HUDSON — After a brief demotion, Nick Zachos was reinstated as director of the city’s Youth Department, Mayor Rick Rector announced in a statement Wednesday.
The decision was reversed less than a week after Rector demoted Zachos from the department’s director to recreation attendant level four.
The mayor declined to give specific reasons for the demotion, citing personnel reasons.
“After a lengthy discussion with our Youth Commissioner Mark Bryant, [he] has advised me today that Nick Zachos will remain in the position of Director of the Youth Department,” according to Rector’s statement.
The decision comes on the heels of public outcry, including when a masked person allegedly hurled feces at the mayor during Thursday’s Board of Estimate Apportionment meeting regarding the 2019 Youth Department budget.
“It is my understanding that both Mark and Nick have agreed to work closer together in the administration and management of the department and have determined specific areas of needed improvement,” Rector said in his statement.
The Youth, Education, Seniors Committee is expected to meet 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 520 Warren St. A Hudson police officer is expected to be present at the meeting in response to last week’s incident, Chief L. Edward Moore said Wednesday.
“While the past several days have been difficult in so many ways, it is my goal that all parities learn from this and focus on improvements that will continue the mission of providing the very best for the Hudson youth,” Rector said. “The youth of our community deserve the very best we can provide and I am looking forward to working with both Mark and Nick in realizing this.”
The statement does not explain the reason for Rector’s or Bryant’s change of heart. Rector declined to comment beyond his written statement.
First Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson, who is the chairman of the Youth Education, Seniors Committee, said he believes the decision was in response to the public’s support of Zachos.
The decision to reinstate Zachos went into effect Wednesday, Johnson said, adding Zachos was expected to attend Thursday night’s meeting. Zachos could not be reached for comment before Wednesday’s meeting.
“I most certainly agree with the decision — it shows the city’s willingness to listen to the people,” Johnson said. “They [city residents] are the main focus. This is great decision by the city. And now, we should all be on the same page and be able to move forward as a collaboration as a council, as a city and all the departments.”
Residents in attendance at the Budget and Estimate Apportionment meeting expressed concerns that removing Zachos from his position was political because he was advocating to nearly double the Youth Department budget.
That was not the case, Rector said, adding as of Friday, the proposed department budget increased by 46.2 percent and much of the funds requested by youth department officials are expected to be allocated.
“I think this was extremely important for this budget to go through in its entirety, and, if not in its entirety, than very close,” said Johnson, who worked on the budget with Zachos. “Because they [the budget items] are all necessities to run a high-quality youth program… A lot of these things are safety concerns and getting [the] right programming and personnel.”
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