by Seth Rogovoy
(HUDSON, N.Y., July 3, 2014) – A close reading of an article in today’s Register-Star (“Hallenbeck questions city’s mass gathering bill”) newspaper ostensibly about Hudson Mayor William H. Hallenbeck Jr.’s reservations regarding a newly-amended mass gathering permit law passed by the Common Council unanimously on June 17 reveals perhaps more than was intended. You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to read between the lines to find a mayor increasingly going off the rails in what seems to be a monomaniacal obsession with a particular alderman.
Instead of rationally discussing the relative merits of the mass gathering permit law – a collective effort of city and county officials and residential and commercial neighbors – the mayor takes apart the law’s provisions and attributes each and every one to a power grab by Alderman John Friedman, D-3rd Ward, chairman of the Legal Committee.
“These changes mean nothing,” the mayor said, thereby insulting everyone who spent time working on the bill that became law. “They’re just an opportunity for John Friedman’s beliefs that the organizers should have to deal with 120 days instead of 90 days,” he goes on saying. “They should still be able to bring these fun-filled events without being hassled by John Friedman. Why put these organizations through these extra changes when at the end of the day, the mayor has the final say?”
At least give Hallenbeck credit for not holding back about what he really thinks: “I believe this law provides Mr. Friedman and his associates with an opportunity to profile those organizations that want to have an event.” Profile? What does he mean by that? Where did that come from? Is this an ex-cop talking, or is this someone who is in fact frustrated by legal restrictions against profiling, which of course is exactly what Hallenbeck is doing here.
Hallenbeck said, “It’s an opportunity for individuals to call up and say, ‘We don’t like this.’ When you change everything to suit Mr. Friedman, that’s when the system gets broken.”
Many think the “system” – at least in Hudson – is “broken” due to a mayor who has near gone rogue. In the greater context of recent, unexpected and seemingly arbitrary measures by the mayor regarding banning dogs from city parks and drug-testing for all city officials, the mayor’s accusations that Friedman is waging a “vendetta” seem like a remarkable case of paranoid projection.
Drug-testing for all officials? How about not stopping there, and implementing some basic psychological testing to ascertain the mental health of all those who wield power?
That, and random Breathalyzer tests of certain elected officials, would go a long way toward answering some puzzling questions about their erratic behavior.