Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Disorderly Houses and Houses of Worship

During a question-and-answer period at Common Council Police Committee meeting on September 25, a resident of North Fifth Street, in the neighborhood that had experienced recent gun violence, asserted that "a crime against the community is worse than a crime against property" and characterized a house that represents a nuisance and danger to the neighborhood as a crime against the community. He asked, "Do the police have adequate laws?" The question brought attention back to Chapter 188, Paragraph 5, of the city code:
§ 188-5. No person shall, within the limits of the City, keep or maintain a disorderly house or a house of ill fame or allow or permit any house, shop, store, or other building or structure owned or occupied by him or her to be used as a disorderly house or house of ill fame.
The problem with the law is that the terms disorderly house and house of ill fame mean "brothel" or "house of prostitution," and the police had been trying to apply the law to the owners of houses known to be centers for drug dealing and suspected gang-related activity. A year ago, Chief Ed Moore made known to the Legal Committee his desire to have the law amended so that it could be applied to problems the police are facing in dealing with the gun violence that has occurred in Hudson in recent months. 

When the question of amending § 188-5 was brought up at the last Legal Committee meeting, the response from Alderman Michael O'Hara (First Ward), who chairs that committee, was that it was impossible to get the language of such an amendment written in such a way that it would not draw criticism from the community. It turns out he was correct.

Andy Howard, counsel to the Council, drafted such an amendment, which was introduced at the informal meeting of the Common Council on October 10. The proposed amendment redefines disorderly house in this way:
(b) For purposes of this section, "Disorderly House" shall mean any building, structure, enclosure, booth or other place within the City of Hudson where persons gather or abide and where the owner, lessee or person in charge permits, encourages or tends to encourage a pattern of drunkenness, illegal consumption of alcoholic beverages or drugs, boisterous conduct, unseemly noise, fighting or other conduct which habitually or routinely disturbs the public peace or promotes disorder and lessens the dignity of the community.
Yesterday, several posts appeared on Facebook encouraging people to attend the Common Council meeting to protest the proposed amendment. One such post intimates that the proposed amendment is somehow connected with immigration issues and gentrification:
The City of Hudson is trying to amend a "disorderly house" law that would make it easier to raid and invade homes where groups of people gather. . . . With the problems facing the citizens of Hudson--particularly the citizens in low income housing, generational residents, and people who occupy spaces desired by others--we can't let police take this first step into criminalizing this behavior. With the problems facing the residents of Hudson we cannot allow people being together to be criminalized.
Last night at the Council meeting, when the amendment to § 188-5 came up in the agenda, Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) suggested that, since the amendment had not actually come out of a committee and Chief Moore had not reviewed or commented on it, the proposed amendment be referred to the Police Committee. It was agreed that would be done. The Police Committee meets on Monday, October 23, at 6 p.m.

Also, at last night's meeting, the Council passed a resolution to cancel the interest and penalties on real property taxes for Holy Temple First Church of God in Christ, located at 64 North Sixth Street. The church was one of three churches, Shiloh Baptist being another, that had failed to file the necessary paperwork to renew their tax exempt status. When the resolution passed, there was applause in the room, and Ed Cross, the pastor of Endless Love Temple, seemed for a moment to think that the resolution had something to do with his church, which rented a building from owners who failed to pay the property taxes. The church building, which was the original home of Shiloh Baptist Church, has been foreclosed on by the City and will be sold at auction on Saturday, November 4, at noon. The minimum bid for the building is $35,907.09--the combination of back taxes owed, interest, and penalties.

The confusion of Holy Temple First Church of God in Christ with Endless Love Temple recalls that a few years ago the former congregation lost a building it allegedly owned to tax foreclosure. That building was 405 Warren Street, which the pastor of Holy Temple First Church of God in Christ maintained belonged to the church and was therefore tax exempt even though he was the owner of record.

Other things of interest happened at last night's Common Council meeting, and you can watch it all for yourself. Dan Udell's video of the meeting can be viewed here.


  1. "With the problems facing the residents of Hudson ...." [repeated twice via Facebook].

    Exactly which problems is the author referring to? Oh yes "all" the problems, which we're led to believe are numerous.

    But are some of these problems caused by "illegal consumption of alcoholic beverages or drugs," or "fighting or other conduct which habitually or routinely disturbs the public peace"?

    Not to pass judgements on anyone's life choices, but these activities are already "criminalized."

  2. Indeed, they are criminal offences, but we seek to codify them even further. I approve such an action. It is long overdue.

    1. I am in full agreement with you. What can Hudson residents do to encourage the passing of this law?

    2. The law will be discussed at the Police Committee meeting on Monday, October 23, at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Also, the public hearing on November 13 is meant to hear residents' thoughts about the law, which the Council will take into consideration before voting on it. The public hearing is also at City Hall, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, November 13.

  3. The State Street/North Fifth Street neighborhood has recently experienced waves of gun violence which has extended to the harming of children; thus we need a law to allow the city of Hudson to protect itself against houses that represents a nuisance and danger to the neighborhood. There is at lease one widely publicized house in the city of Hudson that has been evidenced to be the site of illegal activity and its residents are allegedly connected to the gun violence. This law is not about a few occasional loud bar patrons--it is about making the area safer. The law is badly needed in Hudson.