In a Register-Star opinion piece last Winter, Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera dodged questions about the Waterfront by saying he does “not have the time” to discuss such issues in detail.
A more recent article in the same paper sheds some light on what Scalera does have time for... Namely, going out to Philmont to make special pleadings on behalf of a local property owner.
According to this June 18th report by Francesca Olsen, Philmont officials recently discussed alleged problems with The Mill on Summit Street, which is owned by Eleanor Ambos and subject to a stop work order from the Village:
“According to Philmont Mayor Clarence ‘Skip’ Speed, the building is more than 100 years old and has three floors and no sprinkler system. There’s only one entrance, with no fire exit or additional way out, which presents a fire hazard.
“The stop-work order, he said, actually prevents Ambos from having work done on the building. ‘We’re trying to figure out a way she can legally work on that building without getting in trouble,’ he said.”
But despite building inspector stating Dennis Callahan stating that “Nobody can be in this building. It’s just unsafe,” a member of the audience at the Village board meeting variously claimed that people are “staying at,” “going into” and “running a business in there.”
(Olsen cited as an example a blog post about a “Dance Meditation Summer Movement
Monastery” scheduled to take place in part at the Mill in June. Similarly, this announcement appears to be for a wedding which took place there in 2008.)
Enter Scalera—the Mayor without enough time on his hands.
Speed was asked by the audience “why Hudson Mayor Richard Scalera had visited Philmont
to discuss the building.” The article elaborates:
Scalera told the Register-Star he went to Philmont on behalf of Ambos to meet with Callahan, Speed and representatives from the engineering firm Crawford and Associates, who are involved in the building’s remediation.
“(Ambos) is having a difficult time understanding the code process on what she can do to turn that into a place for public assembly,” he said.
Scalera said he met with the Philmont officials to ask if they can help Ambos along with the permit process “so she can have public assembly out there.” [...] “This is just to benefit Philmont and Elanor [sic] Ambos to put the mill to good use,” Scalera said.
In 1998-1999, Scalera as Mayor pushed for (and obtained) a large HUD grant to assist Ambos with the purchase and renovation of the Pocketbook Factory in Hudson. Ambos did in fact work to stabilize the building, but stopped far short of the grant’s purposes to create artist loft space, affordable housing and a HeadStart office. When Scalera’s hand-picked successor Cappy Pierro lost his bid for Mayor to Kenny Cranna, Hudson development officials became more serious about enforcing the terms of the grant—at which point Ambos returned the funds rather than follow the plan.
During another of Scalera’s off-terms in the political wilderness, it was often rumored that he was managing property for Ambos, who also owns the former Allen Street School and Elks Club buildings in Hudson, both of them seemingly unused.
Now, unless Ambos has some business before the City of Hudson or one of its agencies controlled by the Mayor, it may not be an issue if Scalera wants to moonlight for her or anyone else. But it does beg the question: How much of Scalera’s time is consumed by work outside City Hall? And for whom?