City government is supposed to be a system of checks and balances, a system that allows the executive branch and the legislative branch to amend or veto each others' acts so as to prevent either branch from exerting too much power. At Tuesday's Common Council meeting, the executive branch of Hudson government, Mayor Kamal Johnson, took issue with members of the Common Council for questioning and in one case amending two resolutions that had originated with his office. The mayor's statement to the Council was reported by Ted Remsnyder in the Register-Star: "Council takes hits from mayor, DPW chief during water main debate." Johnson's statement can be heard in the videorecording of the meeting on YouTube, from 1:03:22 to 1:05:11.
What seemed to have provoked the mayor's comment was the Council's discussion of a resolution accepting a $30,000 grant for a "free-to-the-public outdoor Fitness Court" to be located in Charles Williams Park. The resolution indicated that the total cost of the equipment and shipping was $112,350, and members of the Council, not unreasonably, wanted to know where the rest of the money—$82,350—was coming from. The resolution explained that "the City of Hudson will secure supplemental funding as needed through public-private partnership and community sponsors," but the Council wanted more details. During the meeting, mayor's aide Michael Hofmann explained that The Spark of Hudson, which last spring conducted a survey about Charles Williams Park and held public input events at the park, would by one of the sources of funding for the "Fitness Court."
Johnson may also have been annoyed by the Council's scrutiny of a resolution authorizing entering into a contract with a consultant for indigenous peoples programming. The scope of work for the project, for which the City would pay $7,000, was in three parts: (1) organizing programming for Indigenous Peoples Day, formerly known as Columbus Day; (2) creating programming for Native American Heritage Month, to be observed in November; (3) researching renaming Hudson's waterfront park and creating citywide land acknowledgment.
In the Council's discussion of the resolution, it was pointed out that there were currently many other sources of funding for this type of project and perhaps the money should not be coming from the City's coffers. It was also suggested that there needed to be public awareness efforts and public input "before we start renaming things." Although a motion to table the resolution failed, the Council did amend the resolution to eliminate the third part of the scope of work and include only programming for Indigenous Peoples Day and Native American Heritage Month, reducing the fee to $3,500.
For those who may not know or may have forgotten, our waterfront park was officially named Henry Hudson Riverfront Park in 2009, during the celebration of the Quadricentennial, the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the river by Henry Hudson in his quest for a Northeast Passage to Japan and China.