Friday, August 28, 2015

Problem Solved

An objection voiced by some aldermen when asked to approve the mayor's resolution to give $100,000 to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation for the "fit-up" of the senior center was that the money was needed for staff and programming, but the mayor has fixed that, "at low or no cost to the city." Working with Tyrone Hedgepeth, recreation supervisor at the Youth Center, aldermen Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) and Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) of the Young & Aging Committee, and Doris Moore, commissioner of aging, the mayor has come up with a schedule that will "keep the center open and running for 37.5 hours a week." He announced this in a press release issued on Wednesday. The details of the plan are reported by John Mason in today's Register-Star: "Getting with the program--City looks at new activities for seniors." 

Here's the schedule for Monday.
8 to 9 a.m.  Open Recreational (playing cards, reading, drawing, knitting, crochet, etc.)
9 to 10 a.m.  Health & Beauty/cooking
10:30 a.m. to noon  Aerobics
Noon to 12:30 p.m.  Lunch (Thanks to Salvation Army)
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.  Book Club (Also with new Library when open)
1:30 to 4 p.m.  Open Recreational
The schedule for the rest of the week can be found in Mason's article.

According to the mayor, the senior program now offered at the Youth Center serves "about 40 people," but "the new center will most likely bring more seniors to the site."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Prepare for the Primary

The primary election is just two weeks from today: Thursday, September 10. Registered Democrats in the First and Fourth wards will choose two candidates out of three; Republicans in the Fourth and Fifth wards will also be selecting their alderman candidates. See Gossips"Primary Prep" for details and links to sample ballots.

In Memoriam

Hudson has lost another well known and well loved dog: Archie.

Archie was a thoroughly Hudson dog. He came to live here as a puppy and spent all of his long and happy life in Hudson. His beautifully groomed, glossy, silky self was a constant presence at John Davis Gallery. Every morning, Archie and his human would walk the two blocks up Warren Street to work, and every evening, they would walk the two blocks down Warren Street and back home.

Sweet and beloved Archie will be greatly missed by his human and by everyone who knew him or only saw him pass by on his regular walks.

Night Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Last week, Gossips drew attention to the new green "Welcome" signs at all the entrances to Hudson. This brought collateral attention to the sign explaining the city's parking rules during the hours of darkness and its unfortunate spellings. 

Last night, at the Common Council Public Works Committee meeting, DPW superintendent Rob Perry revealed a new sign, with the words NIGHT and MIDNIGHT spelled correctly, which will soon appear, if it doesn't already, along with the new "Welcome" sign, on every street or road that leads into the city. 


And So It Ends . . .

Katie Kocijanski reports in today's Register-Star that the Columbia County Industrial Development Agency "has finalized the 33-acre land transfer and financing of the proposed Ginsberg's Foods expansion after almost two years": "IDA closes Ginsberg's deal." 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eyes on the Street

Work began today on the new porticoes at 202 and 204 Warren Street, the Brousseau Buildings.

The design for the new porticoes, shown below, was granted a certificate of appropriateness by the Historic Preservation Commission more than a year ago. 

Unfortunately, the new porticoes bear only the vaguest resemblance to the original porticoes, documented in these photographs by Lynn Davis, from the monumental Warren Street Project. 

Copyright 1995 Lynn Davis

Copyright 1995 Lynn Davis
The original porticoes were removed soon after the buildings were purchased by Eric Galloway more than ten years ago. At the time, it was alleged that the essential elements of the porticoes--the columns--were in storage and would be returned, restored, to the buildings at some future time. That plan, if it ever existed, was soon abandoned in favor of a new design.


Talking About Improvement

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The quote is attributed to philosopher and poet George Santayana, but it seems to apply to the Hudson City School District. In the case of HCSD, the past is not all that long ago.

Last Thursday, the HCSD Board of Education conducted a "facilitated conversation" to talk about ways to "raise the bar, close the gap, and align curriculum and instruction to more rigorous standards." The Register-Star reported on that meeting today: "Officials hope that roundtable discussions lead to real solutions." According to the report: "A few of the more popular solutions were: school uniforms, parental portals that remind of upcoming assignments, community schools, enrichment programs from John L. Edwards and professional development and expanding the power of peace throughout the district."

The press release that announced last Thursday's meeting and the article in today's Register-Star make it sound like this is a brand-new undertaking, but not that long ago, in 2009 and 2010, some earnest and serious-minded people--from the Board of Education, the HCSD facility, and the community--formed what was called the Task Force on Student Academic Performance. Over the course of nine months, this task force conducted sixteen formal meetings; discussed dozens of education topics; reviewed scores of professional articles; interviewed national, state, and local education experts; visited a high-performing school district with a demographic similar to HCSD's; conducted a districtwide survey on communication; and met with HCSD's department heads. In the end, they delivered a report to the Board of Education, which not only analyzed the problems but made specific recommendations to effect improvement. That report, which was presented to the BOE on February 22, 2010, can still be found on the HCSD websiteThe document is identified as a "Draft Report" because the process that produced it was meant to be ongoing. The last three recommendations in the report--there were fifty in all--were:
  • Continue the work of the Task Force.
  • Prioritize the Task Force's recommendations and determine which ones shall be implemented and when.
  • Provide for a means to review progress on implementation of the Task Force recommendations.
One wonders if anything was done with this report beyond putting it on the website, and if nothing was, why not?

