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Support for Hornbeck appointment wanes

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.

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