Weighted Voting in Hudson – Skirting the Real Issue

Hudson NY City HallThe recent report1 by law students from Hofstra that addresses in part the weighted voting system in use for the city’s Common Council has engendered considerable discussion. The Register Star’s John Mason offered up, “Report questions city’s weighted-vote system”2. Our local radio station WGXC held a discussion between Victor Mendolia and Common Council President Don Moore on the topic3

.Much of the discussion has focused on the somewhat abstract questions of the constitutionality of a system that appears to violate the “one person one vote” principle. The issues become crystal clear once you put numbers into play and see how this creates a pernicious environment for governing the city.

Hudson Population by Ward (2010)

First Ward: 770
Second Ward: 1,281.
Third Ward: 1,142.
Fourth Ward: 725.
Fifth Ward: 2,485

Weighted Voting Power by Alderman

President, Common Council – Don Moore – 190

Alderman, 1st Ward – David Marston – 95
Alderman, 1st Ward – Nicholas Haddad – 95

Alderman, 2nd Ward – Abdus S. Miah – 185
Alderman, 2nd Ward – Tiffany Garriga – 185

Alderman, 3rd Ward – John K. Friedman – 180
Alderman, 3rd Ward – Henry A. Haddad – 180

Alderman, 4th Ward – Alexis Keith – 95
Alderman, 4th Ward – Ohrine Stewart – 95

Alderman, 5th Ward – Robert J. Donahue, Sr. – 364
Alderman, 5th Ward – Bartholomew F. Delaney Jr. – 364

Total votes = 2,028. A simple majority is 1,015.4

The votes of Donahue and Delaney constitute 72% of a simple majority, yet they are only 18% of the membership of the council.

A Little Role Play

Now just imagine yourself as an Alderman sitting in the room with the ten other members of the Common Council. How much attention would you pay to the opinions of a person with 95 votes compared to a person with 185 or 364 votes knowing that you need 1,015 votes for simple majority? It is obvious that the opinions of Donahue and Delaney are far more important in the practical matter of passing legislation than Marston, Haddad, Keith, or Stewart. In fact, Delaney, Donahue, and any two of the Alderman from 2nd or 3rd Wards or the Common Council President can pass legislation. In a very real way the collective opinions of Donahue and Delaney on any matter pretty much set a boundary for what policies might get approved.5

This makes a mockery of the rules we presume when we enter a democratic institution. This is why one person one vote is important.

  1. http://goo.gl/r5XGyj accessed 09252014 4:20pm []
  2. http://goo.gl/e4QDXw accessed 09232014 8:31pm []
  3. http://www.wgxc.org/archives/8751 accessed 09182014 8:30pm []

  4. The weighted voting system is arcane in the extreme. There are actually three different panels of weighted voting dependent on whether a simple, 2/3, or 3/4 majority is required to pass a motion. And there are more details about what constitutes a quorum under varying conditions. Here is the source: http://goo.gl/rvgp7y accessed 09252014 4:04pm []
  5. As an aside, applying this logic to the county, where the weighted system legitimately rules, it is obvious that the citizens of Hudson would be better served by having a single Supervisor who would have a very large block of votes rather than distributed across five Supervisors. []

Our Stranger and Stranger Mayor

IMG_1197.JPGMayor Hallenbeck continues to give evidence of a certain strangeness of mind. Dogs, drug testing, and now a sense of time that might be suited to Star Trek:

From the 8/19/14 Register Star article, “Two years on, still no sign or stone for Staley B. Keith” concerning a missing stone in Keith’s honor:

Hallenbeck said via telephone that, although it’s been two years since Staley Keith died, there have only been four or five months each summer to place the stone, since it couldn’t have gone in in the late fall or winter.

“We’re talking 10 months, not 24,” he said. “Everything we’ve had to consider, the logistics, the liability, making sure wherever it’s placed we’re not liable for an accident out there. I take full responsibility for it not being there.”

Really. Does planning and decision making stop in late fall and commence again in the spring?

Isn’t two years two years in our galaxy?

“You Need a Fernco Cap” – the wisdom of buying local

So I was in the middle of one of my long-delayed projects, depressing two white plastic clean out pipes sticking up in the back yard. Seemed simple. Just dig around the pipes, cut them down and glue on new plastic caps.

Off to Herrington’s to buy the new plastic caps – I already have the glue from an earlier bathroom project.

On my return I discover that the pipe in the ground is not what I thought it to be. Back to Herringtons – I explain my error and the sales person, sorry I never got his name, said, “Oh, there is a simpler solution, you need a Fernco!”

What is a Fernco? – turns out that I had used them earlier, many years ago then forgotten this line of neoprene plumbing fittings.  I never would have thought of it. But, buy local and someone at Herringtons will remind you.Fernco 4" neoprene cap

 

Troubles with Verizon DSL Internet Service in Hudson

Are you a user of Verizon “High Speed Internet” DSL Service?

Verizon

borrowed w/o permission

We have been experiencing very annoying problems with our Verizon DSL internet service on lower Warren St. since early March 2013.1

Do you have troubles:

  • connecting to a TIVO box?
  • using Netflix on a Roku box?
  • uploading files using FTP whether embedded in a software package like Dreamweaver or an FTP utility like Fetch?
  • other strange service problems?

