Addressing the concerns of the opponents of the proposed federal constitution, who worried that members of Congress would not be sufficiently representative of the interests and opinions of their districts, the authors of ‘The Federalist Papers’ pointed out that a candidate without local connections would be unlikely to get elected.
They could not win the esteem of their neighbors without having already demonstrated merit and sound judgement. They will be acquainted with local issues, because in all probability they will have served in the state legislature, “where all local information and interests of the state are assembled,” or in some other local office. » Continue Reading.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed the Invasive Species Prevention Act, legislation designed to help prevent the spread of destructive invasive plants and animals by making it illegal to sell and transport invasive species in the state, amid calls to close the Champlain Canal immediately to prevent the spread of the latest invasive threat .
The new law, said by advocates to have been a collaborative effort by state agencies and stakeholders, including conservation organizations, lake associations, agriculture and forestry organizations, scientists and academia, was unanimously passed in June by the New York State Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury), creates a statewide regulatory system to prohibit or limit the sale and transport of known invasive plants and animals that impact natural areas and industries that depend on natural resources. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Association (LGA) is supporting a bill on invasive species recently introduced in the New York State Legislature by Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst). The bill would authorize the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to establish a list of invasive species that will be prohibited from being sold, transported, and introduced in New York State. Similar laws have already been passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
“Invasive species can present devastating threats to the ecology of New York, and to its recreational and economic health,” local Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, the co-prime sponsor of the bill, said. “We need to do all we can to control existing invasives from spreading, and new invasives from being introduced,” she added. » Continue Reading.
I’ll risk it and take the bait in responding to Senator Betty Little, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and others concerning a proposed constitutional amendment to permit logging and forest product utilization on newly acquired Forest Preserve.
Their simplistic ecological arguments for the amendment, such as wanting to see more rabbits on the Forest Preserve, or expecting that logging the Preserve would help the climate are being made up as they go along and will not withstand serious scrutiny. I prefer to focus more on their constitutional hurdles.
The Senator is clearly motivated to keep the Finch lands and Follensby Pond out of the Forest Preserve. Unstated may be a desire to maintain certain leaseholders occupying the Finch lands – such as the politically influential members of the Gooley Club west of the Upper Hudson. These are at least rational positions to take and, while I have a different viewpoint, I can respect theirs. They will also attempt to accomplish their objective of keeping the lands out of the Forest Preserve through legislation, and one would think that an easier step than a constitutional amendment. Perhaps they think not. They apparently believe a good way to accomplish their objective is to create a separate class of Forest Preserve that on some date certain, after a constitutional amendment is approved by the voters some years hence, and after new Forest Preserve is acquired will permit the practice of forestry on the new land. They may feel that the public would accept this, knowing that the existing three million acres would still be “forever wild.” They may believe that all they need to do is neatly sidestep a sticky clause in Article 14, Section 1 of the Constitution, and exempt new lands from its provisions. That clause states: “nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”
But that’s not all they have to do. Theirs is no technical amendment. By attempting to exempt only new Forest Preserve from the strictures of Article 14, they must amend all 54 words of Section 1 of Article 14. They must roughshod over the very constitutional language which voters have refused to change – despite given numerous opportunities to do so – in 116 years.
Perhaps they are betting on a constitutional convention virtually doing away with Article 14 as we know it, and I’d say that’s a poor bet.
Section 1 unifies the Forest Preserve. Its first sentence states that “the lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” A simple exception clause for new acquisitions after some date would not do the trick. “Hereafter acquired” means just that. “Forever kept” means forever. The words pertain to any lands owned before, or acquired after the effective date of Section 1 of January 1, 1895. They were reaffirmed at the 1938 and 1967 constitutional conventions, and on many other occasions in the 20th and 21st centuries through passage of over 30 limited, site specific amendments which nonetheless preserve the overarching language of Section 1.
The second and final sentence of Section 1 is just as problematic for the Senator. “They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” Allowing DEC, a public corporation, to supervise and control logging on newly acquired Forest Preserve would constitute a clear taking of the lands. The legal agreements to permit logging activity by private parties on any parts of the Forest Preserve might likely constitute a lease, further violating that provision. The third and final clause of that sentence – the one that the Senator may think is the only hurdle – speaks for itself.
