The 14th Annual Adirondack Park Local Government Day Conference is scheduled for March 22 and 23, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York at the Crowne Plaza Resort. This event is presented by the Adirondack Park Agency, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, NYS Department of State, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Empire State Development Corporation. The annual event begins on Tuesday afternoon with a discussion lead by Curt Stiles, Adirondack Park Agency Chairman; Bill Farber, Adirondack Partnership; Garry Douglas, Governor’s Committee for Economic Development and Labor; Matthew Driscoll, President, NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation; Joe Martens, Acting Commissioner, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation; and Darrin Derosia, Associate Counsel, NYS Department of State to examine the challenges facing governmental organizations in 2011, the opportunities for change, and the future for the Park’s environment, economy and communities. Immediately following will be a facilitated forum style question and answer session with local and State leaders.
An informal social with State and local officials follows the Tuesday afternoon session.
On Wednesday, a full-day of conference presentations and workshops focuses on Adirondack issues, community planning, and training for planning and zoning board members. Keynote speaker, Dede Scozzafava, Deputy Secretary for Local Government at the NYS Department of State, will deliver her message during the lunch time session. The full conference agenda and registration materials are available on the Adirondack Park Agency’s website.
There were hints last week that it would happen, but it’s official, Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) Chair and Open Space Institute (OSI) President Joesph Martens has been nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo to head the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Martens has quite a legacy already in the Adirondack region. Under his leadership OSI secured protection of the 10,000-acre Tahawus property and most recently the 2,350-acre Camp Little Notch in Fort Ann. Martens also spearheaded OSI’s involvement in the Nature Conservancy’s 161,000-acre Finch Pryun purchase. » Continue Reading.
In a last minute move Republican Candidate Dede Scozzafava, who only yesterday withdrew from Tuesday’s election for the 23rd Congressional District, has announced that she is throwing her support to her Democratic opponent, Bill Owens. Scozzafava withdrew after garnering only 20 percent in the latest poll—she has said that she does not have the money to wage the all-out media effort required to close the gap. In endorsing Owens over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, Scozzafava cited the Democrat’s independence. “I have been always been an independent voice for the people I represent,” Scozzafava wrote to her supporters today. “I have stood for our honest principles, and a truthful discussion of the issues, even when it cost me personally and politically. Since beginning my campaign, I have told you that this election is not about me; it’s about the people of this District. It is in this spirit that I am writing to let you know I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same.”
Following Scozzafava’s withdrawal on Saturday the National Republican Congressional Committee, who had backed Scozzafava, announced that it would put it’s full efforts behind Doug Hoffman.
On Saturday, when Dede Scozzafava’s campaign bus turned into a pumpkin, it came as a shock but not a surprise to North Country political observers. The unpredictable five-month, three-party campaign to fill the vacated House seat of Army Secretary John McHugh was elevated in its early stages to a war of surrogates for political forces both at the state and national levels, according to a close observer of New York GOP politics. The source—speaking on background—said Scozzafava’s attempts to court organized labor (specifically her support for the Employees’ Free Choice Act) was responsible more than any other issue for attracting the political action committee Club for Growth to the campaign of Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman. The money and advertisements that followed “put Dede in a position where she never had a chance to define herself.”
Former Democratic Rural Conference Chairman Stuart Brody, who lost a bid to become his party’s nominee in this election, agrees that outside attention and campaign contributions had a distorting effect on the race: “Money often obscures the message.”
While the National Republican Congressional Committee (which took charge of the Scozzafava campaign in September) was framing the contest as a referendum on Democratic policies and leadership in Washington, and the conservative media were building the Hoffman campaign into a referendum on both Democrats and centrist Republicans, New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long was using the insurgent Hoffman campaign to bend the State GOP ideologically to the right. “Mike Long feels he has something to prove,” according to the Republican Party observer.
And if Thursday’s defection to Hoffman’s camp of former Governor George Pataki notched a victory for the Conservative Party leader, Stuart Brody believes that “what Mike Long thinks means nothing. . . . Ultimately, the North Country is moderate. Folks think for themselves.”
Asked how he sees Scozzafava’s withdrawal effecting Tuesday’s result, Brody departs from the conventional wisdom that Hoffman will benefit. In step with his faith in the independent mindset of the North Country electorate, he feels that a portion of Scozzafava supporters, particularly those driven by organized labor interests, will find their way to Democrat Bill Owens.
Our Republican Party observer points out that it may be too late for the move to produce a large-scale change, citing the layout of the ballots on which Bill Owens holds line A, followed by Scozzafava on lines B and C, followed by Doug Hoffman on line D.
