Wednesday, March 23, 2016


At the end of last year, the Hudson Development Corporation voted to amend its bylaws to reduce the number of elected city officials who serve ex officio on the HDC board. At that time, there were nine people on the board, four of whom were elected officials--the mayor, Common Council president, majority leader, and minority leader. It was decided to eliminate the majority and minority leaders as ex officio members. During the time when the amendment to the bylaws was being discussed, Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) was the Common Council majority leader, and Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) was the minority leader, and both were ex officio board members. Garriga reportedly was absent when the amendment was voted on.

When the news first was reported, the Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center was quick to cry foul, alleging that the board's decision was an attempt to "remove any voices from the minority community." The accusation gained momentum when the Common Council, made up of nothing but Democrats and one NOP, decided to make Abdus Miah (Second Ward) the minority leader, although there was no minority party represented on the Council. Now the two people who held the positions HDC had eliminated as ex officio seats on the board were people of color. 

Last month, Quintin Cross, chairman of SBK, sent a letter to the HDC board, copies of which went to the mayor, the Common Council, Assemblymember Didi Barrett, and State Senator Kathleen Marchione, as well as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Capital Region and the director of the Northeast Region NYS NAACP. The letter concludes: "It's important that the HDC board reflects what is happening in Hudson. However, it's clear that the lack of diversity on the Hudson Development Corporation Board does not reflect what is going on in our city--and worse it negates all the progress we've made as a community. Ultimately, your actions whether intentional or not changing your bylaws to remove the majority leader and the minority leader whom happened to be the only people of color on the agencies board impact every organization serving Hudson."

In response to the letter, HDC invited representatives of SBK to their meeting yesterday to, as stated in Cross's letter "find ways [SBK and HDC] can work together." Garriga and Miah both came, along with with Ellis Richardson and Alexis Keith, both members of the SBK Leadership Team, and Ed Cross, Second Ward supervisor.

Garriga opened the conversation by asking how the decision to remove the majority and minority leaders from the board had been made. Duncan Calhoun, president of the HDC board, explained that the restructuring was an effort to "depoliticize" the board and pointed out that it had been done at the end of the year, when there would soon be a new Council and it was not known who the majority and minority leaders would be. Garriga countered, "What a coincidence that the only people of color on the board were removed from the board." Calhoun denied that the action was taken to remove people of color, stressing that no one knew who the majority and minority leaders would be when the decision was made and therefore positions were eliminated not people.

Calhoun went on to note that the board currently has five openings, and they have not received an application from anyone of color. Garriga asked if they had "reached out" to people of color, saying that she never knew of HDC's existence before she became an ex officio member by virtue of being the Council majority leader. Calhoun told her the board welcomed input from SBK to help identify viable candidates. "Bring us three names of people who would be fantastic candidates who meet the same standards as the rest of the members," he urged. Richardson wanted to know constituted a "viable candidate." He questioned the sincerity of the HDC board and the ability of black people to meet the standards of viability, and concluded, "We could give you names, but if we don't know what the vetting system is, it could be a waste of time."

After more than an hour of back and forth, during which Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC, explained the application process for becoming a board member, Richardson demanded to know how many black-owned businesses there were in Hudson, the mayor suggested that it was necessary to think beyond brick and mortar businesses to "expand our options," and Sarah Sterling, First Ward supervisor, advised, "Everyone has to follow the rules, and everyone needs to educate themselves," the discussion came to an end without reaching a conclusion that seemed to satisfy everyone, and the meeting moved on to its next agenda item.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is insane.
    The person who effectively controls development in Hudson, hoards buildings, leaving them vacant, taking them out of the rental market and thumbing his nose at providing "affordable" housing, is a person of color.

  3. One problem with having so many people from government serving on the HDC was the perception that it was a cozy place for politicians to carry out business by other, unaccountable means.

    Real estate deals would be conducted contrary to what the HDC was publicly announcing, such as the surprise sale of the knitting mill, or looking further back, recall when the entire shoreline beneath the Promenade - from the State boat launch to North Bay - was sold for $1.00 to the Hudson Power Boat Association. (I'm sure they paid thousands, but that's not what the deed says.)

