I’ve liked DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis since I met him in 2007. Because of my longtime support and volunteer work with the agency, I was one of several candidates recommended for the director’s position in Region 8, which includes Monroe and 10 other counties. Even though I’m not a registered Democrat, I had 108 endorsement letters from Democrats and Republicans alike, including Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan, a staunch Democrat and personal friend of then-governor Eliot Spitzer. Despite all that, I did not get the appointment.

Dear Editor,

I’ve liked DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis since I met him in 2007. Because of my longtime support and volunteer work with the agency, I was one of several candidates recommended for the director’s position in Region 8, which includes Monroe and 10 other counties. Even though I’m not a registered Democrat, I had 108 endorsement letters from Democrats and Republicans alike, including Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan, a staunch Democrat and personal friend of then-governor Eliot Spitzer. Despite all that, I did not get the appointment.

Grannis’ nomination as commissioner did not come easily either. Opponents charged that he was inexperienced and unfit for the job in spite of his quarter-century record of green legislative achievements while serving in the state assembly and his experience as an environmental attorney with the DEC before that. Every possible attempt was made to derail his confirmation in the senate. He was accused of being anti-gun, anti-hunting, and opposing trapping altogether. The constant question being asked was, “What does a pinstripe politician from Manhattan know about conservation?” The answer is, “Plenty.”

Soon after he took office, I interviewed Grannis for an “Adirondack Life” magazine article I was writing. I found him to be candid, capable and committed. He was well-versed in topics that ranged from black bear population dynamics to timberland acquisitions. We went through a series of questions and he was right there with the answers. He was clearly on top of his game.

Pete Grannis accomplished a great deal in three and a half years at the helm of DEC – much more than his recent predecessors. He has proven to be a hands-on administrator who restored morale to an agency that had become an inefficient and unpopular bureaucracy. In a nonpartisan style, he re-established public trust; expanded hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities; made it mandatory for ocean-going ships to neutralize bilge water before discharge into New York waters to prevent the introduction of invasive species like zebra mussels; and secured the purchase by DEC of nearly 7,000 acres of woodlands surrounding Hemlock and Canadice Lakes to be preserved as a forever-wild state forest. And these are just a few of his accomplishments.

Not only is Grannis respected and well-liked by DEC personnel throughout the state, he was considered by many to be the most admired and credible member of this administration. Even his original opponents now have praise for the man. That’s why I was vexed to learn of his dismissal by Governor Paterson shortly after it happened last Thursday evening. Not only did Grannis get the rug pulled out from under him for simply doing his job, it was done through a cowardly phone call from the governor’s secretary just after Grannis received an award for his work at a ceremony in his honor.

Press reports suggest that Grannis was fired in response to the leak of an internal memo that reveals how the latest round of proposed budget and staff cuts will imperil the DEC’s ability to monitor air and water pollution, clean up toxic oil and chemical spills, and keep an eye on our hazardous waste disposal and storage, among dozens of other critical functions. Staff and budget cuts also mean that new businesses moving to New York State will have to wait years for necessary permits and regulatory approvals, while polluters have little fear of enforcement and often escape regulatory oversight.

The firing of Pete Grannis – less than three weeks before Election Day – is just one more example of the pathetic dysfunction in Albany. Perhaps our gubernatorial candidates might think about reappointing Pete Grannis to succeed himself in the next administration. I’ll bet announcing that now would be good for some extra votes on Nov. 2.

John Adamski
Dansville