Monday, June 3, 2013

Breaking News from The Valley Alliance

It seems that the City of Hudson may already own nearly half the property it has been negotiating with Holcim to acquire. Read more here: "Is Hudson negotiating with Holcim for the City's own property?"

This map appears on The Valley Alliance website.


  1. Helping the city to acquire the land to authorize its LWRP.

    Is that really so wise?

    Others who pay attention have come up with the same idea on their own, but they kept it to themselves.

    Is there meant to be a strategy in this?

    What's the justification? I'm all ears.

  2. Something we did not mention in the release due to space considerations: A public hearing on this land deal with Holcim (then SLC) was held on December 28th, 1981, in Mayor Yusko’s office, with no one in attendance. But the property transfer was already complete and stamped by the County Clerk a week beforehand.


  3. 21st c Hudson - bring it on !

  4. These City “mouth pieces” either knew or should have known these issues before starting shore wars all along the waterfront. They are either complicit or clueless. It’s now clear why they had to “disappear ” the deeds granted to the HRRR at Furgary; they show the High Water Mark on the City’s original shoreline…

    1. Riddle me this Joe: did the city know it was squatting on state land when it built the original Waste Water Treatment Plant?

      (Of course when it was time to eject the Furgarians, the city acted like the Great Oz while pretending the history was otherwise. Real nice.)

  5. Who was the legal adviser for the city in 1981 ?

    1. Aw, you're just settin' me up Windle. I know you already know it was Whitbeck!

    2. Excellent work. It's so insane, yet so "Hudson" that the City Attorney Charles G.(GIF) Whitbeck Jr., who handled this now highly questionable "sale" from City of Hudson to SLC in 1981, is now the Assist. City Attorney , who helped City Atty. Cheryl Roberts and C.C. Pres. Donald Moore, fight tooth and nail Against the very citizens' that pay
      Deny , their most simple and reasonable request, to have a
      Phase II ESA conducted on this same industrial fill and sediment land..and rest of 9.968 acres, that City of Hudson has to accept "AS IS" in exchange for 50 yrs. of crippling conditions ,dictated by Holcim(US),Inc., to become owners of this"land" All of this mess caused,just so
      CC Pres.Moore's and City Atty. Robert's disastrous LWRP could be implemented.
      A LWRP,that no citizens wanted, save one.
      Now these amazing new discoveries, by Valley Alliance
      makes clear along with numerous other things ,just how long all this sloppiness and highly questionable legal practices of "City Hall" & their Associates. has been going on, just on these 4.4 one can imagine, or not ,what else goes on here in"City Hall", as the norm.
      Great earlier piece by Sam Pratt on this 4.4 acres.
      Posted by Gossips of Rivertown on FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013
      "Commenting from Elsewhere"
      ..inspired ,I believe ,by
      these comments made following Gossips of Rivertown's Post
      FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013
      "Defining the Location of Standard Oil"
      "At Wednesday's Common Council Legal Committee meeting, assistant city attorney Carl Whitbeck produced an 1888 atlas map which showed all the buildings in the First Ward and along the river but did not show anything labeled "Standard Oil." Indeed, it did not even include the area where Standard Oil is believed to have been. Still, the 1889 Sanborn map shows a cluster of structures on the river labeled "Standard Oil Co."

      Gizmo April 26, 2013 at 1:46 PM
      I'm starting to wonder how much money this 10-acre adventure is costing the City of Hudson? A lot of legal time has been invested, plus the cost of a Phase I environmental review, a title search, and possibly more expenses yet to come. If Holcim sells its property to another entity and walks away from its deal with the City, there is going to be plenty of egg on the faces of some at City Hall, and the taxpayers will be left holding the bag once again.


      John K. FriedmanApril 26, 2013 at 2:19 PM
      The City has paid I believe $3500 for the title and phase 1. Cheryl's time is covered by her firm's retainer (so, the opportunity cost), and Gif's time the other night was pro bono. He clearly has a real love for the history of Hudson and has quite a few relic-like maps of the city going back a lot of years. It's too bad there were so few in the audience for the Legal Committee (which admittedly tends to the rather dry and long meeting) -- it was fascinating stuff to see.

