Saturday, December 26, 2015

Democrats All

Ten aldermen make up the Common Council, and nine of them are Democrats--Democrats of all stripes. 

There's Bob "Doc" Donahue, who has served as Fifth Ward alderman for twenty-two years, beginning in January 1994. Although a registered Democrat, Donahue ran this year, as he has in the past, as a Republican because the Hudson City Democratic Committee (HCDC) did not endorse him. In fact, he didn't even seek the Democratic endorsement.

There's Lauren Scalera, a newcomer to politics but the daughter of Rick Scalera, who has made a lifetime career of Hudson politics. Scalera the father maintains that he is a Democrat, but forty-two years ago, at the dawn of his long career which includes fourteen years, in seven nonconsecutive terms, as mayor of Hudson (1994-1999, 2002-2005, 2008-2011), he made an early run for Fourth Ward alderman as a Republican. Scalera the daughter did not get the HCDC's endorsement but primaried the two candidates that did to secure the Democratic line . . . as well as the Republican and Independence Party lines.

There's Abdus Miah, who is a member of the HCDC and ran with the endorsement of the HCDC, but it is rumored that in this year's election, as he has in the past two elections, he actively campaigned for the Republican mayoral candidate and hence against the Democrats' candidate, Mayor-elect Tiffany Martin Hamilton.

There's Alexis Keith, who was endorsed by the HCDC but decided in the run-up to the primary to associate herself both with her fellow HCDC-endorsed candidate, Rich Volo, and with the challenger, Lauren Scalera.

Then there's Henry Haddad, an incumbent alderman who was denied an endorsement by the HCDC but went out and got his own petitions signed, secured his place on the ballot as a Democrat, and won reelection handily.

The remaining four members of the new Council--Rick Rector, Michael O'Hara, Tiffany Garriga, and John Friedman--all ran with the endorsement of the HCDC, of which Garriga is a member. The only person on the Council who makes no claims to be a Democrat, aside from the Council president, is Priscilla Moore, newly elected Fifth Ward alderman, who is not registered in any party and ran with the endorsement of the Republicans.

So this year, the Council faces the same dilemma as it did four years ago, when the only non-Democrat was First Ward alderman David Marston, who like Moore was an NOP (no official party). The charter apparently mandates that there be both a majority leader and a minority leader, and presumably back in 2011, it was determined that the minority leader had to be affiliated with some party. In 2011, the Council elected Ohrine Stewart as minority leader, along with Cappy Pierro as majority leader, the rationale being, it seems, that as an African American woman Stewart represented a minority. 

On Christmas Day, the Register-Star reported that on the previous Wednesday the Democratic "caucus" (it's hard to think of it as a caucus when it involves 90 percent of the Council) had met and re-elected Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) as majority leader and elected Abdus Miah (also Second Ward) as minority leader: "Council Dems tap Garriga, Miah as leaders."

It appears that the Democrats on the Council are using the same rationale in selecting Miah as they used back in 2011, defining minority based on gender or ethnicity rather than politics. Miah, who has served as Second Ward alderman since July 2007 when he took over the position vacated by Quintin Cross, is the only Bangladeshi American on the Council. If minority were being defined in a strictly political way, the minority leader might have been chosen from what now appears to be the minority faction of the Democratic Party, and the choices for minority leader would have been limited to those members of the Common Council who were endorsed by the HCDC, who ran as Democrats (and only as Democrats), who supported their fellow Democrats, and who won election as Democrats. But that would have limited the choices for minority leader to three: Rick Rector, Michael O'Hara, and John Friedman.


  1. Obviously "minority party" means the second largest political party, not the color or ethnicity of somebody. And that is I posit a matter of which party one chooses to caucus with, not which party line one ran on (although NY is rather fussy about being allowed the honor to change one's parties I must admit having recently been through the experience). So to make it all "kosher," I would suggest that Miah announce that he is caucusing with some other party than the Democrats, and assuming nobody else is caucusing with some party other than the Democrats, he can caucus with himself, and thus become the "minority leader," and thus facially in compliance with the spirit of the law. And it's the spirit that counts, more than the letter, in a court sitting in equity, and given that the letter fails us here, all we have left is equity. Or something like that. Oh, and when the Dem caucus meets, it can choose to invite Miah as a guest, so he doesn't feel excluded from whatever happens there (I have not had the honor of ever seeing what happens there).

  2. Of course, if say the trio Carole mentioned, Messrs. Rector, Freidman and O'Hara, chose to form their own party caucus, and call it, to pick a name at random, the HPP (Historic Preservation Party), then Miah would be deposed, and the trio would elect from among them who would be Minority Leader. So many possibilities, so little time.

