Thursday, June 22, 2017

Twin Counties may join lawsuit against big pharma for opioid epidemic expenses









LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE TODAY!
August of last year Columbia County didn’t have a plan or
idea in place to combat the opioid addiction problem.  Today, we have a plan in place focused on
prevention, education, treatment, recovery and law enforcement.  This has become one of our top priorities in
Columbia County, we are treating this like people lives depend on it, because
they do!  This is probably some of the
most important work I will do in my lifetime, having the support of Chairman of
the Board of Supervisors Matt Murrell is vital to the success we have had thus
far.  The newspaper story isn’t totally
accurate, the law firm didn’t come to us, it’s the Columbia County Opioid Epidemic
Response Sub-Committee who called them. 
Our Sub-Committee has been working very hard on the opioid issue, we’ve
been meeting every two weeks, setting up trainings, floating different ideas,
trying to make sure residents of Columbia County get the best possible service
we can provide.  I’m proud to be a
co-creator of Columbia County’s Opioid Response Plan, along with a great group
of dedicated, hard working professionals. 
This is another step amongst many we will be taking, we are going to do
the right thing for the people of Columbia County that I can promise.   Help
us fight to save a life!







Twin Counties may join lawsuit against big pharma for opioid epidemic expenses: Columbia and Greene counties are considering joining a statewide lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies that accuses the companies o…

Sunday, June 4, 2017

William Hughes, Jr. Comments on Race Relations in Columbia County





Hello
everyone, I wanted to bring this conversation up again, it’s been close to
10 months since I addressed the board of supervisors on race.  To my knowledge this was the first ever
lengthy conversation held on the floor of the board of supervisors regarding
race relations.  I want to point out some
of my figures, (guesstimates) were high, but the point of the conversation is
what is important.  I will also like to
say, since this conversation Chairman Matt Murrell has hired more minorities
and made it clear, if you have the qualifications regardless of race, you have
a chance.  It’s still not a perfect
system, but I believe I have a Chairman in Matt Murrell and a Majority Leader
in Pat Grattan who works with me to solve problems and this is a problem we are
going to continue to work on, that I PROMISE! 
Thank you to Dan Udell for providing me with the video.  This video is a little lengthy, but if you
want to engage in the topic or get a good idea of the full conversation the
board of supervisors had on race relations, PLEASE LISTEN.  Know what your government is doing for you!






 William
Hughes Jr.
4th
Ward Supervisor, City of Hudson



Minority
Leader






Columbia
County Board of Supervisors

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ELECT LOCAL

Elect local almost sounds like the catch phrase, "buy local"! But when you go out to shop do you buy organic or inorganic? Do you even know what that means or care to know what that means?

I guess some feel that way when asked to vote on local elections.  The simple truth is, all politics are local.  Your local elected officials are the ones responsible for the laws, fees and regulations that govern most your daily activities.  Most seem to have a problem figuring out who is responsible for what, so I'm going to attempt to bring a little clarity to what your local elected officials in the City of Hudson do.

Local Elected Officials In the City of Hudson, NY 101

There are 3 major elected body's of officials in the City of Hudson.  There's the Hudson City School District Board of Education, which has 7 elected board members, There's the Hudson City Common Council, which has 10 Aldermen, 2 Aldermen per Ward times 5 Wards and a Council President, bringing the total of Common Council officials to 11 and There's the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, which has 23 members of the County board of supervisors.  There are 18 Towns apart of the board of supervisors, each Town having 1 member elected to the board of supervisors and there is the City of Hudson (county seat), which has 5 members elected to the board of supervisors, 1 elected per ward times 5 wards.

WHAT DO THEY DO?

HUDSON SCHOOL DISTRICT
Hudson City School District Board of Education - The Hudson City School District covers 6 Towns, Ghent, Stockport, Greenport, Livingston, Taghkanic, Claverack and the City of Hudson, members to the board can be elected from any of the Towns or City of Hudson to the board of education.  One of the primary functions of the school board is, working with the Hudson School District administration to develop and set a budget for the coming year.  You could say the school board is responsible for school taxes, but, we the public do get to vote on the budget, so we bare some responsibility I would say.  The board of education is responsible for hiring a school district Superintendent.  The school board like most elected boards, develop policy and procedure for the school district, most issues that are directed at the school district could or would be bought to the school board. 

