Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that as Governor he would not fire Commissioners for speaking the truth. Hawkins was reacting to the firing of DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis following the leak of an internal memo that warned of the negative impact of pending cuts to the environmental agency.
Hawkins said he would increase funding and staffing for DEC to ensure that it could do a better job of protecting New York's environment. The memo revealed how the agency will no longer be able to monitor air and water pollution, clean up dangerous chemical spills and provide oversight from hazardous waste disposal and storage, among dozens of other critical functions.
"The continued cuts to DEC under a Democratic Governor, as well as the massive raids on the Environmental Protection Fund, is just further evidence of the need for an outright ban on the hydrofracking of natural gas. Democrats always promise to protect the environment but then turn around and cut the funds and staff needed to enforce even minimal environmental safeguards," added Hawkins.
Hawkins also said that he would reverse the recent practice by both Democrats and Republicans of making the Commissioners wholly subordinate to the Governor's staff on the second floor of the Capitol.
"Cabinet members must have the ability to speak the truth to the Governor. They need to be able to advocate on behalf of their agency. Paterson's level of disengagement from running the state wasn't a whole lot worse than say Pataki but his administration, and the state, suffered by the dreadful performance of Larry Schwartz, his Secretary, as the defacto Governor. Employing the bunker mentality of the Nixon administration, Schwartz has sacrificed essential state services in order to cozy up to business contributors and industry lobbyists and to protect the wealthy from paying their fair share of taxes," added Hawkins.
Hawkins said that Grannis was correct in describing Schwartz as a "hatchet man" and "thug". Hawkins said that the person who should have been fired a long time ago by Paterson was Schwartz. Schwartz is at the center of the report by the IG's office over the corrupt handling of the bidding on lottery terminals at the Aqueduct race track. The report cited Schwartz for ignoring ignored official vetting data gathered by the executive branch; his testimony before the Inspector General was characterized by a "remarkable professed lack of recall."
"Schwartz has grossly mismanaged the State of New York, often acting like he was still the Deputy County Executive of Westchester. Schwartz was the most unqualified Secretary in recent memory, falling into that position by being the last person standing in the game of musical chairs following the departure of Charles O'Byrne for failing to pay his taxes. It is a shame that David Paterson failed to have the courage of his previously stated progressive convictions when he became the accidental Governor," added Hawkins.
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