Victor Mendolia's hour-long interview with Mayor William Hallenbeck on this morning's @Issue show on WGXC can now be heard online. If you don't have an hour to spend listening, here are what Gossips considered the most interesting highlights.
The Seven Acres Hallenbeck said "we have had discussions with Holcim" about the transfer of the seven acres to the City and about Holcim's property assessment. He then defined "we" as city attorney Cheryl Roberts. Hallenbeck reported that "Holcim is weighing all their options." Those options include selling the seven acres to some entity other than the City of Hudson. Hallenbeck also said the City was considering purchasing the seven acres or taking the parcel by eminent domain.
The Fracking Resolution Asked to comment on last night's vote, Hallenbeck seemed to be trying very hard not to offend those aldermen who had voted against the amendment, but he said a few things that offer some insight into what he might think. He started out by saying that "every elected official has a responsibility to get all the facts" and talked about how he continued to educate himself about hydraulic fracturing. He then said he "would have liked some explanation" presumably of the reason for the opposition and finally said, "If there is validity that these things are dangerous, why would anyone vote against it?"
Charter Revision On the topic of charter revision, Hallenbeck said that "the whole charter should be gone through and restructured" and shared his intention to appoint a charter revision commission to do that. He outlined changes he would like to see considered in a public referendum: increasing the terms of office for the mayor, Common Council president, and city treasurer from two years to four years; reducing the number of aldermen to one for each ward; having only one supervisor represent the entire city on the Board of Supervisors. When Mendolia raised the question of the weighted vote and suggested that the weighted vote makes the Fifth Ward too powerful, Hallenbeck seemed interested in preserving the status quo. "Government has been working with these weighted votes," but he conceded, "It doesn't hurt to have these conversations."
The Hudson Correctional Facility Hallenbeck confirmed that the Hudson Correctional Facility is once again on a list of eight prisons in the state slated for possible closure, "after everything that the last administration did to keep it open." Hallenbeck expressed the opinion that "the city needs the prison" and vowed that he will "support the prison to the bitter end."
The Hudson Police Department Hallenbeck identified the police department and the youth department as departments that need restructuring. He recalled that when he first joined the police force in 1987, there were 23 police officers and 10,000 residents in Hudson (ratio of police officers to residents: 1 to 435); there are now 26 police officers and only 6,400 residents (ratio of police officers to residents: 1 to 246). In each case, he noted the ranks of the officers in the department to make the point that there are today a greater percentage of officers at the higher ranks than there were in 1987. "The City cannot continue trying to support this structure," said Hallenbeck. "It is not sustainable."
City Hall Break In When asked to comment about the recent dismissal of charges against Quintin Cross and Jamont McClendon, Hallenbeck said, "We have to respect our judicial system." He went on, however, to say that if Cross and McClendon were not the people who appeared on the City Hall surveillance tape, which Hallenbeck said he had seen, he wanted to know who the people on the tape were. He wanted to know if the investigation is still ongoing and expressed the opinion that the tape should be made public. "Residents should have the opportunity to see the tape so they can help identify them."
The complete interview has been archived and can be heard online.