CITY OF HUDSON
Common Council, (Aldermen) -  Aldermen are the legislative body of City government.  Aldermen make local laws, such a zoning changes, set fees and regulations i.e. fines changed for parking, that govern the City of Hudson.  City parks, sidewalks, housing, trash pickup, police department, fire department, roads, waterfront, youth department, senior department, truck route, city property sale and City of Hudson taxes are all under the charge of City of Hudson Aldermen.  Most of what has been set forth in the City of Hudson's charter has been done so by the Common Council, (Aldermen).  Some has been set by public referendum, but the majority has been set by the Council.  Any 3 Aldermen can bring a resolution to the floor for a vote without going through a committee or the Council President.  All Aldermen are elected officials who can only be removed from the Council for very serious legal violations, see City of Hudson charter for specifics.  The city charter outlines the legislative power of a city Aldermen

Common Council President - The Council President, unlike Aldermen are elected by a city wide vote.  The City of Hudson has 1 Council President, who's main function is to facilitate Council meetings which are set by City law.  The Council President, drafts and make changes to the Common Council's rules of order, such changes, if any, are then voted on by the full body of the Common Council where it takes a 2/3 vote by the full Common Council to adopt a change in the rules of order.  The Council President, outlines committees, assign Aldermen to specific committees and names the Chair of each outlined committee.  The Council President can choose to be an ex-officio or voting member of any committee he or she should choose.  The Council President can pull or refer any resolution to a specific committee for review.  The Council President can create a sub-committee at his or her discretion to work on specific issues.  The Council President presides over all full board meetings of the Common Council.  The Council President is a member of the (BEA) board of estimate and apportionment along with the City Treasurer and Mayor.  The BEA develops the City of Hudson's budget which is then brought to the full Common Council for a vote to adopt said budget.  The city charter outlines the powers of the Common Council President. 

COUNTY
Columbia County Board of Supervisors - The City of Hudson has 5 members elected to the Columbia County Board of Supervisors 1 supervisor per ward in the City of Hudson.  A Supervisor elected to a ward in the City of Hudson has NO say in city issues under the charge of City Aldermen or Common Council President.  Members of the Board of Supervisors are responsible for, the department of social services, the department of health, office of the aging, county attorney, county probation department, Columbia county public defender's office, county historian, Columbia county mental health department, county comptroller, county MIS, (management information systems), county tourism, Columbia county airport, all county roads and bridges, facilities department, county solid waste stations and closed landfills, Columbia county 911, county EMS (emergency management services) Columbia county veterans department, Columbia county weights and measures, county fair housing officer, Columbia county board of elections (budget only), sheriff department (budget only), D.A. (budget only) county clerk's office (budget only), Columbia county treasurer's office (budget only), virtually half of the Columbia-Greene community college (budget only), county taxes.

This outline is by no means an absolute description of each elected position, but it gives, you, the public a good idea of the separation of power at the local City level.  Each body of elected officials have some duties not so clearly defined, those can only be discovered once elected to a respective position.

William Hughes Jr.
Minority Leader
Columbia County Board of Supervisors




Sunday, January 26, 2014

Oh Snap!


Oh Snap!
“Oh snap” was a cultural phrase used In the 80’s to describe something funny, exciting or dramatic.  Today, I’m using the phrase to articulate concern for the federally funded S.N.A.P, (supplemental nutrition assistance program) specifically food stamps.  There’s a debate raging in Congress regarding S.N.A.P. and other federally funded programs like it.  With the lack of a farm bill being put into place by Congress, S.N.A.P is facing a mandatory 6% decrease in benefits for recipients.  Some looking at the reductions would see them as minimum.  A household of one person would see a reduction of $11 in monthly benefits. Two-person households will see a reduction of $20; three-person families will be reduced by $29, and four-person households will lose $36.  These are relatively small amounts, but when your income is growing less than inflation, any reduction in benefits is exacerbated.   My criticism of Congresses handling of this issue is Congress’s own report from the Congressional Research Service indicated by the U.S. department of agriculture, (USDA) projects that annual U.S. food inflation will be in the range of 3% to 4% for 2013 and relatively the same for 2014.  If this is indeed the case, how in the world can our federal elected officials allow this benefit to be cut?

