Posts Tagged ‘Eliot-Spitzer’

Thursday, June 19, 2008

APA Commissioner Dick Booth Being Reappointed

A short note from John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council:

The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee yesterday approved the Governor’s nomination of Richard Booth to a four-year term on the Adirondack Park Agency’s Board of Commissioners. If the nomination is approved by the Senate Finance Committee later this week or early next, the nomination would go to the full Senate for a final vote.

Booth was first appointed to the APA board by Governor Eliot Spitzer, to fill the unfinished term of Katherine Roberts, of Garrison, who stepped down before her term expired.

Booth is an environmental law professor at Cornell University. Before joining the APA board, he held elected office in the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County governments. He also spent 10 years as a trustee of the Adirondack Council, ending in 1992.

An Update from Sheehan:

Richard Booth Reappointed
The NYS Senate on Wednesday (June 18) confirmed the Governor’s reappointment of Richard Booth to the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners.

Booth was first appointed to the APA board in 2007 by Governor Eliot Spitzer, to fill the unfinished term of Katherine Roberts, of Garrison, who stepped down before her term expired. Booth is a professor in the City and Regional Planning department at Cornell University. Before joining the APA board, he held elected office in the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County governments. He also spent 10 years as a trustee of the Adirondack Council, ending in 1992. Booth has served as a staff attorney for the APA and the Department of Environmental Conservation. He is considered one of New York’s leading environmental lawyers.

Lani Ulrich Nomination Proceeds
The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee is expected to vote today in favor of the Governor’s renomination of Park-resident APA commissioner Lani Ulrich (Herkimer County). Ulrich’s nomination is expected to pass through the Finance Committee on to the full Senate later today, or on Monday. Ulrich has been a strong advocate for community development and smart growth planning in the Park. Her full name is Leilani C. Ulrich. She lives in Old Forge.

For more information on commissioners Booth or Ulrich, see the Adirondack Park Agency’s annual report, on its website at www.apa.state.ny.us.

While these two reappointments allow the 11-member APA Board of Commissioners to continue its work without vacancies on the board, the APA staff is still lacking an Executive Director. A senior staff member had taken the reins following the retirement of Richard Lefebvre in 2007, but is no longer able to fulfill the duties of Acting Executive Director in addition to his other staff position.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pending Adirondack Related State Budget Items

Here is an e-mail recently received from the Adirondack Council’s John Sheehan outlining the pending Adirondacks related budget deals. According to Sheehan, this is the “Environmental Conservation budget plan agreed to by Legislative leaders, which is in the process of being passed by both houses. The Governor is expected to sign the bills.” At least some time soon, the budget is now a week late.

The big news for us is that it looks like the the money is available to finish the (Pataki initiated) Domtar land purchase, the Lake George West Brook money didn’t make it, but money to study the impacts of road salt did.

The Almanack reported in January Spitzer’s budget proposals relating to the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spitzer’s Budget Proposals: Adirondack Edition

The latest on Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Budget Proposals courtesy of John F. Sheehan
Communications Director of The Adirondack Council:

Below is a summary of the NYS Budget as it relates to the Adirondack Park and the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.

Adirondack Park Agency

Budget same as last year ($6.2 million; $700,000 is federal money)

Staff remains the same at 72

$350,000 increase for computers and cars (located in DEC’s capital projects budget)

Olympic Regional Development Authority

– State Budget would rise to $8.6 million

– Total budget $32 million – they get most of their revenue from lift tickets

– $400,000 increase (benefits, retirement)

– staff level stays the same at 203

Department of Environmental Conservation

– Total budget $1.1 billion

– Decrease of $31 million from last year

– half of that decrease caused by reductions in federal aid

– DEC will eliminate some local and regional initiatives to compensate

– Total employees up by 4 to 3,752 (two of the 4 are likely to be assigned to invasive species control programs)

Environmental Protection Fund

Total of $250 million (guaranteed in statute) – $25 million could be added if the Bigger Better Bottle Bill is approved

Land

$66 million of the $250 is for open space protection statewide – that means purchases of new public lands and parks, conservation easements (development-limiting agreements with private landowners).

The other $184 million will go into the two other broad categories: Municipal recycling and solid waste projects and state parks, historic preservation and zoos/botanical gardens.