    3. I made an error in my above post.
      I said Charles..its Carl G.(Gif) Whitbeck

  6. Now you see it, now you don't Whitbeck.

  7. First ward alderman Mike Formichelli gave us blue prints showing the deed from con-rail to the City of Hudson back in the 70’s. That deed was for the plant's exhaust under the RR bridge. They knew that the HRRR was granted all the land under water they wanted and had to pay for all land above. The missing (hidden) deeds from proprietors to the RR were then, and (all but the Butler deed) are still below the High Water line. Knowing the Day Liner was becoming obsolete the elder Butler (Charles)bought up much of the riverfront land from NYC to Chicago just before the RR came through. They knew, they're as dumb as vixon.

  8. The answer to Windle’s question is: Giff Whitbeck.

    The semi-anonymous Unheimlich’s rhetorical questions beg another: If he observed his friend mugging his enemy, would he report the crime?

    The Valley Alliance offers this research at face value to the City and State as an urgent and necessary fact-finding mission. That research took a great deal of time, as it was not limited merely to the perusal of deeds. It also included included a request for verification from the State legislative librarian, a reading of three years of Common Council minutes, review of 15 months of microfilm newspaper archives, consultation with Waterfront experts, legal research into relevant laws and precedents, and more.

    The Alliance is turning over this material, now that we have exhausted our obvious avenues of inquiry, in hopes of encouraging officials to complete the task of due diligence on these (and similar) issues. More generally, we would like the City to take a more comprehensive look at overarching issues ignored during the Waterfront process, including but hardly limited to land title, ecology, and soil/sediment contamination, in both the North and South Bay. The results are not ones that anyone can easily predict, or should prejudge.

    One thing is for sure: A municipality can only make more problems for its taxpayers and its Waterfront if it enters negotiations with less than a full understanding of its position, leverage and rights.

    Recent events strongly suggest that City needs more credible and authoritative legal advice, title research, and other essential counsel. In any case, it is not to the people’s long-term advantage for relevant, important information to be hoarded in private due to some dubious perception of short-term gain.

    Among other things, one never knows what else will come out, once a broader audience shares that private knowledge.

    --Sam Pratt

    1. By pointing out that the Valley Alliance is "helping the city to acquire the land to authorize its LWRP," and by readily admitting that the same idea occurred to me but that I decided to keep my mouth shut, I find that I have failed to report a friend who has mugged an enemy.

      Pure sophistry.

      How about timing? Strategy? Discussing and coordinating with others? Ah, that's the important one: working with others.

      To consider these issues at "face value" - as if they were simple facts, like moon rocks to pick up and file away - risks ignoring the law of unintended consequences.

      I hope it works out because this genie ain't going back in the bottle.

      My guess is that after a brief confusion the city will turn this into a victory.

      I don't doubt that that land really belongs to the city, but I'm certain that I don't want the city to be steward of it.

    2. In this case the "dubious perception of short-term gain" had a single and clear purpose: the total rejection of any possible "advantage" to the city having that land (at least for now, which goes to "timing").

      As soon as the LWRP is authorized, city officials like Cheryl Roberts will be in the catbird seat whenever she cares to "take a more comprehensive look at overarching issues [which she] ignored during the Waterfront process."

      Until now, the idea was to put the city in the position where it is forced to ask for the return of the LWRP from the state.

      That strategy is now fatally compromised, but to what advantage?

      - Timothy

  9. The selective disclosure or suppression of factual data and history which may or may not not fit one's preconceived hypotheses is the very opposite of the scientific method.

    After the above comments from Unheimlich, one sadly must wonder how readers can ever be sure again that he has not omitted facts which he (rightly or wrongly) believes don’t suit a preferred narrative.

    By contrast, the Valley Alliance’s mission does not include keeping people ignorant of pertinent facts. Nor do we proceed in our work from a position of fear.

    Rather, we do believe that knowledge is power. And that telling the truth is always the best “strategy.” (But then, Unheimlich chose not to participate in the nearly seven-year campaign to Tell the Truth — Stop the Plant; so all the handwringing above is not so unexpected.)

    --Sam P.

    1. It's unfortunate for all whenever Gossips permits ad hominem. There should be one standard for everyone.

      I'll only reiterate that, when in battle, strategy and timing are all.

      In my first post above, I asked to know what the justifying strategy could be?

      I'll put it a different way now: there can't possibly be one.

      Notwithstanding the pretense of applying the "scientific method," in human affairs like this one this is precisely where the law of unintended consequences will soon take over.

      Others DID have a strategy which is now dead, thank you very much.

