Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cuomo Nominates Downstate Attorney To APA Board

APA officeGovernor Andrew Cuomo has nominated attorney Karen Feldman of Hudson to a seat on the board of the Adirondack Park Agency to replace longtime commissioner Cecil Wray.

Like Wray, Feldman is a Democrat. She has served as an adviser to a number of Democratic candidates and politicians, including U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She graduated from Yale University in 1978 and earned a law degree from the University of Miami in 1983.

Feldman is the live-in partner of Thomas Williams, the president of the Adirondack Landowners Association.

The Adirondack Council supports the nomination, according to spokesman John Sheehan. “She seems to have a strong interest in the Adirondacks and in the environment,” he said. “We think she’d be very good.”

But Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, questioned whether Feldman’s background in corporate law and politics qualifies her for a position on the APA. He fears that, rather than thinking independently, she will carry out the agenda of the Governor and State Senator Betty Little, who represents most of the Park.

“We have lots of questions about her knowledge of APA law, her knowledge of Park policy,” he said. “We don’t see a very long resume when it comes to environmental or Adirondack Park law.”

Brian Towers, president of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, said he has met Feldman on a few occasions. “She’s a very bright, energetic individual,” he said. “I think she could do a great job.”

Towers said he hopes Wray’s replacement will balance environmental and economic concerns in making decisions. “I’m always in favor of people who bring balance to the table, and I think Karen would do that,” he said.

Dan MacEntee, Betty Little’s spokesman, said the senator also supports the nomination. Feldman, he said, “has a good grasp of environmental issues but is also mindful of the economic concerns that need to be addressed.”

The Senate has yet to vote on the nomination. It first must pass the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. Joe Erdman, the committee’s director, said the panel received the nomination today and probably will vote on it within two weeks. The Senate Finance Committee also must vote on the nomination, he said.

Wray, a New York City lawyer, has served on the APA since 1999. His term expired a few years ago, but in the absence of a replacement, he has continued to sit on the board. It is expected that this month’s meeting will be his last as a commissioner.

Sheehan praised Wray’s service on the APA. “He showed himself to be an independent thinker and strong protector of the environment,” he said. Before his appointment to the APA, Wray sat on the council’s board.

Photo of APA headquarters from Wikipedia.

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

14 Responses

  1. Phil Brown says:

    Shortly after I first posted this, the Senate EnCon Committee officially received the nomination. I have updated the post accordingly.

  2. Paul says:

    ““We have lots of questions about her knowledge of APA law, her knowledge of Park policy,” he said. “We don’t see a very long resume when it comes to environmental or Adirondack Park law.””

    Is this a prerequisite for board selection? They have counsel. They are not hiring her as an attorney.

  3. Phil Brown says:

    I can’t speak for Peter Bauer, but I take his quote to mean that her career’s focus has not been on environmental or Park issues.

  4. Curt Austin says:

    Puzzling, that Cuomo would appoint someone with a built-in conflict of interest due to her spouse’s position, and apparently no independent background in the subject matter. I don’t know what the ALA does, but isn’t it better to avoid the appearance that he has indirectly appointed Mr. Williams?

  5. Lilly says:

    Adirondack landowners assoc. is just one more wealthy white guys private club focused on controlling land use regulations and regulators. this nominee may be the fox in e henhouse. Why do we never see an APA board member who is a knowledgeable practicing such as a surveyor, a landscape architect, an engineer?

  6. Lilly says:

    ALA executive director is Ross Whaley, former APA Board Chair. Continuing the incestuous relationships in ADK land business.

  7. George says:

    Good thing the APA doesn’t rule on the right of paddlers to access navigable private waterways

  8. Phil Brown says:

    The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting that Feldman and Williams are not married, though they live together. I will confirm this when I can.

  9. Phil Brown says:

    Story is now corrected. Also updated with quote from Betty Little’s office.

  10. TiSentinel65 says:

    In my opinion, if you do not live in the Adirondacks you are not qualified to be on the APA board. I know that by law, out of park seats are part of the make up of the APA, but who has more skin in the game than the people that actually live here. It is very important that the people interpretting the laws, or making rulings on the interpretation of said laws can feel the effects of said rulings.

    • Dave says:

      It is a state park Ti, I know many locals up here resent that… but ALL New Yorkers have a stake in the Park.

      • Paul says:

        Many folks outside the park also share Ti’s opinion (me for one). It is not just some kind of local phenomena anymore. But the opinion is probably a minority opinion outside the park. Why would you ever want to give up your power over other people’s affairs. The part of the Agency that has jurisdiction over State land within the blue line should have statewide representation, no doubt about it. In fact that should maybe be managed by the DEC so there are not two cooks in the kitchen anyway. The fact that the Agency has this “in park” constituency on the board leans in that direction anyway. More in-park representation would probably lead to better environmental regulations. This myth that locals are less concerned with the environment is just that a myth. Speaking as a non-resident of the park I would be perfectly comfortable with all APA board representation coming from across the park broadly, and ONLY within the park. Dave, I think you would be surprised at how things would work.

  11. TiSentinel65 says:

    Dave, yes, all New Yorkers paid taxes for the state land in the park, and they should have a say on state land, however, not all the land is state owned. A greater representation would be for us to at least follow Vermont. Act 250 in Vermont encompasses all of Vermont. Surely if the APA is good for us it should be good for all of the state. I wonder, if people had to deal with a state wide regulating agency modeled like the APA would they be so readily accepting. Laws are supposed to be written with equality in mind, not one set of rules for me and another for you. Vermonters at least are all equally burdened by act 250. In doing so, it represents a greater equality to all Vermonters. Ask anyone that lives in New York city watershed lands in the Catskills what they think of NYC DEP. DEP is on a parallel track with the APA and they operate under the same type of scenario. They restrict people of rights while ensuring their own government rights. This country is on a collision course of reckoning. People are tired of their rights being syphoned away for the benefit of government.

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