Today is the first day of summer, and the last snow emergency is far behind us, but the sturm und drang of a snow emergency in Hudson was recalled last night at the June meeting of the Common Council.
It started with the motion to pay the bills, something that happens every month. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) questioned one item on the list of payments: $118 to be paid to William Shannon. Council president Claudia DeStefano explained that during a snow emergency, Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward) had told some of his neighbors where to park. It turned out that the information he provided was incorrect, and as a consequence four or five cars had been towed. The other car owners, according to DeStefano, had been reimbursed the towing fee by the Department of Public Works. Shannon was the one person left to be reimbursed.
Friedman questioned why the City was paying for someone's car being towed. "It's not our money," he proclaimed. "It's the taxpayers' money."
Defending himself, Miah wanted to know the address from which the car had been towed (information that was not available to anyone at the meeting), asserted that he had only told one person where to park, and denied having spoken with Shannon. He maintained that he could not be held responsible because Shannon's car had not been parked on this block. He also implied that he did not know Shannon, at which time Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) helpfully provided the information that Shannon used to be a reporter to the Register-Star and wrote the blog and the book Hudson River Zeitgeist. What Haddad didn't mention is that Shannon lives in Miah's ward.
After lengthy discussion that seemed unlikely to reach a resolution, Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) asked if they couldn't approve all the bills with the exception of the reimbursement to Shannon. Since the motion to pay the bills had already been made and seconded, the Council first had to vote not to pay the bills and then vote to pay the amended list of bills. Miah abstained from both votes. The question of whether or not the City is responsible if someone suffers a loss as a consequence of acting on incorrect information offered by an elected official is yet to be resolved, but as Friedman observed of the rules and regulations about parking during snow emergencies, "The fact that a city law is imprecise shouldn't surprise anyone."
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