Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Is Hunting in New York State Doomed...

...to a dismal future and quite possibly a not too distant end. One has to wonder with the nomination of Alexander “Pete” Grannis to the post of commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Grannis evidently is not hunter friendly. He has opposed many hunting rights in the past, and is also in opposition to firearms ownership. Should that come as a surprise after he reportedly spent 32 years representing the east side of Manhattan as per: the article Too Smart by Half in The Village Voice @ http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0708,barrett,75838,2.html! The Village Voice article goes on not to speak so much about any lack of qualifications on Grannis' part for the job, though it certainly does mention this point, but rather to discuss how he was ramrodded into the nomination for the position of Commissioner of the DEC by now Governor Elliot Spitzer of NY. It seems to be big time politics as usual in Albany with little regard as to anything else but back stabbing and back scratching when some high level and very important positions like DEC Commissioner are filled. Grannis was expecting to be nominated for the post of NYS Comptroller, but Spitzer decided said post should go to someone with a lot of financial experience; so why was Grannis with little real DEC experience pushed into that spot. Seems like payola, or incompetence in the selection process, but those are just my guesses.

My guesses are based upon some facts though and I guess I should spell them out. Fact one was already mentioned above but bears repeating:

1) Grannis represented the east side of Manhattan, not a mecca of issues that are covered by the DEC though there are some.

Now onto the other facts:

2) As per the Village Voice article cited above, Grannis himself testified before a selection committee regarding his hoped for selection as Comptroller: "Noting that there was "no more appropriate place" for an independent reformer like him "than the comptroller's office," Grannis had just finished testifying that his selection would be "the natural evolution of what I have been doing for the past 30 years." " Or in other words Grannis thought the job of comptroller was one for which he was most qualified.

3) Again, as per the same Village Voice article: ""As soon I came back, an aide to the governor called," Grannis later told the Voice. The aide "said the governor would like to offer you the job of Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner." Grannis was stunned. "I didn't put in an application. I didn't ask anyone to advance my name. I didn't even know I was under consideration." " Why would he have believed he had not been in consideration, probably because there were so many others who were qualified more than he, and possibly because he did not see himself as qualified, but that is a guess.

4) Grannis was the chairman of the state's insurance committee for 15 years - see anything related to becoming the head of the DEC yet?

5) Grannis was reportedly picked to lead DEC on his qualifications, were they that he had been a lawyer for them many, many years ago and then had a career shift toward finance? His name had reportedly not been among the top candidates under consideration, those who had already been interviewed for the post, and some of them already having background investigations performed in anticipation of their possible selection. Grannis avoided the interview system altogether. Yet he was selected - go figure.

There are other reasons that make it difficult for me to understand how it is that Grannis was found qualified to get selected for the position of DEC Commissioner:

6) As per a petition to block Grannis from this position, there is an online at: http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?nogranni. In that petition one can find the following: "Further, Mr. Grannis has worked to DENY access to NYS Residents to public trails and parks, enjoyed by many thousands of hunters, anglers, snowmobilers, ATV enthusiasts, campers, hikers, climbers, et al., while denying basic protection services in the Adirondack State Forest, through his continued blocking of construction of Cell Phone Towers to provide communications coverage to NYS residents and non-residents alike, who enjoy and learn from the natural beauty of this region. Through his actions to block such construction of very non-invasive cell phone towers, two individuals lost their lives as they could not call for help. " Does not sound like Mr. Grannis is very pro anyone enjoying what NY State has to offer, does it?

As per the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association there is even more to make one wonder, what was Spitzer thinking by offering Grannis this position:

7) From the NYSR&PA web site @ http://www.nysrpa.org/ we find actions that Grannis allegedly took: "Sponsored vaguely-worded legislation in the past (A-1850) that would have effectively banned hunting as cruelty to animals." Can you imagine that as being environmentally friendly. If you are an experienced hunter, or an experienced conservationist, or an experienced wildlife biologist, I am sure you cannot. Cessation of hunting in most cases results in excessive habitat destruction by the same species of animals we are trying to conserve through regulated hunting. In addition, the fact is that about 80% of all wildlife funding comes from hunters and fishermen. From where else could the money to support habitat come? Increased taxes most likely - do you think hunters might be missed then.

8) In addition to the above, Grannis is evidently anti-gun. According to the NYSR&PA he: "Sponsored and voted for numerous bills designed to restrict firearms ownership and usage among law-abiding New Yorkers, consistently siding with anti-gun organizations such as New Yorkers Against Gun Violence."

9) Spitzer apparently was hotly opposed to any state legislator winding up on the selection list for comptroller. How to get rid of Grannis may have crossed the governor's mind. He found a way to do so, so as to get what he wanted into the comptroller's office (in other words not Grannis in that position) without regard for the DEC ad its functions (by placing Grannis into the DEC), or maybe with an ulterior motive in mind since as far as I am aware Spitzer himself is no friend of the hunter, fisherman, or NYS gun owners. This can be seen in The Village Voice article as well as in: The Times Union.com at http://blogs.timesunion.com/capitol/?p=3787.

As I see it this is U.S. state level politics at its worst, and it will almost surely not be of any benefit to the DEC, to the avid sportsmen of any type be they campers, rock climbers, snowmobilers, fishermen, hikers, hunters, cross country skiers, canoeists, or whatever. I strongly support anything in opposition to Alexander Pete Grannis as the commissioner of the NYS DEC; and I would ask other New Yorkers, and those from out of state who enjoy NY State lands for recreation, to do likewise.

All the best,
Glenn B