I conclude that pretty much all 54 words of Section 1 would need to be amended, rewritten and stripped of their present and historic meaning in order to achieve a separate class of Forest Preserve managed for forest products. The public may be willing to make occasional, limited, site specific amendments to Article 14 for worthy objectives that both meet a legitimate public purpose and enhance the Forest Preserve. However, the voters have demonstrated over a very long period that they are unwilling to make substantial changes to the “forever wild” policy because the Forest Preserve as now constituted provides such enormous benefits. It is the envy of the world. It distinguishes New York from all other states and from all other nations. It is woven into our social fabric, as well as our laws. It provides billions of dollars in ecological and recreational services. It pays taxes for all purposes. The voters would be especially unwilling when the reasons for doing so, on economic, ecological, social and public policy grounds, are so questionable.
Prior to 1983, Senator Little’s amendment might have a better public policy rationale and more public appeal. That was when the conservation easement legislation was approved that permits the State to acquire rights in land without the land becoming Forest Preserve, and which has been so effective in keeping forest management and forest employment alive in the Park, which are the stated objectives for the amendment. Putting more resources into effective programs like this would be the more realistic way to achieve them.
It is purposefully difficult to change our Constitution. In thinking about Article XIV of the New York State Constitution, the “Forever Wild” clause, amendments have to undergo tests in two separately elected legislatures. Ill or hastily considered measures to weaken or dilute its legal mandate to ensure a wilderness forever in the Catskills and Adirondacks are weeded out. Overly complex measures are tied up in committee.
Ultimately, the voting public decides whether an amendment constitutes a significant shift away from the mandate of 1894, which is to make the Forest Preserve safe from exploitation as an enduring wilderness for people and wild nature, and a haven for the ultimate expression of our human partnership with nature. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Research Consortium’s 17th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks, “Leveraging Resources to Sustain Communities”, will be held at the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, NY, on May 19-20, 2010.
The conference will include Bob Catell, Chairman of the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, and Richard Kessel, President of the New York Power Authority, as keynote presenters. Both are experts and leaders on energy issues and will share their vision of the future for both New York State and the Adirondacks.
Dr. Carol Brown, President of North Country Community College, and Dr. Anthony Collins, President of Clarkson University will present an update on current and ongoing initiatives at these centers for education. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward will moderate a panel discussion on “Reconnecting Children with Nature”, and there will be a panel presentation of ideas for identifying resources to protect special places with representatives from the Catskills and the Southern Appalachians.
Several other panels will be featured including those on Adirondack Health Care, Economic Climate Change, Ecological Connectivity, and the Smart Grid.
The NYS Senate granted unanimous approval (58-0) today to two bills designed to help three small communities qualify for economic development and community enhancement projects through money available from the NYS Department of State and provided through the federal Coastal Resources program. If signed by Governor Paterson, the bills would grant inland waterway status to Lake Placid, Mirror Lake and the Little River in the Town of Franklin. According to the Adirondack Council’s John Sheehan, “these programs encourage comprehensive planning and sustainable economic development, especially projects that also help to protect water quality and other natural resources. Businesses and residents will be eligible for state and federal matching funds for business development and community beautification/revitalization programs.” » Continue Reading.
“How are things in Albany? They’ve probably never been worse,” Betty Little said at an early morning breakfast in Saranac Lake Friday.
Making no attempt to mask her frustration with the Democrats’ ineffectual five-month-long reign over the New York State Senate, the Republican who represents much of the North Country was pessimistic as she gave an audience of Saranac Lake’s political, health-care, education and economic-development leaders her take on the situation in state government. She did not allude to any plans for a Senate takeover, but the candor of her remarks made Monday’s news of Republican blowback in the Capitol a bit less of a surprise. Little was joined by Republican assemblywomen Janet Duprey and Teresa Sayward. All three represent Saranac Lake, which straddles two assembly districts.
The impending closure of Camp Gabriels minimum-security prison is draining a hundred jobs from the area. The inmates are moved out, and only a dozen or so guards and administrative staff remain on duty to shutter the place by July 1. The village got little encouragement on a reuse strategy for the facility.
“I mean there really is no money. We’ve got to face that,” Little said, complaining that the $132 billion budget passed by Democratic governor David Patterson and both Democrat-controlled houses of the State Assembly failed to reduce spending.
The three said executive-branch staff are in such flux that’s it’s difficult to know who the go-to people in state government are. Even things like the senate’s schedule are hard to divine, Little said. There are two weeks left in the session, but she doubted the Democratic leadership would stick to the deadline. Now it looks like the session might be prolonged no matter who is in charge.
