ALBANY - The appointment of Minerva boat builder Peter Hornbeck to the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners is barely surviving in the state Senate this week as it appears Gov. David Paterson's pending choice lacks the necessary votes to move forward.
State Sen. Betty Little and several of her GOP counterparts have argued that because Hornbeck sits on the board of directors for Protect the Adirondacks - an environmental group currently suing the APA - his appointment as a commissioner would represent a conflict of interest.
Little said Thursday her argument appears to have resonated with fellow senators from both parties.
"The Finance Committee informed the governor that they do not have the votes to move his nomination out of finance," Little said. "Because of that, I believe the nomination will not go forward."
Protect the Adirondacks is suing the APA for its decision last fall not to classify the waters of Lows Lake as Wilderness.
Last week, the appointment of Hornbeck was approved in the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and his appointment was slated to reach the Finance Committee in the coming months.
Little said she's been told that support for the gubernatorial nomination is waning and there simply aren't enough votes in support of Hornbeck's selection to survive the Finance Committee.
Jason Koppel, chief of staff to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger, said this week that Paterson's choice of Hornbeck is undergoing an in-depth review following the conflict of interest claims.
Koppel stressed the appointment is still under review and not officially defeated. He also noted that finance has hundreds of appointments on its docket and the approval process is backlogged several months.
On Tuesday, finance approved 24 appointments, some dating back as far as April 2009.
Little and some local governments have blasted the governor's choice of Hornbeck, claiming it unfairly tilts the board of commissioners toward extreme preservation.
"Both Democrats and Republicans throughout the district felt there was a conflict in Mr. Hornbeck's appointment since he's on the board of directors of Protect, which in January sued the APA," Little said.
Three current APA commissioners have ties to the Adirondack Council.
Supporters counter Hornbeck's selection makes sense because he represents the right balance of business interests and environmentalism.
Little said she's requesting that current APA Commissioner Art Lussi, whose four-year term expired last summer, be reappointed to the seat.
"As I've said before, Art Lussi has done a good job in the one term he has served as an APA commissioner and a second term is something I'm confident many people would support," Little said.
Until a replacement is approved, Lussi will remain on the APA board.