Over the weekend, the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition carried out a phone banking campaign, organized by Quintin Cross, targeting voters in the wards represented by aldermen who had not voted in support of the PILOT agreement in July. Last night, some of those same aldermen were targeted by members of the public.
Jane Trombley, who represents the First Ward, which encompasses all of the south side of Hudson, was reminded by Claire Cousin that half of Hudson Terrace was in the First Ward. Cousin invited her "to see what the waiting list for Hudson Terrace looks like." Dylan Weidman, who said he'd been able to remain as a renter in the First Ward for ten years only because his landlord was Galvan, challenged Trombley, "Who do you represent? Because you don't represent me."
Vern Cross, who lives in the Fifth Ward, implicitly questioned how in touch his aldermen, Eileen Halloran and Dominic Merante, were with the people they represent by asking how they were getting information about the project out to their constituents. Later, three commenters who stated they were Fifth Ward residents--Elizabeth Dickey, Rebecca Borrer, and someone identified only as Anya--declared their support of the project.
Toward the end of the meeting, Cross directed his questions toward Malachi Walker, demanding to know if he had another solution or if he was "just trying to shake down Galvan?" Walker countered, "Is me caring about the city shaking down Galvan?" He went on to say, "I'm a God-fearing man. I want the best for the City of Hudson. I don't want to swing at the first ball."
To return to an earlier point in the meeting, among the communications received by the Council was a letter from Paula Forman, founder of Perfect Ten. The letter begins:
The proposed Galvan project is yet another brick in a long history of institutional racism in our city and our country.
It is well documented that projects like the one currently under consideration on 7th street, while purporting to solve an immediate problem, have the unanticipated consequence of depriving yet another generation of home ownership. It has the effect of creating a permanent renter class and discourages upward mobility. Home ownership is the single most important vehicle for accumulating wealth and meaningful equity that can be passed on to the next generation. Projects like the one currently being reviewed do not allow residents to profit from increasing home values and discourages aspiration to higher paying jobs. They perpetuate the status quo and institutional racism. Because the residents are not property owners, they do not benefit from the economic impact of all improvements in the quality of community life. Don't we want better than that for our citizens and their children?Trombley, when urging that the Council take "a really big breath" and take "a really careful look at what we do," spoke of homeownership and referenced the letter. Later in the discussion, Mayor Kamal Johnson maintained that "millennials don't want to own houses" and accused Trombley of denigrating renters.
The last word in the meeting came from Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann, who reminded everyone that "the last reval was extremely difficult for the city" and declared, "This project will ask more of the taxpayers." Dismissing the notion that property taxes could be raised for those already heavily burdened, Mussmann asked, "What do we cut to make this project affordable?"
The Common Council is expected to vote on the new resolution authorizing the PILOT agreement at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 18, at 7:00 p.m.
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