Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Hearing, Grannis Slams DEC Layoffs - Capitol Confidential

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TU environmental writer Brian Nearing reports that former state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis got a warm welcome from a panel of state lawmakers Thursday, while his successor was grilled for nearly three hours on the issue of planned layoffs at the agency
Appearing before the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, Grannis garnered applause twice from the audience and was treated by lawmakers as a hero. He was fired last month by Gov. David Paterson after a DEC memo outlining dire impacts from cuts demanded by Paterson’s budget officials was leaked to the Times Union
Assembly member Kevin Cahill, a Kingston Democrat, said Grannis was “fired for telling the truth.”
Pete Iwanowicz, Paterson’s secretary for the environment and acting DEC commissioner, defended the planned layoff of 140 DEC workers — a smaller reduction than the initial 209 layoffs outlined in the memo.
Iwanowicz endured detailed questioning about how DEC would function after the cuts. Responding to Committee Chairman Bob Sweeney, a Long Island Democrat, Iwanowicz admitted that the layoff memo from Grannis was factually correct.
The unsigned, undated memo stated DEC may abandon programs to federal or local officials, fewer polluted sites would be cleaned up, and fewer regulators would be available to oversee the potential natural gas drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale.
Paterson’s office has insisted that Grannis was fired for insubordination and poor performance. Iwanowicz declined to wade into that, saying it was best to “keep those conversations and issues private.”