Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Last Night with the Itinerant Common Council

The Common Council met last night not in the Council chamber at City Hall but in the conference room at 1 North Front Street. More than thirty members of the public showed up for the meeting, fewer than twenty of whom could be seated. An article in the Register-Star yesterday suggested that the change of venue was to accommodate Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who broke her ankle in May and, confined to a wheelchair, has been unable to attend Council meetings or committee meetings since then, except for the Police Committee meeting on June 25, when she came to lend her voice to the protest against the deployment of the Shared Services Response Team on June 5.

Comments made by Council president Tom DePietro last night, indicated that the Council's peripatetic period may go on for longer than it takes Garriga to regain mobility. He announced that he had arranged for future informal meetings of the Common Council to take place in the community room at the Hudson Area Library through the end of the year. Former Council president Don Moore helpfully noted that the courtroom at the new police and courts building had been designed with the possibility in mind of holding evening meetings there.

This all brings to mind the story, probably apocryphal, of how, before Hudson's first city hall was completed in 1855, the Common Council met in rented rooms in various locations in the city, and for the ten years between 1845, when the City acquired the painting, and 1855, when the Council settled in its new digs at 327 Warren Street, the presence of Henry Ary's portrait of George Washington rendered any room in which the aldermen met to do the City's business the official "Council chamber."

The Council Chamber in Hudson's first City Hall
Dan Udell was at the Council meeting last night, and his video of the proceedings can now be viewed here.



  1. I don't quite understand. Is Ms. Garriga trying to make a political point about City Hall not having a wheelchair ramp? Or is she saying she can't get into City Hall, which I thought had ground level entrance from the back of the building? If the former, then I hope she is proposing legislation to make City Hall accessible. If the latter, I'm sure there are temporary accomodations (including the back entry) that would be much less costly (i'm assuming the City is renting these other facilities?) than moving all over town with their business.

    1. You shouldn't assume that the City is spending money to rent other facilities. No one is charged to use the conference room at 1 North Front Street (which is owned by the City of Hudson and leased to the Chamber of Commerce and HDC and HDCPA) and I don't believe the library charges the City for using the community room. Since the Police and Courts facility is also a City-owned building, I doubt there woul be a charge for that either.

    2. Which leaves Mr. Meyer's first two questions unanswered ...

    3. I cannot speak for Tiffany Garriga's motivation. Are you suggesting that I should?

    4. I was asking generally and rhetorically, nor were you expected to answer the point about rental fees for the various rooms (none), though it was appreciated.

      I'd add that a spare room of any size is better than the City's absurd Council Chamber. Its graduated levels unconsciously reinforce specious power relations between citizens and their representatives. If anything, the order of levels ought to be reversed.

    5. Yes, I once tripped on one of those steps getting to the Council Members' level, giving the CC President a start as I flung myself forward trying to regain balance.... And I appreciate your attempt to answer the costs question, Carole, but "costs" include much more than a rental fee; e.g. somebody's got to tell the newspaper and post the change on the website (i.e. get the word out), not to mention the costs for those who run the other sites. They're not giving us something "free" even if they don't charge city government, there is a cost to using locations and given the locations you mentioned, the public is paying.... But as unheimlich noted, the first two questions weren't answered.

    6. p.s. I love the pledge of allegience picture! Is that anti-pledge Friedman on the left? Where was that taken?

    7. The picture is a screen capture from Dan Udell's video of last night's Common Council meeting, which took place at 1 North Front Street. The person on the left is not John Friedman, who is no longer on the Council, but Second Ward alderman Dewan Sarowar.

    This page linked above has some information regarding requirements as far as accessibility to city meetings and programs.

  3. There have been several mentions of Alderwoman Garriga's "broken foot" recently, which in my opinion have minimized the severity of Ms. Garriga's injury. This was a major trauma and major surgery that Tiffany endured. The bones of her foot were separated from the bones of her leg. She required multiple pins, screws and other devices attempting to restore the structure and movement of her leg and foot. She will need months of rehab to even regain a portion of the movement and ability that she once had.

    So rather than demanding to ascribe motivations to Alderman Garriga's actions, perhaps she is simply motivated to continue serving her constituents at meetings and facilities which are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Something that City Hall has woefully not been in compliance with since the day the Act became law in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush. That is 28 years that people with temporary or permanent disabilities have been blocked from attending meetings or attending to business in Hudson's central civic building.

    The state of City Hall is atrocious, for staff, the public and for officials. It is time to get out of there, sell the building and let private enterprise fix what government has shamefully refused to do for nearly three decades. If moving city offices to JL Edwards School will accomplish this, let's do it. If not, let's find another solution. The status quo at City Hall cannot be allowed to continue.

    Whatever Ms. Garriga's "motivations", I support her right to be at the table to represent my concerns, despite her very serious injury and I thank her for getting back to the table as quickly as she was able.