Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What's to Become of the Old Police Station?

With the new police and courts building soon to be open, a reader asked, in a comment, what was to become of the old police building. The answer is that the City intends to sell it, along with the building next door that housed the City Court offices on the ground floor and Code Enforcement on an upper floor. 

The question prompted me to find a post published back in June 2015, just after appraisals for the two buildings, requested by the City, had been received: "How Much Are They Worth?" Twenty months later, it still makes an interesting read.

Hudson in the Local TV News

Last night, Hudson was featured in news on CBS Channel 6 Albany: "Hudson officers told not to help ICE agent in the field."


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

About That Order

Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton speaks about the order issued by the Police Commissioner yesterday regarding the Hudson Police Department and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a Lance Wheeler video now on YouTube. Click here to view it.


Demolition in Our Historic City

A little more than a month ago, we watched in horror and sorrow as a backhoe bashed down the walls of the last remaining Hudson River Knitting Mill building, after a devastating fire had rendered it irreparably unsound.

That demolition was tragic, because the building was loved and had a bright future.

Today, the backhoe was unleashed on another Hudson building: 718-720 Union Street.

Photo: Hilary Hillman

Of no known historic significance and deemed structurally unsound after years of misuse and abuse, the building went down today, with no one to mourn its passing.

Planning Board Meeting Rescheduled

The Planning Board meeting that was to take place on February 9 had to be canceled because we were in the middle of Winter Storm Niko. A makeup meeting has been scheduled for this Thursday, February 23. 

The public hearings that were to take place on February 9--on the proposals for 886 Columbia Street, 6-12 Hudson Avenue, and 34 Allen Street--will not happen until the Planning Board's regular monthly meeting on March 9. This Thursday, the board will hear the three new proposals that were on the February 9 agenda: to convert 124 North Second Street into a manufacturing site for sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables; to use the former church building at 426-428 State Street for public events and photo shoots; to reduce the number of parking spaces and erect an 8-foot fence at 78-80 Green Street. The proposal that typically attracts a crowd to Planning Board meetings, the Colarusso haul road will likely not be discussed. That project may, however, be on the agenda for the Greenport Planning Board meeting, which takes place on Tuesday, February 28, but that agenda is not available on the Town of Greenport website.

An Executive Order of Her Own

While the Common Council Legal Committee works on a resolution to declare Hudson a sanctuary city, Police Commissioner Martha Harvey and Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton yesterday issued an "Order on the Use of City Resources and Facilities." The order directs that "no resources, facilities, or property of the City of Hudson that are ordinarily or generally in the use or control of the City of Hudson Police Department . . . shall be made available for use by agents, officers, or employees of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") except as may be required by law." The full text of the order appears below. Click on the image to enlarge.


Thanks to Bill Williams at 98.5 The Cat for bringing this to our attention

Of Interest

Yesterday, this article about Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, appeared in the Albany Times Union: "Schneiderman vies to be top Trump foe." 

Thanks to Peter Bujanow for bringing this to our attention

The End of CCCA

Last summer, the Columbia County Council on the Arts closed its gallery at 209 Warren Street. In the spring, the group had applied for funding from the City of Hudson with the intention of staging ArtsWalk, an event that has taken place every October for more than a decade, and was awarded $1,000 by the Common Council Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee, but plans for the event were ultimately abandoned. Yesterday, the CCCA Board of Directors announced the end of the organization. Click here to read the board's farewell message to members and supporters.

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Have We Lost All Sense of Proportion?"

On Saturday, Ken Dow, our city attorney, posted this picture on his Facebook page, along with the link to the article from the New York Daily News it accompanied: "Nine people, including four children, barely escape U.S. border patrol to seek asylum in Canada."

