A series of media gaffes over the past five days has prompted Taghkanic residents to wonder: Why does the Register-Star seem to want a Republican candidate to be elected to the Town Board so badly?
On Saturday, an article in the paper by Katie Kocijanski inexplicably reported that Republican Carolyn Sammons was running unopposed for the Town Board seat vacated by Deborah Gilbert’s resignation.
But in fact, Sammons had an opponent: independent Linda Swartz, who was endorsed by the Democrats.
The Reg-Star had every reason to know that its “unopposed” claim was completely untrue. On July 17th, it had reported that “Taghkanic Democrats nominated retired New York State Department of Transportation official Linda Swartz to seek the Town Board seat that is up for election Nov. 4.”
Moreover, the Columbia County Board of Elections ran ads on that same day (as well as the Saturday before) which listed both Swartz and Sammons as candidates. The “unopposed” article appeared on page A11; the ad listing two candidates appeared on A9.
Howls of protest from Taghkanic readers forced the Register to run a corrective article which admitted that the paper “erroneously reported Saturday that Republican incumbent Carolyn Sammons was running unopposed for a seat on the Taghkanic Town Board,” followed by profiles of both Swartz and Sammons.
One would think that would have been the end of it. If anything, one might expect such a glaring mistake—assuming it were an innocent one—to lead to an increased sensitivity about the remaining coverage.
Ah, but no.
On Tuesday night, the Register-Star posted a video of managing editor Mary Dempsey reading results from around the County. Dempsey reported incorrect numbers indicating that Sammons had prevailed by some 79 votes.
In fact, Sammons was only ahead by 9, not 79—a major difference, since Taghkanic races for a long time now have been decided by absentee votes, which are not counted until several weeks after the election.
Almost every two years, there seems to be a hotly-contested absentee count for the Town. In recent memory, there was a bitter recount and protracted court cases related to absentees in Taghkanic which could have decided the Murphy/Tedisco Congressional race, which made Statewide news.
As reported here on Election night, a source present at the polls was certain that the Register’s numbers were incorrect, since they included more total votes than the number of people who turned out at the polls that day. A simple call to the Board of Elections by this site quickly verified that the gap was only 9 votes.
Moreover, the same Taghkanic source indicated there were roughly 119 absentee ballots pending in the Town. Democratic operatives estimated that these would break heavily for Swartz. If correct, Swartz would pick up about 39 votes, and eventually win by about 30.
Anyone familiar with local elections going back as far as 2005 would know that such is often the pattern in Taghkanic: The Republican runs narrowly ahead on Election Day, and the gap is significantly narrowed or trumped by the Democratic nominee’s absentee supporters.
Sometime early on Wednesday morning, Dempsey posted a second video with the correct numbers from the machines, but without any mention of the large number of absentees pending.
And then came the third blunder: The Register ran yet another Kocijanski article on Wednesday morning, with a headline claiming that Swartz “fell” to Sammons. The body of her article stated confidently that “Taghkanic residents will continue to have Carolyn Sammons on their Town Board.”
But as noted above, anyone familiar with Taghkanic—or just familiar with the fact that a nine-vote lead anywhere can easily be the erased by absentees—would know that the race remains too close to call.
Again, this prompted justified howls of outrage from the voting public. And so today, the Register-Star had to backtrack yet again, posting a corrective article whose title admits that “Absentee ballots could decide town board race.”
Why this should be so hard for the Register is anybody’s guess. The question now is: Will the paper’s coverage of the absentee count further extend this streak of unforced errors, or will the sorry experience result in greater care being taken from now on?
[NOTE: Most of the above mistakes since have been scrubbed entirely or edited after the fact to minimize their egregiousness.]
This site will leave it to others to continue debating the Union Street Guest House’s $500 fine policy (with an intensity more usually reserved to debating Israel vs. Palestine). Was it a “joke,” a scare tactic, or a scam? We may never know, and probably shouldn’t care.
Far more interesting to this observer is the question: Why did this particular story go “viral”?
So far, the story has been covered in at least 200 online and print publications, many of them with a global reach, such as CNN. Reportedly, the inn has been beseiged with requests to appear on national morning programs, as well as p.r. reps pitching their crisis management services to its staff—as if the USGH were Union Carbide.
So why should a story about a small inn in a small Hudson Valley city provoke such visibility, and such vitriol?
