Until now, we’ve watched the political intrigue in Albany from afar, but over the past few days, it has struck closer to home, and we don’t like it.
Earlier this week, we heard that Dave Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission and principal architect of the boat-washing initiative that has been a triumph in heading off invasive species in Lake George, was asked to resign by a representative of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Sources told us Wick refused and that the park commission would not accept his resignation if he did offer it.
By all accounts, Wick is a good man who does his job diligently and has made a difference — something the folks in Albany could learn from.
We then confirmed Wick had been placed on paid administrative leave and that the Lake George Park Commission has scheduled a public meeting for 9 a.m. Friday at the law offices of Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart and Rhodes in Glens Falls, and it appears Wick’s future hangs in the balance.
We were then incredulous to learn from the governor’s office that Wick was being targeted because he failed to report a fuel spill when a state-owned boat he was using leaked a gallon of fuel into the lake at a boat-fueling station operated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
From our viewpoint, that’s like getting 20 years for littering.
If Gov. Cuomo was hoping to give his bullying image a facelift in his second term, he is off to a bad start.
These revelations are even more startling when you consider Wick’s track record.
Environmental victories are not won easily or very often, but the success this summer of new boat-washing stations on Lake George to combat invasive species was an enormous step forward.
There were nearly 17,000 inspections done, and more than 1,000 found some type of possible marine contamination. The boat-washing program — the first established in the eastern half of the country — could go a long way toward containing the spread of invasive species in the Adirondacks and may have already made a difference in Lake George.
Wick is the man behind this success story.
There is a long history of acrimony with environmental groups in the Adirondacks, so what Wick has accomplished over the past few years in bringing together environmental groups with state and local municipalities for the greater good of Lake George is rather miraculous.
Working behind the scenes, Wick put together the S.A.V.E Partnership, a coalition of municipal and environmental leaders that agreed to put up half the $700,000 needed to fund the boat-washing initiative. Not only did he get them to agree on a course of action, he got them to open their wallets.
Wick has been intimately involved in setting up the boat-washing program and has successfully addressed the concerns of boaters, marina operators, environmentalists and the DEC. This was no easy task.
Considering the diversity of groups involved, getting the boat-washing up and running in time for the 2014 boating season was remarkable.
We have heard nothing but praise for the work Wick has done. He has a reputation as a person who works well with local government officials and, more importantly, helps them get things done.
Rules are rules, and when they are broken there should be a cost, but the response by the governor’s office is nothing short of ridiculous.
We were happy to see someone in power come to his defense Thursday.
“I’m not sure any of the issues raised lead to, ‘Fire this guy,’ ” Assemblyman Dan Stec said.
We’ll go a step further. In the world of political hardball, where the Moreland Commission is here one day and gone the next, we are skeptical that a gallon of gas is the motivation for all this maneuvering, and if we had to choose between the reputations of Mr. Wick and Mr. Cuomo, it would be an easy choice.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Susan Stone.