Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Hour with Mayor Hallenbeck

Victor Mendolia's hour-long interview with Mayor William Hallenbeck on this morning's @Issue show on WGXC can now be heard online. If you don't have an hour to spend listening, here are what Gossips considered the most interesting highlights.

The Seven Acres  Hallenbeck said "we have had discussions with Holcim" about the transfer of the seven acres to the City and about Holcim's property assessment. He then defined "we" as city attorney Cheryl Roberts. Hallenbeck reported that "Holcim is weighing all their options." Those options include selling the seven acres to some entity other than the City of Hudson. Hallenbeck also said the City was considering purchasing the seven acres or taking the parcel by eminent domain.

The Fracking Resolution  Asked to comment on last night's vote, Hallenbeck seemed to be trying very hard not to offend those aldermen who had voted against the amendment, but he said a few things that offer some insight into what he might think. He started out by saying that "every elected official has a responsibility to get all the facts" and talked about how he continued to educate himself about hydraulic fracturing. He then said he "would have liked some explanation" presumably of the reason for the opposition and finally said, "If there is validity that these things are dangerous, why would anyone vote against it?"

Charter Revision  On the topic of charter revision, Hallenbeck said that "the whole charter should be gone through and restructured" and shared his intention to appoint a charter revision commission to do that. He outlined changes he would like to see considered in a public referendum: increasing the terms of office for the mayor, Common Council president, and city treasurer from two years to four years; reducing the number of aldermen to one for each ward; having only one supervisor represent the entire city on the Board of Supervisors. When Mendolia raised the question of the weighted vote and suggested that the weighted vote makes the Fifth Ward too powerful, Hallenbeck seemed interested in preserving the status quo. "Government has been working with these weighted votes," but he conceded, "It doesn't hurt to have these conversations."

The Hudson Correctional Facility  Hallenbeck confirmed that the Hudson Correctional Facility is once again on a list of eight prisons in the state slated for possible closure, "after everything that the last administration did to keep it open." Hallenbeck expressed the opinion that "the city needs the prison" and vowed that he will "support the prison to the bitter end."

The Hudson Police Department  Hallenbeck identified the police department and the youth department as departments that need restructuring. He recalled that when he first joined the police force in 1987, there were 23 police officers and 10,000 residents in Hudson (ratio of police officers to residents: 1 to 435); there are now 26 police officers and only 6,400 residents (ratio of police officers to residents: 1 to 246). In each case, he noted the ranks of the officers in the department to make the point that there are today a greater percentage of officers at the higher ranks than there were in 1987. "The City cannot continue trying to support this structure," said Hallenbeck. "It is not sustainable."

City Hall Break In  When asked to comment about the recent dismissal of charges against Quintin Cross and Jamont McClendon, Hallenbeck said, "We have to respect our judicial system." He went on, however, to say that if Cross and McClendon were not the people who appeared on the City Hall surveillance tape, which Hallenbeck said he had seen, he wanted to know who the people on the tape were. He wanted to know if the investigation is still ongoing and expressed the opinion that the tape should be made public. "Residents should have the opportunity to see the tape so they can help identify them."

The complete interview has been archived and can be heard online.   


  1. Thank you Carole for this platform.

    I'm glad the State Truck Route was brought up. Not so happy to hear that this issue seems stalled.

    Want to make progress? Designate interested individuals that know the parties involved and start talking. Besides Greenport and Claverack you also need to include Livingston.

    To bypass Hudson you are looking at Route 9H, et al, as taking the extra load. I believe it can be done.

    1. No thanks for more traffic on Route 9H through Claverack. We have more traffic than most roads already. All very large tractor/trailers travel 9H all day long and into the night. Come up with another solution please!

  2. Everything I said a few threads back tied into "The Seven Acres."

    Anything you hear from any official about The Seven Acres will be a lie, though I'll be the first to applaud anyone when that's no longer the case.

    The LWRP's proposed Seven Acres deal, which according to the mayor's statement is not even being adhered to (although I don't even believe that), was one of the central keys to the LWRP that made that document so dishonest. The architects of the thing knew exactly what they were doing, even if most of last year's council was out to lunch.

    The LWRP's Seven Acres shell-game was tied in with an unresolved, century-old illegal action by the then-owners of the cement yard over a parcel that grew towards and into the river's underwater state-owned lands. In the same motion, this intentional accretion obliterated an earlier established public right-of-way which was meant to survive in perpetuity (the result of a lawsuit in the early 19th century.)

    Well that's one way for Holcim to get rid of this poorly resolved illegality which might someday still be challenged, especially if the city is going to buy back the same strip of land into the bargain! Another tentative agreement in the LWRP was a swap of the Seven Acres for tax incentives for the landowner, Holcim.

