Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

It's always good to know what our legislators consider important achievements and future priorities, so here is what Council president Don Moore cited as the accomplishments of the past year and the issues for the coming year.

Accomplishments of 2012 
  • Adopting a 2013 budget with "a zero percent increase in property taxes";
  • Passing a "completely modernized" taxi law;
  • Providing the land for "two new affordable, passive solar, market rate homes soon to be completed by Habitat for Humanity on Columbia Street";
  • Banning smoking in public parks;
  • Strengthening the law "that holds dog owners accountable for not cleaning up after their pets."
Goals and Issues for 2013
  • Adopt a renters' protection law;
  • Eliminate the truck route--"an issue of profound impact on environmental justice and economic development in Hudson";
  • Pursue parking violation scofflaws "who have racked up over a quarter million dollars in unpaid fines";
  • Replace the Ferry Street Bridge;
  • Find a new location for the Hudson Police Department and the City Court;
  • Adopt legislation that addresses firearms;
  • Assess property owners for the increasing backlog of unpaid water and sewer bills; 
  • Approve the weighted vote;
  • Revisit the proposed hydrofracking legislation;
  • Pursue the "intergenerational Senior and Youth Center"--"the City is trying to right the capsized boat of our former plans, but I am making no predictions, and other options may surface";
  • Finish the LWRP--"and vigorously pursue our options, both programmatic and legal, for development of our waterfront';
  • Improve the City website--"a proposition on which we can all agree";
  • Initiate a Charter Revision Commission "to examine ways in which the City can be more effective, efficient, and resourceful in carrying out its central mission of public service."


  1. An interesting list of accomplishments.
    As I continue to see, especially with snow on the ground, a lot of dog droppings around town, it would be interesting to know if, beyond the "accomplishment" of passing the ordinance, anyone was cited for not picking up after their pooch. And if so, was any fine levied?
    The ordinance is not an accomplishment is it does not solve the problem.

    1. Enforcement of a law already on the books might solve the problem - i.e., making sure that people out walking dogs are equipped with the means for removal of their dog's feces - but the politician's rage to create ever new laws wins out every time.

      That's how politicians still get to list their "accomplishments" even though no one has come any closer to achieving real solutions.

    2. Don Moore asked me to post this reply:

      I agree and am glad you brought this up. I will ask the Commissioner and Chief of Police if they will put the Department on a more vigilant watch during the snow months when, as you observe, dog poop on the sidewalks and in the snow appears on the increase. However, I must take issue with the notion that passing the law is not an accomplishment. The Council legislates. This is a legislative accomplishment. If there is another, better legislative solution, please propose it.

      Another point of clarification. As is readily observed, the list of accomplishments for 2012 is considerably shorter than the goals for 2013. That is a consequence, in large measure if not entirely, of the process of a two year legislative session. The Council has two years to consider and complete legislation. The list I assembled describes initiatives on which work has already begun. Will we accomplish everything on the list? Time will tell. Are there issues missing? You can tell. Let your Aldermen or me know.



    3. Maybe the Chief can catch the dog pooper that frequents the sidewalk in front of the HPD and adjoining neighbors!

      I would also like to add a missing goal for 2013 ... which is to STOP the killing and wanton destruction of Hudsons Heritage Trees.

      thanks - i know nothing will change but it was nice to express anyway.

  2. Instead of vigorously pursuing the LWRP's "options," the city should complete its obligation to provide an "up-to-date [Zoning Map] in the office of the Building Inspector for the use and benefit of the public" (see: § 325-3 ADOPTION OF MAP).

    The LWRP awaits authorization from the state, but enacting the new Zoning Code did not require state approval. Passage of the new Zoning Code transpired in 2011, whereas the LWRP was merely its occasion.

    The new Zoning Map which is supposed to be on file with the city doesn't exist. The failure to complete it is a dereliction of duty on the part of the Common Council. A law was passed - the map itself - which had yet to be created. I would argue that the challenge in completing it now - and perhaps the failure to mention it in the agenda for 2013 - is due to the intentional vagueness and sleight-of-hand of the text portion of the law.

    The anti-Fracking legislation is in part a substitute for dealing with actual, present-day petrochemical contamination in the city which the politicians have conveniently overlooked in their rush to act on the ill-advised LWRP (for evidence of haste, we only need refer to the nonexistent Zoning Map).

    In its brownfields "BOA" application to the NYS DOS - which drew on the myriad dishonesties of the LWRP - the city intentionally ignored contamination sites which might interfere with the "vigorous" efforts of certain individuals to implement the most coveted features of their plan.

