Thursday, March 29, 2012

Legal Committee Discusses Civic Hudson

Tom Casey's account of the deliberations of the Common Council Legal Committee over the Galvan Initiatives Foundation's Civic Hudson proposal is in today's Register-Star: "Much ado about police/court plan." Toward the end of the discussion, committee chair John Friedman (Third Ward) suggested that "financial due diligence should go both ways," saying that the City needed to vet the Lantern Organization, Eric Galloway's not-for-profit which it seems would own the building and operate the two low-income residential floors, to determine Lantern's financial fitness. This prompted Mark Greenberg, attorney for Eric Galloway, to ask, "If Carnegie, Ford, or Marina Abramovich came in, would you be hammering them about their financials?"

On the topic of the Lantern Organization, David Marston (First Ward) reported that his research had revealed that Lantern operated eleven supportive housing buildings in New York City, each of which had an average of twenty-six building code violations.

The discussion at last night's meeting clarified what the City is getting from Galvan/Lantern in this scheme: "a white box with partitions and plumbing and heating." The City will be responsible for financing all the interior finishes and equipment. The "indenture agreement" between the City and Galvan/Lantern will be either a triple net lease or a condominium agreement. In either case, the City would be responsible for maintenance costs. Friedman made the point that $100,000 a year for thirty years, which is being touted as the only cost to the City, "is not everything." 

With the exception of Marston, all the members of the Legal Committee present--Friedman, Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward), Don Moore (Council president)--seem to think the plan is a creative way--and perhaps the only way--to achieve what Friedman said would otherwise be an "unreachable goal." Friedman, Moore, and Marston agreed, however, that things were moving too fast. The debate at tonight's special meeting of the full Council will likely be whether the Council should pass a resolution of suppport for the project or adopt a memorandum of understanding. One or the other is needed to strengthen Galvan/Lantern's application for funding, which must be submitted by April 1. Tonight's special meeting begins at 6 p.m.  


  1. Mark Greenberg's comment is pure deflection and is patently specious. The Ford Foundation, for instance, is one of the largest, oldest, richest and most important foundations in the country. GalVan's Foundation was created in January of this year, and has no demonstrable track record or assets of any significance. It's just a ghost-like entity that exists as a matter of state filings at this point. I would surmise that any attorney or Council Member representing Hudson's interests would conduct his or her due diligence EVEN if the Ford Foundation was proposing this project by asking for representations and warranties about its financial condition. This Greenberg fellow greatly insults Carnegie, the Ford Foundation and Marina Ambramovic by comparing GalVan to them. To wit, Marina A. is engaging in a private arts project which will succeed or fail based on its funding, merits and organiztion. To my knowledge, she is not getting entangled with essential public services, like building a police station and an SRO, which require tons of government involvement, grants and back-room Olde Tyme Hudson wheeling and dealing.
    Friedman and Marston are on the right track, and Don Moore's behavior during all of this has been deeply disappointing. The full Council should do the right thing and reject any resolution of support or MOU related to this rushed-through and ill-thought-out project. And one more thing--why isn't the HPD being consulted about its new home? Strange, eh?

  2. "Indenture" WOW that says it all !

  3. Friedman makes a good point that there's more to this story and it's moving too fast. Apparantly, he's the only one keeping his eye on the ball.

    Let's review: because the potential landlord might need some "tax breaks" the Council needs to ... what? Wait, stop. Those taxes GalVan is not paying are supposed to fund things like courthouses and police stations, no? Am I dreaming? Just because they are rich doesn't mean they need another tax break handed to them by the City of Hudson.

    The bigger question and the one begging to be asked is why the City of Hudson seems intent on handing over its civic function, its civic pride, it's very sovereignty to a low-income housing developer so that it can become a "tenant?" GalVan are not the Carnegies. This is NOT business and it's NOT a business deal. It's government. It's democracy. What's the difference you ask? Plenty.

    Imagine in 10 years and GalVan has sold the building and the New Landlord, we'll call him Gill Phellert, might not have the best interests of the City of Hudson in mind, and decides he can make more money "renting" the space to a commercial client or on more Section 8 housing? There's nothing to stop him from doing exactly that. A condo lease can be broken. Indentures don't last forever(See, e.g. the Barnes Foundation). Where will our courthouse be then? What options will the City of Hudson have? It will be left with a broken triple net lease and who will be accountable? Has anyone thought about these contingencies?

    This deal doesn't sound like good government or a prudent investment in any way, shape, or form.

    Without any irony, I think the Common Council needs to ask itself whether the City of Hudson is capable of providing basic government services anymore. A courthouse and police station are very, very basic government functions. Surely these basic functions can be handled without selling its civic pride, along with its integrity.

  4. When he was a Union Street resident and member of the local Truck Route Task Force in 1998-99, John was all for routing the trucks out of Hudson.