While many criticize federally funded programs like S.N.A.P and think many who receive food stamps are lazy and less motivated.  They fail to realize, many of our disabled, seniors and in some cases, veterans also receive food stamps.  Despite what many may think, the food stamp program is crucial to the well being of the most vulnerable population in the U.S.   I agree, monitoring the abuse of this program is needed, but to continue to squeeze this population is shameful in my opinion.  Congress seems far less concern with approving COLA, (cost of living adjustment), increasing COLA, for federal retirees 1.3% in 2013 and 1.5% in 2014, then making sure the most vulnerable in the U.S. has enough food to eat.  I agree most of our federal retirees deserve their COLA increase, the point I’m making is, there seems to be a clear attack by some in Congress on the poor and needy.  For any of our federally elected officials to think a 6% decrease in food stamps is ok, when the price of food is rising by 3% to 4%, is not only irresponsible, but dangerous.  As a citizen, you get every two years to voice your approval or displeasure of how your congressman is representing your needs.  This year, 2014 is that year, follow the issues important to you and use your vote to voice your opinion.

William Hughes Jr.
4th Ward Supervisor, City of Hudson
Minority Leader, Columbia County Board of Supervisors

 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Evolution and Resurgence Of Hudson


The evolution and resurgence of Hudson
Not so long ago, you could walk up the main corridor of Hudson, otherwise known as Warren Street and see boarded up, shuttered buildings, with all its historical splendor, slowly deteriorating.  One by one, most of the buildings have been brought back to their former glory and in some cases, exceeding their past existence.  Because of the poor condition and lack of interest in a lot of buildings on Warren Street, those with an eye for historical value and cash on hand, saw Warren Street as a cheap, underdeveloped, historical gem, waiting to once again gain its former grandeur.  The development of Warren Street has spawned a population shift, which is slowly leading to a cultural change in the City of Hudson.  Through the years of Hudson’s past, when it was known as a manufacturing player, you could find a job in a day, regardless of education, get a cold beer from a bar virtually on every corner, while enjoying a piece of chicken or slice of pizza, all for less than $5.  Today, on Warren Street, you can still enjoy a beer, at inflation adjusted prices and grab a bite to eat from one of its many restaurants.  Yes, Warren Street has changed greatly from its former past.  Today, Hudson's Warren Street is talked about State, Nationwide and even in foreign Countries regarding its presence in the antique world, boasting a range of antique stores and a collection of artist, making Hudson’s Warren Street a tourist destination.

