In recent days, there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation circulated that I would like to dispel.
In years past, members of the Elks club held elected and/or appointed positions in the Mayor's office, the Youth Department, and other City departments. Various Elks community events--Flag Day in particular--were coordinated through the Mayor's office. In an effort to treat all community organizations fairly and avoid having to put City business aside, this practice was discontinued when I took office. No events are coordinated by my office--this includes Flag Day, Winter Walk, the Pride Parade, etc.
In today's Register Star article regarding the Turkey Trot, Bill Hallenbeck makes some very disconcerting statements:
"It's always been a common practice for the city to participate in the Turkey Trot, as with the Flag Day Parade. Since the mayor took over, the city said they would not participate with the Elks in the Flag Day Parade. Then, it was asked of me why the Youth Department decided not to spend any money on ribbons for Hoop Shoot this year, which took place about a month ago. . . .Over 20 to 25 years, we've never had any glitches, or a Youth Department who has said no to the Elks Department as many times as they have. I know these people donate to a lot of areas, so it didn't seem right to me, the domino effect of not buying the ribbons, then the Flag Day Parade, now this."
Mr. Hallenbeck's statements were not only incorrect; the City never said it wouldn't participate in the Turkey Trot, but he discounts the many hours worked by City of Hudson employees and volunteers, many of whom are proud members of the Elks. That is unacceptable. The Hudson Police Department, Department of Public Works, and the Hudson Fire Department all contribute countless hours and resources to the Elks' largest annual event, Flag Day. DPW allocates a minimum of two days' worth of man hours in the week leading up to Flag Day. Additionally, there is 5K in DPW overtime for the event itself and the subsequent clean-up, plus $5K in HPD overtime to manage traffic flow and maintain public safety the day of the event. In past years, as well as this year, the Elks have received awards from the Common Council Arts, Entertainment and Tourism Committee to help fund the event; this year's award was $3K. I have attended every event that the Elks' leadership has graciously invited me to attend or participate in, including Flag Day. I am very proud of our dedicated City workforce and volunteers and the job they do supporting all local events here in Hudson.
Mr. Hallenbeck's comments are not based on fact but rather on his personal feelings, perhaps stemming from his defeat in the last election, and do little to help the new administrations of the Elks Club and the City to work together in harmony. In speaking with many individual members of the Hudson Elks Lodge, I have learned his opinion is not shared by the organization at large. I have reached out to the Elks Exalted Ruler, Christine Grossman, and I look forward to having the opportunity to meet with her.Now, what was it that Common Council president Claudia DeStefano said about Facebook being "a blessing and a curse"?
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