Monday, September 26, 2016

Keeping a Thorny Issue Alive

More than a week after former police commissioner Gary Graziano made an ill-considered statement in an official HPD press release and resigned rather than recant or apologize, and almost a week after Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward), who chairs the Common Council Police Committee, expressed his disappointment with Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton for the manner in which the situation was handled, Roger Hannigan Gilson has an article in today's Register-Star in which Haddad pretty much repeats the same opinions he voiced at the Common Council meeting last Tuesday: "Haddad responds to police commissioner's resignation." The article is accompanied by a photograph, similar to the one below, showing the message "We Support Gary" chalked on the sidewalk.

Photo: Kenneth Smith|Facebook
A week ago, Gossips received a letter to the editor from someone who grew up in Hudson and follows the goings-on in Hudson from afar. Since Gossips does not typically publish letters to the editor, I chose not to publish it at the time. Today, I'm thinking differently about it and have decided to publish the letter because, I believe, it puts the issue in the proper perspective.
To the Editor: 
While everyone is entitled to have an opinion and many are entitled to voice it, surely, by now, anyone should know that not everyone is entitled to voice it publicly to reporters, on social media or even within emails. There are almost always regrets or consequences when those words are shared. But why is it so important for police in particular to keep their opinions private?
The way our system of justice works is the police protect and serve. They enforce the laws on the books and when warranted, they arrest those believed to have broken those laws. In so doing, they gather evidence pertinent to the case. The District Attorney then reviews the evidence and determines whether or not it is worthy of a trial and then and only then will a judge or jury determine the guilt or innocence of the arrestee. It is called due process and everyone in the country is entitled to it. When the police, in their official capacity, do not stick to the facts of the case and instead express opinions on the character of people they arrest, prior to due process playing out, they undermine the integrity of their work and bypass due process potentially poisoning the entire population from being eligible jurors. What is most important to understand is even the appearance of partiality is as damning as the real thing. This is why it is imperative for police leadership and all of the force to remain professional and stick to the facts of their cases and keep the opinions for off-duty, off the record discussions.
So in the particular events of last week, the commissioner voiced his personal opinion on the case of an individual who had not been given due process and who happened to be active in Hudson politics and had a past with the police where they had arrested him and he was acquitted. It is at these times when the appearance of impartiality is so essential and this did not happen. Whether or not he will be found guilty, and whether or not he is a friend of the mayor is irrelevant. The remarks were inappropriate for the leader of the police force and are not doing the force or city government any favors at a time when the mayor is trying to rebuild trust within the community.
Simply put, no one has ever lost their job for being professional and had the commissioner kept his remarks so, he’d still be the commissioner. Even if he agreed to rescind them, he would still be the commissioner. Sadly, it is the mayor who is being blamed for not watching the police force’s back, when it was the commissioner who decided his own fate.
Christopher Osswald        


  1. As mere taxpaying mortals, we take care not to alienate the up-and-coming Haddad-family political machine. However, someone must state the obvious, that Alderman Haddad's remarks are a naked and unseemly challenge to mayoral authority.

    Mr. Haddad claims that the mayor is "continuing this conversation," when it is clearly Mr. Haddad who's continuing the conversation (even after agreeing that the ex-Commissioner's remarks were inappropriate).

    Because Mr. Haddad acknowledges that "it was the mayor's right to appoint anyone she likes to the commissioner's position," anyone might wonder why that wasn't an end to the discussion.

    With the community stability at stake, what could possibly justify this alderman's torrent of insinuations?

    Curiously, Mr. Haddad imagines that his counsel was either required (no), invaluable (evidently not), or simply advisable (according to whom?!).

    In reaction to Mayor Hamilton's refreshing decisiveness, Mr. Haddad only worries about the "quickness" of her decision, as if his own input was on any sort of level with hers.

    Because Mr. Haddad shares none of the executive's power or stature, readers who may agree with his opinions should still recognize hubris when they see it.

    Commenting from his role in City government, it is offensive for Mr. Haddad to undermine confidence in the mayoral office itself, which by his own implicit admission is the only end he can possibly achieve.

    The alderman is eager to sacrifice communal harmony - and even safety - for what can only be his personal political ends. How else to interpret this new campaign, other than being a cynical exploitation for purposes of personal advancement?

    When Mr. Haddad says that "the city's best interests are aligned" with the person of ex-Commissioner Graziano, he's really saying that our best interests are aligned with his own outlook and ambitions.

    But any perceived justification for putting personal ambition ahead of the well being of the entire community is illusory. It is ample proof that the alderman's actions are less concerned with actual justice than with the flattering of potential future allies.

    His hubris and cynicism will not be forgotten.

  2. I've lived in Hudson going on two decades now and never cease to be surprised at how unprofessional the overall tone of city government is. I understand that there are dedicated public servants here who may take offense at this perception, and it is unfortunate that they seem to be a rarity here.

    1. There have always been a few good eggs, but the very thing that makes them decent public servants tends to lessen their value as newsmakers.

      (Wait, I'm confused. Am I speaking about Hudson or the national arena?)