Hudson council members respond to mayor's investigation request
Two members of council at the July 28 workshop took issue with Mayor Craig Shubert’s recent letter asking the Auditor of State’s Office to investigate whether City Council President Bill Wooldredge violated state law when using his council email account.
Shubert alleged last month that some emails and documents posted by a the citizens group Hudson Community Coalition at www.thehudsonfiles.com allegedly show that Wooldredge may have committed “theft in office,” which he said could rise to the level of a “fifth-degree felony.” He cited examples that included Wooldredge discussing political campaign issues with candidates using his official city email account. The coalition is a partnership between two local groups, the Hudson Environmental Council, LLC and Hudson’s Voice, LLC.
At the online workshop, Wooldredge repeated an earlier statement, saying he had not done anything that would warrant an investigation by the state auditor’s office.
Ward 1 Councilor Kate Schlademan said Shubert’s complaint is a “very poor reflection on our city.”
“Instead of working together to ensure the safety and security of our city and residents, the mayor has chosen to circumvent the city’s entire communications policy and pursue a petty and juvenile vendetta,” she said. “Whatever you do and say reflects on our city.”
At-Large Councilor Hal DeSaussure, reading from a prepared statement, called Shubert’s complaint “political” in nature.
“By charter, the mayor has no vote in council’s deliberations and has no role in directing city staff,” DeSaussure said. “Nonetheless, the mayor from the beginning of his tenure has promoted a role for himself that is at odds to the charter.”
He cited a few examples of Shubert allegedly overstepping his bounds, including an alleged “demand” that City Manager Jane Howington and city staff meet with him shortly after he was sworn in to office.
“He was politely advised that he had no authority to order any such thing,” DeSaussure said.
Asked to respond, Shubert said the comments were meant to deflect attention from Wooldredge.
“If Councilman Wooldredge truly believes his e-mails are proper, he should welcome the auditor’s investigation,” Shubert said. “Civility applies to everyone. If members of council are going to call for more civility, they need to demonstrate it, as well.”
Shubert said his request that Howington and city staff meet with him was not made as a “demand.”
“I have a legal, ethical, and moral responsibility to the residents of our community, under the oath of my office, to report potential incidents of wrongdoing. The matter has been referred to the auditor and we will now let the process play out.”
Eric Marotta can be reached at email@example.com.