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Council joins National League of Cities on own dime

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The Hudson Common Council turned down a gift from the Hudson Inclusion Alliance for a year's membership to the National League of Cities, instead deciding to fund the venture on its own.

The National League of Cities is an advocacy group that provides resources to cities across the country.

City Administrator Devin Willi suggested the council should spend the $1,500 itself to join, or it could set a precedence where the city would be offered other gifts to join more groups.

"If you as a group feel we should join the National League of Cities, we can find the money for it," Willi said.

Council member Tom McCormick questioned what the National League of Cities offers that is not provided by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, of which the city is already a member. The state league is a subset of the national league.

McCormick said he felt it was improper to commit the city to an organization with solely Democratic officer holders, as he wouldn't propose to join with that which is all Republicans.

Tony Bol of the Hudson Inclusion Alliance said the National League of Cities is a nonpartisan group that provides programming that the state municipality league does not, like grant finding. The group also provides a program on racial equity and leadership and sister city programs for cities struggling with diversity, something that particularly interested the alliance.

"It's an educational resource," he said.

Mayor Rich O'Connor said he doesn't believe Hudson is struggling with diversity.

"I don't like people saying that about our community," O'Connor said.

Bol referenced incidents like more LGBT flags stolen, as well as the discussion on whether to support resettlement of Syrian refugees by St. Patrick Church in 2016. O'Connor said most of the response to that was red flags in regards to lack of information on the refugees.

"Are there people out there that say absolutely we don't want Muslims here? Probably," O'Connor said. "The majority of the people I was talking with that had concerns was because they couldn't get truthful information."

Jennifer Holt said while diversity is a big reason for the membership, the National League of Cities offers other aspects of benefit to the city. She said the organization is a way to invest in the people and the community.

"It's naive and close-minded to say we've got it," Holt said. "Anyone who is good at what they do, organizations that thrive, look out."

Several community members voiced concerns about the league's agenda. Jeanette Kunz said it could be harmful to the city's way of life, and the city should use local influence to take care of its own business, like EMS.

Gary Borglund said the National League of Cities had a political stance, and was pushing for sanctuary cities. He also questioned who would pay for the next year's membership.

"I think it's ludicrous that we even consider something like this," he said.

Pat Sabin said the National League of Cities is a lobbyist group with a clear agenda.

"They're going to lobby for things that Hudson doesn't want," she said.

Council member Bill Alms said he would not be open to accepting the gift in order to avoid outside influence on how the city should use it, but did want to try the membership.

"Give it a go for a year to see what it's all about," he said.

Joining the league on the city's cost was approved 4-2, with McCormick and Randy Morrissette voting no.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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