Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Another Evening at City Hall

In April, there was some disagreement about whether Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) had told Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward) to show up and do his job or shut up and do his job. (Haddad maintained he had said show up; Gossips recorded that he had said show up; the Register-Star reported otherwise.) Last night, however, there seemed no question that Council president Don Moore, during one of the Council's more explosive moments, told Haddad to shut up. Gossips will touch upon the circumstances that provoked that harsh rebuke while recounting the highlights of Monday night's informal Common Council meeting.

Ferry Street Bridge The bad news, of course, is that this critical means of access to the waterfront has been judged unsafe and closed for three months. The good news is that city attorney Carl Whitbeck has finally determined that the City does indeed own the bridge. In the letter written to the mayor and copied to the members of the Common Council, Whitbeck states in part: 
I have done a considerable amount of research in the public records in the Columbia County Clerk's Office and in the City's records, including Common Council minutes and resolutions. . . . It is clear to me and it is my opinion that the City of Hudson owns the Ferry Street Bridge and Ferry Street on the east and west ends of the Bridge. Ferry Street has been a city street in the City of Hudson since in or about 1785, along with Broad Street, and has always provided access from Water Street and the riverfront to Front Street on the east side of the railroad. As you know, the railroad was not constructed until in or about 1850 and both Broad Street and Ferry Street continued to be public thoroughfares to the waterfront after that construction.
Ownership of the bridge is hailed as good news because, according to Supervisor Bill Hughes (Fourth Ward), uncertainty about ownership was the only thing preventing the county from directing federal funds that pass through the county for bridge and highway repair toward the Ferry Street Bridge in Hudson.

Police & Court Center With the cost analysis and the value engineering now complete, Moore announced the unhappy outcome: "We're going to have to spend more money for this project." How much more was not made known, but at its regular August meeting, the Council will be voting on three resolutions: the first authorizing the payment of $33,500 to Sabir, Richardson & Weisberg Engineers to do the architectural drawings for the redesign that will shave $700,000 off the construction costs of the building; the second authorizing an anticipation note for an unspecified amount of additional funding; and the third dedicating the proceeds from the sale of 427 and 429 Warren Street (the current police and court buildings) toward the cost of the new building. 

Just to recap: The single bid that the City received for the police and court building was $1.5 million more than what the City had to spend. Reducing the cost by $700,000 and adding what was conservatively estimated as $650,000 for the sale of the two buildings on Warren Street, narrows the gap to $150,000.   

Moore made it clear that if the Council did not pass the first resolution, to pay for the engineering drawings, the project would stop, and the Office of Court Administration (OCA) would take matters into their own hands. They would construct a facility for the city court--for the court only, not for the police--and send Hudson the bill. If OCA were to take this action, it would interfere with state aid coming to the City, which amounts to just under $1.5 million annually ($1,456,991).

Alderman "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward), still loyal to Rick Scalera's dream of constructing a police and court building on the corner of Fourth and Columbia streets and blaming the architect for not designing a building that could be constructed for the money allocated, wanted to know what the architect's original budget was. Moore explained that the bid from Sabir, Richardson & Weisberg had been the lowest, and with the additional expense for cost analysis and value engineering and now for sixteen to eighteen pages of revised engineering documents, the total now equaled the next highest bid.

Although the idea of the state building a court facility for us was meant to be a threat, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) asked David Dellehunt, the OCA representative present at the meeting, how much the state would charge to build the building, as if hoping that option might be a better deal. Dellehunt told her he didn't have that information. Moore remarked, "We're proceeding on the assumption that it's not going to be any less."

Alderman Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) asked, "Where's the mayor? Do we have a Plan B?" Mayor's aide, Gene Shetsky, who was present in the audience responded, "No decision has been made about moving forward."

Senior Center  Things were getting a little tense during the discussion of the police and court building, but all hell broke loose when they got to a draft resolution, which came from the mayor's office, so late that it didn't get into the press packets. The resolution was to approve giving $100,000 to the Galvan Foundation for the senior center. Moore began by saying the the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA), which is made up of the mayor, the Council president, and the treasurer, needed to pass on the resolution before the Council could act. Moore expressed his intention not to approve it, as did city treasurer Heather Campbell, present in the audience. 

Since the resolution had not come through committee, three aldermen needed to introduce it, and four did: Donahue, Garriga, Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward), and Keith. (Interestingly, the weighted votes of those four people are just seven shy of constituting a majority.) The verbal melee began when Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) asked, "When do we get upset with this?" It ended when one alderman called another a knucklehead, and Moore terminated the discussion, declaring, "This matter has proven to be undiscussable."

At issue, of course, is the Galvan Foundation's demand that Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency make good its offer, made back when the City has planning to build its own facility for seniors, to contribute $100,000 to the project. Galvan is now holding HCDPA to its offer, allegedly threatening that without this money, they will not complete the senior center. It has been determined that HCDPA cannot legally give money to a private not-for-profit--and even if they could, it would bankrupt the agency. The mayor's resolution apparently seeks Common Council approval for the City to give Galvan $100,000, presumably from the general fund. The request raises the question, voiced by Friedman, "Can a city cut a check to a nonpublic entity for nothing in particular?" 