There is no arguing the fact, that the resurgence of Warren Street has been a blessing or curse depending on which prism you are looking through.  Warren Street, which was once boarded up, was also home to a large portion of Hudson’s, low to moderate income population.  As each building was bought and sold, the occupants of the building were more often than not asked to leave, in most cases causing an unintended form of gentrification.   As a result, a lot of the Warren Street population and affordable housing stock was pushed over to the North side of the City. There was a time when most of the homes on the North side of the City were single family homes, owned by middle class income earners who worked for the cement plant, City or State government.  Once the cement plant along with a few other existing factories left Hudson, single family homeowners begin selling their homes to would be landlords looking to make a buck renting to the displaced tenants formally living on Warren Street as well as other locations on the South side of the City.  In my opinion, it is during this time period when tension and disdain for antique stores and new homeowners from Warren Street south developed.  Warranted of not, people on the North side of the City believed the City was and is being taken over by those moving from New York City, with lots of money.  Rents on Warren Street, South, shot up 3 to 4 times what families use to pay for an apartment.  The Columbia Diner shutdown and was eventually sold, going from a budget meal eatery to a much higher end American style restaurant.   I often hear mentioned, that no one can afford to eat on Warren Street now.  It’s a fact that a burger, beer and fries, which I enjoy most Thursdays, at a restaurant on Warren Street, will cost you on average, about $25.  That price point is close to where some residents on the North side of Hudson pay for monthly rent.  Although the tension seemed to have died down at times, it is always bubbling under the surface waiting for the next shoe to drop so it can rear its ugly head.  People, families have become fearful of their livelihood, ignoring the contributions being made by the population from the South side of the City.  It has gotten so bad on occasion, that some have refused to walk on Warren Street, other than to attend a street event or to go to one of the corner stores.  Because of these tensions alliances have been formed, which in the past may not have happened.  People now feel as though they are fighting for their future survival in the City of Hudson, real or not, that is the perception.  On occasion you can see the tension and frustration of the different opinions boil over at School board, business and local government meetings.  An example of this is, the recent decision to locate the Hudson City School District’s ALP (alternative learning program) a program for struggling youth in the Hudson City School District, on Warren Street.  There was certainly two mines of thinking here and maybe more.  Business owners on Warren Street seemed to be concerned about the safety of the youth and the lack of space for physical activity at the Warren Street location.  It was widely believed by those who live on the North side of the City, that the business owners were using that ploy as a way to fight the project, instead of disclosing their real feelings, they didn’t want youth who may have had a troubled past on Warren Street, potentially disrupting their business.  Factual or not, that was the widely spread belief.  This incident deepened the divide of the City, further solidifying belief that those who live and own businesses on Warren Street has to give you their blessing if you are to live or try to establish a business on Warren Street.  I believe many on Warren Street would say this is pure lunacy and totally basely.  In my opinion, this issue of a divided City has risen to become one of the top three issues facing the City.  Business owners who move to Hudson, establish a business here, in many cases using their life savings, do so at great risk.  Taxes are fairly high and a great deal of their business is at the mercy of tourism.  Contributing to Hudson becoming a tourist destination, is the culture of Warren Street and the fact that patrons feel safe visiting and walking up and down our City Streets.  Disrupt any part of the harmonious balance on Warren Street, I believe the ripple effect will be felt, not only City, but County wide.  This may be why Warren Street’s solvency is defended so rigorously.  Many on the North side of the City wouldn’t know that, given many never, shop or eat on Warren Street, let alone have a conversation with a business owner.  What they do know is, they see, more and more homes on the North side being bought by those moving to Hudson.  These once single family homes, converted to two or in some cases three family homes are now being converted back to one family homes, leading people to believe, this is Warren Street all over again.  With the affordable housing shrinking every day and low income housing locations like Bliss towers reaching its useful life, tension are running high as to where people will go once the affordable and low income housing are no more in the City of Hudson.  I don’t see this happening in the immediate future, but some would say it bares a resemblance to the development and resurgence of Warren Street.  I believe there is a direct correlation between the housing stock in the City of Hudson and the tension between the North and South sides of the City.  Housing isn’t the only contributing factor, but it’s a major one.  One thing I think can be addressed with some willingness and smart planning by City leaders, residents and business owners.  Hudson could immediately adopt a policy that no new housing will be constructed without 20 or even 30% being set aside for low to moderate income housing.  This would show that an effort is being made by all sides to preserve the diversity of Hudson, which has made the City what it is today.  Also, an idea brought up by defeated Mayoral candidate, Victor Mendolia, to change the zoning for Columbia Street, allowing more businesses to develop there, would maybe spawn some businesses geared more toward the moderate income population of Hudson.  Something, like a Columbia diner type restaurant, where someone could get a soup and sandwich for $5 - $7 bucks.  Again, this would open doors to relationship building in the City.  Then we could move onto much harder dividing factors such as education and jobs. 

It seems, most of our newly elected City officials are listening, let’s guide them and help them, make Hudson a true melting pot where people of all race, gender, economical means and sexual orientation, can live harmoniously together.

