Schenectady, NY
October 7, 2006

Lake regulators, six supervisors meet
Public and media not invited to session; official sees no violation

BY JOE MAHER, Gazette Reporter

A couple of regulating district officials met with six supervisors from Great Sacandaga Lake towns this week but the public and media were not invited.

"I request that, if possible, this meeting be limited to supervisors," Glenn A. LaFave, executive director of the Hudson River Black River Regulating District, said in a Sept. 22 letter inviting supervisors. "Without the presence of the general public and the media, we will be able to communicate candidly and discuss some issues that can't be discussed in public."

Some supervisors who attended didn't see the exclusion as significant.

They were pleased that the district is going to form an advisory committee comprised of supervisors to review proposed new rules and regulations for 4,650 permit holders around the lake, they said.

Those meetings will be open to the public.

All the town boards around the lake as well as lake-area interest groups urged the district to slow down the rules-revision process and to provide for more public input this summer.

District officials agreed, pushing back its 2007 deadline to 2008.

"There was no big secret," Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper said of Wednesday's session at Edinburg Town Hall.

"Sometimes it's not productive if you have people who are attacking," she said. "Because there was such a public outcry that keeps some of the heat off them, of course."

Mayfield Supervisor Alan "Herb" McLain said some officials tend to posture when the media is present while others clam up.

"All it was was to find out from the supervisors around the lake what we wanted. I'm very happy with the progress. I think the process is very good, although I don't know what the outcome will be," he said.

LaFave objected to the session being characterized as "secret."

He said there was no violation of the Open Meetings Law as there was no quorum, and no action was taken.

Robert Freeman, the executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, agreed.

"The open meetings law simply doesn't apply. It's their call," Freeman said.

"I'm not going to say we met in secret," said LaFave, who characterized the session as "an inter-agency meeting."

"We didn't advertise it. We met in a public place. ... It was in a town hall, the door was open," LaFave said.

"My board asked me to meet with the supervisors."

Asked about the sentence in the letter that refers to topics that could be discussed outside the presence of the media and general public, he used litigation as an example.

"The regulating district received a number of ideas that will all be presented to the board" of the district, likely in November, LaFave said.

Kemper praised the district's willingness to listen to supervisors.

"It's a great idea. Hey, we've come a long way," she said.

Not everyone feels that way.

Peter VanAvery of the Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee, whose group is to have a representative on this new advisory committee, said that the district commissioned a survey of permit holders last year and the overwhelming majority said they viewed the district with suspicion and distrust.

"Holding meetings with elected officials from which the public and the press are excluded is hardly the way to win trust, and it gives the lie to the district's frequent protestations that it is working to make its operations more transparent," he said.

"Further, to put this meeting in perspective, it should be noted that three-quarters of the lake's permit holders are seasonal residents, which means that they don't vote in lake-area elections and that they may not agree with positions taken by town supervisors," he added.

Guy Poulin of Northville, who, like VanAvery attends most regulating district board meetings and is a frequent critic, also blasted the move.

"I just personally feel that they're trying to sneak something through," he said.

"Please exclude the public and the media," Poulin said, paraphrasing the invitation letter. "That's bull——. I can't believe Glenn LaFave actually signed that letter."

Gloversville, NY
October 6, 2006

Officials want to form council to advise regulating district

By GREG HITCHCOCK, The Leader-Herald

EDINBURG — Supervisors from nine municipalities along the Great Sacandaga Lake proposed creation of an advisory council to help revise permit system regulations to the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District at a meeting Wednesday.

Regulating District Executive Director Glenn A. LaFave said the Regulating District's governing board asked him to meet with the supervisors to discuss ways to use the time until the next round of public input meetings next year most effectively.

The supervisors proposed that nine town representatives, one from each town with a designated alternative, form an advisory council to go through proposed permit regulations and make recommendations.

The towns represented include Mayfield, Northampton and Broadalbin in Fulton County; Providence, Edinburg, Day and Hadley in Saratoga County; and Benson and Hope in Hamilton County.

Also discussed as potential members were representatives from the Sacandaga Lake Association, Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee, Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, Great Sacandaga Lake Association, the Sacandaga Lake Business Association, the Fishing Federation as well as a marina and a non-marina representative.

"We insisted that the advisory council, if formed by the Regulating District, should be broad-based, have open meetings, with written recommendations and include, not only appointees from the towns, but other interested organizations," Edinburg Supervisor Jean Raymond said.

"We said that if we thought of any other association that may be included in the advisory council, we would contact each other about the idea and if we agreed they should be included, to inform the regulating district," Raymond said.

"We hoped with an advisory council, it could help dispel animosity and public distrust of the proposed changes in the permit system," she said.

People are still encouraged to send in their comments on the draft regulations until the deadline of Dec. 15. Then the regulating district will start the revision process for the next round of public input meetings next year.

Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper said they still need to hammer out the details as to who to include as part of the advisory council and how to organize it, but said that forming an advisory council would be a positive move in the right direction.

LaFave said the supervisors made suggestions that will be presented to the board of directors of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District.

"The board has taken no action so far on any of the supervisors' recommendations, but I anticipate they will be on the next board meeting's agenda in November," LaFave said.

The next board meeting is set for 10 a.m. Nov. 13 at the Loyal Order of the Moose, 109 S. Comrie Ave. in Johnstown.

"My impression coming out of the meeting was that the regulating district is looking favorably into forming an advisory council," Raymond said.

"We have to go through these rules one by one," Broadalbin Supervisor Lee Hollenbeck said.