Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where's the Map?

In a letter to the editor in today's Register-Star, Timothy O'Conner questions how the Common Council can move ahead with a vote on the zoning amendments proposed by the LWRP without having before them a map that accurately defines the boundaries of the districts--in particular, the Core Riverfront District which now extends the length of the "causeway."

Tonight at 6:15, the Common Council will hold a special meeting to vote on the following legislation:


  1. This is quite an issue -- Mr. O'Conner is correct in his read of the city code and its import in this regard. This precise issue was raised by him at last month's CC meeting -- though he refused to remain calm, became belligerent and began calling CC members names all of which tended to dilute his message.

    It's really unfortunate that the message was lost in the static: the proposed statutes appear to be gravely flawed to the point where they may be unenforceable thus leading to the worst of all possible worlds: Greenport (i.e. a political subdivision without any zoning, where development happens willy-nilly and without regard for property rights or the larger community). Not sure what the rush is to pass this piece of legislation (some have suggested it's a "tip of the hat" to our departing mayor, a coda of sorts to his tenure). Personally, having attended most of the meetings and spoken with some of the movers and shakers in this drama, I believe the CC is getting bum advice from the City's corporation counsel (Ms. Roberts), is relying on verbal affirmations rather than requiring them in writing, and generally not being hard-nosed enough to ensure that the final product makes sense for Hudson and can be enforced by the City if the need arises. In short the result of the poor legal advice it's getting from "its" lawyer(s) results in our representatives acting naively and, sooner or later, this flawed set of laws (if passed) will bite us on our collective ass. And, when that happens and we spend heaping gobs of money and time in a likely futile attempt to claw back some of what is about to be given away (i.e. our ability as a polity to dictate who does what where in our community when their actions affect us all -- in other words, effective zoning), there will be a great deal of hand-wringing and breast-beating. But not a whole lot of success.

    It's really a shame Mr. O'Conner's message was ineffectively delivered and in a way sure to alienate his audience. His manner may be objectionable; his analysis is spot-on.

  2. Mr. Friedman, I couldn't have said that better myself (which is kind of your point!).

    But at this late date, the dull inevitability to every step the Common Council has taken puts us well beyond any worries about alienating anyone. The council's collective lack of integrity deserves nothing less than our contempt, yet they continue to hide behind an inane decorum.

    Also notice that the Register Star covered my comments but not those of a member of the School Board and an alderman-elect. It was all just as I had predicted.

    I'm glad that you see how hard it is for some to get their heads around the fact that the map actually becomes the law. There's something vindicating about that for artists!

    What some had mistaken for overzealousness while preparing the Register Star letter was actually, in legal lingo, due diligence. To be applicable in the courts, some things simply must be addressed ahead of time.

    For instance, Judge McGrath might have ruled differently this week if the Democrat's objection was made before the election, in accordance with the ruling in Finger v. Martin.

    Make no excuses for Mr. Moore, who is an adult and has made his choices. The unelected official Ms. Roberts decided long ago what was best for Hudson, and so that's what we're getting.

    The two of them have cheated this process at every possible opportunity, but people must understand that their insolence has not yet reached its crescendo.

    The biggest lesson a lot of us learned while the battle raged over the city's environmental impact statement was that the state does not enforce the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The Act fully intends citizens to enforce the law.

    So after the state rejects the adequacy of the environmental impact statement - and the state will certainly recognize that the GEIS is wholly inadequate - Moore, Roberts and now Hallenbeck will go ahead and implement the Proposed Action anyway. They were well aware that the GEIS was inadequate, which is why they stopped trying to fix it and then simply passed it.

    Moore and Roberts know that the state can't do anything to prevent the action even if Albany refuses to sign on to the impact statement, the GEIS. City officials are so emboldened by their successful chicanery thus far, and by their electoral successes, that they'll gladly take the risk that the citizenry won't - or can't afford to - challenge them in court. (That's where the due diligence comes in.)

    The importance of the press and blogs in shaping perceptions is paramount, and Gossips has done a great job through some very trying circumstances!

    Only considering perceptions, notice that the argument between those who claimed their adversaries were either "slowing things down" or "hurrying them up" was won by the former camp. The law they were hurrying to pass was still being shaped less than a week before the impact statement was accepted as final, and was not even finished by the time of the public hearing. It may not be finished by tonight (i.e., no official Zoning Map).

    So why did that camp win such a fatuous argument? In retrospect we can clearly see that the process was hurried up.

    What Moore and Co. will do next is paint anyone who presents an obstacle to their implementing of the actions - actions that may or may not be covered by an authorized GEIS - as public enemies.

