Thursday, July 28, 2016

On the Desk, Off the Desk

At the last Common Council meeting, when the aldermen were voting to put the proposed Fair & Equal legislation on their desks, City Attorney Ken Dow questioned the Council's custom of voting to put legislation on their desks (to accept it for consideration) and then voting again, after the legislation had "ripened" for ten days, to remove it from their desks (to enact it). He argued that the requirements for the Council to consider the proposed legislation had been met, and it was on their desks. A vote was not required to put it there. Nor was a vote required to put proposed legislation on the aldermen's desks when the legislation comes from committee, which is how most new laws originate. Dow said he would research the necessity and validity of the practice and report back to the Council.

Last night, at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting, committee chair Michael O'Hara reported Dow's findings. As with the weighted vote itself, the practice of voting on new legislation twice--to put it on the desk and to remove it from the desk--appears to be unique to Hudson. Dow could find no other municipality that did that.

The outcome, in the case of the Fair & Equal proposal, may be that the vote taken on July 19  is deemed invalid because it was unnescessary, and the Council will have to vote on it again--this time to decide whether or not to enact it. Unfortunately, since most of the aldermen think they have nipped the proposed law in the bud, what's supposed to happen between accepting legislation for consideration and voting on it--at least ten days of serious consideration and discussion with colleagues and constituents--won't happen.


  1. The vote taken on July 19 was a nullity. No such procedure (to place a bill on the alderpersons' desks or tables), exists in either the Home Rule Law, nor in Hudson's local law, nor in the rules which the Common Council adopted in its organizational meeting. That is my opinion anyway, having looked at the matter myself after Ken Dow surfaced this issue. Unlike some of the other illegalities associated with Hudson's governance at the moment, this one is relatively harmless however. The council is just indulging itself in a meaningless vote.

  2. With the CC, it's all about delay, delay, delay. It's why so little is actually ever accomplished.