The public hearing yesterday on the chicken law seemed to serve primarily to validate Mayor William Hallenbeck's position on raising chickens in the city. Few people spoke in favor of keeping chickens, and several spoke against it. John Mason describes the proceedings in great detail in today's Register-Star: "Mayor upholds chicken veto after hearing." The article is accompanied by a memorable picture of Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) in the act of declaring that, if the law goes back to the Common Council, it will not have the two-thirds majority needed to override the mayor's veto. "The residents of the Fifth Ward do not want chickens as neighbors or in their neighborhood," crowed Donahue, who with his fellow Fifth Ward alderman Cappy Pierro have almost enough votes between them to guarantee it doesn't happen.
What was striking about the hearing was that the mayor responded to every comment, reiterating and elucidating his position on the chicken law. When mayoral candidate Victor Mendolia, who had earlier stated his support for keeping hens and criticized the mayor for calling the chicken law an "elitist law," pointed out that if this were a "true public hearing," the mayor should be listening to comments and not explaining his position, Hallenbeck told him simply that he was wrong. (Gossips has not been able to find any basis in the city charter or New York State general municipal law for the notion that a mayoral hearing is different from any other pubic hearing.) Later when Clay Laugier rose to make a comment, Hallenbeck told him, "This isn't a debate," and insisted that Laugier identify himself as Mendolia's campaign manager.
The chicken incident earlier in the week, reported in the Register-Star on the morning of the hearing, didn't help the cause of backyard chicken husbandry in Hudson. Hallenbeck revealed at the public hearing information that had not been reported in the newspaper. The yard where the chickens were found had no coop where the chickens could roost at night, but the owner of the chickens explained that at night they were kept in a spare bedroom.