News from the Street

With what has got to be the most beautiful press release Gossips has ever received, Colin Stair announced today that he has purchased 551 Warren Street.

The text of the press release reads:
It is with great pleasure that I share the news that I have recently purchased the building at 551 Warren Street adjacent to my business, Stair Galleries. I am very excited to be part of the continuing growth and evolution of Hudson, where I have been part of the business community for over twenty-five years. The strong friendships and business relationships I have formed in Hudson have helped Stair Galleries to flourish. My family put down roots in this community many years ago and we have enjoyed raising our children in this close-knit, creative and diverse place that we call home. I have watched our small city define its identity, growing from a post-industrial city with economic and social issues in the 1980’s into the multi-faceted and thriving city it is today. The restoration of so many of Hudson’s beautiful and historic buildings has been a pleasure to witness. I am proud to be a part of this fellowship, where residents and business owners share common interests and goals.
Hudson continues to grow in positive ways, attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs every day. It was with this in mind that I decided to pursue the purchase of 551 Warren Street with the idea of creating rental spaces for small businesses. I am currently working with a team of architects and designers to develop spaces that will allow small companies or individuals to work in a creative environment, possibly co-working shared spaces, with high-speed internet and proximity to everything that Hudson has to offer. My hope is that the street level will remain a traditional retail space for one or two tenants.
This is an exciting project for me and underlines my commitment to Hudson and its continued growth and success. I welcome the community’s input and ideas about how best to use the space at 551 Warren Street to best benefi t those who want to make Hudson their home.
The building at 551 Warren Street previously housed Noonan Antiques and Crawford & Associates.


Of Interest

Composer and Hudson resident, Joseph C. Phillips, Jr., was interviewed by Rachel Martin on NPR's Weekend Edition this past Sunday. If you missed it, you can hear (or read) the interview here. Phillips' new album, Changing Same, will be out on Friday. Excerpts from the album can be heard here.

Hudson Makes Another List

Last Thursday, Thrillist published its list of "The 10 Best Weekend Getaways from NYC." Third on the list, after "Best family getaway: Mohonk Mountain House" and "Best bike getaway: Long Island, NY," is "Best food getaway: Hudson, NY." The specific recommendations include the Red Dot for brunch, Moto Coffee Machine for an afternoon latte, and Crimson Sparrow or Fish & Game for dinner.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Eye Around Town

The Wedgwood blue louvers, approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, were installed in the Short Street facade of the armory today.

The color of the louvers is presumably the color that was to be matched by the paint on the window frames and sash, but it seems, to Gossips' eye at least, not to be quite the same.


The Scandal of 1922: Part XIII

The trial of Chief John Cruise, for dereliction of duty, came to an end on May 26, 1922. The chief himself was the only person to take the stand that day for further cross examination by corporation counsel William J. DeLamater. The following excerpts are from the report on the final day in court that appeared in the Columbia Republican for May 30, 1922. 
The trial of John Cruise, Jr., before the Commission of Public Safety, is over. The end came quickly on Friday afternoon. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon the hearing was reconvened and Chief Cruise resumed his place on the witness stand for cross-examination. Corporation Counsel Wm. J. DeLamater conducted the cross-examination. Attorney Samuel B. Coffin was not present. Only once did the cross-examination wax rather warm--over the alleged old charges which the witness did not recall. Chief Cruise was the only person on the witness stand on the closing day. His testimony dealt chiefly with points in previous testimony which both sides wished to clear up. . . . 
The concluding day of the trial was attended by the smallest gallery of all in the past. There were vacant chairs in the Council rooms.
In his closing argument Mr Herzberg raked the reputation of the detective agency operators with heavy fire, and then went into various phases of the charges. . . . [He] stated that in accordance with the testimony they would not consider demotion, a suspension or a fine and that if the decision is adverse it shall be reviewed before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. . . . 
[Chief Cruise testified that] as to his tours of the city in a motorcycle side-car said side-car was had in fall of 1921; said that before that they walked about; said he made records of bad holes in streets and reported same to Commission; said only record of these trips was "left for patrol" and on his return "in command." Unless arrest was made nothing in the record shows about what he saw on trips. . . . 
It was exactly 5:15 o'clock when both sides declared testimony closed.
Mr Herzberg then moved for the dismissal of the charges and briefly related several points in the case. President Whitbeck stated that the Commission had gone into his matter seriously and had decided to have the testimony written out first, hear the closing arguments, and the give the entire matter serious and careful consideration before arriving at their conclusion, thus they wished to reserve the decision until they could study the matter.
President Whitbeck in stating the Commission's position to Mr Herzberg, pointed out that they were laymen and had not the experience of attorneys in examining evidence and that it was not easy to lay aside everything else to do this. He said that the Commission in justice to itself, the charges and the Chief, they should carefully study the evidence, hear the arguments and allow the case to be left in their hands for a later decision.
What seems most bizarre about the whole proceeding is that the investigation of Chief Cruise has initiated by the Commission of Public Safety, the charges against him were brought by the Commission of Public Safety, the trial was conducted by the Commission of Public Safety, and the case will be decided by the Commission of Public Safety. We'll learn about the decision they rendered in our next report about the Scandal of 1922.

