Hudson committee members asked to resign
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Hudsonites Richard and Robin Grinnell had volunteered their time on the Citizen Action Group infrastructure and beautification committees until it was decided their public comments did not fit in with the group’s Code of Conduct.
Two Hudson residents who had volunteered their time for civic improvement on the Strategic Plan citizens’ group are questioning the conditions under which they were told their respective services on infrastructure and town beautification committees were no longer required.
“We were told we didn’t abide by their code of ethics,” said Robin Grinnell. “In other words, we’re not allowed to criticize.”
Along with her husband Richard Grinnell, the pair co-signed with three other residents a letter to the editor to Your Local Journal, published August 11. The letter questions the $32 million strategic plan (whose status is currently ‘under review’ on the town’s website) and expressed frustration over what they feel is a lack of disclosure and transparency by council.
The Grinnells said the letter stems from discussions and concerns of an informal citizen group they’ve formed who meets weekly to talk about municipal affairs and since its inception, they’ve discovered a number of similar groups in the town doing the same thing.
Following the publication of the letter, which can be accessed on our webpage, the Grinnells received an email from Hudson Director General Jean-Pierre Roy which states, in part, “…I regret to inform you that your presence is no longer requested as part of the strategic plan citizen’s groups. This orientation was formulated in caucus by the council and comes from the observation that your interventions and actions are incompatible with respecting the code of conduct associated with the citizen’s group to which you have agreed.”
The Grinnells said they were given a PowerPoint overview presentation by animator Elke Steinwender at the onset of the formation of the committees and though the presentation included terms instructing members to adhere to the Code of Conduct, they had not signed any agreements.
The code includes general instructions explaining core values including integrity, respect, honesty, and pride. The code also states, “Group members shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner” and that they must, “Collaborate to protect and promote the Town’s reputation and contribute to its pride.”
While Roy would not confirm if the Grinnells’ recent letter to the editor was the direct cause of their dismissal, he said, “They’ve written many times to the newspapers and what (they write) is not the truth, not the facts. They are misleading people with what they write.”
In a prepared media statement, Roy wrote, “A citizen must register and agree to respect a simple but important code of conduct to be a member of a citizen group. The code was distributed before the meeting and carefully explained during the meeting to every member of every group. All members have agreed to respect such a code of conduct. This is a democratic process and all participants must respect the code of conduct in order to preserve their privilege in participating in the implementation of the strategic plan of the Town of Hudson.”
“I don’t think I did anything wrong except have an opposing opinion,” said Richard Grinnell. He further speculates the input of the committee members does not hold significant weight and final decisions will ultimately be up to council members.
“I think we (committee members) were just there as soundboards but council already has their political agenda.”
While the Grinnells are not seeking reinstatement on their respective committees, they reiterate their termination is an extension of a lack of transparency in the town’s municipal governance.
“It’s not democratic,” said Robin Grinnell. “People volunteer for their town out of the goodness of their heart. People need to get involved and have their two-cents’ worth and input heard. If it’s a stand we have to take, then we’ll take it. On principle.”
“People are passionate (in their opinions) because they love Hudson,” said Richard Grinnell. “And they’re concerned.”