Wednesday, March 17, 2010

If You Can't Say Something Nice . . .

At the end of last night's Common Council meeting, John Musall, First Ward Supervisor and husband of First Ward Alderman Geeta Cheddie, pointed out that there were "twenty-four dissenting comments about the LWRP on the City of Hudson website" and complained that it appeared "the people making the comments were speaking for the City itself." This he said was inappropriate. Whether Musall was objecting to having the comments on the city website at all or was asking for them to be more clearly identified wasn't clear to me, but his statements raise the same question as statements like this from the LWRP: "The City supports plans proposed by Holcim (US) and its tenant to reroute dump truck traffic from the Holcim mine in Greenport, New York to the deep water port via the South Bay causeway." Just who is "the City"?

You can find written comments that were submitted about the draft LWRP, including Common Council President Don Moore's letter to the mayor, on the City of Hudson website.


  1. Now or ever it seems that Geeta & John Musall
    represent other interests in regard to the LWRP. Good for Don Moore and his comments.

  2. Having just finished a LWRP for the school district (done by the Task Force on Student Academic Performance), which makes 50 recommendations to the Board of Ed, I'm very sensitive to the question about who is "the City." But I also think it's the wrong question. We the People are the City. The only question is whether the process by which We the People make our decisions is fair, transparent, and honest. Was it?

  3. My sentiments exactly upon reading that line for the very first time: "just who is 'the City'?"

    I seem to remember that in the 1970s it was less ridiculous than it would be nowadays to say "the experts this" and "the experts that," without a hint of irony.

    By now, generations of children have been raised on "The Simpsons" and know when and how to laugh at such things. The "experts," such as Professor Frink, Police Chief Wiggins, or Mayor Quimby are routinely depicted telling someone who notices some ruination resulting from said expert's incompetence to "move along now ma'am, there's nothing to see here."

    Oh to be an expert, and to be in charge.

    For Hudsonians especially, the character of Mayor Quimby deserves a close study...

  4. After a quick read of the O&G statement it looks like they want to take the South Bay away from the people. Kind of a "we know best" attitude.

  5. I too have asked "Who is the City?" in this instance, and have been told that it is the Common Council. Wrong! I have searched high and low through the minutes (available on the City website) and can find no time when the CC supported the notion of the "causeway" route as the "preferred" or "supported" route. To wit:
    * Regular Common Council Meeting of July 15, 2008: Ken Faroni of O&G Industries states that the company's commissioned study of alternative routes recommended the "causeway" route as "the best truck route from the quarry to the dock...." In this same meeting Attorney Cheryl Roberts states that "she had also incorporated the proposal just outlined regarding truck traffic which was a major issue in previous discussion on the LWRP," Nowhere does she say she incorporates it as the "preferred" route.
    * Regular Common Council Meeting of February 17, 2009: Attorney Cheryl Roberts states that the portion of the GEIS which reviewed the "causeway" alternative would be funded by O&G. The minutes further say, "She stated they would be required to review the feasible alternatives to transport the aggregate to the waterfront; however they would address all possible alternatives. Attorney Roberts reviewed the alternatives and feasibility for the causeway. She stated the Mayor would discuss a possible alternative which would include the purchase of the L&B property."
    * Special Common Council Meeting of December 7, 2009
    Attorney Cheryl Roberts stated that "in December 2008, the Council had voted unanimously to send a version of the LWRP to the Planners to prepare a Generic Environmental Impact Statement." Later "She stated the Council members had on their desks a draft resolution, to be voted upon at next week's regular meeting. Ms. Roberts stated the resolution would accept the draft LWRP and GEIS as complete and ready for public review; authorize the City Clerk to publish the Notice of Completion; and to move the project to the next phase which would be the required public comment period." There was then a lengthy discussion with the planners about alternative routes. At one point "Ms. Roberts stated the LWRP would recommend the trucks that transported the aggregate use the 'South Bay Causeway" over the Broad Street crossing. One of the planners--Frank Fish from BFJ--explained the position of the planners--"in the DGEIS were a couple of alternatives to the truck route and he said 'we felt were more intrusive than the actual truck option proposed.'" He finally stated, "there had been several options related to the former L&B site and he stated the options had been suggested for further detail study in comparison to the route through the South Bay." There is then some discussion about O&G's wetland permit. Later Mr. Fish stated "the alternatives mention in the Draft GEIS were 'three possibilities, we haven't chosen anything.'"
    *Regular Common Council Meeting of December 15, 2009
    The Council passes a reolution to accept the LWRP and the DGEIS as "sufficient with respect to its scope, content and adequacy and is, therefore, complete and ready for public comment...."

    My view is that accepting the document as complete does not mean we (the Common Council) necessarily agree with the contents or the positions taken by the planners and the authors of the documents. We needed to move it forward and let the people speak.

    So it seems to be the planners who think the "causeway" is the preferred route. I am unclear about who supports the planners' notion beside City attorney Cheryl Roberts who authored the LWRP, and probably the Mayor.

    It is up to the people to choose, not the planners.

    --Ellen Thurston

  6. Following on Alderman Thurston's observations above, I noticed a few new things.

    From the title page of the DGEIS:

    Lead Agency: City of Hudson Common Council

    Contact: Mayor Richard Scalera


    (Cheryl Roberts, the City attorney, is not mentioned on the title page, but at the 12/7/09 Special Meeting of the CC, she is introduced by the Mayor, her boss, as having "fostered" the process, along with one other.)

    Having by now read every document related to the issue, who would think that the LWRP was ever in the Council's hands at all? Surely it was, but it rarely appears that way.

    Those December 7 minutes are eye-opening, but only end in clouding issues before we're done.

    [The planner] Mr. Fish stated O & G’s proposal would direct the trucks through the existing causeway to the riverfront. He stated incorporated in the DGEIS were a couple of alternatives to the truck route and he said “we felt were more intrusive than the actual truck option proposed”.

    Let's be clear: "more intrusive" than through the existing wetland. This is what the author of the environmental impact statement was saying. (One must refer to a map of the alternatives to appreciate the full absurdity.)

    "Mr. Fish stated Scenic Hudson had suggested other alternatives [to the Proposed Action through the wetland] and he stated the Mayor had received a correspondence from CSX that indicated CSX would not entertain any truck traffic on their tracks."

    ALL of the road alternatives presented by the DGEIS required "truck traffic on their [CSX] tracks." Is Fish a planner, or a lawyer?

    I'd sure like to know when the Buckhurst planners laid eyes on that CSX letter.

    "Mr. Fish stated the alternatives mentioned in the Draft GEIS were 'three possibilities, we haven't chosen anything.'"

    From the DGEIS (produced by Buckhurst, Fish, et al), p. 5-41:

    "As a result of the above analysis, this DGEIS recommends that the alternative analysis ... be limited to Alternative 3A."

    Did Mr. Fish not read his own document?

    Was it altered to reflect their "choice" made during the following week, after which the DGEIS was accepted by the Council? (A: Of course not.)

    How could Buckhurst and Fish recommend the alternative 3A, north of the L&B building, when CSX had informed them that they "would not entertain any truck traffic on their tracks"? (Whenever it was that they made their "choice.")

    Whenever one takes another look, this story only ends up begging more questions.

    Fortunately the document will soon be back in the Mayor's hands, and Ms. Roberts can give it another whack.

    Aren't taxes fun?