Photo: Paul Chiasson|The Canadian Press
I was stunned by the realization that these people were escaping from the United States--fleeing a U.S. border patrol officer and being welcomed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And I was moved by Dow's eloquent reflection on the photograph, excerpts from which, with his permission, are quoted below.
Have we lost all sense of proportion? To those who say "they aren't supposed to be here--they have broken the law"--is that transgression so grave as to warrant ripping children from their parents, to dislodge children who have grown up here from the only home they have ever known? Is the simple act of being here worse than countless other offenses--other offenses that do actual harm?. . .
I am sickened to see our country led by a man entirely without compassion, empathy, or basic human decency, and appalled to know that a large portion of the people with whom I share this land either support that or find it acceptable.
I am saddened that so many Americans have retreated into fear, or have been led into fear, such that their fear has displaced empathy and humanity. There was, not too long ago, a time when an appeal to decency put a pause to another episode of harsh and reckless assault on those accused of being a threat.
Joseph N. Welch, Chief Counsel of the United States Army, famously shut down Senator Joe McCarthy with these words: "I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. . . . Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. . . . I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. . . . Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
Is there any sense of decency left to appeal to? Or, more precisely perhaps, is there any sense of decency toward people who may be different from us, or have we become so small and insular and tribal that only "our own" matter and all the rest are callously disposable?
Look at this child, fleeing government agents of the United States, in the arms of a welcoming officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I never thought I would see the day. Through the years, I have disagreed with and been critical of many things this country has done, and agreed with and approved of many others. But I have never gotten close to feeling what I do now.
We are not just seeing changes in policy. We are losing the moral essence of what we, as a nation, have striven toward and are supposed to stand for. To the extent the United States has been a beacon for the world, we are witnessing that light go out.

Happy Presidents Day

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Any Day Now

The signage has now been installed on Hudson's newest municipal building, the Hudson City Police and Courts Center.

At the Common Council Police Committee meeting on January 23, Chief Ed Moore predicted the building would open in March, which is now only days away. He also shared his intention to have an open house at the building before the police department and the courts moved in and began operations there. Gossips is looking forward to that open house happening in the next few weeks.

Life in Hudson in 1851

Hudson is often seen as a city of contrasts. A travel review in the New York Times last summer described Hudson as "a chic little city, albeit gritty at the edges and hippie at its heart." That same review went on retell this incident: "Nearby, a man with tattoos called out to me, 'Excuse me, is that an Ulla Johnson dress?' perfectly demonstrating the incongruous threads that bind the city."

Two items found in the same column of the Hudson Daily Star for September 30, 1851, with only two short items in between, give proof that incongruity, albeit of a somewhat different sort, existed in Hudson all those years ago. 


Defining "Sanctuary City"

As the Common Council contemplates passing a resolution to make Hudson a sanctuary city, there is uncertainty--among supporters and detractors--about what that exactly would mean. This morning, the question was taken up on NPR's Weekend Edition: "The Call-In: Answering Your Questions About 'Sanctuary Cities.'" If you missed it, it is recommended listening. Click here to do so.

Of Interest from WSJ Weekend

Alan Neumann, preservation architect and president of Historic Hudson, is featured in WSJ Weekend for preservation of another sort: marmalade made from Seville oranges and Scotch whiskey, available from Talbot & Arding.  


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Amtrak and Hudson

We are all grateful to Amtrak for removing the utility poles that marred the view from Promenade Hill, but we have something else to ask of them: to correct the information they share about Hudson in their route guides. The Amtrak Adirondack Route Guide, which describes the stops on the way from New York to Montreal, has this to say about Hudson:

Population figures for both the city and the Hudson Correctional Facility can be explained by the fact that the brochure was written before the most recent decennial census, but how does a village 23 miles away become "a largely residential suburb of Hudson"? And who could imagine that The Wonder Years, set in 1960s suburbia, was filmed in Hudson?

Far as I can tell, the closest connection The Wonder Years, which was filmed in Culver City, California, has with Hudson is that one of its creators, Neal Marlens, wanted it to be set in his hometown, Huntington, Long Island, but even that is a far cry from Hudson. Why didn't Amtrak mention any of the movies--Odds Against Tomorrow, Nobody's Fool, Ironweed--that actually were filmed in Hudson?

Thanks to Mona Coade-Wingate for bringing this to our attention

Another Night of Gathering in the Cold

People came together at the Columbia County Courthouse last night to support the immigrant community in Columbia County and to call for a stop to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detentions, which under expanded Trump administration policies are separating families. Not everyone in the vicinity of the courthouse last night shared those sentiments. Just after Bryan MacCormack of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement began speaking, the occupants of a car passing on Union Street were heard to chant "Trump, Trump, Trump."