    The HDC has a Code of Ethics, but it must be entirely voluntary! Who but its members can appreciate the way in which that strange hybrid of government and private sector is really run - and maybe its members who aren't in government don't really know either.

    If the HDC is finally trying to fix its horrible image problem, then that should be encouraged. Unfortunately for some politicians, that means they'll have to go. But so be it.

    New members should be vetted on merit, and also according to how they might enrich the HDC's mission and purpose. Candidates must be able to point to their accomplishments in some or all of the HDC's following criteria:

    • Relieving and reducing unemployment;

    • Promoting and enhancing employment opportunities;

    • Instructing or training individuals to improve or develop skills;

    • Conducting scientific research to attract or retain industry; and

    • Lessen the burdens of government and acting in the public interest.

  4. I don't think the HDC (or anyone else, for that matter) wants him on the Board, any more than he wants to be categorized as a "person of color", unless the color is green. But I do think the HDC would be well advised to adopt a more pro-active stance in taking on new Directors. Yes, everyone needs to become educated -- but education has two parts. It's mighty hard to learn if there is no one who wants to teach. And if you want someone at the table, the best approach is to invite them.

  5. "recall when the entire shoreline beneath the Promenade - from the State boat launch to North Bay - was sold for $1.00 to the Hudson Power Boat Association. (I'm sure they paid thousands, but that's not what the deed says.)"

    The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently confirmed that state governments cannot deny public rights to boat and fish on the waters within a state, “divesting all the citizens of a common right. It would be a grievance which never could be long borne by a free people.” The Court held that state governments must maintain the public’s “common liberty” to boat and fish in shallow rivers, including stretches adjacent to private land. The Court said that these waters must be “held as a public trust for the benefit of the whole community, to be freely used by all for navigation and fishery.” (Google Martin v. Waddell 1842 to see the decision.) - See more at:

    1. So you're saying that the Supreme Court discovered the Magna Carta.

      Well then, that was real progress.

    2. Tell that to the Colarusso company, which is even now attempting to appropriate State-owned underwater lands at the riverfront.

      Defending the people's rights and interests takes nothing less than eternal vigilance.

    3. I have an issue with the "state owned" when owned by the people and delivered by the state is what happens elsewhere. Catskill Creek and Point, Murders Creek and Athens all have had their floats in for weeks and our city owned floats remain high and dry.

      It comes down to who's looking out for (serving) the greatest number of people.

      The people's shore between the state launch and North dock would make an excellent boardwalk connection between first and second wards yet HDC decides to contract yearly with Power Boat to deploy its floating fence, giving cabin cruise'n crackers from Coxsackie more access than life long residents of Hudsons. Strange, never a word on these issues from SBK or our representatives from the second ward.

      Then again, in the most corrupt state anything is possible... for the well heeled.

    4. Yes, I should be more specific: owned by The People of the State of New York.

      Thanks, that feels better.

      But the single parcel that includes the entire shoreline between the People-of-the-State-owned boat launch and Dock Street is owned by the Hudson Power Boat Association. The HDC sold it outright, on October 18, 1984, "in consideration of one dollar and 00/100 ($1.00) ... unto the party of the second part [HPBA] ... [and] its heirs and assigns forever" [Liber 557, p. 1007].

  6. Readers who are interested should learn to differentiate between submerged land and state control of submersible land.

    High-water states include: Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington State.

  7. The people's shore couldn't have been both held in trust and "sold outright" to Power boat unless both HDC and City officials agreed to betray the public trust.

  8. Odd that minority leaders who want in on a private (HDC) board now cry fowl. When 2nd ward constituents (fishermen) are removed from the people's shore at gunpoint, not a peep. As a (pre)historically protected minority they are entitled to unfettered access.

    Has SBK traded access through a merger with Sloops, for looking the other way?

    Stranger still, the silence of a 2nd ward supervisor, who has first hand knowledge of why this city should never assume the liability of shoreline stewardship.