REASON #1: It’s August.August is known among news people as the Silly Season. Many public figures, journalists and the public are on vacation, and either not making news, craving lighter news, or not paying attention to the news at all. Hard news drops off, in favor of either titillating tales about bears falling down wells and birthday party clowns punching children, or heartwarming fluff about hayrides for the family at your local county fair... So the USGH yarn hit at just the right time to fill that August news gap.
REASON #2: The Interwebs.The mainstream news media is both notoriously clueless about the internet and easily lured into writing stories about mundane online stuff not normally worthy of coverage without a web angle. (People are meeting their soulmates—ON THE INTERNET! People are gambling—ON THE INTERNET! People are having arguments—ON THE INTERNET!) Since the threatened fine by the Union Street Guest House involved punishing negative online reviews, the story was that much more irresistible.
REASON #3: Boarding Paranoia.Pretty much everyone stays at a hotel, inn or B&B at some point, and business travelers stay in hotels a lot. Most have felt that sneaking suspicion that our bill might be getting padded, even when it isn’t. It’s always a surprise to see a whopping hotel tax and an added telephone charge at checkout time, even though we had every reason to see these coming. Thus when a story arrives which appears (fairly or unfairly) to describe a nefarious lodging proprietor tacking $500 onto a bill, patrons and reporters alike assume the worst.
REASON #4: Hating on Hipsters.Dissing hipsters is to media today what mocking yuppies was in the ’80s. Though the term no longer means much more than “people younger than yourself,” every publication knows that it can lure both clicks and snide comments by including the word hipster. (This writer is guilty as self-charged.) And this hotel story had an apparent hipster angle.
The USGH site’s policy describing the hypothetical $500 fine included a long explanation of why some wedding guests more familiar with Holiday Inns than the Ace Hotel might not “get” its vibe—an explanation presumably based in actual experience with guests. Terms like “vintage” and “hip” were sprinkled liberally on its site, before getting to the policy’s punchline: “If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like it here.” A few might call that refreshing honesty. But most received it as archly snobbish. Now, here was a rare chance to punish the hipster hotelier; and punish they did.
REASON #5: Schadenfreude. Once it became clear how much attention and anger was unleashed by the initial coverage, the rest of the press and the public rushed to kick the establishment once it was down. For some internet trolls and parodists, leaving negative feedback on a business they have never visited and never planned to visit is just another way to pass the day. This led to a second lede about the online backlash, further extending the life of the story. The USGH having to take down its Facebook page, and Yelp having to remove countless comments, just further stoked the flames.
REASON #6: The Interwebs—Again! The media has always had something of a herd mentality. Most writers know that paradoxically, it is much easier to sell a version of a story which has already appeared elsewhere than to pitch a novel idea for a piece. Many editors are very cautious animals, fearing to look stupid by taking risks on an article which requires more than five seconds to explain. So if it’s been in the New York Times or New Yorker already, that’s actually a plus: The story topic has been validated. The internet compounds this problem with its culture of linking. Countless sites do little more than collect links to other sites’ reports, or shamelessly repurpose others' content. Once the $500 fine story hit a few well-trafficked sites, it was bound to get copied-and-pasted in exponentially more.
REASON #7: The Policy Itself. Whatever the owner’s motivation—and I say this knowing and liking the owner personally—the policy was counterproductive to say the least. Worse, it was written in a catty tone which set people’s teeth on edge far more than boring legalese.
One can question the policy’s legal enforceability, while also noteing that not a single visitor has brought forward evidence of actually being fined. It looks like some threats may have been made to enforce it... depending on how much one believes semi-anonymous online reviews, which can be edited after the fact to fit a new narrative. On the other hand, many Hudson lodging establishments consider wedding parties as much a curse as a blessing. (Think: Puke on hallway carpets, trashed rooms, noisy sex, lost keys). So fans of the place may be tempted to theorize that this policy was less a “joke” than a roundabout way of deterring all but the most docile wedding parties from staying at the Union Street Guest House.
Still, all that said: The $500 fine idea clearly wasn’t a fine idea. As much as for any other reason, the story gained traction because the policy generated righteous indignation.
Meanwhile, though the Guest House itself will no doubt take a hit for a while, the rest of the local B&Bs and hotels may see an uptick in curiosity-seekers, as millions heard about Hudson for the first time via this story. It’ll be a test of whether all publicity is truly good publicity, a saying repeated far more often than it merits.
A Hudson lodging establishment has been slammed with a tidal wave of bad publicity after The New York Post’s Page Six described a policy of fining wedding parties $500 per negative reviews on Yelp.
