Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Musing About Mayoral Appointments

Ever since the absentee ballots were counted and it was confirmed that Tiffany Martin Hamilton would be Hudson's new mayor, there's been a swirl of speculation about whom she would appoint to various positions in city government. So far, all we know, because he mentioned it at the last Police Committee meeting, is that she asked Gary Graziano to stay on as police commissioner, but we don't know if he has agreed to or not. Gossips also knows that Lisa Walsh Makas, who ran Hamilton's campaign office, will be the mayor's aide.

Although nothing has been made public about who is being considered for other commissioner appointments, it is hoped that Hamilton is giving serious consideration to her choices. The current commissioner of public works, Jim Folz, who has been in that position since 2007, hasn't been a very visible commissioner. Unlike other commissioners who regularly attend the pertinent Common Council committee meetings, Folz has not been seen at a Public Works Committee meeting since Rob Perry took over as DPW superintendent at the end of 2008. Given the public concern about what seems to be an opportunistic and piecemeal approach to addressing the City's combined sewer issues and the mystery that shrouds any master plan, it would be nice to have a more visible and engaged commissioner who could help people understand and have confidence in what's being pursued. 

With the anticipated opening of the senior center, and no dedicated staff or program of any substance in place, the role of commissioner of aging takes on new importance. Unlike the other four commissioners (police, fire, youth, and public works), the commissioner of aging does not receive an annual $1,000 stipend, the reason being that the position does not have the same responsibilities, principal among them overseeing a budget and hiring staff. Ironically, it's the lack of those responsibilities--budget and staff--that makes the position of commissioner of aging the most challenging. The commissioner of aging needs to make something out of nothing. What's sorely needed in that position is a vibrant and resourceful person who can build a viable program that appeals to all of Hudson's senior citizens and who will advocate for the resources needed to make the senior center something more than some unsupervised rooms with furniture.

The Planning Board, however, may represent some of Hamilton's most important appointments, and there are a lot of positions to be filled: four on a seven member board. The terms of both Cappy Pierro, who now chairs the Planning Board in spite of the fact that he no longer lives in Hudson, and Laura Margolis are over at the end of this month, and Claudia DeStefano and Priscilla Moore will have to leave the board because they are now Common Council president and a Fifth Ward alderman respectively and the city charter (Chapter C2-3) prohibits people from holding more than one office created by the charter. 

The Planning Board has always been an important regulatory board in Hudson. The decisions they make and the approvals they hand down have always had the power to alter the character of a neighborhood and, in some cases, the entire city. Now, with our LWRP in limbo and no Local Coastal Consistency Board in place, there is only the Planning Board to review projects affecting the waterfront, such as the one proposed recently by A. Colarusso & Son to repair the "deep water" dock. Hamilton needs to appoint people to this board who are thoughtful, knowledgeable, and willing to demand the training that it was promised would be required for them when the Planning Commission was reconstituted as a Planning Board almost two years ago.


  1. We all share these concerns,

    Thank you Carole for verbalizing them so clearly.

  2. This is well presented, thanks. I guess it's the sort of thing that non-editorializing newspapers leave to bloggers nowadays.

    I second what VM said, that "we all share these concerns." Unlike asking Commissioner Graziano to stay on, the idea of retaining Mr. Folz is unthinkable.