Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Apologies and Platitudes

HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier said she wished she could "turn back the hands of time." Berkshire Union Free School superintendent Bruce Potter lamented that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." Common Council president Don Moore opined that "it's not important if you make mistakes, it's how you respond to them" and went on to say, "Out of something wrong, something right can happen." Suttmeier called the plan to site an alternative learning program on Warren Street "a bold move," and said, "When there are bold moves, there is turbulence."

Arthur Cusano reports on last night's panel discussion about "The Bridge" in today's Register-Star: "Warren St. alternative ed forum draws heavy feedback." Sara Kendall was there recording the presentations and the discussion for WGXC, so chances are, in the fullness of time, those who were not there will be able to listen to the proceedings for themselves.

In her comments, Suttmeier recounted how the choice of 364 Warren Street had been made. She said they had first "looked to the home campuses" but found that (1) there was no space and (2) there were "union issues." It seems that union agreements prohibit faculty from other school districts from working in HCSD schools, and the teachers in this program will be Berkshire Union Free School faculty. She then explained that, when she "first became superintendent," Daniel Kent contacted her and offered to house the alternative learning program in the Armory. (Suttmeier took over as superintendent on July 1, 2012; Kent took over as executive director of the Galvan Foundation on September 19, 2012.) At the time, there was no ALP, but in April 2013, when she was seeking a site for the new program, Suttmeier called Kent to see if the Armory was still available. Just a month earlier, in March 2013, the Galvan Foundation had offered the space in the Armory not already committed to the Hudson Area Library to the City of Hudson for a senior center. Something else had to be chosen from the Galvan inventory of vacant buildings, and 364 Warren Street was it.

During last night's panel discussion, it seemed frustratingly impossible to separate the noble intentions of the program from the careless and wrongheaded decision to site it in the heart of Hudson's main street. Most people who expressed concern about with the location and dissatisfaction with the process by which it was chosen seemed compelled to preface their criticism with complimentary statements about program lest they be perceived as heartless malcontents. A refreshing exception was Bruce Porter, writer and professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia, now retired and living in Hudson. After Mayor William Hallenbeck's comments, in which he declared that "the bottom line is if one child is saved," Porter began by saying, "Enough of the violins." Porter's criticism was directed at the program: "I have not heard anything here that increases our confidence in this plan." He cited the HCSD administration's record of running "probably the worst high school in the state" and suggested that HCSD has a "record of disaster."

Criticism of the program also came from Linda Mussmann, co-director of Time & Space Limited, who observed that "the community is not included in your grand plan," and predicted that "if the community is not engaged, you will fail." She also spoke of the lack of minority faculty in the Hudson City School District and wanted to know how many of the teachers in the alternative program were minorities. She was told by Potter that three of the ten people who would be working with the students were minorities: the psychologist and two of the support staff. He stressed that the faculty for the program were selected because "they are excellent at what they do."

Joan E. Hunt, project manager for the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, also urged that the program include plans for involving the community. Suttmeier spoke to the intention to "invite students out into the community and invite the community into the school" and said she didn't know how the "myth" that kids will be "locked up in the building" got started. That seemed a rather disingenuous comment, since Suttmeier was present when Joe Catalano, attorney for the Galvan Foundation, tried to persuade the Planning Commission that the school would have no impact on the surrounding neighborhood by saying there would be "minimum use outside the building" and instruction would take place "behind closed doors."


  1. I have to admit I am curious as to where all these kids will have lunch? At their desks?

  2. Square peg into a round hole !

  3. ..."galvan inventory of vacant buildings", says a lot...

  4. I am so proud to be a member of the diverse Hudson community....until these things happen and people crawl out and show their true colors.

    What would happen if someone, or an entire segment of the community, decided they didn't want the gays, or the blacks, or the Jews, or the Hispanics, or the Whites, in their neighborhood because of preconceived notions of who those people are....

    Those against the location of the program already have judged these students...turning them into criminals, thugs, trouble-makers....that's a very sad indication of what our community really is...perhaps it's not as welcoming as you would all pretend it to be.

