TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter VanAvery
DATE: January 29, 2008

The next meeting of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's Board will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 14, 2008, at Suite 104, First Floor, Loudon Plaza, 350 Northern Boulevard, Albany. It will open with an organizational meeting, followed by the regular meeting. The agenda includes a presentation by Shorey Public Relations, the firm hired by the District at $48,000/year to improve its image.


At its December meeting in Johnstown, the Board voted, as expected, to extend for another year the existing rules (first issued in 1993) for access permit holders on Great Sacandaga Lake. Meanwhile, the Board's seemingly endless struggle to produce an updated set of rules has entered its third year. Since mid-October, its proposed new rules have been under review at the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform.


As the national political races play out, we hear a lot of talk about "change." At Great Sacandaga, we want Governor Spitzer to make an immediate change by replacing the Regulating District's Board. My arguments are spelled out in the following letter, which appeared in The Recorder, The Leader Herald, and The Daily Gazette. In addition, I have elaborated on these points in a 3-page letter to Governor Spitzer. You'll find it on our web site (www.nybbac.org).


DAILY GAZETTE
Schenectady, NY
January 4, 2008

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Housecleaning needed at Hudson-Black River board

Last January, Gov. Spitzer called public authorities "patronage dumping grounds" staffed with people hired for whom they know not for what they know. He promised more accountability and transparency. A few days later, the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, the authority that controls Great Sacandaga Lake, thumbed its nose at him and dropped a popular public question-and-answer session from its board meetings. Members of the public can still make a statement, but their questions are met with stony silence.

The regulating district's board could sabotage the governor with impunity because all seven of its members were appointed by former Gov. Pataki. Although Gov. Spitzer will replace them as terms expire, he won't achieve a majority until 2009. As for who made the decision to kill the question-and-answer session, I asked Executive Director Glenn LaFave for a name a month ago. I have received no answer.

The board shuns public contact. Since 85 percent of the regulating district's revenues come from the Hudson River area, where Great Sacandaga is located, you might expect that eight of its 10 annual board meetings would be held around here. But only half are. The other five take place in the Black River area, where the board hides out at locations like the Stillwater Reservoir (zero public attendees) and Watertown (one public attendee).

Since mid-year, as the result of an executive order issued by Gov. Spitzer, the regulating district and other authorities have been compelled to broadcast board meetings on the Internet. After adjournment of the regulating district's Stillwater Reservoir board meeting, when members thought the TV camera was off, outraged Webcast viewers observed them joking and laughing about the absence of the public. Note: Just two months earlier, the board voted to pay a public relations firm $4,000 a month to improve its image. What a waste of money!

But the board's biggest fiasco has been its two-year -- and continuing -- struggle to create an updated set of rules for Great Sacandaga's 4,700 access permit holders. It held numerous public meetings and even set up an advisory committee composed of lake stakeholders. But then it embittered and infuriated permit holders by turning a deaf ear to their key recommendations.

Gov. Spitzer should no longer tolerate this board's dedication to incompetence. He should begin 2008 by cleaning house.

PETER VAN AVERY
Edinburg
The writer is co-founder of the Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee.


I urge you to copy the above Letter to the Editor and email it to the following NYS politicians, along with your own introductory comments:

Hugh Farley (farley@senate.state.ny.us)
Elizabeth Little (little@senate.state.ny.us)
George Amedore (amedoreg@assembly.state.ny.us)
Marc Butler (butlerm@assembly.state.ny.us)
Teresa Sayward (saywart@assembly.state.ny.us)
James Tedisco (tediscj@assembly.state.ny.us)

To reach the Governor, you need to follow a 4-step process: 1) Go to his web page (www.state.ny.us/governor). 2) Click on Contact the Governor at left of screen. 3) Click on To Email the Governor. 4) Follow the directions and submit your message.

If it would more convenient, I can email the text of my letter directly to you. Then you can simply forward it along with your covering message. Just let me know. In November's general election, all 62 seats in the NYS Senate and all 150 seats in the NYS Assembly will be up for grabs. Please keep me posted on who's helping us and who's not.


At its December meeting, the Board approved the hiring of Michael A. Clark to fill the vacant position of Hudson River Area Administrator. The District, which is paying a PR firm $4,000/month to improve its communications with stakeholders, has not yet announced Mr. Clark's appointment -- even though he is now the point of contact with a great many permit holders. The BBAC is pleased to provide this public service free of charge.


The lake is at 754.18 feet above sea level -- more than 3 feet above target -- and rising.