Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Not to Be Missed

Scott Baldinger, on his blog Word on the Street, chronicles a "barn razing" and pays tribute to a lost alley building.

News from the Fair

This year, there were thirteen nominees for the Victoria A. Simons Locavore Awards, which are presented each year on Labor Day, the final day of the Columbia County Fair. Among the nominees were the following from Hudson: Fish & Game, Grazin' (both the farm, which isn't in Hudson, and the diner, which is), and the Hudson Farmers' Market. (Click here to see the full list of the nominees.) 

Three awards were given this year. They are were, in the order in which they were announced: the Hudson Farmers' Market; Berkshire Co-op Market, in Great Barrington; and Terrapin Restaurant, in Rhinebeck.

Virginia Ambrose accepting the award for HFM
Each award winner received a trophy and a $1,000 stipend. Jake Levin, who accepted the award for Berkshire Co-op Market, gave the $1,000 back to the fund, as did Josh Kroner, the chef at Terrapin. Virginia Ambrose, manager of the Hudson Farmers' Market, who was first to accept the award, did not turn down the prize money, and loyal denizens of the Hudson Farmers' Market eagerly await learning what improvement to the market the $1,000 will fund.
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Monday, September 1, 2014

Public Comment Period Ends Tomorrow

The deadline for commenting on the proposal for moving forward with the plans for new transmission line projects was originally last Friday, August 29, but it has been extended until tomorrow, Tuesday, September 2. There is still time to make your opinions heard, and it is important that you do. 

Take some time on this holiday to compose and submit your comments about the proposal and its potential impacts on our county and the Hudson Valley. Click here to get yourself up to speed on the issues. Click here to submit your comments to the NYS Public Service Commission.
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Sunday, August 31, 2014

In Memoriam

August saw the passing of another of Hudson's great dogs: Skye, whose full name was Morgan Skye Gryphon of Avalon. Skye was the original spotty dog who inspired the name and posed for the sign and logo of The Spotty Dog Books & Ale. The bookstore now has a tribute to Skye on its website

Skye was a great beauty and a sought-after model, even in her last days. (Skye was 14½.) Dan Rupe recently painted this portrait of her.


Skye is greatly missed by her human, by her dog companion Gryphon (a.k.a. Deputy Dog Gryphon), and by everyone who enjoyed seeing her spotty self on her regular walks around town.
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A Hundred Years Ago at the Chatham Fair

These days, the Columbia County Fair ends on Labor Day. In 1914, the Chatham Fair opened on Labor Day. If you went to the fair in 1914, here is one of the exhibits you might have visited.


Automobiles were, of course, a relatively new thing in 1914. So much so that it was typical for it to be reported in the newspaper whenever a local resident purchased a car. Much has changed in a hundred years, including the disappearance of two of the cars exhibited at the 1914 fair: the Hupmobile and the Studebaker.

The first Hupmobile, named for its creator, Robert Craig Hupp of Grand Rapids, MI, was introduced to the public at the Detroit Auto Show in 1909.


The last Hupmobiles were produced in 1940.

Henry and Clement Studebaker were about a hundred years ahead of their time when they started making automobiles. Their first car, introduced in 1902, was an electric car. Thomas Edison bought the second one they produced. In 1904, however, the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company began producing gasoline-powered automobiles.

   
Studebaker produced its most memorable cars, those with the bullet nose design, in the 1950s, establishing Studebaker as a leader in automobile styling.


The last Studebakers were produced in 1966.

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Zephyr Teachout in Ghent: The Video

If you missed seeing Zephyr Teachout in Ghent on Thursday night, you can watch video highlights of the event here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Century Ago in New York

There is talk these days about appointing an ad hoc committee to study the city charter and recommend changes. Hudson's charter was enacted in 1921 and amended in its entirety in 1973 (in the heyday of urban renewal--not that there's necessarily a connection), so it may be time to take a look at the charter again. A couple of things in the charter that many people seem interested in changing are the ward boundaries, as they translate into election districts, and the Common Council weighted vote. 

With this in mind, it is interesting to note that September 1 is the 100th anniversary of home rule in New York. To mark that anniversary, Gossips shares this article, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register on September 1, 1914.