      Some of us discussed it on WGXC with Tom DePietro last Wednesday, April 26:

    2. I suppose it's not surprising that Patrick Doyle admonished me in that interview that "the truth didn't matter."

    3. The bare truth, as if there was such a thing.

      Very naive and very dangerous, when the ground rules are so totally perverted by Hudson's back-room deals.

      It's very rare when mere citizens can get ahead of the wretched curve imposed by our unelected city attorneys.

      All along my argument to the Valley Alliance has been that this information which might have be used to the people's benefit at a more propitious moment - a moment of everyone's choosing - will become a victory for the wrong people today. And so it is turning out.

      Oh, but everyone will insist on defending the "bare truth," and then blaming the opportunists in City Hall when it all comes to tears.

      Shakespeare knew what Hudson residents never seem able to figure out:

      "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/ But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

  10. 26 years this waterfront boondoggle has been flaunted about ... 26 years of stalemate ... 26 years of back room deals.

    While people live their lives, grow and move on to a better themselves.

    No wonder Hudson has the reputation it does.

  11. Law of intended or unintended consequences?

    You decide:

    “'Nothing would make me happier than to learn that they (the Valley Alliance) are correct,' [Common Council President Moore] said."

    [Tuesday's Register Star]

  12. It’s the people that are being mugged here. Can’t blame Tim for being skeptical of the administration’s methods and motives, when the people are met with treachery at every turn. The City fails when they come up with their “new” use rather than promoting Navigation to the “maximum possible extent”. Every new use the City comes up with results in restricted public use, fences and locked gates…

  13. Forget the analogies when the real object lesson is front and center.

    I've known for weeks that the Valley Alliance was planning this, and the VA knew that I knew and that I was vehemently opposed.

    I predicted everything that's already going wrong: with less land to take by eminent domain, the city has new leverage with which to obtain an authorized LWRP. I can't imagine anything more objectionable, but I've already said enough about that. It will be a victory for the city and for the LWRP, full stop.

    Having predicted this disaster weeks ago in perfect detail, I soon learned that there was no room for dissension. I was requested to go away (to put it more politely than the way it reached my ears).

    Worse than that, I was asked to keep the VA's plans confidential - secret - and I agreed.

    So even though I believed the scheme would almost certainly backfire, I was asked not to speak a word of it to my fellow South Bay Task Force members. I honored that request and kept my trap shut.

    Now that there are no secrets to keep, let's test the logic of accusations in this thread by asking why it was preferable to keep any secrets at all?

    It was requested of me not to reveal revelations which are today being dressed up as pertinent bare facts. But if facts are value-neutral in this way, and the public has an immediate right to know them, why were they ever a secret?

    Weren't we just instructed above that these are the kinds of facts which should never be "hoarded"?

    We are also inspired to read that "knowledge is power," but if that's the case then why the delay in sharing this knowledge? Why was it not to be revealed beforehand?

    If "telling the truth is always the best 'strategy,'" (notice that the word "strategy" above is in scare quotes), then why was I asked to keep my friends "ignorant of pertinent facts"?

    Having placed me in this position, the VA asks a good question about me henceforth, whether my colleagues on the Task Force "can ever be sure again that [I] have not omitted facts which [others] rightly or wrongly believe don't suit a preferred narrative"?

    It's well to ask that, considering that the abuse I've received above is also a direct consequence of honoring the confidentiality of a position with which I totally disagreed!

    So if the premise of the criticism is that keeping secrets is a bad thing in itself - the revelation of "truth" the only good thing - why did I bother to keep the secret of my soon-to-be accuser?

    I reckon it's a lesson in postmodernism, that you can be accused by someone whose secret you've guarded by the very act of having honored it!

    All that I'd counseled these fellows to do was to wait for the right moment, which could even take years. I know that I'd wait that long.

    Well nobody wanted to hear that. As far as I can tell the right moment for the announcement was timed for the size of the splash it would make, with no concern for consequences.

    And yet to have preferred to wait for a better moment was precisely what was asked of me with the request of confidentiality.

    There's a word for people whose own actions are identical to the actions they scrutinize in others, but I guess I'd better keep that word secret.

  14. One begins to suspect that the point of Mr. O’Connor’s outbursts is some need for attention, rather than anything constructive.

    But here is one more response -- less for the benefit of one whose attitude clearly will not be moved at the moment by any rational persuasion, but more for the benefit of any other Gossips readers who have attempted to wade through his harangues.


    Sadly, the simple distinction between testing a hypothesis and publishing a theory has been lost on our newly self-appointed Minister of Information.

