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Senate approves Cuomo appointees for DEC, DOT

Joe Martens will head up the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Nancy Adler
Photo courtesy Open Space Institute
Joe Martens will head up the Department of Environmental Conservation.

According to a release from Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, gubernatorial appointments to head the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Taxation and Finance, and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) have been approved by the State Senate.

Here's who gets to be a government official:

Joe Martens, formerly of the Open Space Institute, will be the commissioner at the DEC.  He'll be overseeing a DEC with a smaller budget and less enforcement capacity, which could lead to communities being asked to play a larger role in local conservation.  He'll also be at the helm when the moratorium on natural gas hydrofracking expires, and through the debate about the treatment of fracking waste water.

Joan McDonald will head up DOT.  Her resume includes stints with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and an engineering firm.  But what really perked up our ears was her time with Connecticut Innovations, a state-chartered venture capital firm.  It seems like a similar concept to New York's "in-state private equity fund."

Thomas H. Mattox, formerly of Goldman Sachs and Chase Manhattan Bank, is being tapped for Taxation and Finance.  One of his early actions could be to begin collecting cigarette tax revenue from Indian cigarettes sold to non-Indians, reports Tom Precious at the Buffalo News.

Rose H. Harvey, formerly of the Trust for Public Land and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, will take the reins at Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  And she's already getting flack.  OPRHP has been the target of high profile budget cutting in the last few budget cycles, because of the historic nature of the sites it manages.  Jimmy Vielkind at the Times Union is reporting today that Harvey received  a letter from six legislators decrying potential closures:

"It is troubling that your office has apparently interpreted that the Legislature's conveyance of significant power to the commissioner to care for state park lands was also meant to enable him or her to act in a harmful way toward those same public assets," the group wrote in a letter to OPRHP nominee Rose Harvey. "We believe that neither closing a site nor removing its collection objects is authorized in the language of the existing statute."

You can read the glowing reviews of the appointments from various legislators in the governor's official release here.

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