Some native authorities leaders within the Adirondack Park complain that Governor Cuomo’s 2019 picks for seats on the Adirondack Park Agency remain unconfirmed by the State Senate. They feel that these individuals have been unfairly blocked by environmentalists putting strain on State Senators.
They are often forgiven for forgetting that this isn’t the primary time that a Democratic Governor’s decisions for the Adirondack Park Agency have been rejected by a Democratic State Senate.
Ten springs in the past, Governor Paterson’s nomination for the APA, Peter Hornbeck of Minerva, Essex County, was held up by Senate Democrats on the request of Senator Betty Little. There was little high mindedness to the Senate’s lengthy springtime hold on Mr. Hornbeck’s nomination. In 2009, Democrats held the Senate however no less than six of those upstate Senators shaped an Unbiased group (the so referred to as Unbiased Democratic Caucus, or IDC), typically siding with Republicans for numerous, often expedient causes. I and others encouraged these Senators to release Mr. Hornbeck for an up or down vote, however they refused based mostly on Senator Little’s opposition. From my vantage point, Governor Paterson did not battle for him and Hornbeck was not confirmed.
Mr. Hornbeck, inventor of the Hornbeck lightweight canoe, business proprietor and employer of expert boat builders, member of his local planning board, and outspoken advocate for paddling and its economic advantages to the Park, appeared a really perfect selection for the APA, a minimum of in my eyes (and lots of others). During public hearings, such because the one in regards to the classification of Lows Lake, Mr. Hornbeck argued very persuasively that the Park’s wild, quiet waters underneath regulation ought to be expanded because that they had grow to be a magnet for leisure paddling and for boat constructing businesses and employment.
What raised alarms for Senator Little was, apparently, his guilt by association. Mr. Hornbeck had served on the board of the nonprofit group Residents Committee to Shield the Adirondacks. That he also served as regular employer, taxpayer, mentor and volunteer in her district for many years did not appear to matter. Hornbeck was a tainted member of a “green group.” Anybody who is aware of Mr. Hornbeck just a bit bit knows he’s utterly his own man and follows his personal convictions. Apart from, why wouldn’t his participation within the nonprofit organization assist to strengthen in him a broad, state-wide perspective and protecting concern for the Adirondack Park’s pure and wild land assets? In that case, would that not be a very good perspective for any APA member to have? So we tried to argue to Senators, in vain compared with the views of one Senator whose district encompasses most of the Park and who was decided to keep Mr. Hornbeck off the APA.
The experience Peter Hornbeck had and the emotions he endured in 2009 are probably being felt now by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s picks for APA in 2019. The shoe is on the other foot perhaps. All have been endorsed by the Association of Adirondack Towns and Villages ( AATV), the Local Government Evaluation Board and doubtless Senator Little. Naturally, these people additionally really feel ignored to dry, just as Hornbeck did.
Am I guilty of my own litmus check? Perhaps I am. Some of the Governor’s picks, if ever confirmed, may shock me in their readiness to symbolize statewide concern for the Adirondack Park. Some is perhaps crucial thinkers, of unbiased thoughts and with convictions that the APA Act and different legal guidelines are, initially, enacted to be protective of natural assets. The APA Act was by no means enacted to stability environmental and financial pursuits, and state courts have so ruled.
One elementary drawback is that there isn’t any accepted system of vetting APA nominations beyond the usual background verify. Governor Cuomo’s 4 nominees were given no alternative to make statements and to reply questions displaying that they have helpful qualifications, levels of consciousness, relevant backgrounds, and commitments to the legislated purposes of the APA. Their names have been simply on an inventory with the idea they might be confirmed.
The State Senate may need felt that this yr the Adirondack Park is just too necessary not to have some variety of vetting course of in place. Actually, I like to recommend that the Senate and Meeting joint standing committees convene an annual public listening to concerning the Adirondack Park Agency, including reviews about APA’s health and progress, Park developments and challenges, and how APA is addressing them, and incorporate in that hearing a chance to listen to from and question any gubernatorial nominees for the APA.
