Monday, September 17, 2012

An inconvenient truth

Earlier this month, The Post-Star's Will Doolittle published a blog entry regarding a Syracuse Post-Standard article on the Adirondack Park Agency and the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake. Doolittle, a long time harsh critic of the Agency and of green groups, criticized the central New York daily for shallow, 'he said, she said' journalism. He goes on to add further 'context' that the Syracuse paper should have, in his opinion, included about how the environmentalists were wrong.

I left a comment on the blog saying that Doolittle was essentially attacking the Syracuse paper for not pushing his personal viewpoint. I also pointed out that the shallow 'he said, she said' transcription (not journalism) is a staple of most newspapers and broadcast outlets, including The Post-Star itself. Maybe that's why the daily doesn't do any reporting on Fred Monroe's taxpayer-funded anti-APA activist group.

I guess the comment hit too close to home. The comment has not been published more than two weeks later.


Jon Alexander said...

Post-Star story about ALGRB published Sept. 14, 2011

A funding crisis has befallen the sometimes controversial Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, a crisis that could threaten the board's mission unless local communities pick up the slack, officials said.

The review board was created by state statute, simultaneously with the Adirondack Park Agency, in 1971. Its mission was to allow local governments, which have historically been critical of the APA, to monitor the agency's actions and weigh in on them.

But since 2008, state funding for the review board has been more than halved. The organization now receives about $50,000 from the state each year; the amount dropped from $80,000 in 2009-10 to $55,400 in 2010-11, alone.

The state now funds about half of the board's $110,000 annual budget.

"We'll continue to limp along with whatever we get," said Fred Monroe, the review board's executive director. "But the cuts are pretty severe, and at some point, we can't keep doing everything we have been."

To help fix the funding shortfall, the review board is seeking $300 from each of the 103 towns and villages in the Adirondack Park. That would supplement the $32,000 allotted by the 12 counties within the park.

The Lake George Town Board was one of the first to approve the expense on Monday night.

"It's a worthy expense," said Lake George Supervisor Frank McCoy. "They keep an eye on the APA."

Much of the review board's expenses are wrapped up in the salaries of Monroe and his wife, Carol, who is the organization's secretary.

The review board also spent a considerable amount of cash in recent years to lobby Albany against further state land acquisitions in the Adirondacks.

Fred Monroe was paid $39,730 in 2010-11 as the board's executive director, while Carol Monroe received a salary of $16,658, according to the organization's budget. Those salaries have been frozen for three years.

Some $15,000 is spent on position papers and lobbying efforts, according to the organization's budget.

The organization was entirely locally funded until 1994.

Fred Monroe has picked up the duties of the organization's counsel, as the review board's members dissolved the position last year in light of the funding cuts.

As executive director, Monroe holds a non-voting seat on the APA Board of Commissioners.

The review board and the APA are now negotiating the agency's regulatory policies. The APA has been trying to become more user friendly for years, and Monroe said the funding challenge could impact the review board's ability to influence APA reform.

The park's most influential environmental group, the Adirondack Council, has been calling for an investigation of the review board by the state Attorney General.

The council argues the board stepped outside its legislative mandate when it lobbied against the leadership of the APA last year. The review board has also continued to call for a moratorium on state land acquisition, something the APA has no power over, the Adirondack Council claims.
-- Jon Alexander

Brian said...

Yes, this is exactly what the Post-Star should have dug deeper into.

There's pretty strong prima facae evidence just from the ALGRB's own public statements that it's exceeded its mandate.

The Post-Star should've investigated it, rather than (or more appropriately, in addition to) merely adding a 'he said' incidental at the end of a story that was fundamentally about something else.

That would concur with the PS' agenda of highlighting misuse of taxpayer dollars but would've conflicted with its anti-APA agenda.