A couple of noteworthy things happened on Tuesday, at the first regular meeting of the Common Council for 2018. First, Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) wanted to revisit the appointment of the minority leader. It will be remembered that, at the organizational meeting on January 8, Garriga nominated herself as majority leader and Kamal Johnson (First Ward) as minority leader but was informed by Council president Tom DePietro that the majority could not elect the minority leader. Garriga intimated on Tuesday that DePietro's response was ad hominem, and DePietro made a point of denying that "the name Kamal Johnson was not why I stopped the conversation." At the organizational meeting, DePietro explained that, as the only non-Democrat on the Council, Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) could either serve as minority leader or designate someone to serve in his place. Merante designated Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward). On Tuesday, Garriga said she had gotten a legal opinion that the appointment to minority leader needed to be the result of a vote and requested "case law to support how the minority leader was determined."
Responding to the request for case law, city attorney Andy Howard said, "This is the first I've heard of it," but reiterated his position that "members of the majority vote for the majority leader, but they do not then get to select the minority leader." That seems pretty logical, but it did not satisfy Garriga or Johnson, who said he wanted "a better understanding of the process." The majority and minority leaders represent the Council on the boards of two agencies: Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency (HCDPA) and the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA).
Also of note, the Council voted to enact Local Law No. 6 of 2017--"to preserve community character, local business ownership, and local wealth." The law essentially bans "formula businesses"--chains with more than four locations and a uniform appearance and signage--from the city. The vote to enact the law was unanimous, but at the end of the meeting, Garriga stated that although she supported local businesses, she wanted the Council to consider "that people cannot afford the restaurants on Warren Street." It is not clear if Garriga was suggesting that lower-cost chain restaurants be added to the list of exceptions already in the law: "(a) federally or New York State chartered banking, savings and loan, and trust institutions, (b) pharmacies and drug stores, (c) stores where the overwhelming majority of foods sold are un- or minimally-processed and intended for preparation and consumption by the purchaser at another location [in other words, supermarkets], and convenience stores that also sell gasoline"; or if she was seeking some other remedy to the high cost of dining out in Hudson.
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