Friday, November 27, 2015

The More Things Change . . .

A hundred years ago, by a proclamation delivered by President Woodrow Wilson, Thanksgiving was observed on Thursday, November 25. On the Friday after Thanksgiving 1915, the Common Council held a meeting. The next day, Saturday, November 27, what transpired at that meeting was reported in the Hudson Evening Register. It's an interesting account for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the mention that the Council was working on drafting the city charter, which would not to enacted into law for another six years. A transcription of that report follows.

Recorder Hall and Aldermen Avery, Connelly, Finigan, Golderman, Ham, and McAree were at the Common Council meeting last night, and there was also present Recorder-elect John J. Moy, who is desirous of familiarizing himself with the Council's work, and he was invited to a chair beside the Recorder.
A certificate was read from Superintendent O'Hara showing that $4,000 had been used for material and labor in laying of water mains on Fairground boulevard and Spring street, and a resolution was passed that such sum be paid to Commission of Public Works out of the special fund of $10,000 raised by special election.
Alderman Finigan stated that charter revision committee had held two meetings, and the committee had decided to invite the different commissions and city officials, hoping to receive thereby suggestions of profitable nature. At a later meeting an invitation would be given to the public to offer recommendations. Then the committee would take up the thread of the suggestions and their own conclusions and frame charter. The Recorder-elect had also been invited to attend the meetings of committee.
Alderman Finigan stated that the Street committee recommended the payment of $4.10 to Edwin W. Hallenbeck for opening of a city sewer, as the city was at fault, and the claim was ordered paid.
Alderman McAree said that Council had been trying from time to time to get reports from the various city boards, but the only one which sent in a monthly report was the Cemetery commission. He would therefore move that clerk communicate with State Comptroller to have an auditor come here.
In connection with this and charter revision, Alderman Ham spoke of a matter in connection with Cemetery commission. A man had left $1,000 for care of his lot. The care of the lot only called for a few dollars, not over $5 a year. The auditors from State when here before had ruled that surplus monies was to go to City Treasurer. This money could be put out by commission so that at 3½ per cent it would bring in annual revenue of $35. If the charter could be so amended that such monies could be invested by commission it would come close to being a self-sustaining body. . . .
Broad Street and Railroad.
Alderman Connelly said that he had been looking over city map presented to members by Superintendent O'Hara, and he found thereon Broad street, but he could see no street, it looked like a railroad. He thought if railroad was occupying this street it was about time for Council to find out and take action.
Alderman Finigan said the matter had been up some years ago and was then laid aside owing to lack of funds to make survey and research. He understood that act of legislature laid out Broad street for 50-feet width west of Third. Now it only ran to Front. If railroad was squatting it was time for city to recover its property. Resolution was adopted that Commission of Public Works furnish a survey of that portion of the city.
Alderman McAree inquired if Fire commission was doing anything with building code. The clerk stated that code had been drawn and gone to State Board of Underwriters at Syracuse, where with some changes it had been approved. It was now waiting for publication, for which the commission had evidently no funds.
Alderman McAree said the icehouse on the old Grander Brewing Co. property was in dangerous condition. Alderman Connelly said he had brought up this matter some time ago, and it had been referred to committee, which had not reported. It was stated that property had recently changed hands, and a resolution was adopted that clerk notify Thomas J. Slauson to put the property complained of in safe condition within a week.
Alderman McAree said that about two months ago he had presented rules of order for Council, which had been laid on table. He would like to have same disposed of. A suggestion was made that same be taken up at meeting next week, and the Alderman accepted this.
The Council then resolved itself into a canvassing board, and went over the report of votes cast for city officials as certified to by Supervisors as a canvassing board. The report was accepted, being as already published in Register. Alderman Ham said that repairs to City hall boiler, for which appropriation of $75 was made, has been fixed for $56, and the balance was returned to treasury. . . .
Three police bills were held over. One officer charged $2 in one case for going to Mellenville, and another $3 for going to same place.
Alderman Golderman reported that Election committee were holding out the bills for watchers of machines on night before election, and also a bill for $5 for watcher of machine at City hall, which was unauthorized by committee. The claims of janitors were also cut $2 each.
The Council then adjourned to next Thursday night at 8 o'clock.
The name of the recorder-elect should be a familiar to Gossips readers. In 1922, John J. Moy, then the city judge, was one of the attorneys retained to defend Chief John Cruise when he was accused of dereliction of duty. The position to which Moy had just been elected in November 1915 is not so familiar. A document found on the New York State Museum website on the topic of "The Albany Corporation" defines "recorder" as "deputy mayor." The article from the Hudson Evening Register reveals that the recorder, or deputy mayor, unlike the position of "mayor's aide" that exists today, was an elected position not a mayoral appointment. It seems one of the tasks of the recorder, which is like that of the mayor's aide today, at least during the Hallenbeck administration, was to attend Common Council meetings.


  1. Geez, maybe it IS something in our water.

    We need a grant right away to study the situation.

  2. Thucydides beat us to it (for free), and with a sobering conclusion:

    “The present, while never repeating the past exactly, must inevitably resemble it. Hence, so must the future.”

    Oh dear ...