Valley Alliance co-director Peter Jung today discovered a remarkable admission from Hudson City Attorney Cheryl Roberts buried in a stack of printouts of private email of correspondence.
In arguing that Holcim should hurry up and sign an incredibly favorable (if legally sloppy) agreement the company itself proposed, Roberts reminded the Swiss-owned multinational’s attorney that:
“As you know, many City officials took a hard stand in support of a working waterfront in the face of great opposition from City and County residents.”
In short, Jung notes, Roberts is making a flat admission that the City’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) was not the product of community consensus, per Department of State guidelines. Rather, the document was approved despite “great opposition.”
Just how great was the opposition? Over the final 6-year process, some 3,000 written comments were submitted about the draft Plan. Out of those 3,000, the Alliance has only found a single comment—one—that was even tepidly in favor of approving the LWRP... apart from the comments submitted by lawyers for the Plan’s main beneficiaries, Holcim and its partner O&G.
While it has long been known that Roberts (the principle drafter of the plan) convinced officials to go along with her ennabling of foreign and out-of-state industrial interests over the wishes of the public, to have that admission in writing is remarkable. Moreover, the City’s legal advisor appears to be telegraphing to Holcim: You don’t want to miss the boat on yet another amazing opportunity to solidify your position in spite of a public outcry.
Bottom line—whenever any Hudson official claims that a proposal, resolution or law is “consistent with the LWRP,” that should henceforth be read as “inconsistent with public input.”
Below is the full text of the email in question to Holcim attorney Donald Stever, in which Roberts also alludes strangely to copies of an earlier draft letter, which the City plans to “destroy”—and hopes Holcim will do the same:
January 30, 2013, 8:58 p.m.
I just re-read the letter I sent you today and realized I sent an earlier draft of the letter by mistake. I had deleted much of the paragraph on your having discussed with me a private sale for two years. The letter had only been distributed to the Mayor, Don Moore, and Virginia Benedict. The letter will be destroyed and you will have a new letter by tomorrow morning. Please destroy your copy. I do apologize for this mistake, however the rest of the letter still stands. The City is prepared and will move forward with eminent domain proceedings at its February meeting unless your client is prepared to move forward with this transaction. The City may also be prepared to to meet with the private entity to whom Holcim is selling the property and Holcim if such a meeting would be of assistance. As it has been for the past 7 years, the City stands ready to fully implement its waterfront plan which supports a mixed used waterfront with a working waterfront port. As you know, many City officials took a hard stand in support of a working waterfront in the face of great opposition from City and County residents. The City has been patient with your client and responsive to changes sought by Holcim and O & G relative to the parcel to be transferred, but at this point, the Common Council and Mayor have given me clear direction to move this transfer forward or begin an eminent domain proceeding.
NOTE: The Valley Alliance obtained the emails as part of a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the City, which our organization is in the process of reviewing.