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No deal reached in crosswalk case

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    A crosswalk that was allegedly painted without Hudson Department of Public Works approval in September.
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    Claudia Bruce and the Rev. Edward Cross, of Hudson, are seen in a photo posted to Facebook. Both are accused of painting crosswalks on Third and State streets sometime in November.
January 29, 2019 10:08 pm

HUDSON — No deal was struck Tuesday in Hudson City Court between the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office, the judge and defense attorneys in the case of four city residents, including a Columbia County supervisor and former county supervisor, accused of painting illegal crosswalks at the intersection of Third and State streets.

Three attorneys representing the four defendants, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka and city Judge John Connor Jr. met behind closed doors in chambers Tuesday, but left about 10 minutes later without a deal. When they returned to the courtroom, Connor announced that the parties in the case would have another month to reach a resolution. The case was adjourned until March 5.

“If we don’t have some sort of resolution by then, we will begin on the discovery schedule and this case will be headed for trial,” Connor said.

Frustrated with a lack of action in getting crosswalks and concerned about pedestrian safety, the four allegedly took part in a plan to paint the crosswalks in September without approval from the city’s Department of Public Works. They were charged Oct. 18 with making graffiti, a class A misdemeanor, and with violations under the city code.

Fourth Ward Supervisor and Time & Space Ltd. co-founder Linda Mussmann, 71; Time & Space Ltd. co-founder Claudia Bruce, 72; former 2nd Ward Supervisor Ed Cross, 69; and city resident Peter Spear, 46, are accused of painting two unauthorized crosswalks at the intersection of Third and State streets Sept. 24.

Photos posted to Mussmann’s Facebook page depict Bruce and Spear painting the crosswalks, she said in September, adding the walkways were painted after the Common Council and Department of Public Works Committee received complaints about pedestrian safety at the intersection, particularly by Cross.

The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office proposed dismissing the case last month in exchange for a sentence of community service with the Department of Public Works. But New York City attorney Susan Tipograph, who represents Mussmann and Bruce, called that a possible “deal breaker.”

“Mandating it to be only with the DPW in this case can only be interpreted as punishment or retribution by the DPW,” Tipograph said Dec. 12. Tipograph said common practice in Hudson City Court is to let defendants choose community service.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Rob Perry said Dec. 12 that is not the case. Perry also took issue with a comment from Tipograph quoted in the Register-Star on Dec. 12: “It seems like how this case is being dealt with seems different than what the general practice is in Hudson City Court.”

Other defendants have performed community service with the Department of Public Works, Perry said, and refuted Tipograph’s claims of retribution.

“I doubt attorney Tipograph’s statement, as quoted in the Register-Star, really ‘seems like retribution,’” Perry said Dec. 12. “Maybe her clients simply believe that DPW occupies a lower class and to complete community service with the DPW is beneath their status in Hudson’s society.”

The Hudson Police Department has investigated 331 cases of vandalism and criminal mischief from 2016 through December 2018, but it is unclear how many of those investigations led to community-service sentences.

Some of the more recent sentences include a case on Feb. 14, 2017, in which three juveniles were given community service with the Department of Public Works as part of probation after bringing a BB gun onto school grounds, according to court documents.

On Sept. 2, 2017, a city resident was arrested for vandalism and given community service with the Department of Public Works.

And on May 6, 2017, another city resident was arrested for painting graffiti on public property and was also given community service, according to court documents.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.