    The city's plans for a giant parking lot on the Seven Acres site is ecologically ill-advised, though this small matter concerns none of the egotistical officials who dream the next ugly waterfront development will be named after them. Even more alarming, it seems to concern nobody at all!

    The city's recent brownfields grant application to the state DOS was carefully crafted to favor the Seven Acres plan while appearing to be ecologically motivated. The application was not only not ecologically responsible, it was vaguely criminal in its intentional omission of an important contamination site immediately south of The Seven Acres (by some of the same people concerned about fracking, you understand).

    As in the 19th century, the city is STILL working in tandem with private interests to limit the public's ancient and guaranteed riparian rights - our rights to river access from publicly-owned uplands. Is a Seven Acres parking lot what we want? Does anyone really suppose we'll be given a choice?! Ha - it's been decided already in back rooms by our betters, and it's as inevitable as all the pockets that will be lined along the way. I'm sure the paving company is already chosen that will "win" the bidding for the contract, somebody's cousin probably.

    You can witness another kind of casual seizure of our riparian rights with Falkenheimer's "Spirit of the Hudson" lease. That was an illegal lease for five years, before there was no lease at all for two summers. Then, a year ago, a lease was finally legitimized with a second illegal lease, but at least with the proper lease-granting authority of the city, the Common Council.

    To refer back to my charge of hypocrisy in the last thread, where are the alderman on these serious issues? They're busying themselves banning fracking of all things! What a total joke when everything else here is so rigged.

    Now if any of the above charges are engaged, notice that no response will concern with The Seven Acres. There is no one in government right now who is honest enough and ambitious enough to take this on, but why would they when The People themselves are too ignorant to understand that they're being stripped?

    If you have any sense at all, don't let these aldermen feel good about their meaningless, failed anti-fracking gesture. I'm an ecologist, and I can assure you that such gestures are pathetic compared to what is actually going down here.

    So many bad things are happening that this little bit of seeming goodness is just smoke and mirrors.

    (Incidentally, my comments alert these fiends to the widespread hypocrisy in Hudson, but that's a pretty bad reason to keep silent.)

  3. "the city needs the prison" and vowed that he will "support the prison to the bitter end."

    I'm sorry, my jaw still hasn't closed since I read that. Perhaps the Mayors office will conduct an economic analysis of the prison, because I'm not buying need, and it doesn't appear the Governors office is either.

  4. The stupid Rockefeller drug laws will not be repealed because the prisons keep dying upstate economies limping along.

    In the largest sense the prison hurts Hudson. In terms of immediate cash flow, the City and the County see it as essential. If those jobs, below market labor pool for the City (the prisoners), and revenue to local suppliers disappeared overnight, it would be felt as a big blow.

    -- Jock Spivy

  5. To the Readers,

    The 3rd round for the Prison. Lets take a look at an idea worth entertaining. The prison with approximately 195 employees and 500-600 inmates. From my sources many of the employees are nearing retirement. Do the 500-600 inmates contribute to the local economy? What positive thing has the prison ever done for the community? What valuable real estate is off limits to the public and inhibits Hudsons growth.

    Lets set another scenario and trying to keep it simple. Lets introduce a viable investor like Bard or another educational provider. If we had a school with 1500-2000 students or more and faculty and staff. Now we provide jobs from higher paying professional positions all the way down to maintenance and services. We'll need housing for students which fills rental units which pay taxes and also entices building to provide housing for both employees and staff whom will need housing which in-turn contributes to local taxes and lessens the burden to the few. We have now more people spending money in grocery, restaurants, clothing, recreation, etc which provides even more jobs and opportunities for others to open more secondary businesses particularly when school is in session when Hudson, in the Fall through Spring takes a down turn due to slowdown in tourism in winter. Finally, we now can produce an educated population locally which now entices businesses and corporations to invest in the area to provide jobs. We even will have more the reason for investors to build hotels because of even more the need. Currently Hudson is very bleak as far as having a educated workforce. Look at the circle and you might see more clearly. By creating a more educated, productive environment and culture, with opportunities, you will create an win-win (Education-Jobs-Sustainabily).

    Building more social programs, relying on federal and state monies, Pilot programs, and Services, Hudson is like the 30 year old (adult) kid who who is afraid to leave mommies nest because it is too free and easy. Look at Burlington VT and Northampton MA and similar locations with schools and educated populous. Unfortunately, Hudson will never grow to sustainability unless individuals stop blocking progress and get out and see the world and stop relying on the pockets of the government.

    We should organize a team to research this and get the ball rolling. Get to the foundation and make the corrections and all will reap the rewards. This is your city. Let the people decide and not let the select few whom look for easy way out decide. This is my opinion and I have been standing by this opinion since the very beginning.