Save the Pine Bush, You can fight City Hall and win!

Jack Fights Back

McEneny Debates A Letter

By Daniel Van Riper

Unexpectedly, John J. "Jack" McEneny is fighting for his job. The State Assemblyman from the 104th District, which runs from Albany to Schenectady to the Hilltowns and includes most of the Pine Bush, spoke to about 50 people at the July 29, 1998 lasagna dinner at 1st Presbyterian Church in Albany. He is being challenged in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 15 by county legislator Gary Domalewicz, who could not show up in person, but wrote a two page letter in response to questions submitted to him by Save the Pine Bush president Rezsin Adams.

Mr. McEneny had no trouble with his environmental record, easily fielding questions about his record of accomplishments, which include pesticide control and notification, heavy vehicle emissions reduction, drinking water safety and of course, placing the Pine Bush on the priority list for funding for land acquisition. According to Environmental Advocates, Jack McEneny has the highest environmental voting record (93%) of any legislator in the Capital District, and one of the highest in the State.

Mr. Domalewicz admitted that he had little knowledge of Pine Bush issues. "I will reserve an answer," he wrote, "to how the Assembly can help save the Pine Bush, until I have an opportunity to sit and have a constructive dialogue with your membership and determine the issues that we both agree, should be part of my legislative agenda."

The challenger believes that Mr. McEneny is not "creative and independent." "I simply feel that our incumbent," wrote Domalewicz, "has not shown the ability as a member of the majority . . . to have meaningful legislation passed that would have a positive effect on our District. I believe that I can provide a better, more independent approach."

Mr. Domalewicz is a close ally of Albany mayor Jerry Jennings, who is openly carrying a grudge against Mr. McEneny for daring to challenge him in the last mayoral campaign, in which Jennings outspent Mr. McEneny 5 to 1 and won handily. Certainly Jennings is still angry that Mr. McEneny thwarted his plans to privatize Pine Bush Preserve at Rensselaer Lake, after which taxpayers would have had to pay $12 per person to use public land. Jennings' scheme needed to pass both houses of the State Legislature, but at the request of Save the Pine Bush Mr. McEneny "tabled" the motion, which effectively killed this assault on the Preserve.

Many people in the know believe that Mr. Jennings has made a pact with the State Republican Party to disrupt the Democratic Party in Albany, perhaps in return for political protection or favors. His close hob-nobbing with elite Republican politicians, and his support for the Republican challenger to State Senator Neil Breslin lend support to this theory. Whatever his merits, Mr. Domalewicz, who announced his candidacy the day after the last election, is widely considered a pawn in this game.

We at Save the Pine Bush believe that Jack McEneny is doing an excellent job in the Assembly and has been of great benefit to the Pine Bush ecosystem. We do not see that his inexperienced challenger will bring any improvement, but rather the contrary. We wish the best to Mr. McEneny in his re-election campaign.

published Aug/September, 98 Newsletter

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