Wednesday, July 22, 2015

First News of the Marathon Council Meeting

Last night's Common Council meeting had to be two meetings rolled into one, and Council president Don Moore accomplished the feat by not entertaining comments from the public--at least not when the most controversial subject on the agenda was being considered: the resolution to declare the proposed sewer separation project a Type 2 action. Moore made it clear at the outset that this was an opportunity for the aldermen to ask questions of DPW superintendent Rob Perry and representatives from Delaware Engineering (the only recognized experts present), that the only resolution to be considered was the one declaring the project at Type 2 action, and that he himself had determined a Type 2 designation to be most appropriate.

Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) early on asked the question, "If this project were complete and there were a storm, what would happen?" Perry responded, "It would be the same as now," which begs the question, "Why bother spending $600,000?" 

As the conversation proceeded, Perry modified his statement, reported in the Register-Star, that the 525 feet of new pipe will be empty until other storm water sections--sections that include treatment components--are in place. Tonight, Perry said the new pipe--the "storm line"--"would be dry until there's a storm event," which sounds very much as if untreated storm water would be directed into North Bay, despite Perry's earlier protestations to the contrary.

Perry maintained that the "overflow from the [waste water treatment] plant [during significant storm events] is significantly dirtier than untreated storm water." The representative from Delaware Engineering made the (obvious) point that no one would design a system that was combined today." Moore reeled off the names of a number of river cities, among them Poughkeepsie and Beacon, "that are building systems like this and are considering them Type 2." There was talk of ratios of storm water to sewage, effluent and settling, Hudson's SPDES permit and the consent order, and hydraulic separators to be installed at some unknown future date. 

Moore ignored Timothy O'Connor's raised hand, and when one of the aldermen suggested he should recognize O'Connor, Moore said, in effect, "If I let him speak, I'll have to let others speak." Getting through the twenty-two item agenda as quickly as possible was clearly the goal.

When it came time to vote on the resolution that's been knocking around for four months, everyone voted to declare the project a Type 2 action, requiring no environmental review, except the two First Ward aldermen: Nick Haddad and Rick Rector. Moore didn't want to bother having the city clerk calculate the weighted vote, since he was confident the resolution had passed, but it was done anyway.

When the result of the vote was announced, O'Connor told the Council, "You were lied to," and left the room. The ever affable Alderman "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) replied, "Good night, Tim. Don't come back again."

There's lots more to tell about the meeting that lasted for more than two hours. This is just the beginning.


  1. Sounds like the same 'git it dun' scenario shenanigans of the passage of the LWRP.

  2. Excellent reporting Carole.

    I didn't actually hear any mention of the stormwater to sewage ratio, although any rational discussion on the subject ought to begin every sentence with it.

    I only heard the usual "all things being equal" approach, the engineers never having admitted what they found when they calculated the total annual runoff with all of its contaminants (they're easy calculations, folks). Like the inconvenient lack of a project "mandate," they simply ignored any news which contradicted the City's game plan.

    (A side lesson in representative democracy: it's the job of the Aldermen to ask about these things on behalf of their constituents.)

    Vincent, you're the first to mention the similarities with the LWRP, and you're definitely onto something. The sewer separation idea grew out of a similar sort of comprehensive plan for Combined Sewer Overflows, called an LTCP. But unlike an LWRP (and sewer separation!), our LTCP was mandatory.

    Hudson's LTCP was years in development, both before and after the first draft was submitted in 2003. The federal policy that directs it, and the state policy which administers, both emphasize the importance of public participation "throughout."

    In 2009, Hudson got away with an approved LTCP which saw no public participation. Last night was the first big pay-off of the earlier LTCP swindle.

    The DEC's Andrea Dzierwa (a career bureaucrat who still sleeps at the wheel on our behalves) was aware of the situation all along. She stated repeatedly that the public must be involved, but DPW Superintendent Butterworth simply waited her out.

    In 2009, a single brief meeting was held, but the Minutes (FOILed) don't reflect the meeting Agenda (FOILed). Naturally, the Agenda was written for the benefit of the state regulator ("see, we finally talked about it"), and without further delay Ms. Dzierwa approved the 2003 Draft LTCP for the city's comprehensive Combined Sewer Overflow plan without changing a word. Even the original typos are intact.

    That's how last night's proceedings were most like the LWRP, except that with our LTCP the public didn't know a thing about the plan until it was 100% complete.

    The same Andrea Dzierwa approved the city's claim that no "sensitive habitats" are found in Hudson, and no federal- or state-listed species are found here (wrong in both cases, as Audubon New York just pointed out to the Common Council).

    In 2007, the FBI investigated the relationship between our LTCP consultants and City of Hudson officials, but after it was discovered that no federal laws were broken the state evidently did not investigate further.

    We should all give thanks that Mr. Moore's mulit-year reign of near-continuous water-carrying for the serial the liars and cheats who basically own this city will soon come to an end. He is perhaps the worst kind of politician, who genuinely believes he's an environmental advocate when his actual offenses against our local ecology are too profound and overwhelming to describe short of giving a seminar. He's like Cortez in Mexico, or Cromwell in Ireland, who justified their ugly deeds in the belief that they acted on behalf of higher powers.

    There's an old saying that "there's none so blind as those who do not wish to see." So what do we do with these types? We turn them into politicians!

    I still hope to vindicate the good sense of my 1st Ward Aldermen who likely perceived they were lied to last night.

  3. Ayes:

    Don Moore
    Abdus Miah
    Tiffany Garriga
    John Friedman
    Henry Haddad
    Alexis Keith
    Ohrine Stewart
    Robert Donohue
    Bart Delaney


    Nick Haddad
    Rick Rector

  4. When I started working on this project with Mr. O'Connor several months ago, I believed that all we had to do was bring the science and the policy to the attention of the Council and they would see the light and understand what a disaster the sewer separation project as currently conceived would be for the North Bay. What I found in the intervening months, however, was that, except for 2, none of the members of the Council cared about the science or the policy -- or the facts. What a shame for Hudson. At least we have Tim O'Connor and I want to thank him for carrying the torch for the environment on this and for shining the light on the City's bad actions. We now know what dirty money looks like. I urge anyone who cares about Hudson to write Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman Gibson and tell them we don't want federal money polluting our waterfront.

    1. You are so right, Peter.
      It is a shame on the council for not wanting to protect the River

    2. Thank you for the honor, Peter. It couldn't have been done without you, without the others on our Task Force, and without a half dozen other individuals who may not want their names mentioned.

      I've already taken your advice and written to the representatives on your list, along with several others.

      The individuals whose names are now tied to this dirty grant money believe that their votes put the whole business behind them.

      Not so fast folks, the city has overlooked a few things ...

  5. sorry to hear this news…..thank you, Carole, for reporting on it

  6. Thank you Carole for the great reporting. Thank you Nick and Rick for voting the right way, and to the rest of the Common Council - keep the blinkers on because as with the waterfront issues our waterfront which is our most precious resource will remain stultified for years to come. However as Hudson has resurrected itself with no help from the powers that be perhaps the waterfront will too.... although the water may not be too great.

  7. And thank you Tim, for your eternal concern and efforts.

  8. Five years and fifteen million dollars later, the only thing they have separated is fishermen and duck hunters from North Dock.

  9. "An army, great in space, may offer opposition in a brief span of time. One man, brief in space, must spread his opposition across a period of many years if he is to have a chance of succeeding" - Roger Zelazny.