The Gossips of Rivertown--a blog of news and commentary exclusively about Hudson

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Final Election Results

The Board of Elections recently released the final results from the November 4 election. It turns out that 298 of the 378 registered voters in the First Ward came out to vote--almost 79 percent! Good for us!

As it happens, however, there were not a hundred or so First Ward voters who came to the polls to cast their ballot only in the Congressional race. The preliminary tallies for that race were wrong.

Now that the vote has been recanvassed and all the absentee and affidavit ballots have been counted, here's how the First Ward voted:

President/Vice President
Obama/Biden 227
McCain/Palin 60
McKinney/Clemente 2
Barr/Root 1
Nader/Gonzales 2

U.S. Congress
Gillibrand 234
Treadwell 39

State Senate
Dow 172
Saland 82

State Assembly
Rubin 155
Molinaro 90

City Judge
Koweek 154
Colwell 34
Herman 29
Leaman 63

What's Going on with Rogers Hose

Incited by some incomplete reporting and a comment made by Common Council President Rob Perry about aldermen voting out of spite, there’s been an orgy of outrage recently on the op-ed page of the Register-Star about the Common Council. So let’s set the record straight about Rogers Hose, the deed restrictions, the resolutions that failed, and who among us voted out of spite.

At the October 22 Legal Committee meeting, attorney William Spampinato, who represents the current owner or the prospective buyer (it’s not clear which) of 342 Warren Street, the former Rogers Hose firehouse, came before the committee with a number of requests. He wanted ideally to have the building’s individual designation by the Historic Preservation Commission rescinded. That action was completely unnecessary to accomplish his client’s goal of having freedom to redesign the interior of the building to accommodate a restaurant, and the committee did not entertain it. There were, however, restrictive covenants written into the deed when the firehouse was sold by the City to its current owner several years ago which would hamper or prohibit the kind of interior renovation now being contemplated.

The Legal Committee agreed to recommend to the full Council that the restrictive covenants that applied specifically to the interior of the building be removed from the deed. On November 10, at the Common Council’s informal meeting, a resolution was presented which specifically outlined three restrictive covenants to be removed from the deed. After reading the resolution, I asked President Perry, “Is this all they want?” His answer was, “This is all they’re getting.” Given that assurance, I introduced the resolution.

I was quite surprised when a new version of the resolution appeared on our desks at the formal meeting the next week. This resolution had no specificity. Instead of removing three protective covenants, it removed them all. No one on the Council had ever seen the deed, so we had no way of knowing what protections for this historic building were being forfeited. I objected to the resolution on these grounds and refused to support it.

President Perry suggested that the Council vote on both resolutions—the original one, which removed three specific covenants, and the new one, which removed all the covenants. The resolution that removed all restrictive covenants from the deed was soundly defeated, but so was—remarkably—the resolution that removed only the three specific covenants. The alderman who voted out of spite was Robert Donahue, who actually said to me before voting, "If you're for it, I'm against it." Mr. Donahue seems to operate on a simple principle whenever things get a bit complicated: Vote against anything Osterink is for.

The November 25 Legal Committee meeting shed some light on the problem. There were six restrictive covenants that Spampinato and his client wanted removed from the deed. For some reason, only three were written into the original resolution. It can be inferred that when the omissions were brought to the attention of the Common Council President and/or the City Attorney, they decided that instead of adding the three covenants that had been left out, they would delete the ones that had been included and create a resolution that eliminated all the restrictions.

A new resolution that specifies the six restrictive covenants being removed from the deed will come before the Council at its December meeting.