Stalking Officer Miller

Just before the Fourth of July, Gossips became fascinated with a policeman who started his law enforcement career more than a century ago, on March 3, 1914: Officer Frank E. Miller. A hundred years ago, in the days preceding Independence Day, Officer Miller was mentioned almost daily for arrests made on his regular beat, which was the part of Hudson nearest the river--along Front Street, around the docks, and at the train station. 

While Gossips was piecing together and retelling Officer Miller's story from newspaper accounts, a reader turned to census records and reported in a comment some pretty surprising information about Officer Miller. Frank E. Miller appears in the U.S. census records for 1920, 1930, and 1940. In each decade, his residence is 931 Columbia Street, and his occupation is listed as "policeman." 

What's surprising though is that in 1920 his age is listed as 47, in 1930 as 57, and in 1940 as 66. (His birthday must have been right around the time they did the decennial census.) Gossips had imagined that he was a young man when he joined the force and distinguished himself by arresting drunks and drifters, intervening in domestic squabbles, foiling attempted burglaries, and pursuing stolen cars, but in 1914, he would have already been 40.  And when he retired in 1944, after serving for thirty years on the Hudson police force, he was 71. 

931 Columbia Street, Officer Miller's home

Of Interest

Here's news from the Kingston Daily Freeman that I don't recall seeing in our local newspaper: "Columbia Memorial Hospital, former Benedictine pay state more than $1.5 million to settle lawsuit."

Thanks to C. L. for bringing this to Gossips' attention

A Different Kind of Police Profiling

Dear Diary,
Last night at the Common Council Police Committee meeting, Commissioner Gary Graziano shared this story. He had stopped home briefly before the committee meeting, which started at 6, and while he was there, he heard a knock on the front door. Answering it, he was greeted by a woman who thanked him and the Hudson Police Department for all their good work and handed him a large manila envelope. The envelope contained thirty-five Dunkin' Donuts gift cards.

"Micropolitan Diary" is Gossips' homage to and blatant imitation of "Metropolitan Diary" in the New York Times. The term micropolitan was coined because Hudson is a metropolis in micorcosm.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What the Chief and the Commissioner Said

Last Wednesday, HPD Chief Edward Moore and Police Commissioner Gary Graziano sent a press release to the Register-Star expressing their gratitude to the Richard & Terez Abatecola Foundation for the generous donation made to the Hudson Police Department. Instead of printing the press release as it had been submitted, the Register-Star folded it into an article that seemed more about the proposed police and court building going over budget than about acknowledging the contribution made by the Abatecolas: "Donation may be used for police/court complex." 

Gossips received that same press release from Graziano tonight and is happy to publish it exactly as it was written.
The Richard & Terez Abatecola Foundation Inc. was founded in 2005 as a charitable organization that generously gives back to the community. In the past 10 years the Abatecola's have provided vital funding to the Hudson City School District Food Bank/Backpack program, the Hudson Little League, the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, and flood victims in Greene County . . . to name a few.
The Hudson Common Council recently approved a resolution to accept a $10,000 donation earmarked for use by the Hudson City Police Department. Today [August 19, 2015], with gratitude, we accept the donation.
"It has been recognized for more than 20 years that the Hudson Police Station is inadequate and does not meet the needs of a modern police department. We have been working in concert with the city council for more than 2 years to create a new police station. The most recent stage in the development of this project was called 'value engineering.' The architect has taken our original plan and reduced the construction costs by removing many of the amenities and conveniences that would directly benefit our police officers. It is our intent to put the Abatecola gift into account, and apply the funding as we move through the construction process."--Chief Moore
"On behalf of the City of Hudson Police Department I am grateful and appreciative to Rich and Terez for their support of our department. I commend them for their generosity, not only to the HPD, but to the various organizations that they have helped over the last 10 years. It's satisfying that they choose to recognize our Department and for that we sincerely thank them for their vote of confidence."--Police Commissioner Gary Graziano

The State of the Schools

The results of the New York State Testing Program were released recently. The tests are based on the controversial Common Core Learning Standards. Here's how things look for the Hudson City School District. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

What you need to know to interpret the numbers is that students performing at Level 4 excel in the standards for their grade: their knowledge and skills are considered more than sufficient; students performing at Level 3 are proficient: their knowledge and skills are considered sufficient; students performing at Level 2 are partially proficient: their knowledge and skills are insufficient to meet expectations for their grade, but they are still on track to meet current New York high school graduation requirements; students performing at Level 1 are well below proficient in the standards for their grade. 

