Thursday, August 20, 2015

One Last Post About Tuesday's Council Meeting

Two days have passed since Tuesday's two-hour Common Council meeting, but one more resolution passed in the marathon session merits mention: the resolution authorizing the mayor "to enter into an agreement with Ambient Environmental, Inc., for a sum not to exceed $11,262 to complete asbestos and lead-based paint testing services for the seventeen (17) dilapidated structures situate on the City's property adjacent to the Sewage Treatment Plant in the North Bay Area of the City"--in other words, the Furgary Boat Club.

When the resolution was first introduced at the July Common Council meeting, there was a great hue and cry from the aldermen. It was originally estimated that the testing would cost $4,500, but Ambient had advised the City that, because of the extent of the testing needed, it is going to cost $11,262. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) called it a waste of money. "We know it's dirty," he asserted, speaking of the entire Furgary site. At that meeting, it was decided to defer voting on the resolution until an estimate for the demolition, based on the assumption that everything to be knocked down and removed was hazardous waste, was obtained from Meyers Contracting. Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) volunteered to get that estimate.

Since the July meeting, a couple of things have happened. First, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) determined that the settlement of shacks now known as the Furgary Boat Club meets the eligibility criteria for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Then, thanks to the persistence of Timothy O'Connor, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) weighed in and made it clear that, because the shacks are located in a state-regulated wetland, a Freshwater Wetlands Permit would be required to remove them. At Tuesday's meeting, Council president Don Moore seemed to indicate that, if the City did not complete the appropriate testing, DEC would fine the City $2,000 per shack. The SHPO determination, however, was never mentioned, although Moore received the word of it on July 31, at the same time Gossips did.

When the Council voted on the resolution, Friedman, who had called it a waste of money, abstained, and Haddad, who had volunteered to get the estimate from Meyers, voted no. The rest of the members present voted yes, and the resolution passed.

So far, to Gossips knowledge anyway, the Common Council has not publicly acknowledged the SHPO determination or discussed its ramifications.


  1. "To continue and advance the state’s commitment to the preservation, enhancement and development of the world­renowned scenic, natural, historic, cultural and recreational resources of the Hudson River Valley while continuing to emphasize economic development activities and remaining consistent with the tradition of municipal home rule. " Overview: Hudson River Valley Greenway Act of 1991...

    What good is the Act of 1991 if municipal servants;

    1) Demean the unpaid stewards of this historic site and Intentionally degrade it, in order to preserve it with bulldozers?

    2) Use fences to enhance the people's freedom to navigate form land to water, a "permanent easement of "unfettered free and easy access" for fishing, duck hunting and recreation?

    3) Preserve and promote a unique vernacular and ancient traditions by dismembering life long associations and abolishing the constitutional right to peacefully assemble, in the only place where the fish are biting?

    One other expense our spendthrift home ruling servants might consider, yesterday I met with the oracle of law and it was agreed by all, that on lands for public use, it all comes down to what land use lawyer to use.

    1 Riparian

    P.S. FYI: In the last picture above, the brown cabin (# 2) was only built 10 years ago, you wouldn't find much lead or asbestos there.

    1. Joe, you overlook the fact that Mr. Moore redefined our use of the shore years ago.

      Three weeks before he first began ignoring the state-required Freshwater Wetlands Permit in July 2012 (finally acknowledged by the Common Council this week), president Moore announced on WGXC that "hunting, and fishing, and trapping" were a thing of the past.

      With capable-sounding mastery he concluded that "at this point it's speculation to say that [the shacks are] almost exclusively recreational and simply a second home ..."

      In Hudson, if you want to redefine other people and their activities to conform to your own interests, just become the kind of a public servant to which everything, even laws, must bend in the presence.

    2. From the National Organization for Rivers regarding the prehistoric use;

      After the American Revolution, state and federal courts upheld public fishing rights, as well as state authority to regulate fishing to conserve fisheries. In Arnold v. Mundy, the owner of land next to a river claimed private ownership of the fishing rights, but the court said this amounted to claiming that “Magna Charta was a farce.” The court relied on “the law of nature, which is the only true foundation of all the social rights,” and said Magna Charta was “nothing but a restoration of common rights,” then held that the state “cannot make a direct and absolute grant of the waters of the state, divesting all the citizens of their common right,” adding that such a grant “never could be long borne by a free people.” In Martin v. Waddell, the U.S. Supreme Court held that in America, as in England, the public has a “liberty of fishing in the sea, or creeks, or arms thereof, as a public common of piscary.” (Fishing place.) In subsequent cases, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states hold surface waters “in trust” for the people, so that the people will have “liberty of fishing therein freed from the obstruction or interferences of private parties.” It held that a state cannot “abdicate its trust over property in which the whole people are interested,” and that rivers “shall not be disposed of piecemeal to individuals as private property.” These principles are now known as the Public Trust Doctrine. Arnold v. Mundy, 6 N.J.L. 1 (1821). Martin v. Waddell, 41 U.S. (16 Pet.) 367, 10 L.ed 997 (1842). Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Illinois, 146 U.S. 387, 36 L.ed 1018 (1892). Shively v. Bowlby, 152 U.S. 1, 38 L.ed 331 (1894).