  3. Dear Ms. Carole Osterink, As you know, I was elected as member of Democratic Committee of Hudson City since 2005, and from the beginning I am the active contributor of democrats and I believe that I am the highest contributor of voter registration on behalf of Democrats in Hudson. I will oppose your consent in your article and would request you to be unbiased and bring the truth in front of the people. Let us collaborate rather than to criticize that since 2007 I was one of the most active contributors behind the win of Democrats which bring you in front as the Council Member of Hudson. I also was the one of those who actively supported Kirsten Gillibrand, President Obama, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and all others who belonged to believe in Democratic Ideology in 2013 and 2015 election.

  4. Abdus, Carole's point, and it is well taken, is that deeming the term "minority" to include being of a racial or ethnic minority, is an absurd interpretation of the law. However, the workaround of deeming a "minority" to be a faction of the Democratic Party, is not much better. The interpretation that in order to be a member of a "minority party," one must be a member of a party, makes some sense, except that if there is only one party on the council, the workaround of then falling back to ethnic or racial minorities, as opposed to having someone who is a member of no party, is also ridiculous in my opinion. I also don't think it has much to do with what party line somebody ran on. It is about who one chooses to caucus with while on the Council. What is incontrovertible, is that the whole thing is a mess.

    What is the significance of being the minority leader anyway? It used to be that one got to be on a couple of commissions, but Carole posted that is no longer the case with one of the commissions. What is left? The other commission? Maybe the fix is to eliminate the minority leader from being on the second commission as well, and then the title becomes meaningless, assuming that heretofore, being on the two commissions was all that being minority leader practically entailed.

  5. Abdus,

    Could you, would you, refresh our collective memory as to SPECIFICALLY how you supported Eileen Halloran during her last campaign? Did you contribute financially to your fellow Democrat's campaign? Did you actively work to get out the vote for Eileen, either going door-door, by telephone, or through social media? Specifics, please.

    And during this recent election, when another fellow Democrat, another woman, fellow Democrat, ran for the Mayor's office, can you, will you, specifically share how you supported that campaign? Did you contribute financially to the campaign? Did you help to "deliver the vote"? Were perhaps all those meetings at Nolitas and Dunkin' Donuts with the boys, and that meeting that took place on Election Day Tuesday at 4:40 PM across the street from 401 State Street, with the boys, we're all of those strategy sessions on behalf of the top Democratic candidate?

    So, yes, specifics as to how you worked on behalf of Eileen Halloran and Tiffany Martin Hamilton, please.

  6. To "Unknown": You're wasting your time unless, of course, if your purpose is to provoke Mr. Miah's silence. The simple fact is, his protestations notwithstanding, he has continuously and serially opposed the HCDC's endorsed mayoral candidates in the last 3 election cycles. He opposed Eileen, too, at every turn. Additionally, he opposes essentially the entirety of the HCDC's published platform -- including its call for an end to the weighted voting system.

    But Mr. Miah isn't alone in being an HCDC-endorsed candidate who is openly in opposition to its candidates and platform (the latter of which, by the way, he signed as a condition of his being endorsed 2 years ago (maybe 4 years) as did all of the party's then-endorsed candidates). His 2W colleague has also worked against our current mayor-elect even though both where on the same line by endorsement. Like Mr. Miah, she routinely votes against common sense proposals such as removing the legislative bar to dogs at Waterfront Park (where they run rampant and shit on everything -- if you believe the 2W alder people; they don't, the dogs that is) and, again, bringing the Council's voting system in to line with Constitution by ending the weighted vote system.

    By the way, Ms. Garriga, who sits once again as the Council's Majority Leader, has shown exactly no leadership chops since taking those ethereal reins: as a member of the board of directors of the HCDPA she wasn't aware until this month what the organization's mission is. And during the entirely of the last legislative year she called exactly 1 caucus to discuss policy and legislation. That's leadership?

    An observer might rationally ask why the HCDC endorses candidates who are, in practice if not name, not Democrats, who refuse to support their line mates and actively work against them and the party's stated platform?

    The answer is that the HCDC has, for all intents and purposes, ceased to be meaningful as a political party. Under the chairmanship of Victor Mendolia, it has become something of a broken-down patronage machine practicing lowest-common-denominator politics of, well, the lowest order. There is a chance that his replacement may drag this moribund carcass of a political party out of its current ennui. We'll see. But, until then, I will continue to caucus with whomever likes to caucus with me -- every evening before a Council meeting at Mexican Radio (because there are no meeting rooms available to the Council members in all of City Hall and MexRad has a bar).

  7. Why not you put your name and contact with me with your all queries. Its very difficult to answer an unknown person. Appreciate your positive initiative.

    1. It's surprisingly easy to answer open queries.

      And anyway, shouldn't the best idea win?

      It's like doing business, in that it shouldn't matter whose ideas are under discussion, but only whether or not they work. As a businessman, I'm sure you see that.

