Watershed Waffle

Rudy Takes a Dive on City Wetlands for Upstate GOP

Pataki hasn't said a word so far about Giuliani's switch, but Vallone cited a state Department of Environmental Conservation letter, written to the Army Corps in August, which contended that any "increasing of the new and revised" development areas to include wetlands "will have the potential for adverse impacts." A state representative took a position similar to Miele's, however, at a February 26 meeting with the Army Corps.

Kennedy, who did commercials for Pataki's reelection last year, has yet to discuss the issue with him. Once Kennedy does, the governor may well wind up representing city interests better than its mayor.

The pressure on Giuliani over the watershed comes from Republican legislators representing reservoir communities, not the governor. State Senator John Bonacic, for example, told the Voice that he called Lhota on February 5 to object to the Stasiuk letters, saying the city's position was "causing unrest and uproar" in Delaware County and elsewhere upstate.

Robert Kennedy (left): He's leading the charge against Giuliani's watershed permissiveness.
AP/ Wideworld
Robert Kennedy (left): He's leading the charge against Giuliani's watershed permissiveness.

The same day as Bonacic's call, Miele wrote his first, highly unusual, memo, telling the corps that he was "withdrawing the comments" submitted by his own deputy. He said Stasiuk's four letters— which unequivocably asked for a permit denial and cited DEP and the corps's "mutual interests" in "protecting wetland resources"— had "not been reviewed, accepted and/or approved by my office and were therefore unofficial." Miele subsequently sent his March 15 letter of retreat.

Ray Christensen, the Republican chair of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, told the Voice that he wrote Giuliani, talked with Miele, and attended the February 26 meeting at the Corps headquarters. He recalled that Stasiuk appeared at the meeting and "said he made a mistake" when he championed the wetland restrictions. Other Republicans, like Assemblyman Cliff Crouch, also contacted city officials, with Crouch, Christensen, and Bonacic expressing satisfaction in Voice interviews with Giuliani's new position. So has Martin Donnelly, the Delaware County GOP chair, who invited Giuliani to speak at the party's annual dinner on May 15 and has also contacted DEP about the wetlands.

Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and his sidekick, state GOP boss Bill Powers, have become Giuliani's core Republican supporters for the U.S. Senate nod, even while the mayor's relationship with Pataki has publicly deteriorated.

The sad fact is that Rudy's watershed waffling is an indication— like his dismissive handling of the Diallo case— that he is taking positions designed to play well in the upstate Republican base crucial to a 2000 win. He is now more a statewide candidate than he is mayor of New York.

Research: Camila Gamboa, Coco McPherson, Soo-Min Oh, Ron Zapata

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