Levels 3 and 4 is where you want students to be; Level 1 is where you don't want them to be. Sadly, in every test at every grade level, the percentage of HCSD students performing at Level 1 was greater--in some cases significantly greater--than the percentage of students performing at Levels 3 and 4 combined.

Even if you rail against Common Core Standards and don't believe in standardized testing, you have to admit that these figures are not without significance.

The State of the Crosswalks

In June and again in August, Supervisor Ed Cross (Second Ward) has come to Common Council meetings to complain about crosswalks and the fact that drivers pay no mind to them. A week or so ago, I noticed that crosswalks at Union and Fourth streets, where my dog and I pass at least once a day, had been partially repainted. The parallel lines going from curb to curb had been done, but the diagonal lines in between those parallel lines had not. In my experience, drivers rarely stopped for those crosswalks in the first place. Now it seemed they were going totally unnoticed.

Someone told me that the diagonal lines in the crosswalks were not being painted because, according to Rob Perry, DPW superintendent, they had run out of paint, and there was no money in the budget to buy more. Could this be true? If so, what would that suggest about the mayor's celebrated fiscal thrift and his renown for keeping property taxes low. 

So I sent that above picture to Perry and asked about the crosswalks.
I was wondering why the diagonal stripes had not been painted in the crosswalks at Fourth and Union streets. Drivers rarely acknowledged these crosswalks before, and now, without the diagonal stripes, they don’t even slow down. Someone told me the diagonal stripes had been omitted because DPW had run out of paint and there was no money to buy more. Is this true? Or is there another explanation?
In response, Perry sent me this picture and the message that follows.

In contrast to the pedestrian view your email depicts, the view from approaching traffic shows the crosswalks visible and with supplemental signage in place to draw greater attention to their presence.
As for the cross-hash, there are a number of considerations regarding them, which will be discussed at DPW Committee on Wednesday.
The Common Council Public Works Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 26, at City Hall.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Coming Soon to Upper Warren Street

There's a sign on the former Warren Inn former Roylton Motel former Warren Theatre announcing that the building's newest iteration, the Rivertown Lodge, is opening next month. 


The Scene on Sunday Morning

Next, the stained glass returns. Hallelujah!

Sursum Corda


Gratitude to Lisa Durfee for the video.
Gratitude to Byrne Fone for the title.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday Night in Hudson

At shortly after 10 o'clock tonight, the new tracery was lifted into place at the First Presbyterian Church, and Vince Mulford snapped this picture.

Photo: Vincent Mulford

Happening Now

It appears they are getting ready to install the new tracery at the First Presbyterian Church.


What He Meant . . . Maybe

Since yesterday, I have been mulling the mayor's claim that Hudson is the "4th most visited City in America." How could this be? Hudson is not one of the cities on TripAdvisor's list of the 25 most popular destinations in the country--a list that begins with New York City and ends with Austin, Texas. Maybe "small" was the missing qualifier. But Hudson didn't make Smithsonian Magazine's list of "The 25 Best Small Towns to Visit" in 2015, 2014, 2013, or 2012. Where did this statistic come from?  

It occurred to me that this claim might somehow be based on Amtrak passenger statistics. The number of passengers that come and go from the train station in Hudson had been a topic of interest when Saratoga Associates presented the results of their feasibility study on the Dunn building, so maybe this was the basis of the mayor's claim.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers provides the chart below, which gives the number of passengers by station in New York. Predictably, the station with the most passengers is New York City, followed by Albany-Rensselaer. In 2012 and 2013, Rhinecliff was 3rd and Hudson was 4th, but in 2014, Hudson pulled ahead of Rhinecliff, to seize 3rd place, with 185,611 passengers as compared with Rhinecliff's 184,337.

Might this information be the basis for the mayor's claim that Hudson is the "4th most visited City in America"? We have the fourth busiest train station in the state?

Of course, questioning the mayor's statement puts Gossips firmly in the camp of those "local social media propaganda bloggers" who want to "ruin what we have worked so successfully to establish over the past three years." I think, however, that Hudson's vibrant return from the edge in a post-industrial era, which has been happening incrementally and inexorably since 1985, as a result of the vision and the work of many, is enough to celebrate without having to gild the lily with specious claims.