    The Valley Alliance takes a responsible approach to research. What might begin as a tip or a hunch, we test and explore from many angles, and reach out to people who might have other perspectives or other pertinent information. We have a long track record, despite years of intense scrutiny and pressure, of avoiding making the type of errors so common to citizen groups, thanks to this patient approach.

    In this case, our process included consultation many reliable experts -- from the Preservation League of New York State to the State Legislative Librarian to a competent surveyor to an attorney well-versed in municipal law.

    Unfortunately, it also had to include outreach to less reliable parties, one of whom (Unheimlich/O’Connor) had borrowed a large file of documents from the Alliance’s archives. Mistakenly, we had hoped this gesture might actually lead to some goodwill and useful research.

    Needing to determine if a particular document pertaining to that research was in that box, we contacted him, and asked him to keep what at that point was a mere speculation and investigation private. Indeed, he specifically asked to be credited with assisting the research -- until the inevitable worm turned, and instead we began to be lectured ad nauseam but not convincingly about why we must suppress it.

    Why do we take time to do our homework? Less for any urgent need for secrecy than because unlike some, we don’t like to go off half-cocked. We like to be confident of our facts and testing before trumpeting mere hypotheses as fact.

    I know that reasonable process may remain baffling to Mr. O’Connor in his current state of high dudgeon, which apparently causes him to the sky is falling and the Bay is draining. But we are reassured by the more mature and positive reactions of many longtime and new allies to the release of responsible, useful information brought to their attention.

    It remains striking that Mr. O’Connor’s objection to the release of this information has not been that he believes it is in any way incorrect -- but that he *did not want it known*.

    Now, he says, maybe it could be made known future date -- at some imaginary right time -- to be determined by Mr. O’Connor, no doubt.

    Believe me, over the years of fighting with SLC (now Holcim) the Stop the Plant campaign was besieged with hand-wringers who always thought that the right moment was tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or never.

    This is known, online, as concern-trolling: constantly inventing some new concern to justify further proscrastination; always imagining the worst, so as to paralyze one’s own efforts, or those of one's supposed allies. Uphill battles are not won by holding the boulder in place forever.

    Long experience on the ground taught Peter and I that supposed aces in the hole eventually get trumped if you hold them too long.

    Now, the question for Mr. O’Connor remains: Did or does he really believe efforts to save and restore the South Bay could be advanced by publicly advocating for factual information to be suppressed?

    How could such a position lend credibility to his or anyone else’s future statements? The notion on its face is ridiculous.

    Struggles like this have a long arc, and those who panic for lack of foresight or simple petty jealousy in all likelihood will not stick around to see them resolved. Some of us have stuck with them for a good 15 years or more, even in spite of many years of enduring hectoring outbursts like the above.


    1. This is an outright lie: "[O'Connor] had borrowed a large file of documents from the Alliance’s archives."

    2. You mean Don Christensen's files which I accessed with Don's express permission.

      The Valley Alliance was sitting on these files for years without anyone's knowledge, even though everyone in Hudson knew that I was looking for them.

      Now tell them what I did with the files - where they are now.

    3. 3rd try:

      The files never belonged to the Valley Alliance.

      I procured the permission of the owner of the files to study his work with him, in his company. He compiled the hundreds of documents and they belong to him.

      I then returned the compiler's work to the Valley Alliance in good faith, though I ought to have my head checked for believing that good faith applies here.

      [Note to everyone else: mutual faith is paramount with me - confirm with anyone.]

  15. Now I'm being told that "research" is different than "hoarding."

    I reject that. You can't have it both ways.

    Either you share your knowledge immediately (which I agree is counter-productive) or you wait for the right moment.

    This is a disagreement about what constitutes "the right moment," yet look at the abuse that the disagreement entails! It's a lesson to all to keep a low profile, or else!

    If it was me, I'd have picked a moment that was less likely to make Mr. Moore so "happy," but then I wanted to take back the LWRP from the state rather than move it closer to being enshrined.

    So will others now change their tunes about what they wanted all along? Let's wait and see ....

  16. After I realized what a mistake the idea was, being sworn to secrecy I was the only one who could offer arguments against the planned tactic.

    But in all that time, I never received a single counter-argument.

    Instead, 100% of the emailed replies to my thoughtful warnings were strenuous attempts to characterize my person, just as we've seen above.

    I opened this thread with a vital question which I posed to the Valley Alliance weeks ago, and which has still never been dignified with an answer:

    What is the justification for helping the city acquire a botched LWRP?

