptable or should be overlooked in the name of tourism, nor would I characterize our patrons and friends as drunks in the community of Tupper Lake.”

Donah then repeated his claim that what he said was taken out of context, but this time he added that the Enterprise was responsible.

“Simply, what I said was, which was left out of the article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, was that we look after our patrons,” Donah said. “We try our best to do what we can for them. It’s a small community. We struggle. A lot of the businesses are struggling to stay afloat. It wasn’t meant to say that enforcement of DWI is not important. It is very important. I do my best personally to ensure everyone gets home safe, which I did Saturday night, taking home the last two patrons in our place.

“It’s not fun being in this position, and sometimes people like to put it in the paper and make it sound like you said something you didn’t really say.”

Upon reviewing the recording from the June 16 meeting, the Enterprise found that Donah did reference looking after his patrons, and he was quoted saying that in the June 25 story: “When I have a full bar of people and I have to get in the car and drive someone home, it inconveniences my other staff and it’s a problem for me, but I’ll do it.”

But Donah also said state police fail to recognize that DWI checkpoints negatively affect the business community here and are a turn-off to tourists.

“When tourists come through town, they don’t necessarily get a welcome wagon,” Donah said June 16. “Instead, they get, ‘Why are you coming here? What are you coming in here for? Where are you coming from?'”