Saturday, November 23, 2019

Ear to the Ground

In an article that appeared in the Register-Star on November 7, two days after the general election, mayor-elect Kamal Johnson is reported to have said that "his first move when taking office will be making appointments to boards and committees, and ensuring the qualified people are serving in the right positions." A diligent observer of Hudson's boards and commissions, Gossips was curious to know what appointments he might make.

So far, in appointments that don't have to do with boards and committees, Johnson has chosen Michael Chameides to be his mayor's aide. This raises a question of propriety, since Chameides holds the office of Third Ward supervisor. Can someone hold two jobs in government--one elected and one appointed? It seems there is nothing in the charter to prohibit it, but this may be, like the proposal for a self storage facility on Fairview Avenue, something the charter never anticipated. The role of mayor's aide didn't exist until 2000, when being mayor was considered a part-time job (with an annual compensation of about $11,000) and Mayor Ken Cranna wanted someone in the mayor's office to answer the phone while he pursued his regular job of being a lawyer.

Gossips has also heard that Cheryl Roberts will be appointed city attorney. Roberts has been counsel to the City before, first as the attorney to the Common Council when Dick Tracy was mayor (2006-2007), then as city attorney during the Rick Scalera's final two terms as mayor (2008-2011) and during Bill Hallenbeck's administration. Roberts lives in Columbia County, so she's not the reason the residency requirement for attorneys had to be expanded to allow attorneys to live within a 50 mile radius of Hudson. The word is that Roberts will not serve as counsel to any of the regulatory boards, so perhaps whomever the new administration has in mind to be counsel to the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Historic Preservation Commission lives farther afield.

Regarding the appointments to boards and committees, the only committees are Common Council committees, and president of the Common Council makes those appointments, so it's likely the term committees was used in the article when what was meant was commissions.

Expressing his annoyance at being denied site plan approval for his makeshift self storage facility, Carmine Pierro intimated he had knowledge that Walter Chatham would not be reappointed as chair of the Planning Board. The mayor appoints the chairs of the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals, so Johnson could appoint someone else as chair, but Chatham's term on the Planning Board does not end until December 31, 2021, and he can continue on the Planning Board until that time. There are three members of the Planning Board, however, whose terms expire at the end of this year: Ginna Moore, Clark Wieman, and Toni Koweek, who was only recently appointed to the Planning Board to finish out Mark Morgan-Perez's term. Johnson can make three new appointments to the Planning Board.

On the Zoning Board of Appeals, there will be two vacancies to be filled. The terms of Kathy Harter and Theresa Joyner are up at the end of the year. Both women have served on the ZBA for more than one term. Johnson could reappoint them or replace them. Also he can replace Lisa Kenneally as chair of the ZBA, a position she has held through several administrations. Kenneally's current term on the ZBA doesn't end until December 31, 2020.

On the Historic Preservation Commission, no one's term will expire this year, so Johnson will have no new appointments to make to this commission--at least not this year. Unlike the Planning Board and the ZBA, the HPC selects its own chair.

The mayor also appoints people to serve on the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Of the seven member board, two members are elected by the residents of Bliss Towers, and the remaining five are appointed by the mayor. There was one vacancy on the board, and now, after the recent resignations of Alan Weaver and Peggy Polenberg, there are three. Two of the vacancies may be filled by Mayor Rick Rector before the end of his term, leaving one to be filled by Johnson.

Then there's the Tourism Board. The law that created the Tourism Board very carefully defines the composition of the board: the chair is to be the chair of the Common Council Economic Development Committee; four members of the board are appointed by the Common Council; four members are appointed by the mayor. What the law doesn't define is the term of those serving on the Tourism Board, so it is assumed that the makeup of the board can completely change every two years. It appears that is what is going to happen.

At the informal meeting of the Common Council on November 12, a resolution authorizing the Tourism Board to spend $2,000 of its budget to bring Steve Chandler of Chandlerthinks to Hudson to make a presentation to the Council was tabled. This action seems to have been taken in anticipation of a "whole new Tourism Board," which very likely may want to interpret the task assigned to them in a different way, rejecting the work done over the past two years by the current Tourism Board.


  1. Hmm - Cheryl Roberts, didn't love her work on the LWRP, boiling down the public's over 900 comments into 6. It's been sidelined ever since.

  2. CHERYL ROBERTS has a lot to answer for in Hudson. Just look at the mess down at the docks.Seeing she was not appointed a judge in Albany,back to Hudson to screw things up again .

  3. Cheryl Roberts. Lindas' heartthrob. Why am i not surprised ;(

  4. It was Roberts' zoning language and the Zoning Map she approved of that landed us in the mess we are today. And all over our ignored protests.

    LM's heart throb though, so Hudson can get stuffed. The nightmare continues ...

  5. Actually, the mayor can remove anyone from the Planning Board at any time and for any reason at all.

  6. The city needs someone to tell future undisclosed half truths...