    I'd say that those officials are truly public enemies. So who will win that battle? It would help if fewer of us were so lilly livered. On behalf of the South Bay ecology which only the local citizenry is able to protect, please do get angry.

  3. Mr O'Connor's" audience "are his and all citizens of Hudson's elected and appointed and tax paid by the people of Hudson ,officials, to serve and protect them and in this case future citizens of Hudson and its environment.
    I am amazed,Mr.O'Connor has kept his cool as long as he has.
    So at the 11th hour he got "his audience" attention,and finally got the map into print,as he had tried to do without success for last meeting.How long has all of this been falling on deaf ears?
    I applaud and thank Mr.O'Connor for his absolutely appropriate deliverance. I want to
    thank him for continuously going out on a limb in the face of indifference ,apathy , ineptitude and utter dismissal from the citizen's tax paid employees.I want to thank Mr.O'Conner and South Bay Task Force and Sceneic Hudson for their unwavering dedication for the protection of future of Hudson's citizens and it's environment,being this, their only goal.
    Unpaid for by the taxpayers.

    Mr. Friedman,I appreciate your explanation and understanding of what Mr. O'Conner of Southbay Task Force has been saying all along and relieved that you will be now a member of Common Council as of January,
    but this is happening now.
    Why Mr O'Conner cannot worry about offending this "audience"that is so dangerous with their power that We ,the people, entrusted them with
    and payed for.
    There is no need to rush this at all.Not at all.
    The damage is too vast,the cost too great
    If you have any influence now,
    please use it.

  4. I have returned from this sad and sicking meeting.
    I wish to thank Ellen Thurston and wish she had been a candidate for Mayor.

    On Parade Hill overlooking the Hudson

    The "raised bed surrounding the flagpole has been planted with a ground cover and three pieces of blue stone have been laid as a path to the flagpole for the person who lowers the flag to half mast during periods of public mourning" should do so tommorow for the tragic decisions of a few, to harm forever the South Bay and it's River ,the Hudson for generations of Hudson citizens to come.I would like to leave a plaque with their names engraved ,as their lives will be short and forgotten ,but the damage they left behind will live on.

  5. The Promenade flag can now be flown at half staff - in perpetual mourning over the death of the waterfront and Hudsons once potentially brilliant future.

  6. South Bay Task Force said: “For instance, Judge McGrath might have ruled differently this week if the Democrat's objection was made before the election, in accordance with the ruling in Finger v. Martin.”

    I feel compelled to correct the misinterpretation of the Fingar v. Martin case that is being disseminated--first by the Republicans and their election commissioner for the benefit of their candidate, then by the Register Star, and now by readers of that newspaper. The Appellate Division did not find in Fingar v. Martin that any and all challenges to absentee ballots must be brought before the ballots are issued. (If that were the case, we wouldn't still have lawyers involved in our absentee-ballot counts at all, would we?) It made that finding only with regard to challenges to dual residency, and I quote from the decision: “A challenge to such [dual] residency should be made pursuant to the procedure to challenge the issuing of the absentee ballots and not, as here, after those ballots have been cast.”

  7. Ms. Martin, I do seem to recall now that Fingar v. Martin concerned dual residency.

    But you haven't addressed the heart of the question: did or didn't Judge McGrath deny the Haddad campaign’s request to not count the 32 permanent absentee ballots on the basis that the "objection had to come before the election in accordance with the ruling in Finger vs. Martin"?

    That was either the basis of his ruling or it was not, regardless of whether he was incorrect in his interpretation of Fingar v. Martin.

    The November 29 Register Star story continued, "because [the objection] came after, there were concerns whether Judge McGrath had the ability to do what the Democrats were requesting, Haddad lawyer John Friedman said."

    In my comment above, I only meant to say that the Judge "might have ruled differently" with a little forethought on the part of the Democrats.

    So is that entirely untrue? That would imply that nothing from the Fingar v. Martin case could have any implications for circumstances where disabled voters are allegedly strong-armed by third party "helpers."

    Now a question which is not addressed to Ms. Martin:

    If Judge McGrath was mistaken in his interpretation of Fingar v. Martin, then why in heaven's name has the Haddad campaign thrown in the towel?

  8. Judge McGrath may very well have ruled differently if the Democrat's objection was made before the election, and I only wish that they had done so.

    But I'd like to ask instead whether the following statement made by Mr. Greg Fingar in 2010 is true or false or something else:

    “There’s not a clear consensus among the appellate divisions in New York state as to whether absentees can be challenged post election or not. At some point this is going to have to be determined by the New York state Court of Appeals" - Greg Fingar, Register-Star, 1/14/10.