CITIES OF NEW YORK NOW HAVE HOME RULE
Law Secured by Governor Glynn Goes Into Effect.
The Benefits of Optional City Charter Act.
The cities of the state which have chafed under the necessity of going to the state legislature every time they desired to secure needed changes in their charter are now freed from the red tape which has bound them for the past twenty years.
This month the optional city charter law goes into effect, and home rule for New York's cities becomes something more than a promise.
To Governor Glynn and the Democratic party goes the credit for this reform in municipal government. Although the enactment of a law which would give to the cities of the state the right to select their own charters without interference from the legislature has been agitated for many years, it was not until Governor Glynn threw his influence to the support of this measure that it became a law.
Party Pledge Redeemed.  The optional city charter act formed part of the legislative program of the state conference of mayors and the Municipal Government association. Forty-two mayors petitioned the governor to urge its passage and because the Democratic platform of 1912 promised the fullest measure of home rule to the cities of the state Governor Glynn took it upon himself to redeem the party's pledge.
The underlying principle of the new law is home rule. As its name implies, it is purely optional in character. It does not impose any sort of charter on any city, but it does give every city the opportunity within certain limitations to choose the sort of charter that the majority of its voters want.
Under the law seven optional forms of charter are offered to the cities. Two of these are variations of the so called commission form of charter under which approximately 400 cities in the United States are at present operating and which the legislature of 1914 provided for the city of Buffalo. The third option provides a charter of the city manager type, similar to the recently adopted charters in Dayton and Springfield, O., and to that enacted by the legislature this year for the city of Olean.
There is another form which provides for a mayor and a small council or commission of three or five members elected at large. Still another plan provides for a mayor and common council of nine elected at large. Still another provides for government by a mayor and a common council to be chosen from the existing wards.
The seventh option is applicable to third class cities only. It allows them to adopt the White uniform charter law for second class cities with salaries on a lower schedule.
The Short Ballot.  Through all of these charters runs the short ballot idea. Even under the plan in which aldermen are chosen from existing wards the short ballot idea is maintained, the mayor and the aldermen being the only elected city officers.
Under all of those forms such administrative officers as assessors, city engineers, city attorneys, city treasurer and comptroller are made appointive either by the council or mayor.
There are three classes of officials, however, who will not be affected by the adoption of one of these charters. These are the county supervisors, who remain elective as heretofore, and the judicial officers and members of the boards of education, who remain either elective or appointive.
Except as to the framework or structure of the city government the existing city charters will remain as before. The law does not pretend to provide complete new charters for the cities adopting one of these forms. It is clearly provided that all the existing laws and ordinances shall continue in full force and effect until repealed. The newly created legislative body may, however, reconstruct the charter to a considerable extent by superseding existing provisions of law by ordinances.
The salary of the mayor and councilmen is fixed according to the population of the city. All other salaries of city officials may be fixed by the city council. The terms of office of mayor and councilmen under all the plans are four years, part of them being chosen every two years. 
Altogether the new law enables the cities of New York to live under the form of government best suited to the local needs and most in accord with local ideas. It relieves the cities of the state from the necessity of running to the legislature for every trifling change that is desired. Best of all, it enables the state legislature to devote its whole attention to legislation affecting the entire state and prevents half of its time from being expended on local issues, half understood and of little concern to the majority of senators and assemblymen.
Half Digested Legislation.  In the regular session of 1914 more than 200 municipal bills of a purely local nature were introduced in both the senate and the assembly. Had the optional city charter bill be in effect this mass of half digested legislation could have been avoided. The legislature could have confined itself to state problems and adjourned a month earlier than it actually did.
More important perhaps than the practical side of the question, however, is the principle involved in the legislation.
The optional city charter law is a recognition that the cities of the state should govern themselves instead of being governed by a distant legislature, the members of which are not responsible, save in one or two instances, to the citizens of the affected cities. 
It is clear that the City of Hudson chose the sixth option: "a mayor and a common council to be chosen from the existing wards." What is not clear is how and when the city treasurer became an elected position and why the elected officials in Hudson all have two-year terms. 
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Photograph of the Council chamber when City Hall was located at 327 Warren Street, known now as the Hudson Opera House, courtesy Historic Hudson

Waterfront Watch

It has been mentioned at a couple of public meetings that the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) is working on a master plan for the waterfront. Relevant to that, Gossips discovered this morning that an RFP (request for proposal) has been issued for "qualified consultants to deliver a response to proposals for the engineering and highest and best use for the Dunn Warehouse located on Hudson's historic Waterfront."

The RFP provides the following Project Overview (boldface italic type is as it appears in the document):
The City of Hudson is seeking an architectural/engineering consultant to provide professional services to: [1] Evaluate existing conditions within the Dunn Building, inclusive of all structural and building envelope elements; and [2] identify adaptive reuse possibilities for the structure. The deliverable must provide sufficient information for the issuance of a request for proposals for redevelopment of the building.
The entire RFP can be read here.   
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Mayor Unhappy With Legal Committee

For the past couple of Common Council Legal Committee meetings, the mayor's proposal to remedy the problems of parking on streets around the hospital by introducing parking permits for residents has been on the agenda. It seems though that Mayor William Hallenbeck is not happy with the work the legislative branch has been doing on his proposed law. "They're turning my proposal into a monster by continuing to dissect [it]," the mayor told John Mason of the Register-Star. 

