Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Consequence of Monday Night's Action

Yesterday, the Register-Star ran an article by Roger Hannigan Gilson with the headline: "Garriga's removal from committee whips up firestorm." The headline was titillating, but the article was just an expanded rehash of what had happened at Monday's night Common Council Police Committee meeting. At last night's Legal Committee meeting, however, there was some consequence of Council president Claudia DeStefano's public announcement that she was removing Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) from the Police Committee for reasons she did not fully explain, except to speak at some length about the "blessing and curse" of Facebook.

Both Garriga and DeStefano are members of the Legal Committee, and both were present at last night's Legal Committee meeting. Midway through the meeting, Garriga asked for help from city attorney Ken Dow in drafting a resolution to change the rules of order that the Council had adopted at its organizational meeting on January 11, 2016. She reported that several aldermen had caucused the previous evening and agreed to propose that the second sentence in the third paragraph of Rule #4 Standing Committees be stricken from the document. That sentence states: "The President may change Chairs and members at his discretion."

This paragraph was the subject of concern back in January, and at that time, the final sentence, giving the Council president the power to change the seating arrangement of the aldermen, which may have seemed to some like the desire of a teacher to be able to break up students who whispered and disrupted the class, was deleted. Garriga explained that she and some of her fellow aldermen were now seeking to delete the second sentence because they did not want what happened to her on Monday night--being removed, in public, from a committee with no explanation given for why the action was being taken--to happen to other members of the Common Council.

Garriga made reference to something she had posted on Facebook months ago, which seems to have been the reason for DeStefano's action, and compared her post with Gary Graziano's statement on Facebook which brought about his resignation as police commissioner. She pointed out that Graziano had expressed a personal opinion in an official press release from the Hudson Police Department posted on the department's Facebook page. Her post, on the other hand, had been made on her own Facebook page. "As politicians," Garriga maintained, "we are paid to be opinionated and to represent our constituents." She then asked DeStefano for a "reason to justify [her] removal other than a personal one."

At this point, Alderman Michael O'Hara (First Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, suggested that Garriga and DeStefano "work it out between them," because what Garriga was proposing "takes power away from the Council president." Garriga insisted that the Common Council adopted the rules of order and could therefore amend them. City attorney Ken Dow concurred, pointing out that it was only the first sentence of the paragraph in question--"The President shall appoint Committee Chairs and members"--that could not be deleted or altered, because that power was granted in the city charter. O'Hara then advised Garriga to "write up the gist of the resolution" she was proposing and have Dow frame it into a resolution.

Returning to O'Hara's recommendation that Garriga and DeStefano work things out, Garriga stated, "I'm open to discussion. I have no qualms about talking, but I don't think it will go anywhere." DeStefano told Garriga, "I will call you."


  1. i think alot of people in hudson were offended that tiffany garriga lay down in front of the police station in protest. the people of hudson sounded like they supported the hudson police department- not felt that they were violating their rights.

    they also did not like tiffany helping her daughter characterize the hudson police officers as members of the KKK.

    that seems to make sense to most people. hudson isnt a racially charged place.

    1. You're missing the point, which is that Hudson CAN become racially charged if we'd only try hard enough (heh).

      But seriously, it's becoming more obvious that plenty of residents of all races are rejecting this drift towards an invented, gratuitous, racial tension. I'm white and my neighbors are people of color, yet we're all of one mind about this.

      But listen very carefully to both "sides" in the Police Committee meeting video and you appreciate that each reasoned position is not so terribly different from the other. Different people see different ways to balance an aggregate of interests, but it's obvious that everyone seeks a balance, and everyone even seems to agree on the essential points.

      The ex-Commissioner acknowledged that his official statement was extremely problematic; the mayor and council president exercised their respective privileges, neither of which automatically required an explanation; and the Alderman accepted her demotion gracefully.

      The people we elected just made some tough decisions on behalf of the best balance each was able to approximate. I think it went pretty well, all things considered. It's already time to look forward, to let justice do its thing, and to return to fortifying the institutions and understandings we all need for greater overall stability.

      Imagine what we could achieve if people channeled the same quality of energy we saw this week to other expressions of self-government. Hey, we might even land that grant to preserve the Dunn building (the grant's comment deadline is tomorrow).