The Post’s story about the Union Street Guest House was quickly and gleefully picked up by Fox & Friends, TIME online, Business Insider, and others, leading to a raft of negative feedback on Yelp and Twitter. (This begs the question: Is all press really good press?)
The USGH’s longtime owner, former 3rd Ward Alderman Chris Wagoner, responded around noon to the outrage, noting that the proposed fine was for weddings only, had never been levied, and in any case was “tongue in cheek”:
The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced.
If the fine were never levied, that might appear either to verify Wagoner’s claim that the policy was not meant seriously, or possibly that there were no Yelp complaints which triggered the fine—or else that the threat of a $500 penalty indeed deterred any from being lodged.
There certainly are many complaints now, though almost all of them from people who never stayed there and are simply visiting to pile on. Going back through the reviews, here is the distribution of stars prior to today’s episode:
7 four- and five-star reviews;
1 three-star review;
0 two-star reviews;
5 one-star reviews.
So, prior to today’s news, USGH guests seemed to be polarized in a love it-or-hate it pattern. Now there are dozens and dozens of one-star reviews from people who have never been there. A lesson perhaps both to the inn, and about the perils of publicity.
Bon Appétit magazine has a 10-page feature on Hudson eats and drinks in the current (August 2014) issue, with a ten-point sidebar of recommendations from Yours Truly. The issue is available at ShopRite near the checkout, and probably elsewhere.
Some of the biggest ups and downs of the year include:
Biggest Sale of a Small Object: Auctioneer Colin Stair of Stair Galleries in Hudson sold a Tsarist figurine by Fabergé for $5.2 million in October to an undisclosed phone bidder. The figurine was discovered in a Rhinebeck attic.
Wackiest Would-Be Terrorist: County resident (and Kinderhook Elk) Eric Feight was arrested as part of a harebrained plot to build a ray gun intended to beam radiation into mosques, with the apparent crackpot goal of giving Muslims cancer.
Most Avant-Garde New Building in an Historic District: Grigori Fatayev built this handsome black box off Willard Place behind the Allen Street home of painter Tony Thompson. The building now serves as Thompson’s studio.
Most Welcome Threat to Leave the County: Following two catastrophic fires in 2012, and after suing the Town of Ghent for upholding its zoning code in 2013, TCI of NY threatened to move their PCB (mis-) handling business across the river to Coeymans. While many breathed a sigh of relief, reminding TCI to not let the door hit them in the back on the way out, it remains to be seen whether Coeymans will really take on the troubled company. The first weeks of the New Year may provide an answer, as the end date for the postponement of TCI’s lawsuit comes due. The company agreed to drop the suit if they found a new home.
Most Misleading Local Headline: The Register-Star titled an article about the Board of Supervisors voting to keep on pursuing eminent domain against Meadowgreens owner Carmen Nero: “Board Rejects Eminent Domain Resolution.”
Most Pandering Local Headline: For its article about a local engineer who allegedly “zoned out” while speeding a Metro-North train into a fatal accident around a curve at Spuyten Duyvil, Columbia Paper editor Parry Teasdale used this headline: “Germantown Engineer Assists Crash Probe.”
Most Heartening Turnout at a Public Meeting: Hundreds streamed into the Livingston Town Garage for the first public meeting of Livingston Farmers & Families, which is organizing to alter or stop a massive power line project from Upstate to NYC. The meeting featured the political speech of the year, a ripsnorter by farmer and Town Board member Will Yandik, who seems destined for higher office.
Clumsiest Campaign Rollout: The first major media introduction of newly-minted Hudson Valley resident Sean Eldridge, who is seeking to unseat Congressman Chris Gibson, came in the early Summer pages of the New York Times. But the article mainly provided fodder for his opponent. The Times’ revelations about the cost of Eldridge’s Shokan house, with the implication that he and Facebook zillionnaire Chris Hughes had shopped around for a district to run in, were swiftly followed by an Albany Times-Union exposé of how Eldridge’s campaign was paying area residents $100 a pop to focus group attack messages on Gibson.
Most Revealing Comment by an Official Once Thought to Be More Enlightened: Mistakenly thinking that the press and public had left the room, Hudson Development Corporation director Sheena Salvino denigrated citizens who had come out to support the Community Garden as a “mob.”
