HUDSON — A utility bill insert and a general communication policy failed to pass the council Monday night amid criticism of Mayor Rich O’Connor’s promotion of his Golden Rule Initiative.
A few residents expressed concern in public comments of previous meetings about the Golden Rule inserts sent alongside utility bills as well as the branding of Hudson as a Golden Rule City.
Council Member Joyce Hall presented the two policies. While she said she fully supported the Golden Rule Initiative, she wanted the council to have approval over the use of city resources to make sure they’re handled appropriately and to avoid inappropriate requests.
The utility bill insert, which would have brought any insert to the utilities commission and council for approval, failed with council members expressing it seemed beyond the purview of the Utility Commission.
Discussions on the use of city communications turned into one on interpersonal relationships within the council itself.
O’Connor said the topic was on the agenda because Hall had an issue with him personally. They need to move beyond that so they can work together, O’Connor said.
“It’s very clear that every opportunity you have you take a shot at me,” he said.
Council Member Randy Morrissette told Hall the issue was embarrassing, accusing her of trying to brand it in her own way and questioning whether she wrote her own words.
Council Member Jim Webber objected to the discussion, saying it was not appropriate to attack each other.
Hall said O’Connor’s comments and Morrissette’s insinuations that she didn’t write her own words were both insulting. The topic of branding and city resources is a problem that needs to be addressed, she said.
City Administrator Aaron Reeves confirmed that he signed off on every action the mayor has taken in regards to the initiative at the city level, and has said no to some things as well. The council discussed the Golden Rule Initiative and gave its general support at previous meetings, he said.
Council Member Sarah Bruch said as more residents have come forward with concerns, things have changed. She said she wanted to make sure the council is representing the people that have put them there, and consider making it a full council initiative.
O’Connor said he started it as a mayor’s initiative to keep politics out of it.
“I reject a lot of the political aspects that people want to bring into this,” O’Connor said.
He would like to see the initiative become a city one in the future.
“This transcends me, this is not about me. This is about our city, it is about the officer of the mayor and what the mayor has the ability to do,” O’Connor said. “If anyone here thinks the mayor has overstepped his boundaries please blurt it out, because I haven't.”
The policy on communication failed 2-4, with Hall and Bruch in support.
Hall requested the city develop a mission and value statement and decide on branding on a future agenda.
In other business the council also:
Approved the creation of a diversity committee. The nine-person committee will be made of members appointed by each council member, the mayor and two additional members.
Approved the creation of a community engagement officer within the Hudson Police Department. The position will focus on building relationships within the community.