Thursday, August 18, 2022

Checks and Balances

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$82,350was 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.



  1. I would be OK with a re-name of the waterfront park. We've done enough memorializing of white colonizers.

  2. And how about a sign for the park on Front Street just north of Broad Street directing people to the park? You know, something helpful and sensible that most towns would have done decades ago.

  3. Over $100,000 for a jungle gym in a park with serious water drainage issues that is almost always lacking people. The fitness whatever will not make the park into a destination. No,
    it will just get vandalized, graffitied and destroyed. And neglected by the DPW. Dumb idea, waste of time and money.

  4. The real issue here isn't the inane use of tax funds (both the gym for a sinking, empty park and contemplating renaming the city's waterfront park are pure folly but we can discuss that later if necessary). No, the issue here is what Gossips leads with: the inability of the executive branch to comprehend or respect (it's one or the other fellas) our constitutional separation of powers. But count me as not surprised: a mayor who hasn't paid his taxes, who has no agenda except propping up and expanding his patron's franchise in the poverty industry, isn't the type of person who you'd expect to lead subject to a moral political philosophy. Kind of sounds like Trump -- isn't that weird?

  5. The mayor was given the floor by Tom D during my public speaking time at July's CC meeting. That was strange enough. He then criticized my approach in asking questions of Ed Moore. "This isn't a court of law," he said, as if he should hold any sway in the proceedings of a common council meeting. I wanted to reply "Who cares what you think, Kamal. This is not your place to offer any advice for Tom." But I had been shut down by then, no longer allowed to speak. It's kinda spooky the power grabs and poor meeting protocol. Kamal thinks he does have a say in how the meetings proceed, and Tom is on board, of course. It is indeed Trumpian, dictatorial, really juvenile ugly stuff. But to the two of them it's perfectly acceptable and justified, anything to keep the gang in power and prevent the public from getting too close or asking too many questions or any uncomfortable ones of department heads.
    Kamal's criticism of the council members, some of whom are "out of the country," is disturbing and embarrassing. He needs to learn when to shut the hell up and, yes, respect the separation of powers so crucial to a democracy. Next thing you know he'll want to sell a parade in his honor to the council. "Don't worry, we will find the funds later. It'll be great and you better all show up or I will call you out in public, because I am surveiling you. Especially those of you who go out of our country while I am working until midnight every day."
    B Huston

  6. How much would it cost to get a few large dumpsters and have DPW backhoes break up and remove the rotting Furgary shacks? A lot less than that, but there they sit year after year. Strange priorities.

  7. Replies
    1. That"s your best reply, Mayor, in your own defense? OMFG!