Hawkins Questions Cuomo’s Adirondack Investigation

Howie Hawkins, who recently qualified for the Green Party nomination for Governor, said today that it was improper for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to be investigating the recent purchase of nature preserve land in the Adirondacks, a purchase which the Attorney General approved before it occurred.  Hawkins also criticized the Paterson administration for agreeing to ask Cuomo to launch such an investigation, as well as for diverting funding under the Environmental Protection Fund and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative away from environmental programs.

Hawkins, a long time environmental advocate from Syracuse said:

This is just the latest example of Cuomo using his investigation powers to purse his personal political agenda rather than protecting the taxpayers of New York. It is also the latest example of politicians pandering to the NY Post. Putting aside the merits of the deal, it is a clear conflict of interest for the Attorney General to investigate something that his own office had to approve before it occurred. And it is troubling that both Cuomo and Paterson seem to supporting efforts to undercut much needed land preservation in the Adirondacks and elsewhere.

Hawkins added: 

Let’s not forget that it was Cuomo’s  investigation that whitewashed the political corruption of convicted felon Joe Bruno in Choppergate. That was another case where the Attorney General had a clear conflict of interest since his father had been accused of similar abuse of the use of the state aircraft at a time when Andrew was involved in managing his father’s political activities. Rather than anointing Cuomo as the Governor-elect, as the media did with the prior Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, they should be asking some tough questions about his performance, starting with his role as a top HUD official in greatly expanding the exposure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in subprime mortgages and securities that necessitated a $100 billion taxpayer bailout when the housing bubble burst.

The NY Post recently claimed that the Nature Conservancy, which often serves as a middleman in land preservation deals due to the slowness of state government, made a 50% profit in the recent purchase of 20,000 acres in the Adirondacks. After the Governor quickly agreed to Cuomo’s request for permission to investigate, the Times Union reported <http://www.timesunion.com/AspStorie s/story.asp? storyID=919973& category= REGION> that the so-called profit was merely the costs incurred by the Nature Conservancy in buying the land and then reselling it to the state, primarily the payment of local property taxes in the interim. Subtracting taxes and other costs, the sale resulted in a net gain of less than $100,000, less than 2 percent, according to the Nature Conservancy.

Hawkins also cited a recent op-ed <http://www.timesuni on.com/AspStorie s/story.asp? storyID=920508& category= OPINION> by John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council which documented that “by buying new public lands and by regulating private land use, state government has effected a stunning economic revolution in the parks.¦During the past 40 years, the Adirondack Park has been transformed from an economically depressed region with few prospects, outside of mining and clear-cut logging, to the fastest growing rural economy in New York. The average household income in the Adirondacks has risen 28 percent faster than the rate of inflation between 1980 and 2000.”

The op-ed also noted that the population of the Adirondacks has been steadily raising over the last half century while much of upstate New York has lost residents. Hawkins said that the media should also press Cuomo as to his positions on solving the state budget crisis. “I have been clear that we should
make Wall Street bail out Main street. Rather than slashing funding for education, housing, health care, the environment, and the safety net as the Democrats have proposed, we should make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, including keeping the $16 billion stock transfer tax that New York rebates annually to Wall Street speculators. Cuomo has been silent about the state’s fiscal crisis even as he seeks to wrap himself in the mantle of Governor-in- waiting,” noted Hawkins.

The Green Party nomination convention will take place in Albany on May 15th.

3 Responses

  1. […] Party gubernatorial hopeful Howie Hawkins questioned Cuomo’s Adirondack land […]

  2. […] On the Wilder Side (and scooped by Liz Benjamin of Capital […]

  3. i support your strong passion because we have to leave good example and clean sheet to the next generation

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