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports on the event in today's Register-Star"200 gather at courthouse to protest detentions, call for justice."  The following pictures of the gathering were taken by Gossips. 


Friday, February 17, 2017

The Mayor Comments on ICE

In today's Register-Star, there is a followup article about the detention, by Immigration & Customs Enforcement, of three men in Hudson on Wednesday. The article quotes a statement from Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton:
After the actions ICE has taken over the past couple of weeks, it has become painfully clear that ICE, at President Trump’s direction, is disregarding the right to due process for undocumented individuals. We are now seeing firsthand the negative impact these actions are having on our neighbors: a daily reality of ever-increasing distrust, panic and fear. This flies in the face of the core values upon which our country was built. I have asked the city attorney to explore ways we can, as a city, form a more protective circle around the members of our community who are most at risk.
A resolution to declare Hudson a sanctuary city was last discussed in the Common Council Legal Committee on January 25, and Andy Howard, counsel to the Council, was asked to prepare a draft resolution for consideration at the committee's next meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, February 22, at 6:15 p.m. There is also, as the Register-Star article points out, a bill in the state legislature to make New York a sanctuary state.

In the meantime, the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement is holding a gathering tonight in support of the immigrant community in Columbia County. CCSM made the following statement about the event:
Over the past two weeks Immigration and Customs Enforcement has detained 680 people for deportation across the United States. ICE has been active in Hudson, detaining four people in the last week. They are members of our community; they are husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, friends. We are gathering in support of the immigrant community in Columbia County and calling for a stop to the separation of families here in our neighborhoods and across the country.

The event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Columbia County Courthouse, 401 Union Street.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Happy Coincidence, Awesome Outcome

Last summer, Peter Jung posted the picture below, showing the view at sunset from Promenade Hill, on Facebook and asked, of no one in particular, if the utility poles that studded the slope of the bluff had any function and wondered why, if they didn't, they were still there.

Photo: Peter Jung
Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton saw Jung's Facebook post and decided to try to do something about it. She began by contacting CSX, since she'd been advised that the utility poles related to the railroad. It turns out the poles belonged to Amtrak, and several weeks ago, as part of a general cleanup and maintenance project unrelated to the desires of those savoring the view from Promenade Hill, the poles were removed.

Photo: Peter Jung
How's that for a pleasant surprise in the bleak midwinter?

Day Without Immigrants

Today has been declared "Day Without Immigrants." The New York Times, NPR, and USA Today report that in cities across the country immigrants are not working today to protest the Trump administration's policies toward them and to bring attention to the contributions of immigrants to the life and culture of this country.

Because it is Day Without Immigrants, and because I heard on the radio a few minutes ago reference to President Barack Obama's 2012 executive action that protected people who came to the United States as children (DACA--Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and President Donald Trump's promise to terminate such protections, I was inspired to publish this picture of my paternal grandfather as a young man. He was the last of my immigrant ancestors to come to the United States from the Netherlands, brought here by his parents as a babe in arms in 1890.


It's Official

The Columbia County Board of Elections has announced the completion, on Tuesday, of the city voter database realignment. The map below shows the new ward divisions--five wards of very nearly equal population.

The new wards will elect representatives to the Common Council in November 2017, and beginning in January 2018, the aldermen then elected will cast votes of equal weight, thus ending the arcane weighting voting system in Hudson. You can read the details in the Register-Star: "Hudson city wards realigned."

"Enhancing Public Safety" in Hudson

On Saturday, Gossips reported about an executive order, signed on January 25, bearing the title "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," which expanded the definition of "removable alien." Today, the Register-Star reports an incident that shows how that executive order is playing out here in Hudson: "Immigration officials detain 3 men in Hudson, defense attorney says." Each of the three men had, in separate incidents, been charged but not convicted of driving while intoxicated. 

Attorney Michael Howard, who represented two of the men, one privately and the other through the Public Defender's Office, is quoted in the article as saying, "Due process requires that you have some sort of conviction. Now, they're saying you just might have to have committed a crime. . . . That's a huge, huge problem. This is a catastrophic shift in immigration policy. So while we talk about executive orders . . . banning Muslim entry, in our little community, we have tons and tons of agricultural workers and restaurant workers, and all those people are subject to deportation."