There were several resolutions introduced at last night's informal Common Council meeting, but the one that inspired the most discussion was the resolution regarding the designation of Common Council majority leader and minority leader.
Next year, the Council, as it has many times in the past, will be made up exclusively of registered Democrats. The question is: How do you have a minority leader when there is no minority? The proposed resolution, which Council president Tom DePietro said "came from NYCOM" (New York Conference of Mayors), addresses that problem.
First, the resolution clarifies that "party membership shall be determined by party membership of the Council member at the time of commencement of the most recent city election cycle." This eliminates the silliness that happened in 2020, when Calvin Lewis and Shershah Mizan, registered Democrats both, decided they would "identify" as members of the Working Families Party so they could elect Rebecca Wolff, then registered as WFP, as their leader.
The resolution further states: "In the event that all members of the Council belong to the same political party, the entire Council shall hold one vote to designate the Majority leader and another vote to designate the Minority leader."
It also addresses a situation which has never occurred in recent memory: "If there are two members who belong to different minority parties, they will split the two-year term for minority leader, unless one cedes the right to the other."
At Monday's meeting, Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) said he did not think NOPs should be excluded as a minority, arguing that many voters in Hudson are registered NOP (no official party), and they should be represented by an alderman who is registered NOP. DePietro told him, "NOP is not a party." The resolution states: "Members registered to votes as "no party" status shall be precluded from serving as Majority or Minority leader."
Alderman-elect Margaret Morris (First Ward) suggested that, because candidates can run on multiple lines, those aldermen who had done so need to declare their party and decide if they wanted to be part of the majority or the minority. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) interrupted her, declaring, "That's not how we do it." When Morris tried to continue, DePietro told her, "You're not making sense, Margaret."
Speaking as a member of the public, Ronald Kopnicki asserted that not being registered in a party should not exclude someone from serving as majority or minority leader. He also asked, "Why is this being brought before the old Council instead of the new Council?" DePietro responded, "To avert possibility that there will be confusion in the future." DePietro then moved on, leaving hands raised.
Kopnicki's question about timing is a reasonable one. Why is this being considered by a Council 60 percent of which will not be returning in 2022? The resolution indicates that it is amending the 2021 Rules of Order, but it will take effect at the January 2022 organizational meeting. It would seem that the 2021 Rules of Order would terminate at the end of 2021, and the new Council should be adopting its own rules of order. This action seems like an attempt by the current Council to limit the power of its successor.
Here's another curious thing about the future majority and minority leaders. This afternoon at the HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) meeting, Sara Black, who is the HCDPA coordinator, said, "We're still not sure who the minority leader is." (The Common Council majority and minority leaders serve ex officio on HCDPA board.) Her statement seems to imply that the identity of the majority leader is already known to some, more than two weeks before the members of the new Council are inaugurated.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK
It's both disconcerting that the lame duck session seeks to make significant changes to the future council, and that the council president speaks in such a dismissive manner to any constituent, but particularly one elected to represent her ward. It's also disturbing that so often public comment is discouraged, disregarded, or stopped.ReplyDelete
There are plenty of parties out there, if someone wanted to be majority leader, they should join one.ReplyDelete
Funny to see the lame ducks quacking and flapping their wings as everyone is flying off and leaving them behind in the empty losers pond.
NOPs certainly dilute the power of their own vote by opting out of party affiliation, so they can't vote in primaries.Delete
For NOP candidates, or member of any party that is not the Democratic party, non-party members need something called a Wilson Pakula to run in the primary, which requires the permission of the local Democratic party. Given the unethical, disorganized mess the Hudson Dems have turned into (which prompted so many departures from the committee earlier this year, including my own) non-Dems can't count on Committee members to play fair, which is why several people had to register as Dems this year. (Given their low turnout, local elections are often decided at the primary, since many people simply vote party line in the general.)
Someone could register as a non-Dem for the purposes of the caucus, but would still have to seek blessing from the incredibly dysfunctional party apparatus to run in the next primary, or register as a Democrat, which might cost them their caucus leadership position since they switched parties.
The Hudson Democratic Committee is a mismanaged mess, one that people who want to do better for the local community are going to have to work around until new leadership steps up.
