Supporters of the resolution declaring Hudson a "welcoming and inclusive city" packed the Council Chamber and spilled out into the lobby of City Hall tonight to witness the vote. In addition to Dan Udell, who always videotapes Council meetings as a public service, Lance Wheeler was there with his video camera, along with news people from a couple of Albany TV channels.
After Council president Claudia DeStefano called the meeting to order, the moment of prayer or silent reflection was observed, and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, DeStefano announced a change in the order of the agenda. The "sanctuary city" resolution, which had been the fifth item on the agenda, would be first.
DeStefano then announced that Andy Howard, counsel to the Council, had a statement to make before any action was taken by the Council. Howard's statement was essentially a synthesis of a letter from Hudson Police Chief Ed Moore, stating that he would abide by whatever directive he received from the Council, but he had some concerns and didn't want to "run afoul of federal grants" to his department. Howard noted that the State Attorney General had agreed to give an opinion in writing on Hudson's "sanctuary city" resolution.
Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) then proposed that, since the Attorney General's office had agreed to give written advice and everyone on the Council seemed to support it, the resolution be adopted by acclamation, adding, "I would just like to go back to where we were all neighbors." That seemed to be what was happening until DeStefano declared that she was voting no, because she wanted the Attorney General's opinion about the resolution in writing before she would support it.
This triggered a roll call vote. First to be called on, in alphabetical order, was Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward), who moved to table the resolution until they got the Attorney General's written opinion. This elicited boos from the audience and admonitions from his colleagues that they were voting and a motion to table was out of order. Forced to vote, Donahue said he couldn't vote no with all the people there in support of the resolution, so he voted yes.
Everyone thereafter voted yes but not without making a statement. Friedman asked rhetorically "Who needs to be protected from the law?" and answered "It's usually not the ones with the guns." Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) said she was proud of the Council for previously passing resolutions supporting issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and welcoming Syrian immigrants. Henry Haddad (Third Ward) read aloud the last paragraph of Moore's letter, which warned in part, "A directive, order, or resolution that causes a police officer to be less than fully cooperative with another police agency runs antithetical to our standard practices and sensibilities as a law enforcement agency." Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) said, "The safety of residents and businesses should come first." Abdus Miah (Second Ward) said, among other things, "I don't want to see any family suffer." Priscilla Moore (Fifth Ward) worried about federal funding and said, "I just hope I'm doing the right thing." Michael O'Hara (First Ward) said he sympathized with the concerns of DeStefano and others but "trusted the Attorney General's office at their word" and assured his colleagues, "We are doing the right thing." Rick Rector (First Ward) said that welcoming and inclusive were the important words and they "reflect what the HPD is doing right now." Lauren Scalera (Fourth Ward) said she hoped "we can get the chief what he is seeking."
With every alderman voting in favor, the resolution passed despite opposition from Council president DeStefano.
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Update: Click here to view the Channel 6 coverage of tonight's Council vote.