  8. The primary responsibility of an Alderman is to represent the people in their Ward. If you look at the work Ms Garriga has done during her term in that context, you would have a greater appreciation and understanding of her contributions to her constituents and the Party. Party politics aside, I think the city would be better served if all the Alderman worked together to meet the needs of the people in their respective Wards. The needs of the various Wards may conflict, and the council must work together so that everyone is fairly served. Factional infighting isn't helping anyone.

    1. Shouldn't you disclose the conflict of interest here?

    2. I've spent some time trying to think of one thing Ms. Garriga did for her or any other ward besides voting for something. She wrote not one word towards any legislation. She offered no amendments, no resolutions, no bills. She didn't contribute to the discussions on either the Finance Committees during our shared tenure there, she very rarely attended meetings of committees she wasn't assigned to. The one exception -- and there is only one I can recall -- is a plan for a temporary ramp at Promenade Hill. That has yet to be designed or built, the SEQRA commenced, etc.

      As for your suggestion that politics be put aside I think that's a great idea. For myself, I have none. But I'm curious how you would explain voting against posing a ballot question (referendum) regarding the idea of ending weighted voting in favor of constitutional voting can be anything but politics? Politics which, by the way, disenfranchise (as they were designed to do) minority representation on the Council?

      As for your conflict of interest, Tim (see "Pewtetra's" comments below), if you feel the need to hide behind a pseudonym that's your own lookout.

  9. The HCDC hands our patronage? How come I wasn't offered anything? I'm hurt. Politics is just so much fun here in the "friendly city." Feuds here, feuds there, feuds well, just about everywhere.

  10. John and whoever Pew is, I'm not "hiding" behind a pseudonym and there is no "interest" being gleaned from my association with Alderman Garriga. I have watched her work continuously under a daily barrage of phone calls, emails and txt messages, answering calls for help from her constituents from 6-2AM, working to help victims of fire and flooding not even in her ward, working with the police to ensure fair treatment for her constituents, with DPW to improve parks, crosswalks and signage. I've watched her fight to improve living conditions for residents in public housing and work to provide job opportunities for the unemployed. The conflict of interst I see here in Hudson is not between us, but between the haves and have nots. Between those living in fine homes and those living in very poor conditions, surrounded by broken sidewalks, treeless streets and dilapidated housing. So all this talk of bills and legislation and meetings at the bar in Mexican Radio is quite fine, but the reality is the job of a 2nd Ward Alderman is a difficult, hands on position, there is a great deal of need here and outside of City Hall there is a lot of unpaid and underappreciated work being done. And to use your own words John, anyone who does not understand that is just plain stupid, idiotic and a moron.

  11. As an observer I have gone through all comments and enjoyed much
    what I do believe is some comments of the thread will not posture the true sense of what happened in Hudson all these Years. Here some thread mentioned about Eileen’s political position and support of Democrats. Fortunately or unfortunately she got highest Vote as a treasurer for couple of Election. Tactically like all wards, 2nd ward supported her to be treasurer but when she was nominated for 5th ward Alder Women she lost due to no support from her own Ward People. And how Mr. Miah of 2nd Ward would be responsible for her loss of election. I do believe blaming game will not carry any positive changes for you guys.
    Another interesting thing is in 2011 and in 2013, Democrats win over Republic in Mayoral Election of 2nd Ward where I do believe Miah was there or credit goes to him for that Winnings.
    Mr. John K. Friedman, I do respect you as one of Aldermen. But why don’t you remember and look at yourself at first criticizing another Alderman. We all know that what you did back in Council meeting by not respecting our US Flag. We all want a benevolent Alder person rather than insolent one who used to be very rude with other colleagues of council. As the rumor goes around, my question is for you, were you really supported Mr. Victor in 2013 Mayoral Election? I have heard another rumor that you are actively supporting (Financially + Campaign) against Democratic District Attorney (Ken Golden). Please explain.

    1. I stand by my successes and my failures, sir or madam. I value effort. The job of alderman comprises 2 basic aspects: legislative and constituent service. Successful execution of the job requires an incumbent to do both. But doing both does not earn a pat on the head. Nor is doing 1 to the exclusion of the other acceptable -- well, shouldn't be acceptable at least in my mind.

      As for my choices of who to support or not, publicly or otherwise: if the candidate is capable is the first question regardless of party affiliation. If so, and they are of my party, I support them. If not, I don't -- regardless of which party they belong to or are endorsed by.

      So, to Victor's candidacy for mayor: Victor stage managed his own nomination and approval as chair of the HCDC by calling in favors from his loyal committee members. Period. On what basis was he otherwise endorsed? His experience? He had no meaningful or contemporary work history and hadn't for quite some time when he put his hat in the ring. What was there to indicate he would be a good mayor? Nothing really. I worked closely with Victor for 4 years on electoral issues -- I know him. His candidacy was quixotic from the jump. And it led to an inevitable landslide for his opponent.