Most Revealing Comment by an Official Never Thought to Be More Enlightened: County Economic Development tsar Ken Flood shared his unvarnished opinion with Ghent resident Kevin Delahanty that “restaurants in Hudson and Chatham ... don’t provide good jobs except for the owners.”
Worthiest Ideas Gathering Dust on Some Politician’s Shelf: In July, the Columbia County Emergency Management Council proposed a series of sensible, forward-thinking guidelines to prevent major disasters. Little or nothing has been heard about their recommendations in the six months since.
Ugliest Use of Social Media by an Elected Official: Ghent Town Board member Richard Sardo opined in a Facebook post that MSNBC host (and Berkshire County resident) Rachel Maddow “looks very much like an ugly man.” Sardo, who coupled this assessment of Maddow’s looks with his barely-disguised hots for FOX anchor Megyn Kelly, badly lost his Tea Party bid for Town Supervisor against Republican Mike Benvenuto.
Most Gratifying Told ’Ya So: The Valley Alliance was vindicated as the City of Hudson glumly acknowledged the group’s contention that the people, not Holcim, already owned 4.4 acres along the Waterfront. Research by the Alliance demonstrated that the riverfront lands had been improperly sold in the early 1980s without State approval.
Least Merited Award: Hudson Phoenix president John Tonelli was given the Chamber of Commerce’s “Businessperson of the Year” award in June, just months after announcing the arrival of his plastics extrusion business. But Phoenix seemingly never made any hires, and according to a Chamber source the company had “ceased operations” by November.
Least Festive Street Fest: A car show put on by American Glory’s Joe Fierro, with little or no notification to neighbors, shut down the 300 block of Warren Street on a Spring Saturday, but attracted little interest.
Most Hilarious Banter Between Star Chefs: A New York Magazine article about the opening of Fish & Game featured this exchange between the restaurants’ principals, Zak Pelaccio and Jori Jayne Emde:
Foraging for ingredients turns out to have its limitations. Before long, Pelaccio suggests we give up the mushroom hunt. Emde reluctantly agrees. “I mean, I can smell mushrooms though,” she says, then tells me about recently sniffing her way to ramps. “Zak calls me a hound dog.” She gives an animalistic howl. “It’s weird, that’s the sound I make when we’re having sex.”
Lamest Campaign by a Candidate Claiming to be a Skilled Organizer: Hudson’s Victor Mendolia garnered the lowest number of votes of any mayoral candidate in a two-person race in recent memory, possibly in City history. The former City Democratic chair lost his campaign manager in the process of losing to incumbent Bill Hallenbeck, despite Democrats having a massive registration advantage over Republicans, and despite Hallenbeck himself earning fewer votes than his first run. Turnout was almost half of Hudson elections of a decade ago, despite the number of registered voters staying the same. As of August, Mendolia had spent more on restaurant dinners than his campaign had banked up for the Fall campaign.
Most Important Unread Mail: Government records uncovered by Ghent resident Patti Matheney revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had warned local emergency officials of the presence of highly-explosive sodium in the TCI building. But the warning apparently went unheeded, contributing (along with egregious negligence by the company itself) to some 12-15 explosions when water was dumped on the company’s smoldering building. Shamelessly, TCI attorney Bill Better shamelessly tried to use this revelation to deflect responsibility from his client.
Most Confusing Campaign Signage: Road signs for the Taghkanic Republican slate seemed to deliberately conflate 20something candidate Ryan Skoda with his much better-known father, farmer (and sitting Town Board member) Richard Skoda.
Most Concerted Effort to Deny the Obvious: Hudson City Attorney Cheryl Roberts, Alderman Cappy Pierro, Council President Don Moore, and attorney Giff Whitbeck repeatedly attempted to deny that Standard Oil had occupied a key piece of the Hudson Waterfront, even after clear evidence was brought forth to prove it. Roberts, who had incorrectly identified the Standard Oil location, and lectured citizens about being “completely wrong,” even wondered aloud whether oil tanks existed in the 1880s. Moore similarly wagged his finger at the public about “being careful.” Eventually, the Gang of Four could not help acknowleding their mistake, brushing it off with barely a shrug. (Their motivation appeared to be a desire to avoid any investigation into contamination.)