The mayor wanted work on the new legislation suspended after Columbia Memorial Hospital announced its new affiliation with Albany Medical Center, thinking that perhaps Albany Med's involvement might somehow change the game. The members of the Legal Committee rejected the notion that CMH's "strategic alliance" with Albany Med would have any impact on solving the immediate parking problems for residents of streets near the hospital and have been moving ahead.

Mason reports on the latest struggle within local government in today's Register-Star"Mayor wants parking plan put on hold."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Set in Stone

More than two years after Staley B. Keith's death, and less than two weeks after his daughter, Alderman Alexis Keith, complained at a Common Council meeting that nothing had been done to fulfill Mayor William Hallenbeck's promise to designate the place where Carroll, Prospect, and Short streets converge with Harry Howard Avenue as "Staley B. Keith Circle," a stone appeared yesterday in the little grassy triangle.

It is expected that a bronze plaque commemorating Keith will be affixed to the stone.
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Zephyr Teachout in Ghent

Andrew Cuomo had indicated that he would make his decision about debating Zephyr Teachout by 7 p.m. yesterday, but at 7 p.m. yesterday, when Teachout walked into the Ghent Town Hall and was greeted by a standing room only crowd, there had been no word from the governor.

Teachout's visit to Ghent last evening was her seventh stop that day on a Whistleblower Tour of the state. "We are blowing the whistle on the corruption we see," Teachout explained. "They're calling the shots, and we're calling them out." Applause greeted her every utterance, until she pleaded good-naturedly, "Stop clapping, because I've got some talking to do."

Defining herself as a traditional Democrat, Teachout declared her support of public education, saying that Cuomo has "looted schools to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest New Yorkers." She stated her commitment to maintaining and repairing the state's infrastructure, dissed using Clean Water Act funds to pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge, and spoke of "a public transit system we haven't imagined yet."

Applause erupted again when Teachout declared that, as governor, she would ban fracking in New York. "Our water is everything," she said and then quoted Franklin Roosevelt: "A nation that poisons its soil poisons itself." "FDR is my guy," Teachout explained. 

She called for "reinvesting in the public," objected to "contracting out basic public services," and asserted that "a society should be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members."

"We are in a position to have the upset of the century," Teachout proclaimed, calling it "an uprising of people who want to make history." Recalling that, at the outset, her campaign had been considered impossible, she quoted part and paraphrased the rest of this quote from Mohammed Ali:
Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.
The Democratic primary for governor and lieutenant governor takes place on Tuesday, September 9. Polls are open from noon until 9 p.m.
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Photo by Lee Jamison

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Illusory Hotel

At last month's Common Council Legal Committee meeting, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who chairs the committee, announced his intention to invite Richard Cohen, the owner of the buildings on the northeast corner of Warren and Fourth streets, to come to the next Legal Committee meeting to discuss the current condition of the buildings and explain his plans. The term being bandied about at the time was "demolition by neglect."


Cohen was present at the Legal Committee meeting on Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, he had met with assistant city attorney Dan Tuczinski and code enforcement officer Craig Haigh. At the Legal Committee meeting, Tuczinski reviewed the situation at the site: there are questions of public safety; the project is out of compliance with city code; no working plans for the building that have been filed with the code enforcement office or approved by the Historic Preservation Commission or the Planning Board. Tuczinski reported that the City had requested a letter from a structural engineer attesting that the site was safe. Tuczinski also indicated that a building permit was needed for the work now being done at the site, and Cohen had to present the "ultimate plans" for the site to the appropriate City regulatory agencies. "Time is of the essence," said Tuczinski. "It starts with the building office."

When Friedman asked if there was anything he wanted to add, Cohen said that the stabilization process, which he said had taken five years, was almost complete. He predicted that it would be done by the end of September. He indicated that the facade of 8 North Fourth Street would be "completely dismantled" but made assurances that "we are keeping whatever materials we can." 

When asked if he had a plan for "what ultimately will be there," Cohen's response was only that they would be rebuilding the wall at 10 North Fourth Street.

Friedman concluded, "It sounds like everybody's talking, which they were not before." He asked Haigh to prepare a report for the Legal Committee and then declared the project "off the Legal Committee's agenda for now."

Rumor has it that Cohen was recently offered for the buildings an amount, in cash, that most of us could only hope for if we won the lottery, and he turned it down. 
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BUMP: Whale Bones at the Basilica

If you missed seeing and experiencing BUMP, the interactive exhibit of whale bones at Basilica Hudson, you have another chance this weekend. The exhibit is open on Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31, from 1 to 4 p.m., and on Labor Day--Monday, September 1--as well. 




