Council debates, adopts legislative introduction rules

by Judy Stringer

July 19 city council meeting

The third time was almost a charm in Hudson City Council member Nicole Kowalski’s attempts to either modify a proposed set of rules about how new legislation originates or postpone a vote on those rules altogether. In short, the new rules – which were amended but ultimately still adopted – require that new legislation be introduced first in a work session setting and can only be placed on the council’s meeting agenda with the blessing of at least four council members.

Kowalski first took aim at that four affirmative vote requirement, motioning that it be changed to two.

“To make something actionable in a legislative meeting according to Robert’s Rules, you would need a second to force a vote,” she said. “So, I believe that we should do that rather than try to change this, which I think would be essentially eviscerating something that is already set as precedent and that we follow in meetings.”

Council member Skylar Sutton, who drafted the rules, disagreed, saying the proposed requirement would “codify the process that I have experienced in the two years prior with the previous council.”

After her motion failed, 4-2 (council member Chris Banweg was not present), Kowalski called the measure “an obvious attempt to censor the voices of specific members of council.” She then made a second motion to remove the council president and mayor from a trio of officials – which also included the city manager – who, working collectively, could add legislation to the meeting agenda for emergencies that occur between work sessions and meetings. That provision, she stated, gives “both the council president and the mayor powers that are not currently afforded to them.”

Council President Chris Foster countered that he believes a legislative member should be part of the decision.

“I will not support a motion that would give the city manager full control over the legislative bodies,” he said.

That proposed amendment also failed 4-2. Kowalski’s third motion came amid debate of a motion Sutton had made to strike out the clause giving the council president, mayor and city manager the ability to concur that legislation be added to an agenda in those emergency situations. Sutton had said that phrase was “giving him heartburn” after some concerns had been expressed. During the discussion on removing the clause, however, Kowalski asked that the vote on the resolution itself be postponed until August.

“It’s clear to me that if the author of this legislation even has heartburn, as he calls it, over this provision in the legislation that it is not ready to be voted on,” she said.

Foster joined Kowalski and council member Kate Schlademan in a “yes” vote to the postponement, but it still failed 3-3. Council then voted 5-1, with Kowalski dissenting, to pass the new rules without the clause that Sutton’s successful motion had removed.  

Without any discussion, the council voted to kill a deal to sell city-owned property at the Owen Brown Street and Morse Road intersection to Fairmount Properties for the Phase II downtown development. An earlier notice on the city’s website stated that “Fairmount Properties and the city have not been able to collectively reach a purchase agreement and site design that aligns with the concepts supported by the Hudson community last year.”

It also passed resolutions authorizing the $9,000 purchase of a prefabricated concrete public restroom structure from CXT Concrete Buildings for tennis and pickleball courts at Barlow Farm Park Tennis, and supporting a one-year community art installation that will be placed on the downtown greens next year.

In other council news, council members agreed they would interview all 41 applicants for a planned comprehensive plan update resident steering committee. Council was set to interview four consulting firms in August as part of that plan update as well. ∞