Additional Projects/Other Changes

Masten House – $125,000 from the EPF goes to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to purchase and rehabilitate the Masten House, on the site of the former iron mines in Tahawus, Town of Newcomb, Essex County. It will become a forestry research facility for the college, which owns nearby Huntington Experimental Forest. The college is based in Syracuse.

There are also three new categories in the EPF from which money may be drawn for specific purposes:

1. Air quality enforcement (only vague details available)

2. Renewable solar energy (community college tech training programs)

3. Farmland protection (plastic-waste and pesticide management programs)

Smart Growth Back at Department of State

This grant program to encourage environmentally sound community planning rises from $2 million to $2.5 million. It was transferred back to the Department of State, where the program started, after spending one year under DEC’s supervision in 2007.

The Sweep-Out

This is the worst news of the day, but not quite unexpected. Due to the $4.5-billion budget shortfall projected by the comptroller, the Governor will “borrow” $100 million of the unspent funds of previous EPFs. This is the largest sweep-out proposed since Governor Pataki started this distasteful practice more than five years ago.

Since the EPF was created in 1993, a total of $322 million in unspent EPF revenue has been diverted to other state purposes. If the Governor’s proposal is accepted, that amount would jump to $422 million in unredeemed IOUs. That would be nearly two years’ worth of missing revenues.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

State of the State: Adirondack Report

The full text of Eliot Spitzer’s State of the State Address is here. An e-mail today from John Sheehan (Communications Director for the The Adirondack Council) outlined the “three major environmental initiatives” Spitzer announced:

1. A $100 million investment in state park infrastructure including buildings and wastewater treatment/sanitary facilities, as well as an effort to make existing and new buildings accessible to people with disabilities. Many state campgrounds and park buildings are causing water pollution in nearby lakes and rivers due to aging and inadequate facilities. The Adirondack Park has about a dozen state-run campgrounds.

2. Smart Metering: This would change the way power companies bill their customers to allow consumers to take advantage of off-peak power rates when running power-hungry appliances such as dishwashers, laundry machines, irrigation pumps, etc.

3. Net Metering: This would allow power customers to reduce or eliminate their power bills by installing clean power generating equipment (solar panels, small wind turbines, etc.). Power companies would be required to buy back any excess power generated by these private, home- and business-based systems. Several owners of large Adirondack great camps and resort compounds have said they want the ability to control their costs, reduce power outages and help pay for the investment in renewable energy by selling the extra power back to the power company.

I have copies of pdfs that explain each if anyone is interested.


Monday, October 22, 2007

New Adirondack Park Agency Nominations

According to North Country Public Radio:

The state Senate is expected to consider confirmations of three new APA board members today. Governor Spitzer has named Upper Saranac Lake resident Curt Stiles to serve as chairman. Stiles has served as chairman of the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation and has taken a leading role on the issue of invasive species.

The Senate is also expected to confirm Dick Booth, an environmental attorney and author from Ithaca. Booth was initially named to serve as chairman, but his appointment drew criticism because he lives outside the blue line. Booth has had close ties to local government groups and to the environmental community.Governor Spitzer has also reappointed Frank Mezzano, town supervisor from Lake Pleasant. Mezzano is a veteran member of the APA who returned to the board earlier this year after a brief hiatus.

The APA is currently led by interim chairman Cecil Wray. It’s unclear whether interim executive director Mark Sengenberger will be named to fill that post permanently.Stiles takes over at a time when the APA confronts major decisions, including the Park’s snowmobile policy and the fate of the Adirondack Club and Resort project in Tupper Lake.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

North Creek: Center of the Adirondack Universe?

Lame duck Representative John Sweeney has gone over the edge, into debt, and apparently, on vacation from the rest of the duties Adirondack voters once hired him to carry out. Rumors are also circulating at the Times Union’s Capitol Confidential blog that his house is for sale and he’s moving to DC – meanwhile, he has apparently never called Gillibrand to concede the race or to assist in the transition.

In North Creek, the bar owned by Sweeney spokesperson Maureen Donovan (Casey’s North), is up for sale. Donovan is now a two-time loser. She was let go from the Warren County Economic Development Corporation last January but landed on her feet as Sweeney spokesperson. We wonder if they’re both headed to the K Street lobbyists, for their next bite of our pie.