    3. Only slightly off-topic, it was those ancient rights "upheld" that explains why the War of Independence wasn't technically a "revolution," and thank goodness for that.

      Edmund Burke wrote that "from Magna Charta to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of [the English] Constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity ... without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means our Constitution preserves an unity in so great a diversity of its parts."

      Of revolutionaries he wrote, "a spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views."

      It was because King George III had made the same mistake of disregarding our ancient liberties that Burke, a Monarchist, had sided with the American colonists and with the irish in their respective struggles against the crown.

      Today, we see imperious city officials picking which laws they'll abide by and which ones they'll dare you to challenge in court. The older the law, the better it is for them to disregard.

      For example, when I asked President Moore how he could ignore the fact that the Promenade Park was granted to - and owned by - the Common Council, he scoffed that "that was over 200 years ago!"

      As with King George, so with "revolutionaries," and so with local officials everywhere.

      George Will said recently that "many people go into government because they enjoy bossing people around."

      The capricious exercise of power shows an essentially selfish temper, confined views, and a disregard for any values that precede or threaten one's own.

      In a word, Hudson is forever under the thumb of incorrigible cynics.

  2. On May 19, attorney Carl Whitbeck tried to get the language of the Resolution authorizing the demolition of the shacks to include the words "without delay," despite the fact that the council was informed on April 13 that the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) wasn't finished with its assessment of the site.

    I say "was informed," but I really mean that the public had informed the council by way of a correction, after Messrs. Moore and Haddad insisted that the state had concluded its research.

    The evident decision to omit SHPO from the equation, which was initially a loose end on the way to an obvious conclusion - i.e., that the shacks would have no historical value - met its first challenge with this public correction which threw doubt on the god-like status of certain council members (if that were even possible!).

    Then, SHPO did what it wasn't supposed to do, and discovered a value which is outside the sphere of the council members who sought election to pursue only their own values.

    As in the past - and especially under Mr. Moore's tutelage - the council simply ignores challenges to its collective will even when the values expressed are those of a majority; e.g., 521 people calling for a $500 environmental assessment. (When things get really tough, Mr. Moore disallows public comment.)

    At the May meeting, just before the council's unanimous decision to demolish the shacks, and only weeks before SHPO's determination that the site is actually eligible for listing, Mr. Moore explained that "this small group [the council] happens to be the government of Hudson ... The subject of the shacks "has come up here any number of times both here in this, with this body and in private discussions in private groups outside, so it's not, this is not a hasty decision" (5/19/15 CC Minutes, p. 174).

    The very next thing President Moore did was to dismiss a suggestion that a single summary document be drafted so "that the Council could then review in the specifics in terms of historic preservation, environmental decay, etc, etc, have it all listed in one place" (Ibid, p. 174).

    President Moore to the public: "I'm not sure what would be included in the [single] document that we haven't already reviewed."

    Now it turns out that Mr. Moore's review of the subject wasn't so exhaustive after all. Wonder of wonders, the Common Council has discovered the necessity of a Freshwater Wetlands Permit before it can implement its unanimous demolition Resolution from May.

    They should be careful, however, because among the subjects of the required permit WHICH WAS FIRST BROUGHT TO THE CITY'S ATTENTION ON JULY 26, 2012, will be a NYS-Threatened plant.

    The inner circle of council members (and their usual satellites) who are likely calculating the fines for ignoring the permit as a simple operating cost, should consider the possibility of criminal penalties for knowingly ignoring protections for the unlawful taking of NYS-listed species.

    At what point does autocratic ignorance cross over into autocratic contempt? And when does contempt cross over into criminality?

  3. when does contempt cross over into criminality?

    The very minute they colluded and conspired with HDC and CEDC to restrict our collective liberty by restraining trade and more importantly, our purely social intercourse.