William Hughes Jr.
4th Ward Supervisor
City of Hudson
Minority Leader
Columbia County Board of Supervisors

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Keys Are On The Hook


I haven’t added an edition to my blog in a long time, so I figure today would be as good as any to rectify that.
Most call this time of year, silly season, others would say, this is when we get to choose those who will represent our views locally for the next 2 – 4 years.  Whatever your view, you decide where this story falls on that meter.

Earlier this week, it was brought to my attention that a room located in the County Administration building, 401 State Street, secured with the new electronic voting machines under lock and key, was entered without authorization.  It is to this point that the story gets murky.  As Minority Leader, it was brought to my attention that the room under lock and key securing the voting machines had been entered back in May without bipartisan authorization from the Board of Elections.  The Democratic Commissioner of the County Board of Elections reported to me, that she and the Republican Commissioner of the Board of Elections had been in ongoing discussions with the Director of Facilities about creating space and a form of security that would require a bipartisan team to enter the space holding the new electronic voting machines.  Once that space was erected, a lock with keys that couldn’t be duplicated was to be put in place, with keys going to the Republican Commissioner and Democratic Commissioner, respectfully.
The lock was put in place and keys were given to each of the Commissioners, with the understanding that work in the space was completed.   One day in May, the Director of Facilities came in and apparently questioned why the room where the voting machines are was locked.  The Board of Elections was under the impression the room was done, the machines were in the space, thus a locksmith was called by the Commissioners of the Board of Elections to put a special lock on the door and keys made.   The Director of Facilities came in and for whatever reason was upset or questioned the lock being put on the door to the room securing the electronic voting machines.  Upon discovering the lock on the door, the Director of Facilities, called a locksmith and had the lock drilled out and removed.   Later the next week to the surprise of members of the Board of Elections, the Director of Facilities and a County Supervisor, came in with 2 new keys and told members of the Board of Elections, “here is your new keys to the room securing the voting machines”.   What the 2 men must not have realized is, at the time of them bringing the new keys into the Board of Elections, a member of the State Board of Elections was present doing an audit.  Given the confusion around the removal of the old lock and installation of the new lock, the auditor from the State felt compelled to note the incident in their report.  It’s from this point that concern for the performance integrity of the voting machines and there security was questioned.  The Democratic Commissioner was very concerned and raised flags about the room being entered without a bipartisan team, how long the room may have been unsecure and who may have entered the room while it was unsecure.   The Republican Commissioner was less concerned, noting in a local paper, “This story is being blown way out of proportion”.   The Republican Commissioner went on to say, he doesn’t believe anything has been done wrong and that the voting machines were never in danger.  The Democratic Commissioner’s opinion differs on the situation, noting, she believes the machines should always be under lock and key that can only be accessed by a bipartisan team to maintain performance integrity of the voting machines. She also suggests, New York State law requires such action be taken.  Again, this is an area where the Democratic and Republican Commissioners of the Columbia County Board of Elections disagree.  This question should be cleared up soon, as soon as the audit from the NYS Board of Elections is finally released to Columbia County.

As Minority Leader, I was asked to look into this issue.  Given, both the Director of Facilities and the County Supervisor present when the Board of elections auditor was here are members of or answer to the DPW Committee, I thought it would be the best place to get answers to the questions I had regarding the whole story.  I attended the DPW Committee meeting with the Democratic Commissioner of the Board of Elections and members of the DPW Committee.  Once the Director of Facilities, finished presenting his monthly report to the DPW Committee, I asked the Chairman of the DPW Committee if I could ask the Director of Facilities some questions around the situation of removing the lock from the room securing the electronic voting machines.   I mentioned to the Director of Facilities the story in which I was given around the locks being removed off the door securing the voting machines, his story differed that which I was given by the Democratic Commissioner.  With all the confusion going on and at times, tempers flaring, it seemed the question I most wanted answered was getting lost. 
As the Chairman of the DPW Committee tried to end the discussion, I said Mr. Chairman, I only need the answer to one question.  I asked the Director of Facilities, “Given you were here trying to get into the room during business hours, did you use a key to take the lock off the door to the room holding the voting machines?  After a long pause, the Director of Facilities said and I quote, “NO”.