  17. No lie has been advanced here, and Mr. O’Connor has now entered Glass territory. Don Christensen entrusted a large trove of files several years ago to the Valley Alliance. Peter Jung provided those files to Tim O’Connor, believing perhaps he might see something useful in them. After several weeks, they were returned by Tim O’Connor to us at Peter’s request. That he would either completely forget or completely mischaracterize such a factual exchange is further proof of the pointlessness of this “dialogue.”

    It remains that The Valley Alliance is on record as opposing the adoption of the LWRP -- as much or mores than any other group, having begun our challenges to it as soon as the extent of the betrayal of Linda Mussmann and Cheryl Roberts became apparent in late 2006/early 2007. (Mr. O’Connor was either not living in town, or just not paying any attention, at the time.) Moreover, our track record bespeaks many years of diligent research and activism, well-informed by a clear grasp of strategy.

    Thus Mr. O’Connor’s feverish fantasy that the Alliance here is either knowingly or negligently abetting the adoption of an LWRP we have long opposed is simply absurd to anyone who has followed our work.

    The hectoring tantrums which he has put on bizarre display in this thread bespeak some other personal motive or issue not related to the substance of the news released this week. It is far beyond the scope of our organization to help him with what has every appearance of being a strictly personal issue.

    I would lastly note that we are not the only group or agency to have this unfortunately counterproductive experience of trying to engage Mr. O’Connor.

  18. Ad hominem is a sad substitute for actual dialogue, and I'm going to trust that readers don't need any help spotting it.

    Plenty of people will recall how long and hard I searched for those archival materials which, when I finally found them, finalized the case for the existence of Standard Oil in the South Bay.

    (Until then I only had the deeds and the Sanborn map, whereas the supporting evidence of testimony at the state level was invaluable.)

    By proving that Standard Oil had a facility on the very acreage the city obviously has no intention of assessing, the Task Force was able to convince Robert K. Kennedy Jr. himself to take on Hudson's case.

    In fact, I was looking for the missing documents in 2010, as our "Gossips" author will attest. It was in March 2010 that she shared the few papers which their inestimable compiler had "entrusted" to her (using the same word that the VA just used).

    Unfortunately, none of the necessary Standard Oil materials were among the papers entrusted to her.

    In July 2010, at a full Common Council work session on the GEIS, I complained to Roberts that she'd ignored the petroleum facility. We all remember that she dismissed those concerns with a claim that she retracted last September. Well, if we'd had that research we could have called her on it 2 years ago.

    Over the last several months, the researcher who'd compiled those thousands of files so many years ago guided me from afar on reconstructing his original research up at the State Library and the OGS in Albany.

    That was hardly an efficient use of the research he'd already completed, and which he explained to me he'd left behind for the public trust.

    Having said that, we should all be grateful to Peter Jung for making the documents available again. He did the right thing, and he deserves our gratitude.

    When handing the box over, he told me that he didn't know what was in it. That was fair enough.

    But what was in it was the research I'd searched for for years! YEARS!

    Among its thousands of pages was the original Standard Oil research, and in no time flat it permitted at least a dozen Hudson residents to prove the case against the Roberts-Monahan-Crawford triumvirate.

    The debt we owe to the Valley Alliance is enormous, but it's for relinquishing its covetous hold on these invaluable documents which always belonged to everyone!

    The writer said it himself: those papers were "entrusted" to the Valley Alliance, and were never the personal property of anyone's "archive."

    But all of this ugliness is beside the point.

    When all the names of everyone involved are long forgotten (which will probably be pretty soon!), what will remain is what we were all able to accomplish together by helping the state secure the protection of the South Bay through its newly-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat (SCFWH).

    The South Bay SCFWH will never be taken away, and everyone helped to accomplish this new entity with all of its new protections.

    I would simply prefer that the state continue to regulate its own SCFWH, and not have the city assume that authority through an authorized LWRP through which certain people in power will accomplish their shady ends.

    And THIS is the "actual dialogue" that ought to have taken place after the Valley Alliance came up with its latest idea.

    With so much at stake, I was asked not to discuss my objections with anyone, including with the Valley Alliance!

    Today all can see the price of having complied with those wishes! It's a good lesson that people should keep their heads down, and not get involved in their community. That wouldn't be my message though.

    - TO'C

  19. Simply amazing, we’re living in a mini banana republic…

    1. Truly! And Hudson is infamous for it.

      Now stop asking questions and finish your bananas.