Monday, August 26, 2013

Ear to the Ground

Gossips has learned that Cheryl Roberts has resigned from Rapport Meyers, the law firm she joined "Of Counsel" in April 2011. Roberts was appointed city attorney by Mayor William Hallenbeck in January 2012. She had previously been employed by the City, since 2006, as legal counsel for and author of Hudson's Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. It is expected that Roberts will be moving into an office in City Hall, which is the first time in at least twenty years, possibly ever, that a city attorney has had an office in the municipal building.


  1. Some of us, as political tyros, may need help here. Is Roberts resigning her firm a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing for Hudson? Does she have a term, or does she serve at the pleasure of each mayor? Is she preparing to run for office? How does this affect Whitbeck's relation to the city? Many thanks!

    1. Clown Town--I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. I don't know why it happened. I simply heard that she resigned.

      She serves, as all city attorneys do, at the pleasure of the mayor. She was first appointed by Dick Tracy in 2006, as kind of an assistant city attorney. She served as the attorney for the LWRP and unofficially for a while as the attorney for the Common Council, attending Legal Committee meetings with Bob Gagen, who was then the city attorney.

      When Rick Scalera returned to office in 2008, she continued as the attorney for the LWRP, and when Bill Hallenbeck became mayor in 2012, he appointed her city attorney. She now, an addition to being city attorney, serves as counsel to the Planning Commission, the ZBA, and the Historic Preservation Commission--jobs that used to be farmed out to "assistant city attorneys," Kevin Colwell being one of them.

      I doubt that it will affect Whitbeck's relationship to the City. Christine Chale, who has been for years and still is the City's bond attorney, is like Whitbeck a partner at Rapport Meyers.

  2. Hmm, all eggs in one basket and right before a decisive election.

    If the decision shows an overweening confidence in the outcome of the election (her office is a mayoral appointment), then there's still a lot at stake in her gamble.

    Another interpretation is that Rapport Myers terminated the relationship.

    It was only a few months ago that an appalling collusion was revealed between: a local engineering firm; the city's title search agency; Roberts for the city; and Roberts acting through Rapport Myers.

    The public was never able to ascertain what Roberts' assistant at Rapport Myers, Virginia Benedict, had ordered for a title search at the behest of the Common Council's Resolution No. 2 of last September 18th.

    Actions on behalf of the public that were channelled through Rapport Myers were not susceptible to Freedom of Information Law inquiries, and the severely limited and totally suspicious circumstances of the order made by Benedict were never explained.

    In April, Karl Whitbeck of Rapport Myers went to bat for parties unknown, appearing before the Common Council to calm public concerns about the title search and the demonstrably flawed engineering report that was based on it.

    Thanks to public outrage, Whitbeck's testimony was ultimately proven wrong. (Some parties claim that Whitbeck had already discussed the actual history of the site with them and that his previous knowledge contradicted his recent amnesia, but a careful parsing of his language shows that he didn't actually lie when he misled the council in April.)

    After an arduous, months-long investigative effort - the likes of which Hudson's official Newspaper of Record would never have contemplated - the public's worries were ultimately vindicated.

    As a direct consequence of this vindication, this writer was barred from communicating with Cheryl Roberts at her Rapport Myers email address, an address she will ostensibly no longer own. The threat against me was not specified, but one can only begin to imagine.

    It's for this reason that it is paramount that in her remaining time as an official for the City of Hudson, Cheryl Roberts be given an official city email address along with her new office space. With an official address she will have a much harder time proving a case of harassment before a court.

    This attorney's shadowy activities must become more available to public scrutiny and not less; she must not be permitted to hide in even plainer view than she did before.

    Clown Town asks whether Hudson's political climate just become more or less healthy? It's hard to say, but I'll wager that Rapport Myers severed the relationship and not the other way around.