I readily admit to being flawed earlier than about some past APA nominees. For example, in 1984 the Adirondack Council despatched me an motion alert urging letters be sent to the State Senate opposing Governor Mario Cuomo’s nomination of Herman (Woody) Cole to be the chair of the APA. Adirondack Council opposed his nomination as a result of he was perceived as a good friend and campaigner for the Governor, and as a lackey of the development-inclined Olympic Regional Improvement Authority, ORDA. I dutifully sent my letter in. Later, after seeing him month-to-month in Ray Brook I noticed that the Rev. Woody Cole was no lackey. Over time, I saw that he grew right into a well-informed spokesperson for the Park’s organic variety and for APA’s moral as well as scientific duty for biodiversity conservation. He championed the Park in ways I couldn’t have imagined. He knew so much concerning the Park’s statewide and, certainly, international significance, and he additionally intently thought-about the pursuits of Park residents, cities and economies.
I additionally was incorrect about Dick Lefebvre of Canada Lake. When he was nominated by Governor Pataki and later turned the APA’s chair, I was initially involved about his lack of credentials and background for that job. I came upon over time that Dick championed the Park as a Park, fought for recognition and funding for Park interpretive facilities in towns and hamlets, and believed within the Park’s pure and wilderness belongings as both ecological and economic drivers. He also fought for brand spanking new Park coverage, as in the tall towers coverage still in place.
I additionally admit that my admiration for appearing chair Karen Feldman grew this spring once I discovered, a bit late within the recreation, what she was doing behind the scenes to face up for APA’s independence vis-a-vis the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Fault for her unlucky resignation seems to lie squarely at the Governor’s doorstep.
Contrasting with the Senate’s motivations in 2009, this State Senate truly appears excited about whether or not or not the nominees’ backgrounds matches properly with the APA’s mandates. Immediately, with the APA rudderless after the resignation of two of its Chairs inside 11 months, I thank Senator Kaminsky and different Senators for honoring their consenting position and holding the Governor’s nominations of a current town supervisor, a former city supervisor, an area city councilman and outside recreation clothes shop and information, and a former DEC government. Any of these individuals may be nicely suited to hitch the combination of an environmentally stronger APA, but that isn’t the state of affairs in any respect. Among the many residents now serving are a town supervisor, a retired city supervisor, three business house owners and just one member, Chad Dawson, with a background notably properly suited to a key part of APA’s legislated mission – State Land recreation planning and management. Where are different members with a background, demonstrated commitment and even robust curiosity for the Park’s ecological well being and tendencies, its long-range planning, and agency authorized obligations underneath the APA Act?
Governor Andrew Cuomo had the prospect to select amongst quite a couple of natural useful resource professionals or retirees, several ecological scientists, and a number of other environment-minded legal professionals, all Park residents, all group minded and all prepared to serve on the APA. He selected none of them, and as an alternative opted for individuals who, it appears, had handed an area government litmus check. If Governor Cuomo is glad with just maintaining at this time’s APA, then the Senate – retaining the statute in mind – had the proper and the duty to question whether staying the course addresses the deep considerations for the Adirondack Park held by individuals from Long Island to Buffalo, and much past the State.
This is not the primary time that a Governor might have forgotten the broader considerations for the Park held by individuals past its borders. Governor Carey can also have forgotten. He was reminded of that reality by Lake Placid’s Mary Prime, an unique APA member who upon retiring in 1977 wrote to Governor Hugh Carey a letter, a replica of which Paul Schaefer gave me and informed me to keep for future reference. Mary Prime wrote, partially:
“Dear Governor Carey…. Please continue to appoint members to the Agency on the basis of their qualifications. If such appointments have political value for you and your administration, so much the better. But the statewide interest in the protection of the Adirondack Park must come first. Otherwise, the agency commission will degenerate into a policy making group of questionable competence and dubious commitment.”
What are the competences and commitments that each one APA members should have or attempt for? From Adirondack Wild’s report Adirondack Park at a Crossroad: A Street Map for Motion, they are:
- Grounding within the legislated functions of the APA Act, together with the State Land Grasp Plan, Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, and so forth.;
- Passion for utilizing these legal instruments for their meant functions;
- Consciousness that they symbolize both local, regional and statewide constituencies for the Park;
- Important, unbiased thoughts throughout APA conferences and addressing APA employees shows;
- Courage of convictions in troublesome votes on controversial issues.
I look ahead to the Governor’s next group of nominations to consciously strengthen the APA, and to the Senate’s position to verify and to permit the public to take part in listening to from and questioning nominees – a sort of vetting course of. I feel that could possibly be informative and healthy.
I shut with this. Would many or any APA members or government employees at the moment write to Governor Cuomo as Mary Prime wrote to Governor Carey, and remind him that the statewide interest in the safety of the Adirondack Park should come first? As unlikely as that appears, I try to stay hopeful.
Photograph: APA Constructing in Ray Brook, NY.