Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Last Night at City Hall

The mayor's hearing on the budget lasted all of three minutes. The mayor opened the hearing, acknowledged that he had received written comments from Steve Dunn, and proclaimed that those wishing to comment "shall rise from their seat and state their name." No one rose from his or her seat to make a comment, and thus the hearing was promptly closed.

The most newsworthy part of all that transpired at City Hall last night came after the Council had run through the agenda of its regular November meeting. The room was filled to overflowing with people who had turned out to defend the Savoia. Incited by John Mason's report in the Register-Star about the Police Committee meeting on October 27, "Closing time for bars under scrutiny," and believing that the Council would be discussing the Savoia, a large contingent of Savoia patrons came out to speak of the importance of the bar to Hudson's African American community and to praise its proprietor, Barbara Walthour.

John Mason reports on the event in today's Register-Star: "Support for the Savoia brings out large crowd." Interestingly, the Register-Star seems to have had prior knowledge of the community's plans to attend the Council meeting. Register-Star photographer, David Lee was on hand to take pictures, and earlier in the day Register-Star reporter Arthur Cusano had interviewed Walthour.

What was interesting about the event was that it took so long to dispel the misconception that the Common Council was or even could entertain the idea of shutting the Savoia down. Finally, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) asked rhetorically and with some exasperation, "Could we stop this charade? We can't do anything."

The situation seemed to be clarified toward the end of the discussion, when a Savoia patron, who identified himself for Gossips only as Randall, alleged that "the police department is doing unfair reporting [about the Savoia] to the [New York State] Liquor Authority." He attested that the Savoia was "probably one of the strictest and most well-run establishments." To these comments, Council president Don Moore responded, "We either have to have faith in what the police tell us or not."

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