Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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 had 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."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pilgrim Pipeline and Why It Matters to Us

There is a proposal to build a pipeline on the other side of the Hudson River, mostly along the New York State Thruway, which would carry crude oil from Albany to refineries in Linden, New Jersey. The proposed Pilgrim Pipeline Project is actually a dual pipeline system: one pipeline would carry Bakken crude oil, derived from fracking in North Dakota, from Albany to Linden; the other would carry refined products (gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and kerosene) from Linden to Albany. Each pipeline would move about 200,000 barrels (8.4 million gallons) a day.

Oil refineries in Linden, NJ
The Pilgrim Pipeline Project was a topic of discussion at last week's Conservation Advisory Council meeting. CAC member Holly Gardner, who had attended a Pilgrim Pipeline educational forum in Kingston, told her colleagues that the proposed pipeline project would have far-reaching environmental and social impact on the entire region and stressed the following:
  • The Hudson Valley is turning into an energy superhighway. There are already trains and barges carrying up to ten million of gallons Bakken crude oil through our region everyday. The Pilgrim Pipeline would double that amount.
  • The pipelines will not replace the trains. It is more likely that they will increase the number of trains. 
  • Oil pipelines are statistically three times more likely to have spill accidents than trains or barges; this is true regardless of the age of the pipes.
  • Although the proposed route is on the west side of the Hudson River, the east side of the river will be equally impacted. The proposed pipelines would cross over 257 streams and water bodies and would cross the Hudson River twice just south of Albany.
  • On either side of the pipelines, which would run for 170 miles, large tracts of land would be torn up and forests would be felled. There would be 296 crossings of wetlands, including 25 crossings of NYSDEC freshwater wetlands.
The State Environmental Quality Review process is now underway, and a public comment period will begin in the near future. You can follow the progress of the project at the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) website. To learn more about the project's hazards and what you can do to oppose it, visit CAPP (Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines).

Lecture on Columbia County History

On Tuesday, February 21, the Columbia County Historical Society Volunteers present a lecture by local author Allison Guertin Marchese about the hidden history of Columbia County. Among the little-known stories to be shared is the one of the last hanging in New York State, which took place right here in Hudson before hundreds of people who had purchased tickets to witness the event. The lecture which is free and open to the public takes place at 7 p.m. "below stairs" at the James Vanderpoel House, 16 Broad Street, in Kinderhook. For more information, visit the CCHS website.

Of Interest

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports today in the Register-Star on a bill introduced in the State Assembly that would facilitate voting: "New voting rules proposed for state." The proposed changes are based on recommendations made by Attorney General Eric Scheiderman in response to reports of voting issues after the 2016 presidential primary.