I ask you the voters of Columbia County,  if the story went as the Director of Facilities stated it did, why would he CALL a locksmith to take the lock off the door, given he could have just gone  up one small flight of stairs to the Board of Elections and get the keys to enter the room?
I’m definitely not accusing anyone of doing anything nefarious, I’m simply putting this out there.  A locksmith was called, at the expense of taxpayers, to cut a lock off which the Director of Facilities could have easily gone up stairs and gotten the keys to remove, why didn’t it happen that way?

If you are a voter in Columbia County, you too should be asking WHY?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Trouble hitting the curve

Like a bad Clint Eastwood movie, the Republican Convention rolled out mega star Clint Eastwood for what looked like "the good, the bad and the ugly" of an Eastwood movie.

Trouble hitting the curve", is not just the title of a new Clint Eastwood movie, it describes the campaign of Mitt "Myth" Romney. Myth Romney, has indicated he will go after social programs like an old Eastwood movie "a fist full of dollars". Myth Romney, looked "we" American people in the eyes and said, I shall "hang em' high". Being a supporter of Congressman, Paul Ryan's budget and picking him to be his Vice Presidential, running mate, Myth Romney states, I will cut all entitlement programs, making it clear, that if you are poor, not of the financial elite, you will no longer receive government assistance. The problem with Myth Romney, Paul Ryan's budget is, they not only attack the poor, but seniors, women and the middle class too. Myth Romney, Paul Ryan's budget would cut the WIC program, put millions of young kids in our Country at risk. Their budget would also cut the Safety-Net program, the program that provides food stamps, housing assistance, day care and medicaid to 10's of millions who need help in our County. Just to show that they really want to destroy the middle class, The Myth Romney, Paul Ryan's budget would cut Pell Grants, making it much harder for poor kids and poor families to have access to higher education. How does Myth Romney propose to tackle that problem, by telling families, you can borrow the money and pay it back. Oh no, wait, Myth Romney and Paul Ryan didn't stop there, what do they say about those who would like to start a small business, but don't have the funds to do so? Listen to this one, "go borrow the money from your parents", as if we all have millionaire parents like Myth Romney had.

 The Myth Romney, Paul Ryan's budget not only demonstrates what they think of the poor and disadvantaged in our County, its a clear attack on women. Data shows that 2/3 of those who use Pell Grants are women, 2/3 of those who receive WIC are women, 2/3 of those who receive food stamps are women and oh, did I mention, Myth Romney and Paul Ryan would repeal a woman's right to choose?

Now I know who Clint Eastwood was talking to in that empty chair, it was we the American people. Myth Romney and Paul Ryan, see most of us as empty, not being worth their time. That is why, Myth Romney is caught on tape stating how, 47% of people don't pay taxes and I will never get there vote, they will vote for Obama, no matter what. What Myth Romney doesn't say is, a percentage of that 47%, although they may not pay property taxes, they do pay payroll taxes, basically the working poor and low middle class. Although he hasn't said this, this tells me one thing, Myth Romney and Paul Ryan would go after the Child Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax that most working poor and middle class workers rely on getting at the end of the year to help settle up bills that they have gotten behind on. Like another Eastwood movie, The "sudden impact" of this would create a clear difference between rich and poor in our Country. With the outlined plan of the Myth Romney, Paul Ryan's budget, the rich would get a tax cut, making them richer, in the hopes of some of that wealth trickling down to the poor. By the time funds were to trickle down, there would only be enough left to maybe create a few hundred minimun wage jobs. This is just like another Eastwood movie, "play misty for me", the math of the Myth Romney, Paul Ryan's budget is so foggy only they can see it. To vote for the Myth Romney, Paul Ryan ticket, would be like walking, "the gauntlet", of death for the middle class, it will disappear as we know it. Taking a cue from Clint Eastwood, Myth Romney and Paul Ryan is saying, "go ahead, make my day" vote for me and this is what you will get. We as voters in Nov should look Myth Romney and Paul Ryan in the face and say, this is a, "true crime" and vote them out "any which way you can".



Vote Row A all the way