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Former DEC commissioner Peter Grannis
Former DEC commissioner Peter Grannis

Grannis says DEC cuts leave NY environment vulnerable

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Former Assemblyman and Conservation commissioner Peter Grannis is blasting the Paterson administration for what he describes as careless and hasty decisions to cut the DEC's staff. In a public radio interview this week, Grannis argued that Paterson's top aides didn't understand the DEC's complicated mission and were unwilling to look at alternatives to widespread layoffs. Martha Foley has our story.

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Martha Foley
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Former Conservation commissioner Peter Grannis says he was fired unfairly six weeks ago.

At the time, Governor David Paterson accused Grannis of insubordination after a memo was leaked complaining of widespread jobs cuts at the DEC. “I’ve no idea how it got out. I didn’t leak it," he said, adding, “ I would not have been at all hesitant, if I thought this should be out in the public realm,  to put it out there. But I didn’t do that. There was not effort made to find out how it got out, and I was blamed.”

During an interview on WCNY’s program, the Capitol Pressroom yesterday, Grannis argued that Paterson’s management team made uninformed decisions about the DEC job cuts, slashing hundreds of  positions without proper planning. “This is a very, very diverse agency,” he said, “ from our hunting and fishing operations to dealing with the air water and solid waste. It’s 19 different bureaus and divisions. The idea that we can just casually cut somebody at a fish hatchery and put it on autopilot with an alarm where  someone would  from Albany would race out if something went wrong. It showed a real disconnect and a lack of appreciation.”

Grannis says those deep cuts at the DEC have left the state vulnerable to environmental problems and unchecked pollution. “There’s a real risk that these great strides we’ve made in cleaning up the environment will start to slip," Grannis said. He added a warning that, “slippage in these areas, in water and air and some of the leakage problems from landfills and other things…  if they start to slip they could be generational problems.”

Grannis also argued that revitalizing and funding the DEC’s hunting, fishing and campground programs is an important part of reviving the economy in the North Country. "This upstate community of outdoor interests is not only for peoples well-being,” he said. “it is also the economic engine that keeps many upstate communities ruinning.”

Governor Paterson cut jobs at the DEC and other agencies as part of his effort to balance the state budget.  Speaking yesterday, Grannis said he still considers Paterson “a friend.”

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