Although Moore called a halt to the discussion of this issue by the aldermen, he allowed Campbell to make a statement. She prefaced her comments by saying that "no one does not want the senior center to happen," and then went on to quote the memorandum of understanding the City entered into with Galvan in April 2013, stressing the phrases "at no cost to the City" and "potentially available." "There is nothing in the MOU," Campbell stated, "that says HCDPA must provide $100,000." She pointed out that the lease that the City has entered into with Galvan is based on the MOU and argued that the $100,000 was needed by the City for programming and staff for the senior center. Keith, who was one of the aldermen who introduced the resolution, then agreed that the money should be used for programming.

Speeding Cars and Pedestrians  Supervisor Ed Cross (Second Ward), from the audience, brought up a variation of a concern he regularly voices at Council meetings: speeding on streets and in alleys and the threat it poses to pedestrians. This was the prompt for Friedman to discourse on the police department, asserting that it is "managed by its PBA contract" and claiming there is "no money in the budget to actually police the city." He made reference to a couple who had been slashed in a broken bottle fight at Warren and First streets a few weekends ago and the car of an alderman candidate, parked overnight in the 200 block of Warren Street, whose back window had been shattered by a bullet, noting that neither incident had been reported in the local press. The police contract, Friedman alleged, "prevents us from having more than two police officers on duty at any one time." To this, Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) added, "People in the First Ward are screaming for protection."

Cross tried to direct the discussion back to the issue of speeding and pedestrians, declaring, "Pedestrians have no rights." Evidence that what Cross said is true happens every day, notably last Friday when a man and his dog were struck in the crosswalk at Warren and Fifth streets by a driver making a left turn. Remarkably, the driver, after hitting man and dog, claimed that he had the right of way!

Moore responded to Cross's demand that the Council do something by suggesting that the Council "put out a contract to get someone in here to advise us on traffic calming."


  1. Another great report, Carole. My experience with local government legislative bodies (school board, 5 years, 6 months) suggests that people on these bodies start yelling at each other when there is a tradition of not following a) Roberts Rules of Order, b) rules and regulations of the particular body, and/or c) the law. In my brief dip back into CC proceedings this spring and summer (towit: the sewer separation project), it was clear that this Council suffered from all 3 problems. So, while it is no surprise to read this narrative of dysfunction, it is nevertheless alarming to see that this operation is funded with taxpayer monies.

    1. You plainly obfuscate what should actually alarm you: GalVan's utterly contemptible grab for 100g of taxpayer money.

      It is an obscenity that this passes for a legislative resolution in the City of Hudson, a joke really, that Eric & Rick can laugh all the way to the bank about. Yet we ask our representatives to debate it in goodwill? And to that end, Peter, don't you ever wonder if perhaps its the content itself–bold graft the likes of GalVan insist on foisting upon the legislative body–that eviscerates the tradition of orderly bureaucracy & those pleasures you clearly derive from it?

    2. Dear Dave, don't blame Galvan. The City has the power. If a steamroller comes through town and the CC says nothing, who then should we blame? Angels? God? Tinkerbell? We're to blame Galvan for the CC's dysfunction? Puuuuleeeeese!

    3. The steamroller dubbed Scalera, fueled by Galvan, as the puppets dance in the CC to 'Obfuscation' while they collect their health insurance perks... taxpayers remain mysticized.

    4. Elegantly put, Vincent.

      If I may hazard an addendum, "taxpayers increasingly scandalized."

  2. Gossips received the following comment from Susan Troy:

    Hudson has been fortunate to have had the dedicated service of the same Commissioner of Aging, Mrs. Moore, a lovely lady, under several administrations. Has she been an active participant in the public and privates conversations regarding the Senior Center?

    And perhaps she could speak to the recent (or even the not so recent) history regarding building a Senior Center for Hudson's Seniors.

  3. Put out a contract? How about have the HPD enforce the speed limit?

  4. Maybe it;s time to take the governor's advice, merge HPD with the CC Sheriff, sell all three "police properties," pay Galloway the money he is owed and then focus on finding a developer that can build a bridge over the RR tracks large enough for a huge riverfront complex.

    It's time to make a move!

  5. Almost three years ago I asked the learned council "why remove docks from the state launch just before hunting season? Mr. Moore answered "there will ne mo hunting."

    Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544 (1981) (It is unlawful to block the public easment for "sport fishing and duck hunting.").

    The will of the people no longer matters. The rule of law no longer matters. The preservation of history and tradition are now disregarded.

    In the most corrupt state on the country, all is for the corrupt.

    1. Here's what Common Council President Don Moore said on July 9, 2012, on WGXC:

      "I don't think that many of [the cabins], if any, are used in the same way that they were 50 or 60 years ago, when there was extensive hunting and fishing ... " [21:46].

      "I don't have any sense of what the cost would be [to raze the cabins]. ... It would be simply a matter of removing the structures" [23:48].


      Mr. Moore also denied that anyone from Furgary was involved during the (fraudulent) LWRP workshops, but it's documented he was wrong about that too.

      When these amateurs speak off the cuff, they never suppose anyone will catch them out.

    2. Cappy said three years ago "no way the cabins can stand another winter"

      When we acquired cabin number 11 twenty-five years ago, I wondered; why would anybody paint only half of the exterior?

      Couple of years later, the Faithful Lady got the whim to enter through the windows and it became quite clear where the paint went to, she had been then there many times before.

      Stuck my head in through the window last week and it looks much the same as it did three years ago.

      It's a betrayal of the public trust to intentionally degrade a historic site. Somebody should start to stabilize the damage done by these corrupt politicians in search of grant money to replace the evicted stewards of the poor mans pathway to paradise.