  5. Badly planned and thought through. Dump i t in Hudson.

  6. the kids will have lunch at the food trucks- i doubt that they will go to american glory or ca mea. the point --- no proper places for them to go.


    they could go to the jamaican jerk chicken place and get chicken and drugs -- we all know its an outlet for more than food and then they could go up a couple of blocks for more drugs and prostitutes. its so much better than being out in canaan in the country on a farm !!

    and sponsored by that wonderful eric galloway -helper of the poor -what a great idea. !

    have the worst school system in the state -- and even the nation-- as the register star once averred- waste more money on this patented mis guided proposal-- or almost a reality if they can actually put it together. the city council should be sued for allowing this to happen. they are so dumb they cant control anything. the old boys run circles around them.

    and it definitely is not helping the poor students. a confederency of dunces the hudson version

  7. I read the comments posted here and elsewhere on this particular topic and wonder what happened to the city I, for better or worse, love. When I talk to people who have never had the pleasure of visiting our friendly city, I tell them how proud I am of what we’ve become. I tell them we’re progressive and oddly cosmopolitan for a tiny upstate NY town. I walk the streets with my kids and smile to myself knowing that they are very naturally living and breathing diversity, something that will carry with them throughout their lives and affect the way they interact in their worlds. We have raised them to accept everyone as they are, without bias, and I’ve always thought that being in Hudson helped reinforce those values in them. I’m beginning to think I’ve been duped.

    “Dump it in Hudson.” Dump WHAT in Hudson...a SCHOOL? Like the elementary school that is only a tenth of a mile away, literally just up the street from 364 Warren? No, absolutely not. Under NO circumstances should we tarnish our otherwise bright, shiny commercial district with the presence of a small (5,500 square ft) school that affords the most at-risk high school students the opportunity to obtain needed skills and graduate. Let’s not all forget that 364 Warren was built as a jail…hundreds of years ago. How could a building that bears no resemblance today to a jail – one that has been gutted and reconfigured multiple times – be a suitable learning environment? Heavens knows that some of Hudson’s most beautiful buildings and even now private residences haven’t been repurposed multiple times, serving purposes that bear little or no resemblance to what they once were…like the DMV, City Hall, Waterfront Studios, and even the building that will house the much anticipated Marina Abramovic Institute? Families inhabit houses that were once churches, community centers, and barns. For some reason, the children that live in those repurposed buildings who wander Warren Street regularly aren’t perceived as a threat to Warren Street businesses.

    “they could go to the jamaican jerk chicken place and get chicken and drugs -- we all know its an outlet for more than food and then they could go up a couple of blocks for more drugs and prostitutes.” Everyone knows that day placement special ed students and other at-risk students carefully plan their daily escapes from school to purchase drugs and frequent prostitutes. Are you kidding me?!

    Potential alternative locations for The Bridge that were suggested at Monday’s meeting at the fire house: Ockawamick School (owned by the county, put up for sale by the Board of Supervisors in June); Claverack School (currently housing the county courthouse, for sale by the HCSD); Greenport School (currently owned by the HCSD, school board accepted a purchase offer in July); Saint Mary’s School (owned by the Catholic church, the same church that pulled the rug out from under the charter school that was to go in there some years ago after an eye-opening forum with a diverse public). Where else could we put it? Hmmm, how about the former Furgary at the north dock, or perhaps the empty building in the swamp on Power Ave that used to house the NYS Workers Comp office? Both of those options are really out of the way where “those” students would be out of the public eye, and there would be no drugs or prostitutes nearby luring them to wander away during the day!

    Like-minded people of Hudson, have we been duped? Is this what we as a community have become?

    -- saddened, disgusted, ashamed of our behavior as a community


    1. Last time I commented on this issue,was August 2nd.
      It was in reply to your post.

      "Hanklin Hudson August 2,2013 at 1:49 PM
      Let’s dispel some myths:"

      ( I only addressed 3 of the 12 bullet points you made,as to why this was all good.)

      " - The former Register Star building was already (previously) approved for use as a school.
      - GalVan generously donated $150K in seed money for the program.
      - Students will arrive somewhere around 8am (long before most surrounding businesses are even open) and leave around 2:30PM. They will not be leaving the building during the day."
      I still feel the same way today,
      so I am going to post my exact reply to you again.
      Prison Alley August 2, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      All the NIMBY rhetoric aside,
      that many of us on the Northside know by heart from GalVan & Scalera's SRO Homeless Shelters, sales pitches;
      The Register Star Bldg. was a Newspaper for 150 years til they sold it to GalVan and it's doubtful that Reg.Star was teaching anyone journalism..so,the only recent school
      "( previously) approved for school use" would be Atlas Jiu Jitsu ,in uptown side of building,that GalVan rents to.
      Not quite sure that's the same thing.