    Residents could not have known about any of this since, counter to the state's recommendations for public participation, our BOA application was drafted without public knowledge. (A fair translation of the council president's phrase "vigorously pursuing our options" might be: GET OUT OF OUR WAY.)

    My previous criticisms about our failed anti-fracking legislation were meant to address real ground contamination in the city, which the anti-fracking faction pretends doesn't exist. In that regard I had brought up the charge of hypocrisy.

    Subsequently, some wag attempted to portray me as pro-fracking, which I am not. I don't want fracking brine flowing into the Hudson River, but I also don't want a new parking lot at Holcim's Seven Acres which is only accomplished under false, ecologically-callous pretenses.

    Rather, the proposed anti-fracking legislation didn't go far enough. It made hypocrites of its supporters all over again, and this time from another direction.

    Why would we, as a city and individually, not question the sources of the energy we use? If the Common Council and city residents want to deal with the fracking issue comprehensively, and free from this second charge of hypocrisy, the question must encompass the sources of the energy we use.

    Although I doubt it has occurred to our fabulously ecological politicians, the utility should already have been approached about a city-wide solution to the problem. Whether a computation is derived from percentages of energy sources at the very least (which may require voluntary brown-outs), to do otherwise - i.e., to benefit from fracking while refusing the waste product - is just hypocritical. I'm trying to come up with my own individual answer, but this legislation was meant to be a city-wide response.

    However, I still want to focus on the initial hypocrisy that makes an anti-fracking proponent appear to be "environmental" while the same person or persons exercise a cover-up via the city's "BOA" brownfields program in order to "vigorously pursue" an anti-ecological agenda elsewhere.

    That's a textbook definition of hypocrisy. And despite all the counter-criticism I've received, I'm not about to shut up about it. I could use a little help though, if y'all don't mind being badly bullied by local officials.

  3. Clearly merely passing laws is of little or no use. But a legislature -- at least in the US -- has no enforcement powers of its own. That is squarely the purview of the executive. If you're unhappy with the way the HPD does its business (no pun intended) let them know and let their boss, the mayor, know too. I let them know when I'm unhappy and so should you, and you, and you, and . . .. Then, perhaps, we'll get results.

  4. The alderman is being disingenuous by passing off all responsibility for the council's legislative failures to the city's various enforcement agencies.

    Why do we have meetings of the Police Committee if the legislature's hands are so tied?

    Representatives are certainly in the position of asking questions of the HPD and of pushing for the policies the community would like to see enacted.

    But while the stiffened fines for an "ordinance [that] is not an accomplishment [if] it does not solve the problem" (to quote the first poster above) are onerous to the point of being capable of ruining someone!, the subject of another useful ordinance that was already on the books and which specifically treats of the removal of dog feces was never discussed at the time the new fines were put into effect. I know this for a fact, ever since I tried and failed to get a hearing from representatives (a small point which exposes yet another disingenuousness on the part of the alderman: that anyone in any branch of government heeds what mere citizens have to say).

    The policy of any official who truly serves the people should be that the best idea wins, period. But a citizen's complaints to representatives in Hudson will get you exactly nowhere. And if there's a critical component to the complaint a resident can even expect to be showered with abuse by officials. If you're new to Hudson, then there's a very long history of that behavior here. Don't fall for the sweet-talk you see on this page.

    So without discussing the usefulness and specificity of another extant law; by passing the buck so that the concrete application of any legislation is completely divorced from the drafting of it (or in this case the stiffening of it); and by having ignored one of Hudson's noisier citizens in order to blind themselves to the utility of legislation which already exists in Hudson and which is enforced in municipalities across the nation, the Common Council took the easy way out and thus shirked an opportunity.

    That the ignored, extant ordinance supports the "broken windows" approach to policing was a potential obstacle to the more orthodox theoreticians on the council (those who believe that law-breaking is a function of the environment first and of personal behavior last). But in apparent reaction to the practicality of the ignored law, the act of making the penalty for breaking the favored law so onerous that it could easily destroy an individual's personal economy was not considered at all. It is for that reason the council's act was not an accomplishment.

    I'd really like to find the person who pooped their small dog on my sidewalk the day before yesterday, but if I'm annoyed at their selfishness that doesn't mean that I'd wish to ruin their lives over the incident.

    Ask the HPD to begin enforcing the other law that is already on the books, although I'll wager there isn't a single alderman who knows the law to which I'm referring. No, it's better to pass new ones, or to amend a favored law to carry a ridiculous fine than it is to take a sober approach to a city-wide problem. Plus, you get to pass the buck while you're at it. What's not to like?