“We’re spending a lot of time now trying to correct what was done in secret,” Little said, citing changes to Empire Zone rules and a new law that would allow drug offenders to seal drug-crime records if they feel that they have been rehabilitated of an addiction. “The new process seems to be put forth a proposal, vote on it and correct it because nobody has had a chance to look at it.”
Inevitably Senator Little was asked what she thought of New York’s 23rd District congressional seat, being vacated by Republican John McHugh, who is nominated to become Secretary of the Army. There are only three Republicans representing New York State in Washington, Little noted. “It could have been four. I have to say I know I could have won that seat,” she said, referring to the 20th District, where Democrat Scott Murphy just won a special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand, who had been appointed to the U.S. Senate. Saranac Lake is split between the two districts.
In an acknowledgement of dysfunction in her own party, Little called for an “open process” and polling as GOP leaders begin choosing a candidate to replace McHugh. The Republicans must pick a person who can win the seat, not just a person who wants it, or else the party could be redistricted out of the state, she warned. In the 20th District party leaders reached over Little to select James Tedisco, the opportunistic former assembly minority leader, who did not reside in the district.
Congratulating St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake for being named one of the top 20 places to work in New York State, Assemblywoman Duprey added, “Where we’re working is not.”
A week ago today, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis effectively reopened Old Mountain Road between North Elba (Route 73) and Keene (Shackett Road / Route 40) in Essex County. According to surveys made in 1893-1894 (here, and here), the road had been abandoned since the 19th century; it was believed to have been officially closed when the Sentinel Wilderness Area UMP was ratified in 1974. Beginning in 1986 part of the road has been maintained as the popular 35-mile long Jackrabbit Trail by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The Grannis decision was forced by Lake Placid Snowmobile Club President James McCulley who drove his truck down the trail in May of 2005 and was ticketed (he previously beat a 2003 ticket for doing the same thing with his snowmobile). An agency administrative judge later found that the road had never been closed properly (it required public hearings). » Continue Reading.
Sometimes I think having so many conservative newspapers is a weird kind of blessing. Hoping to appeal to conservative editorial boards gives “our” politicians an opportunity to really show their true colors, and that’s just what Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward has done over at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
I think a lot of people who live and play in the Adirondacks would be astonished to hear that Sayward opposes state land purchases that would open land previously held by the rich and powerful to regular folks – places like OK Slip Falls – which Sayward opposes purchasing. How about this nugget. In order to keep local prisons open (prisons we NO LONGER NEED and that costs us a fortune to operate) – Sayward’s wants to “privatize some of the golf courses, swimming pools and campgrounds.”
Who exactly are you working for Ms. Sayward? The people? Or your rich friends, lobbyist buddies, and fellow political hacks? Tell us, which campgrounds do you want to close to the public and why?
Why is it necessary to close the few public services we have and boost private interests in a economic climate that has decimated working people? Especially when that burden has been handed down to us by so-called private businesses by people like Sayward who have allowed them to run rough-shod over us all?
Maybe a bigger question is how can we keep reelecting a woman who wants to close public services (remember North Country Community College?) and hand them over to private interests?
Here’s a plan Ms. Sayward – EXXON/MOBIL has just recorded a record profit again this year of some $45.22 billion – how about taking some of what they have? It used to be ours anyway.
The following press release, presented here in its entirety, comes from the John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council:
Proposed Cap on State’s Tax Payments to Localities Undercuts 122-Year-Old Compact Between State & Adirondack/Catskill Park Towns, Counties and School Districts
As the deadline nears for Gov. David Paterson to make last-minute changes to his 2009-10 budget plan, more than 100 government and civic leaders from the Adirondack and Catskill parks are urging the governor to discard his plan to cap the state’s property tax payments to local towns, counties and school districts that host state Forest Preserve lands. » Continue Reading.
Environmental Advocates have released their annual voters guide and once again the representatives in the Adirondack region have some of the worst scores in the state. Our representatives Betty Little and Teresa Sayward definately need to go. Little is currently working to get all of the RV campgrounds in the Adirondacks put under the control of the Health Department after successfully spreading a large volume of mis-information regarding proposed APA rules for newly built campgrounds that would require them to undergo strict review of their often seriously underdesigned sewage systems. These campgrounds, which provide little by way of tourism dollars, are toxic wastelands waiting to be “discovered.” Full time residents of the park can only hope they are not the ones to discover them after its too late and their drinking water, swimming hole, or favorite fishing spot is contaminated.
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