Most Selfish Bogarting of Scarce Public Services: The new Barlow Hotel somehow convinced the City of Hudson to not only build an awning over the sidewalk, but also to grant the business exclusive use of two parking spaces in the 500 block of Warren, ostensibly for loading and unloading of baggage. The request was granted despite the block being the the busiest in Hudson, and there being a vast public parking lot immediately behind the hotel. (This frequent perambulator of that part of the street has yet to see a single guest using the two much-needed spaces for their intended purpose.) The City has not clarified what the criteria are for securing one’s own private parking spaces, but no doubt others would love to get the same special treatment.
Least Dignified Post-Election Email: Claverack resident Chris Lastovicka broke with American election tradition in trashing the Town’s voters in the wake of her partner’s loss of her Supervisor seat. Incumbent Robin Andrews lost by 20 votes to Republican Kippy Weigelt. Lastovicka blamed weekenders whom she claimed did not turn in enough absentee ballots—despite Andrews picking up 60 votes from absentees. No blame was assigned to the candidate herself for failing to take a stand on issues such as TCI or the County Airport, or for opposing both an increase in the State minimum wage and common sense gun regulations.
Most Blatant Media Conflict of Interest: Community radio station WGXC had scheduled an interview with recently-departed Mendolia campaign manager Clay Laugier. But the interview on the @Issue show was abruptly canceled without explanation—the most obvious being that Laugier was likely to be critical of Mendolia—a co-host of the show, on leave at the time.
Most Missed Bar, Bar Owner, and Bar Patron: 2013 brought the sad demise of the Iron Horse bar, its owner Frank Martino, and one of its most loyal patrons—former Hudson Police Commissioner Jeff “Sweeps” Bagnall. Join me in pouring one out tonight, New Year’s Eve, for all three.
The Columbia Paper editorialized last week that TCI of NY has “a good environmental track record.” Was the writer actually referring to the same company whose plant burned to the ground last summer?
Over the past 30 years, all three of TCI’s PCB-handling facilities in the region have suffered fires, explosions or both:
TCI left Newburgh in 1985 after a major blaze caused the local fire chief to condemn the building and cite the company for code violations. That shut-down was preceded by many written complaints from neighbors about smoke and emissions.
Moving briefly to the Industrial Tract in Greenport, TCI’s 1987 transformer explosion “rocked an area within a half-mile.”
And as everyone knows, TCI had not one but two major fires in Ghent last year—the second of them truly disastrous. The building’s contents were incinerated in a colossal, uncontrolled, two-day burn.
Try that in your backyard, and see if you’re still considered a good neighbor.
Multiple explosions endangered the lives of firefighters, generated a massive plume, showered neighbors’ properties with oily pellets, and led to most Columbia County residents being told to spend the next day indoors.
And while the editorial calls TCI a “loyal employer,” the above series of calamities and dubious management have put company workers at risk:
According to Newburgh news reports, the Attorney General found the company “violated the toxic substances law by not training the employees to handle [PCBs].”
The aforementioned blast in Greenport tossed a worker 20 feet, sending him to the hospital with injuries.
Most tragically, a young man needlessly asphyxiated to death while cleaning a tank with freon at TCI in Ghent.
Compounding such problems is TCI’s apparent habit of keeping host communities in the dark about its intentions and operations:
In Newburgh, DEC “charged the firm with transporting regulated wastes without a permit.”
TCI’s failed 1988 plan to add an incinerator initially bypassed Ghent officials, leading to a costly legal wrangle with the Town of Ghent and neighbors, which dragged on for years.
TCI quietly filed another expansion plan with DEC and EPA last year, without notifying the Town of its intent to expand operations.
TCI likewise did not notify the Town that it had invited in a second company, PSS, to treat PCBs in a manner not covered by its Ghent permits, leading to the 2012 inferno.
TCI sued the Town to prevent it from exercising ordinary zoning and planning review. (A homeowner putting in a pool could expect more enforcement than TCI seems to tolerate.)
Meanwhile, though the Columbia Paper writes of “lost tax revenue” from TCI’s possible departure, the editorialist may not realize that this multimillion-dollar company paid less than $5,000 in Town, County and fire taxes in 2012.
A local fire company had to request a $10,000 budgetary increase to help cover expenses from responding to the TCI fire, making their presence a net loss for Ghent.
One gets the sense that the editorialist was striving so hard to appear balanced, that common sense fell off the beam. If TCI’s corporate history constituted a “good” track record, what would be a bad one?
NOTE: The above was submitted as a letter-to-the-editor this past weekend... Let’s see if The Columbia Paper prints it.
