Remember The Elections?

Be Thankful We Still Have Them

By Daniel Van Riper

It's been 3 months since the November elections, time enough to assess the damage . . . and look forward to more! Here's a quick roundup, and boy is it partisan:

Bond Act Boondoggle More than a few folks were puzzled by Save the Pine Bush's lack of an endorsement for the Environmental Bond Act, especially since it contained provisions for land acquisition and was followed by a rumor that some of the money was destined for the Pine Bush. The prevailing opinion was that a Bond Act is desperately needed, but that the clowns who are currently in charge of the executive branch of New York State are too corrupt and incompetent to do any good with the money. Well, the Bond Act passed (although it was roundly defeated in the Capital District) and it looks like our worst fears are reality.

For example, we all recall how current governor Pataki, at the beginning of the Republican occupation of the State, conducted a purge at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), eliminating vital positions, throwing out dedicated veterans and replacing them with Alphonse D'Amato's political cronies from Nassau County. There was talk of shutting down the DEC altogether. Now the winds have shifted, and Republicans across the land have been ordered by Newt Gingrich to "look green." So now the Republicans have to put the DEC back together, and of course they are going to divert Bond Act money to pay for salaries. Isn't that wonderful?

Longtime SPB member Mark Shaeffer recently offered us the opinion that "the Bond Act had to pass" because a defeat would have sent a serious anti-environmental signal across the country. Mark may be right, but isn't it more harmful in the long run for environmentalism if Bond Act money is wasted on administrative salaries instead of being used for land acquisition and clean-up?

And Already They're Off! In Albany, State Assemblyman John McEneny has announced that he is running hard for Mayor Jerry Jennings' job in September. (In Albany, elections are decided by the Democratic primary, the November election just makes it official.) Many will recall that Save the Pine Bush was very much behind Mr. Jennings in his dramatic come-from-behind victory over Harold Joyce in 1993. After all, Mr. Jennings was a great friend of the Pine Bush back when he was a maverick alderman, sometimes the lone dissenter when Pine Bush developments were rammed through the council. At first he looked good, closing the evil Sheridan Avenue toxic burn plant and beginning the search for a new dump far away from the Pine Bush. He is certainly a big improvement over former mayor Whalen.

Unfortunately, politicians often change dramatically after elections. Of particular concern to SPB is his insistence on spending tax dollars to eventually win the court battle to dedicate the Loop Road, one of many favors he has given to the rapacious Columbia Development combine. He was very much the principle behind the attempt to destroy the parkland and Pine Bush Preserve land around Six Mile Waterworks with a commercial waterslide park. As for finding a new dump, the chosen site in Coeymans has turned out to be such a political and environmental disaster that now the city is dumping municipal and state garbage in the trough between the two mountains already in the Pine Bush.

Mr. McEneny proved himself a friend of the Pine Bush by tabling (but not killing) the waterslide park scheme in the state assembly, and has been very helpful in finding money to purchase Pine Bush land. Would he still be a friend if he became mayor?

All the alderpersons are up for re-election this year, so now is the time to irritate them about Pine Bush issues. Watch this newsletter for more details on the races.

The New Senator Congratulations to Neil Breslin for his handy underdog win over incumbent senator Michael Hoblock. As late as the summer Mr. Breslin was broke and was considered by some a sacrifice candidate against an unbeatable incumbent. He has shown that he knows how to win elections. As a minority freshman there is little he can do right now, but we hope he will remain a friend to the Pine Bush. We suspect he will soon move on to bigger and better candidacies. As for Hoblock, we don't need to cry for him, last we heard he was contemplating whether a $90,000 a year appointment to the board of the Public Service Commission was worth his while. Yes, instead of giving away Pine Bush to big corporations, he can help decide how high our power bills will be. Yikes!

Printed Feb/Mar 97


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