If you do or have other troubles with your Verizon DSL service I would like to hear from you. Contact me at: “mark at markorton.com”. Or use the form on the Contact page

 

  1. We have no complaints about speed or ping. We very reliably get 6.5 MB/S download and 0.6 MB/S upload with a ping of less than 100 milliseconds – we never said that about Mid-Hudson Cable []

Hudson and Its People: immigration in 19th & 20th centuries by Sally Naramore

Warren St Hudson NY at dusk looking up townThe Greenport Historical Society hosted a lecture by Sally Naramore on Wednesday evening 4/18/2013 at the Greenport Town Hall. Her presentation which included visuals not included here, focused on immigration to Hudson in the 19th and 20th centuries.

If you know Hudson, especially the churches, you should be able to follow her descriptions of where people settled within Hudson. Ms. Naramore is the Department Chair and Teach of Social Studies at Hudson High School. She was Executive Director of the Columbia County Historical Society from 1983-1990 (biographical information from the historical society’s flyer). Continue reading

Not to Be Missed – Sam Pratt on FOIL

The omnipresent and frequently useful Sam Pratt has a great introduction to our New York state Freedom of Information Law. Don’t miss it it on his eponymous blog

I am going to try it out to get the current contract between the city and Mid-Hudson Cable. Got to get a head start on rousing people to the barricades before the city gives away the store again when the contract comes up for renewal.

Internet Access and Service Levels in Hudson and Columbia County

The Register Star featured an article today about internet service in the county, “County dials up broadband efforts: Working with local providers and developing a map of who can’t get high-speed Internet access among officials’ goals” By Nathan Mayberg. 

Counting the Number without Access Is Not Enough

It is good that our government officials are concerned with improving Internet access across the county. It is painfully obvious that Internet access is more important in our time than even rural electrification and telephone service was to earlier generations. Without Internet access people are increasingly cut off from an array of opportunities. They cannot participate fully in our culture and economy.

I want to focus on the quality of Internet access. Even in Hudson, the most densely populated part of the county, we barely have broadband service. Mid-Hudson Cable provides download speeds that are only marginally broadband. Despite their advertising campaigns proclaiming “blazing speeds” up to 5 MB/s (or for $5 extra per month – 10 MB/s) the actual service I have experienced, tested with easily available test sites on the Web, has averaged 3.7 MB/s over the last 2 years. Worse, the quality of this service is so bad that it has frequently made it difficult for me to conduct my business conferences over the Web. And, because cable Internet service is provided through a party line, when lots of people are online at the same time, the service becomes even slower and less responsive.

Some have said, “You live in Hudson, Get Verizon DSL.” Recently I have done just this. Now I get 5.2 MB/s download speeds and the service quality consistently allows for good video-conferencing. But this is as good as this service will ever get. DSL has its technical limitations. To be competitive in broadband access we need to reach for 20 MB/s and higher.

Use Next Contract to Leverage Services from Mid-Hudson Cable

What to do in the short term?

The contract between the city and Mid-Hudson is coming up for renewal next year. Our local government officials need to get involved.

  • Any new contract with Mid-Hudson must contain service level standards that are enforced by monetary means. 
  • We should expect Mid-Hudson to come to the table with a plan for enhancing Internet service in the future and this plan should be made part of the enforceable language of the contract. 
  • And, the contract should address a real economic barrier to access in Hudson. We need a three tier system. It might look like this: basic Internet with 5MB/s service for $20 per month; better Internet access with 10MB/s service for $35 per month and world class service with 20MB/s service for $60 per month. In all cases the service level agreement would guarantee that Mid-Hudson actually deliver these speeds not just their current “blazing speeds”. 

Hudson Takes the Lead –  County Benefits

If Hudson takes the lead on this, everyone in the Mid-Hudson Cable service area will benefit. We have the density and economic power to get Mid-Hudson to improve Internet access and service. Once we set the standard other communities in the county with less economic power can tag along.

Ramp Fest Hudson NY – 05/05/2012

Ramp Fest Hudson NY may 5, 2012Karen, with friends Esther and Rose Hanig, went off to Ramp Fest Saturday. I stayed behind to mind the store.

They gave the food and the ambiance rave reviews. They ate enough so I barely had to make dinner.

 

Here are a few photos taken by Karen.

Ramp Fest Hudson NY Basilica

Ramp Fest Hudson NY - Jeff Loshinsky

Jeff Gimmel - one of the prime ramp movers

 

Ramp Fest Hudson NY - picture takingRamp Fest Hudson Ny - Truck Pizza - Sam Starr

Sam Starr's Truck Pizza got in on the action

Karen got carded - "Drinking Age Verified"

Hudson Sidewalks – more about Prospect Ave. and code enforcement

no curbs on new sidewalk on Prospect Ave. Hudson NYA couple of weeks ago I came on a new sidewalk on Prospect Ave. that seemed to be out of compliance with local ordinances. At the time I wrote a bit about this, “Sidewalks in Hudson – Dangerous for Lack of Code Enforcement and Common Sense“.

Yesterday, my walk took me up Prospect again.

Now we seem to be seeing the finished product. Not only is it not as wide by 16 inches as the ordinance calls for, there is no curb.

Perhaps our Code Enforcement Officer Mr.Wurster could shed some light on this state of affairs?  Or perhaps it is to the Superintendent of Public Works Mr. Perry that we should address a question. It is not clear in the city Code  about who is responsible for overseeing sidewalk construction.