      Forget it's Warren St.retail location, for a moment. Is this the best sized building with no grounds for the kids and no faculty parking, that your people could come up with, for this School, considering its' Mission Statement?

      GalVan giving $ 150,000 " seed money" ..to become the landlords..is like Direct TV ,giving free HBOfor 3 months. Will GalVan remain on the tax roll here for long? There is always something up with this guy. It's a game.He still can't finish the sidewalk ,of one of his boarded up warehoused apt.bldg.messes next door to me,in the last 7 years ,on Warren & N3rd, but he's going to have this school up and running in a month.

      Allen St. School,was
      "(previously)approved for school use" and GalVan owns that.
      Now, that would get really NIMBY quick,but I think it's safely zoned,from this kind of thing
      and anyway Galloway's Mansion is on Allen St.

      There seems to be a lot more appropriate alternatives in this area, that have been mentioned in this post and others ..that would be much better learning environments for kids, that were built for teaching kids and designed for their needs.

      Why would anyone coop up kids,from 8am to 2:30pm and have their food delivered..so they won't go outside?Straight off a bus and then straight back on one,after 6 and 1/2 hrs.
      Most of these kids don't sound like they are too crazy about school to begin with. This is going to help?
      Will they at least get to go into the small fenced in front yard area on Warren St. and get some fresh air?

  8. 364 Warren is not a school !!!
    Schools have things like gyms and exercise rooms. Exercise (vital to students in trouble) is going to be "on line" due to space constraints.
    The people trying to tell us gays, and others that we are all NIMBY or in this case NIMfrontY haven't considered the students and their well being. There isn't a curriculum yet but even if there was we have to find a building with space around it to honor our students instead of cramming our students into a totally inappropriate building simply because its there and available.

  9. Well said Windle. Another thing that I believe all schools have is a cafeteria. Where will these students eat lunch? And do they eat breakfast at home at 7:00AM? So they can get on the bus and be at their desks by 8:00AM. How large a space is the Dunn's Warehouse? Would that have worked and does the city own that building? Then the students can be walked across Front Street and get some exercise in the Waterfont Park.

  10. While I'm all for exploring all possibilities, the Dunn's Warehouse has contamination issues (it was a gasification plant) and would take far in excess of $1Million to make it work as anything, let alone a school. A school would most likely not be allowed.

  11. re: hanklin

    i think we all love the diversity of hudson, but perhaps skeptically question the motives of some of the long time politicians and the galvan initiative.

    the reality is that hudson runs, or has run, as a welfare machine producing vast amounts of money for the local "elite". the naive arrivals in town, mostly to start a new life in a diverse community, sooner or later learn what is really going on.

    the motives of the machine are not to feed, house and educate the poor as much as it is to enrich themselves by underwriting the welfare state as it exists here in upper new york state and the the usa. they suck the funds out for their own benefit because they control the local territory.

    the model of high concentrations of poor families in one sector has been proven to be deleterious to them and not a path to joining the middle class and enjoying some of the benefits of the group. indeed, it sounds as though our friend may scorn middle america.

    some plans that the county has floated in the past included placing families in the st charles hotel -- with no kitchens - at several thousand dollars a month to house the homeless.

    careful research has proven that housing throughout the county could be had at half the price and that the welfare services could have spread out these less fortunate people to more standard living circumstances with better school systems for their children. the easy path was to dump them in an expensive dangerous less humane environment- hudson- because it was easier. and monetarily beneficial to one or two people. is this the right way to administer ? resoundingly, NO !

    the clear fact is that the hudson school system is one of the worst in the state. read the comments on the school system on line. google it. see what the teachers who teach there say. don't bee so lazy. read he state reports.

    the school system is part of the reason that the students do not do well. the system is both inferior and expensive. they are failures but we are going to ahve them start another school ? make them improve what we have. smarter !!

    this is not an environment for underperforming challenged school children. the school system obviously cannot handle the students it has. the ratings are the worst in the worst in the nation. itsd the people running the school - really !!

    if you are going to truly give to the poor, give them something of quality and care. that is not the system in hudson- read the history and learn the truth.

    we are here to live in a diverse community but we want truth and honesty, not poorly conceived ideas only promulgated to feed the hidden rich with little regard for the supposed beneficiaries.

    we would rather have the hudson opera house act as a model for giving to the community. it is real and the children benefit in a kind way.

    there is good here in the new, but a huge amount of bad intentions you may not totally understand.