As for Wednesday, the lack of a Republican candidate does not guarantee any less intense an effort to impound and count and recount the ballots. With so much at stake from every angle, a close outcome at the polls will assuredly give way to a recount phase as long as (and exceeding the cost of) the campaign itself. Ask any of your next door neighbors of NY-20.
And the day after a victor finally emerges? The seat will be up for grabs again in less than a year; a mid-term election is already well under way in most districts. Former candidate Stuart Brody anticipates that a Democratic winner will be immediately challenged by Republicans. In the event of a Hoffman victory, Brody expects that a number of Democrats will step forward to challenge the Conservative—a number which may include himself.
In a move that has the potential to shift the outcome of the coming election for the 23rd Congressional District spot once held by fellow Republican John McHugh, Dede Scozzafava has announced that she has suspended her campaign. Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman, has not yet given her support to either of her opponents, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, or Democrat Bill Owens. A Siena poll released today has Owens at 36 percent of likely voters, Hoffman at 35 percent, and Scozzafava at 20 percent. “In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I’ve come to accept is that in today’s political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money,” Scozzafava wrote in a statement to supporters.
Say you’re a cartoonist, and you own a bar at the intersection of October and November. And once a year at this season two patrons—Halloween and Election Day—walk in and sit down just a couple barstools apart. They never really talk. They just show up, year in and year out. Despite their vast differences in age, temperament, cultural tradition, and costume, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that these misfits were destined to be together. And for the rest of your career you will devote one day a year to drawing a cartoon that somehow marries the two. Some of these cartoons work out better than others. This may be a promising year if your bar is located in New York’s 23rd congressional district. Few house races in memory can match this year’s special election for Halloween parallels. Consider the following features:
• A Democratic candidate who looked a lot more like a Republican before he put on the traditional donkey costume; • A Republican candidate who looks like a liberal to moderates, and looks like an Elvis impersonator to conservatives; • A Conservative candidate with a devilish grin;
Throw in a candidate endorsement from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a cowboy hat and candidate bodies which mysteriously disappear the day of scheduled debates, and you have good raw material for a frightful cartoon.
Of course, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always next year.
Consider the Existentialist dilemma of the candidates seeking New York’s 23rd Congressional District seat. You may recall Existentialism from high school French class or a movie date in college: the hard-to-pin-down philosophy supported largely on the precepts that 1) Orthodoxies and doctrines are meaningless 2) We all live for the moment and determine our fate by our choices, and 3) We’re all doomed anyway, so what the heck. Toss in words like “ennui” and “angst” and you’ve pretty much covered it.
Anyway, on June 2nd, when John McHugh accepted President Obama’s nomination to become Secretary of the Army, he triggered a five-month-long campaign to fill his House seat, a campaign which will end at the polls on November 3rd. The abbreviated schedule means that the traditional binary and sequential format of American campaigns—an ideological race (left v. right) in the primaries followed by a partisan race (R v. D) in the general election—must be fought concurrently. As a consequence, the race for the 23rd features a pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage Republican who falls somewhere to the left of the opposing “centrist” Democrat, who was never really a Democrat before and doesn’t even mention the word all that often, and a Conservative who falls just to the left of a Viking on social issues. Contemporary political dogma will not help the disoriented voter in this election.
The foreshortened calendar has also served to concentrate the negative advertising in the race. While the regionally-recognized candidates need to define themselves (more by their actions than their party affiliations) across the sprawling district, they (and their surrogates) are already spending more time and money undefining each other—complete with ominous tones, distorted voting records and unflattering likenesses.
Perhaps the most resonant existential element of the 23rd CD race is the utter futility of the goal itself. Whoever wins the right to represent New York’s northernmost citizens will immediately have to gear up a defense of the seat in 2010, a tough job, with or without an extended recount. The 2010 election coincides with the decennial census, and the expected loss of two New York congressional seats in the ensuing redistribution. The choice of which districts to eliminate during reapportionment will fall to a state legislature that owes nothing to whichever rookie legislator occupies the seat.
In short, the best scenario that the victor of the November 3rd special election can hope for goes something like this: Beneath heavy Washington skies, following swearing in to the remainder of the 111th Congress, the Distinguished Representative, along with a few other members from terminal districts in Ohio and Pennsylvania will convoke the Jean-Paul Sartre Caucus at a cafe somewhere off DuPont Circle. Over espressos and Gauloises they will grimly deconstruct the lyrics of “Born to Run,” shrug twice, then disappear forever. C’est la vie.