My preview of Fish & Game, Zak Pelaccio’s new Hudson restaurant which officially opened this week, went live at The New York Observer (not to be confused with The Hill Country Observer) on Thursday—link here. Below are some bonus pictures by Laetitia Hussain:
Chef Zak Pelaccio, builder Peggy Anderson, Jason Wyckoff, jewelery designer Shana Lee
Architect/designer Michael Davis, headhunter Kevin Delahanty, bassist Melissa Auf der Maur
Bartender Kat Dunn serves producer (and Fish & Game backer) Patrick Milling Smith and filmmaker Tony Stone of Basilica Industria
Peter Heilman, who built Fish & Game’s tables, bar, carts, stools et al., dining with his wife at last Friday’s preview dinner
View of the dining room, second fireplace, and carnage.
View toward the lounge, showing the old walls maintained as a ruin, Red Light District wallpaper, and staircase to an upstairs private room.
Over at The Gossips of Rivertown, Carole Osterink reports that the debate about whether Standard Oil occupied a key parcel in the City of Hudson has been settled—with skeptical citizens fully vindicated.
The City’s title searcher has belatedly conceded to Giff Whitbeck (who strove mightily to prop up his law partner Cheryl Roberts’ untenable claims) what resident researchers such as Tim O’Connor and Cheryl Stuart already knew. Namely, that the oil company most certainly did have a presence on the acreage in question.
The immediate impact of this tardy and grudging acknowledgement should be for the City to stop dodging a full environmental assessment of the land they want to acquire. But don’t hold your breath on that due diligence. Given Roberts’ monomaniacal obsession with securing State approval for her deeply-flawed waterfront plan at any cost, it would hardly be surprising if some new rationale for ignoring potential contamination emerges.
There ought to be another, more lasting impact of this sorry episode: Hudson elected officials finally may be forced to doubt the integrity of their counsel’s advice.
A review the recent reporting on how this matter was handled does not redound to the City’s credit, to put it mildly. There’s no getting around the stark fact that the claims and retorts emanating from the official side of the table in response to sincere, well-researched citizen input have been egregiously (and even offensively) mistaken. Officials took their experts’ vague assurances as gospel, while undercutting every piece of citizen research, at their own peril.
Start with the howlers contained in The Register-Star’s April 21st, 2013 article:
Common Council President Don Moore in response to a well-researched memorandum about the land transfer from Citizens In Defense of Hudson, lectured Stuart “to be careful with her accusations.”
Attorney Roberts was even more condescending in her response, thundering at Stuart: “You are so completely wrong in your legal assessment of that document, I don’t even know where to start.”
Roberts also told the Council that “The Standard Oil piece is north of the port.”
“At the informal Common Council meeting on April 8, city attorney Cheryl Roberts reported that the title searcher hired by the City had not discovered Standard Oil ownership of any land south of the port.”
“Roberts addressed the issue by saying that there was ‘a serious misunderstanding about what a title search is.’”
“Roberts' placement of the Standard Oil property was confirmed by Alderman Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward), who said that ‘oil barges pulled up where the Spirit of Hudson docks now.’”
“City attorney Cheryl Roberts questioned whether there were such things as oil tanks in 1888.”
“Assistant city attorney Carl Whitbeck provid[ed] evidence that nothing ever existed on the Hudson waterfront west of the railroad tracks and south of the port.”
It’s now painfully clear that each of these official, lawyerly, patronizing assertions were at best laughably mistaken, at worst nastily misleading:
Despite Moore’s finger-wagging, Stuart’s group proved to be not only “careful,” but also correct;
Roberts, not CIDH, was “completely wrong” in her legal assessment;
Standard Oil was south, not “north of the port” as Roberts claimed;
A sustained barrage of evidence from O’Connor, Gossips and CIDH was required to convince a professional title searcher to admit what a host of amateur sleuths found out on their own;
The only “serious misunderstandings” seem to be those harbored by Roberts, Whitbeck and the City’s title searcher;
Aldermen who claim direct knowledge of activities which ceased at about the same time as the First World War are not reliable narrators.
Hudson has many unique features, among these being a rare species of elected official who, unlike the rest of the human race, lacks a natural distrust of lawyers. Renewing a skepticism which traces its lineage at least as far back as Shakespeare, once again local citizens have witnessed firsthand how possession of a law degree does not in itself guarantee the deliverance of honest, well-informed counsel.
When it comes to professionals in the pay of City Hall, the operating principle seems to be: Don’t trust us. We’re experts.