The Common Council meeting on Tuesday was one of the stranger Council meetings Gossips has witnessed over the years. For one thing, it took place in the truck bay of the Central Fire Station, something that has not happened since 2013, when gun owners from all over the county showed up to protest a law being considered by the Council which would have banned guns from City buildings and parks.
This time it wasn't the size of the crowd that necessitated holding the Council meeting in the truck bay but the fact that the meeting room at the fire station was being used as a polling place for the school district vote.
Another thing that made Tuesday night's meeting bizarre was that Council president Tom DePietro was in a different time zone (literally) and trying to conduct the meeting while he was on Zoom and the councilmembers were physically present in the truck bay.
Things got unexpectedly testy when it was time to introduce and vote on a resolution supporting a bill (A4369/S4820) making its way through the state legislature regarding the use of no-knock warrants. The resolution, which does nothing more than declare the Council's support for proposed state legislation, seemed simple enough. As the resolution indicates, Mayor Kamal Johnson issued an executive order banning the use of no-knock warrants by the Hudson Police Department on June 15, 2020. Still, Councilmember Theo Anthony (Fourth Ward), who authored the resolution, went on for rather a long time explaining it. When DePietro interrupted, asking for questions from councilmembers in preparation for calling for a vote, Councilmember Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) said the timing of the resolution was bad, because there is about to be a change of leadership at the HPD, and it was "disrespectful to the new chief." He also asserted that the Council had not had sufficient time to review the resolution. Apparently, the resolution had been distributed to councilmembers the previous day. After some back and forth between Merante and Anthony, all of which can be heard here (starting at 33:00), Merante moved to table the resolution, to give the Council "a chance to breathe and be a little more transparent." The motion inspired DePietro to utter, "Oh, God."
The conversation between Merante and Anthony went on until DePietro interrupted by calling for a vote. He was then reminded that there was a motion on the floor to table the resolution. After more discussion, it was determined that the motion to table had been seconded by Councilmember Margaret Morris (First Ward). When a vote was taken on the motion to table, all voted in favor except Anthony and DePietro, who said, "Absolutely not. The most ridiculous conversation I've heard in the Council." When Merante expressed the opinion that DePietro's comment was inappropriate, DePietro countered, "Dominic, you use that word inappropriate and transparent, and obviously you should have a dictionary handy because you use them incorrectly, as a cudgel against people who disagree with you. It's really offensive what you do." When Merante said something about wanting to be "democratic and fair," DePietro shot back, "You're not a Democrat. Cut the crap."
Erratum: Gossips has been informed that Councilmember Art Frick (First Ward) also voted against tabling the resolution.
Regarding the resolution, which has been tabled, the Common Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, May 24, at 5:00 p.m., to consider it again. The meeting will be a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
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