  3. So many questions, so little time... Will Roberts be reducing her fees now that she won't have to contribute a portion of her fees to Rapport Meyers, or reimburse the City for her public office space? Can she guarantee she won't do work for outside clients in her taxpayer-funded office space? Will she be demanding that Hallenbeck move out of the Mayor’s room, and into the broom closet down the hall—or askfor the Treasurer’s space instead? Will the Council formally relinquish its legislative role and make it official that the City Attorney is in charge of all decision-making?

  4. "Will the Council formally relinquish its legislative role and make it official that the City Attorney is in charge of all decision-making?"

    For anyone who doesn't already know, the question is so apt that it provides little irony for amusement.

    I'd still like Roberts to reimburse the city for months of her fraudulent LWRP "work" in 2009.

    In February 2009, Roberts and Mayor Scalera received a prohibitive letter from CSX which neither brought to the council's attention for another 9 months.

    But when Roberts' draft GEIS was completed in November 2009 (the SEQRA-required environmental impact statement), its elaborate plan would have required a total ignorance about the specific directions in the CSX letter which only she and the mayor knew existed.

    The CSX letter was first made known to the SEQRA Lead Agency (in this case the Common Council) in a printed Appendix to the same November GEIS the contents of which the February letter disallowed.

    How was this not some form of fraud?!

    With the noteworthy exception of one minute earlier this year, the letter from CSX has never been posted among the other GEIS Appendixes at the city's website.

    Then late one night I watched amazed as the GEIS Appendixes were switched out for other documents, some I'd seen elsewhere and some that were new to me. Among these was the February 2009 letter from CSX which momentarily showed up as "Appendix C," just as it's referred to in the text of the GEIS.

    While it was happening I frantically took screen shots of those documents which were new to me.

    Later on I asked our surprised Clerk to explain the occurrence. She ran a program which showed that the Appendixes hadn't been altered in over a year and no recent maintenance had been done for any page on the website.

    She explained that aside from herself, only the mayor, Mr. Moore or Ms. Roberts could have altered the GEIS Appendixes.

    I tried to raise the issue at a Common Council meeting but was typically silenced by Mr. Moore.

    I'd have taken the matter to the District Attorney but no permanent changes were made to the city website. There was no harm done.

    Nevertheless, I'd still like to see the 2/13/09 letter from CSX appear among the online GEIS Appendixes as another condition of Roberts' installation and mission creep into city government.

  5. The arbitrary and capricious LWRP began by moving/removing ancient boat yards, already in default positions, to make room for land loving tourist. Their efforts have tied the waterfront in knots.

    1. The absence of a Harbor Management Plan in the LWRP was criticized in the public comments of March 2010.

      Roberts' replies to the public comments were published in May 2011. Some of the responses were so obtuse that they changed the subjects of the comments to become almost unrecognizable. One of her responses even elicited a threat of libel against the city, and the passage was removed from the final version.

      But the response to the charge that the city had shirked an opportunity to form a Harbor Management Plan - she opined that the HMP was "implicit" and that anyway we didn't need one - was explained by the simultaneous publication of a June 2, 2010 letter from Holcim and O&G. In their letter they argued that Hudson doesn't need a Harbor management Plan, case closed.

      Shouldn't Roberts be kept away from the LWRP from now on? And yet she is moving closer to the file cabinet that houses it. The unfinished LWRP will be kept in her office!

      Roberts HAS to become an issue in the mayoral campaign.

      [Calling Victor Mendolia ...]

    2. Ignorance of the law is no excuse; the misuse of real estate law on land beneath Navigable water, to enhance its price is illegal. HDC, the IDA, City of (Roberts) Hudson, and Crawford all knew, or should have known that, when they proffered the fraudulent application for a grant of land formerly under water.

      They now frustrate river access during the hunting and fishing seasons, October through May when no one else is using her, and were also revealed to be terrible slip stewards during this Summer season. It is an abuse of power, an overreach, a perversion of the public use doctrine that should soon end.

      1 Riparian