All of this saddens the North Creek New Enterprise. The NCNE was once a great little paper that was published in North Creek – was that is, until it was taken over by Denton Publications entitled “Local leaders hope for the best with this summer and became a mouthpiece for the Sweeney crowd. There was a funny article after the election on November 18thGillibrand.” Here’s a great quote:

Bill Thomas, Chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said the election showed that people felt they wanted a new direction.

“I was very, very satisfied with everything John Sweeney did for us,” he said. “He was a great Representative for me, the Town of Johnsburg and Warren County, and I hope this new person will do the same.”

You “hope this new person will do the same”? Bill – her name is the Right Honorable Representative from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. I mean, come on, you can’t even say her name? And how proud are you of Sweeney now that you know he intends to blow off the rest of the job we hired him for because he’s a sore loser?

And speaking of North Creek and Bill Thomas. The Press Republican (now also under new owners) is reporting that Thomas (who has also served as Johnsburg Town Supervisor for-ever) will be appointed to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in a flurry of last minute Republican appointments by George Pataki. Thomas has been a major proponent of the Gore Mountain – North Creek Ski Bowl connection – he says he’ll recuse himself.

The Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain is planning upscale trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, all on 430 acres adjacent to the town’s Historic Ski Bowl Park, the original site of skiing in North Creek (and one of the first in the nation). The proposal has drawn tremendous opposition from locals who resent the Johnsburg Town board’s (led by Bill Thomas) turning over part of Ski Bowl Park to sweeten the developer’s deal (they’re from Connecticut).

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) – the state authority that operates Gore Mountain – has recently come under fire from some local business people (including Bill Donovan, Maureen Donovan’s husband) who objected to a 20-year contract that gave ORDA the rights to the Ski Bowl Park Base Lodge’s concessions, and use of a new lodge in winter – the Donovans apparently think that money from the sale of soda pop at the Ski Bowl should have went to them.

Which brings us to the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA), which has filed suit opposing the way the whole Gore-Ski Bowl-Private Development plan is being carried out (much to the dismay, no doubt, of local real estate guy and Johnsburg Planning Board member, Mark Bergman). Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the organization since 1994, to us some time ago that the plan to connect Little Gore and Big Gore was considered separately from the rest of the Ski Bowl development plans rather than as one interconnecting large-scale development as the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires.

And that brings us back to the newly Republican North Creek News Enterprise. This week they are reporting (in screaming HUGE HEADLINES) that “local officials wary of RCPA recommendations” – turns out that Peter Bauer has been named to Eliot Spitzer’s transition team and that apparently upsets the powers that be at the paper and their friend – you guessed it – Bill Thomas.

Of course we don’t take much stock in what the NCNE has to say anymore – back on November they were telling us that Hudson Headwaters Health Network guru John Rugge was “looking a little nervously at the future” – but he’s just been named to Spitzer’s transition team as well.

Keep up the (ahem) good work News Enterprise.

Oh yeah… the reward for the NCNE’s support for Bill Thomas and his crew? The paper gets to be named the official paper for legal notices, something Thomas and the Johnsburg board had refused to do when Denton first took over.

UPDATE 12/17/06: One local resident reports that MARK Bergman (thanks for the first name correction) is not the only real estate agent on the Johnsburg Planning Board. Our tipster also reports that Bill Donovan is on the Planning Board and is using the Front Street (Gore Mountain Village) project as a selling point for Casey’s North. Tipster also reports that the Donovan’s home in Wevertown is also up for sale “for $350,000… about twice what they paid for it a couple of years ago.” And…

I have known Bill Thomas for 20 years and I have a great deal of hope (okay, some hope…) that he will be relatively fair as an APA Commissioner. Especially as he is not running for re-election next year. He does much better when personal political considerations are not on the table… And, I can assure you that Bill Thomas is not at all displeased with Sweeneys departure. He immediately reached out to Gillibrand and I think they will have a good working relationship.

Regarding the NCNE [the North Creek News Enterprise]… they ran no less than 6 pro-Sweeney stories in the months before the election. When Kirsten came to town in September, they ran the story 3 weeks later in the form of a picture caption buried in the middle of the “paper”.

I also have a source deep within the republican party who tells me that Sweeney is in despair because he has no real prospects for his future. K Street likely doesn’t want him. He’s damaged goods with no where to go. Boo freakinhoo!

Thanks tipster… and thanks for reading the Almanack.



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