While I did not quickly find case law directly on point, it is my view that the principle is very clear and well established that an incoming body cannot be constrained by the decisions of an outgoing body. The incoming council can accept or reject the rules of order that the previous body may have adopted. To cite one passage from the Court of Appeals: "Elected officials must exercise LEGISLATIVE and governmental powers, within their own sound discretion, as the needs require. Ordinarily they may not so exercise their powers as to limit the same discretionary right of their successors to exercise that power and must transmit that power to their successors unimpaired (Edsall v. Wheler, 29 A.D.2d 622, 623, 285 N.Y.S.2d 306, 307, Supra). In the instant case the county legislators are elected for a two-year term and absent a statutory or charter provision * * * they may not bind their successors in matters relating to governmental or LEGISLATIVE functions beyond that term." Morin v. Foster, 45 N.Y.2d 287 (Court of Appeals, 1978). (Upper Case emphasis added).ReplyDelete
Ken, reading statutes and regulations, let alone judicial opinions, to the functionally illiterate (yes, that’s you, council members and your president) is likely to be counted as a folly. And by “likely” I mean certainly.Delete
One wonders if someone was promised the role of majority leader, as implied earlier today at the HCDPA meeting, in exchange for a vote on another resolution.Delete
If so, it looks like someone was promised a bill of goods, and is going to be left sorely disappointed in January.
Follow up question for Ken-will the expected 3rd Ward vacancy be filled at the organizing meeting before caucus leaders are selected? One wonders if an amended resolution that lays out the order of agenda for the organizing meeting might be passed at the Formal, so Tom can't fiddle with it in January.
John, in regard to filling the "expected" 3rd Ward vacancy, I offer the following. To be clear, this is NOT a matter of Election Law, and I am merely offering my understanding of the matter. First, the vacancy--if it happens--cannot be filled before it actually occurs and there is actually a vacancy. At the General Election (as is well-known) Calvin Lewis and Ryan Wallace were the two top vote-getters and were elected. It's understood that Calvin might not want to take office. If that turns out to be the case, a vacancy would occur if 1) he has not taken his oath of office "within thirty days after the commencement of the term of office for which he is chosen"--i.e. by the end of January, (Public Officers Law section 30(1.)(h.) or 2) he promptly takes his oath of office and then resigns from the office. In the first case (not taking the oath), no vacancy would exist prior to the end of January and so it could not be filled before then. In the second case, he could take the oath of office and immediately resign, which could create a vacancy as early as January 1, which could then be filled. Of course, he could also just take office; he was elected to it. So to answer your question about the timing of filling the vacancy, it can't be filled at the organizing meeting unless an actual vacancy exists at that time, which would have to be by the elected person's taking the oath and then resigning. As for the agenda order, I don't think there is any requirement. As a practical matter, after a vacancy occurs, the council should probably solicit and evaluate potential appointees before filling the position, which could take a while.ReplyDelete
It all sounds like a screwy mess and I feel sorry for Margaret Morris who is a great candidate and in my mind was elected by the people. If the Dems can't sort themselves out Hudson government will continue as the hopeless mess it is.ReplyDelete
Jennifer I agree with you. Margaret wants to help Hudson and not be abused by a power hungry sociopath.Delete
Carole, I'm not sure why you failed to report that after Sara Black's question at the HCDPA meeting, she was told by several members of HCDPA including myself that the matter would not be decided until the new council had voted or otherwise determined it. Your reporting seems to be constructed to incite suspicion and mistrust. REBECCA WOLFFReplyDelete
Party affiliation shouldn’t be recognized at the local government level outside of the electoral process. Most of the issues about running the city have no partisan stance. Also, in New York State, many people just register as Democrats, even if they aren’t “true blue,” so they can vote or run in the closed primaries, which is the de facto election. Our Sheriff-elect is a great example. Our council members have positions that don’t necessarily match with other members that they “caucus” with.ReplyDelete
Also, it seems obvious that this is all a play to limit Margaret Morris as a possible minority leader since she is a wild card. I suspect the same shadiness will come to play in the 3rd Ward seat. I bet dollars to doughnuts that either Calvin Lewis will be persuaded to retake his seat, conflicts be dammed; or the outgoing council will try to setup the ground work for someone friendly to groups like Galvan and the adjacent astroturfing “community” organizations. I hope supporters of Amber Harris speak up. I’ve already ordered my popcorn.