Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gov. Paterson fires environmental leader over leaked memo

Gov. David Paterson is doing his darn best to tick off environmental advocates just months before he leaves office.

After writing a completely legitimate memo critiquing budget cuts to already strapped state environmental programs, Pete Grannis, New York State's commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation was fired Thursday, prompting environmental activists and other politicians to call for his immediate rehiring.

Former commissioner Grannis

In his memo, published Tuesday by the Albany Times-Union, Grannis wrote that cuts to the state's environmental programs -- two offices' budgets were slashed about 12 percent from last year's totals -- have left them "hanging by a thread." About 209 people would lose jobs, bringing the total lay-offs to nearly 800 within the past few years, and leaving even fewer people to manage all the offices oversee.

Since when is critique of Albany's disastrous budgetary crisis worthy of firing? Perhaps if Grannis had been talking crazy -- instead, tons of Albany insiders back his concerns. So far, state Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Assembly member Kevin Cahill, head of the Energy Committee, and eight other Assembly members including Jim Brennan of NYC have all spoken up in favor of rehiring Grannis, writes Brian Nearing of the Times-Union. Leaders from more than a dozen environmental groups have spoken out Gov. David Paterson for the firing.

In its statement on the firing, the Sierra Club called it "the latest in a series of appalling assaults to the environment coming out of Governor’s office." "While we may have locked horns with Pete over gas drilling, he has 40 year record of protecting the environment and has fought to keep his decimated agency together – always doing more with an ever-shrinking pool of funding and staff." Others critique the suddennes and process of the firing, especially since the governor's office moved without consulting the Assembly or Grannis.

Grannin also wrote in his memo that the budget cuts, and future cuts, will not only devastate programs based in state parks, hunting, hiking, fishing and camping, but also weaken the state's efforts to reign in the corporate push for the uber dangerous, environmentally devastating natural gas drilling within the Marcellus Shale further upstate. (Check this video here).

Irked? Call or email the Governor's office at 518-474-8390 and to call for Grannis's reinstatement.

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