Friday, July 24, 2015

Hallenbeck Vetoes, Moore Responds

Yesterday, Mayor William Hallenbeck vetoed the resolution passed by the Council to file an Article 78 lawsuit to compel the Columbia County Board of Elections to change the ward boundaries to conform with the description of those boundaries set forth in the city charter. The mayor's two-page veto message can be read here. It turns out the mayor was too busy writing his veto message to attend the HCDPA board meeting at which the three members who did show up voted two to one against providing $100,000 for the senior center.

In his veto statement, Hallenbeck sets forth four points that are the "grounds for his belief" that the City should not proceed with an Article 78. (1) He talks about the ward boundaries in the charter being different from the boundaries the Board of Elections has used "for decades upon decades." (2) He suggests that the Board of Elections must have been instructed to change the ward boundaries at some point. (3) He mentions the unsuccessful referendum in 2003 to change the ward boundaries. (4) He accuses Council president Don Moore of shifting the residents of Crosswinds from the Fourth Ward to the Fifth Ward when he gave the 2010 census data to Lee Papayanopoulos to calculate the weighted vote.

Soon after Hallenbeck issued his veto message, Moore made this statement in an email:
The Mayor’s veto message on the ward boundaries resolution is two pages of contradictory fog and finger pointing, except at himself. He acts as if he hasn’t been in office for the last year, or the last four years, when the subject of boundaries, or for that matter weighted voting (which has nothing to do with correcting the Ward boundaries), were discussed. Last year, it was brought to the Mayor’s and the Council’s attention that the boundaries clearly described in the City Charter, the law, were not being followed. It seemed a simple matter to fix. When the conflict came to light, yes, I took the initiative to see where the problem lay and what needed to be done to correct it. Eligible voters are supposed to vote in the Wards where they live, not in a Ward where they don’t live. That is the law in Hudson. It's the law all over the country. Everywhere. Somewhere in the distant past, whether it was ten years ago or forty, no one with whom I spoke had any knowledge of when or by whom the voting district lines were changed. Frankly, it didn’t matter. What would be gained by taking time to figure out how it had happened? What problem would that solve? None. It would delay correcting the error. I made that clear to the Mayor and to the Council when I discussed the issue with them. In order to confirm the lawful boundaries, we engaged a certified surveyor to map the boundaries. In April, the city attorney sent the map to the Board of Elections with a request to adjust the boundaries. All of this was public. If the Mayor cared to take a different position, he could have had the decency to say so months ago.

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