      As for my support for Mr. Czajka, it's not a rumor -- it's a fact, and one I've stated aloud in the HCDC HQ this past election cycle. I don't believe law enforcement is a political undertaking -- at least it shouldn't be -- thus my support for Chief Moore (who I believe is a Republican though I've not asked him) and Paul Czajka. I've come to know Paul over the course of the last 4 years through our common membership in the Columbia County Bar Association. I've found him an affable, educated, clear-eyed person who's approach to his job is to enforce the law. Period. Does this require discretion? Of course. Is is always applied in a winning way? Of course not. People, being people, make mistakes. But overall I find the DA's efforts and their outcomes to be positive for the residents of Columbia County and our lives here. So as long as I believe this to be the case and he wants the job -- I will support him at the polls and, as I have, financially.

      I make no bones about my choices in the public space. I go by my name always. And I don't hide behind nonsense rationales for voting in ways that are incongruent with my party's published platform -- since in essence that is what party membership is about: cleaving to a common understanding and vision of public policy.

      Taking advantage of a party apparatus to get your name on the ballot while you actively work against its platform is inherently dishonest. And that, sir or madam, I will never respect.

    2. Off topic, and while I disagree with Mr. Friedman on some matters, and his "style" in particular, I do agree with him on the Paul Czajka matter. I interned for him, and found him most impressive, and honest and fair, and became fully familiar with the issues in controversy about him, and was satisfied that he did no wrong whatsoever. And he took constructive criticism rather better than I suspect either I or Mr. Friedman do (I like Mr. Friedman am not shy about opining on matters). That is something I think we both need to work on I suspect. Anyway, I was proud to support Mr. Czajka. (Damn, there goes down tubes perhaps any Hudson political career that I may have fantasized about.) And I do admire Mr. Friedman's guts in doing what he did here. But than I never doubted that Mr. Friedman had intestinal fortitude, and I salute him for that.

  12. Abdus,

    I thought when I posted my comment I had in fact, signed it (Susan).

    Okay, so Abdus, let's start again:

    What EXACTLY, SPECIFICALLY, did you do to either work for, or against Eileen Halloran last time she ran? Either you're a Community Leader, or you're not. It doesn't matter that you live in the Second Ward and she ran in the Fifth Ward. Either you have gravitas, or you don't. Did you contribute financially to her campaign? It doesn't matter which Ward you live in, you can always donate financially to a fellow Democrat.

    Onto this most recent election cycle, Abdus. How did you SPECIFICALLY support the candidate for Mayor, another fellow, female, Democrat? Did you contribute financially? Did you "deliver the vote"? After all, you're a Community Leader.

    Now that you know who has asked these very specific questions, and have had the luxury of a few days to meet with the boys to come up with some. . . explanations. . . I'm certain many of us look forward to
    your answers. . . all the "difficulty" of responding has been removed.


  13. Ms. Garriga, should also be recognized for her efforts to promote fishing tournaments (in Catskill) while second ward constituents are harassed and handcuffed for using the Hudson's shore.

  14. How kind to disparage charity work for the United Way at Chistmastime. Ask yourself who held up the conversion of the furgary into a publicly assessible park by insisting on the preservation of a bunch of vinyl clad, plywood and sheetmetal shacks that have absolutely no historical value?

    1. Someone needs to educate "Slow" Art and bring them up to speed:

      First; it was Unheimlich that produced Sanborn maps showing the birthplace of the Tin Boat Association (cabin number11) in 1889.

      Second; The argument of the North Dock Tin Boat Association is that its members have always been untitled to the unfettered HISTORIC USE of shore for Navigation.

      Third; Jesus Christ was a fishermen and kings wouldn't dare deny fishermen access to shore 2000 years ago.

      Fourth; There are no kings in the US. It has long been established, (Gibbons v. Ogden, 22U.S. 1(1824)) US law, that the use of the people's shore is a natural right, bestowed upon (Christ and) US citizens by the creator.

      Lastly; The faithful lady has always provided, even in depressed times when our government has fallen woefully short.

      1 Riparian

  15. I agree with you, use of the shore is a natural right of all citizens, that's why a public park is the only acceptable use of the waterfront.

    1. Yes, in the spring you'll find fishermen, fall hunters and summer small craft navigators. The very same people separated by mayor Hallenbck's illegal fence.

      When that fence is removed, those expecting some different use are going to be disappointed.

  16. Why not eliminate the positions of majority and minority leader?

  17. Returning to the main topic..After 50 years of single party ruling of this "Great Society," the population of Hudson has been halved while the cost of managing it has doubled. In the past half century, our municipal home "rulers" have managed to turn this berg into a nice place for tourists, when it was once a great place to live.