The installation, made up of bones from three different whales, is the creation of Daniel DenDanto and Frank DenDanto. Daniel is a cetecean biologist; Frank is a light and theater designer. The brothers have collaborated previously on whale skeleton articulations for museums, but BUMP is their first exhibit centered around an educational and interactive fine art approach rather than a traditional scientific assembly.

BUMP was first exhibited at the Maine College of Art and has also been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine. "Bringing BUMP to Hudson," says Basilica creative director Melissa Auf der Maur, "reflects Basilica's commitment to the rich history of our region and the Hudson whalers, who played a big part in what we love about Hudson today." 

Tomorrow night--Friday, August 29--there is a closing party with "an intimate, early music vibe." The a capppella trio Black Sea Hotel will be performing "electrifying arrangements of Balkan folk songs, interweaving the ancient and the contemporary in a harmonic blend that has been called otherworldly, haunting, even spellbinding." Also performing will be Charlie Looker, whose haunting voice and guitar create music that ranges "from early music to demented covers," and Patrick Higgins, who's been described as an "electrified Bach for the classical guitar." The doors open for the party at 8 p.m., and the music begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.
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Teachout and Wu in Ghent Tonight

If you missed seeing and hearing Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham law professor who is challenging Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary on September 9, when she was in Hudson a few weeks ago, you have another chance tonight, provided you are willing to drive to Ghent.

Tonight at 7 p.m., Teachout and Timothy Wu, who is challenging Kathy Hochul to become lieutenant governor, will be stopping at the Ghent Town Hall on their Whistleblower Tour of the state. Ghent Town Hall is located at 2306 Route 66, on the left, just before the Dairy Queen.

The Democratic Primary is Tuesday, September 9. The polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. If you are not going to be in Hudson on September 9 and need an absentee ballot, click here for an application. Completed applications must be mailed to the Board of Elections seven days before the primary or hand-delivered to the Board of Elections office at 401 State Street on the day before the primary. If you have questions, call 518 828-3115.
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The Downside of Economic Vitality

Warren Street is the scene when it comes to commerce in Hudson. It's where people who come to Hudson for a day of shopping and exploring gravitate. It's where the action is. It's understandable then that people with businesses near but not on Warren Street would want a sign on Warren to steer folks in their direction. It's also understandable that in fine weather, when the restaurants set out their sidewalk cafes, the sidewalks get crowded. Then there are the vendors and other alternative forms of retailing that want to be part of the scene. All these issues--the downside of Hudson's success and vitality--were taken up at last night's Legal Committee meeting. John Mason reports on the discussion in today's Register-Star: "City sandwich boards in peril."
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Of Interest

The New York Times has endorsed Timothy Wu, a Columbia law professor, for lieutenant governor of New York, not Kathy Hochul, the former congresswoman who is Governor Andrew Cuomo's choice: "Timothy Wu for Lieutenant Governor."

The primary election is on Tuesday, September 9. In Hudson, there are only two Democratic races: for governor and for lieutenant governor. The polls are open from noon until 9 p.m.

Dog Park Progress

The campaign to raise funds for a dog park in Hudson has reached the halfway mark. The goal is to raise $10,000; so far, there is $5,000 in the Hudson Forward Dog Park Fund. Click here to make your contribution and help create a park for our canine citizens.      

Paper Boats on the Hudson

Among the boats built in the Hudson Sloop Club's summer camp program and launched on the river last Friday was this swift and beautiful canoe made from paper.

It turns out that, far from being a bizarre novelty, paper boats, made from a form of papier-mache, were very popular in the latter half of the 19th century. Before there was fiberglass and composite plastic, paper was used to build light and fast racing shells, canoes, and rowboats, and the leading manufacturer of paper boats was E. Waters & Sons, Paper Boat Builders, just up the river in Troy.

You can learn much more about the Waters paper boat factory and about paper boats in general at an amazing website called Ken's Paper Boat Page. This is all by way of introducing the news that a flotilla of paper boats from Troy is due to visit our part of the river on September 1 and 2 as part of a collaborative art and activism project called SeaChange.

On Monday, September 1, the SeaChange crew will be guests at Publication Studio Hudson in Catskill for dinner and a movie. Dinner is fish stew; the movie is The River Twicea documentary by Meryl O'Connor about floating on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. The event starts at 7 p.m. Publication Studio Hudson is located at 460 Main Street in Catskill.

On Tuesday, September 2, the paper boats will be on our side of the river for a Riverside Party for Climate Justice at Rick's Point in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. Paper boats from Kite's Nest and the Hudson Sloop Club will join the SeaChange paddlers on the water, while on land, there will be food, ice cream, and live music. Hudson Praxis, Hudson Community Garden, and Publication Studio Hudson will also be part of the event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. and goes on until 8 p.m.
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