Do you welcome the return of Bob Glennon?

My interview with Bob Glennon a week or so ago was the first time I’d ever spoken more than a word or two to a man who played a pivotal role in modern Adirondack history.

Glennon was an attorney and executive director at the APA during one of its most turbulent eras, a time when conflict was the rule and the tiny state agency’s very existence was viewed as an affront by many locals.

He hasn’t exactly been absent from the scene in recent years.  He worked for the New York state Attorney General during a time when environmental and Park issues were being litigated fairly regularly.

My first impressions?  A smart, funny guy who likes to mix it up, who seemed to relish — or at least value — the idea of conflict.

Where others in the Park seem ready to bury the hatchet, Glennon made an impassioned argument that “peace in the kingdom” can’t be the top priority.

He even chided other environmentalists for partnering recently with “strange bedfellows.”  He cited Brian Houseal, head of the Adirondack Council, who has worked to develop the Adirondack Common Ground Alliance with local government leaders.

And he pointed to environmental activist and Adirondack Explorer publisher Dick Beamish, who has partnered with snowmobile activist Jim McCulley in the “rails-to-trails” debate.

Finally, Glennon suggests that the recent Adirondack Club and Resort decision by the APA will spark a revival of a more vibrant, activist green movement in the Park.

So check out our conversation here and then chime in.  Do you think it’s time for a return to a more head-to-head debate in the Park?  Do you want more fire and vinegar?

Or do you think the “common ground” era is a good direction for various factions to take?

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39 Comments on “Do you welcome the return of Bob Glennon?”

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  1. Not in my back yard! says:

    The “common ground” era means approve everything! Now, the APA still requires extensive paper work in what has essentially become an exercise to maintain staff jobs. What do they accomplish? Nothing! The colors on the map are meaningless. Resource management? Sure, perfect for a large development! Just let us grandstand for the environmentalists so they think we are doing our job, hang tight, higher a former APA executive dirctor to represent you and in seven years your project will be approved. How could people on either side be happy with APA? Bob Glennon? At least he has convictions. Brian never asked if he would sue over ACR? How did he miss that question?

  2. Pete Klein says:

    Go Bob. go! Down the floor and out the door, go bob, go!
    No one should pay him any mind. He’s just out to get his name out.

  3. Will Doolittle says:

    Yes, Pete, listening to his radio interview was similar to hearing an old veteran ramble on about his World War II experiences. Chuckle, chuckle, ramble, ramble. Without the power to intimidate, Mr. Glennon is irrelevant, because, as he admits, he never was and still is not someone with any capacity to see the other side or seek compromise. That’s OK in his current position (preservationist emeritus) but not so good in the executive director of the state agency responsible for administering zoning laws for a huge portion of the state. It is somewhat shocking, in retrospect, to hear him frankly admit how narrow and one-sided his views are and always have been.

  4. Is he a resident of the Park? If so, why shouldn’t we welcome more residents of the Park participating in issues that affect their home?

  5. Sorry Will, but Bob’s right about one thing. The job of a regulatory agency is to regulate within the framework of the statutes in question, not to make buddies.

  6. Just a clarification to my above comment (since you can’t edit once posted)… I don’t think regulatory agencies should be bullying or power-trippy or unnecessarily hostile. But in such a job, it’s inevitable that you will do things that some people may resent… if you’re doing your job correctly. You can try to mitigate bad feeling but you can’t make everyone happy all the time and actually do your job.

  7. Not in my back yard! says:

    Their job is to “regulate not ingratiate”. I did like that quote.

  8. Pete Klein says:

    One more observation about the interview. Bob needs to get the marbles out of his mouth when he talks. His words sounded muddled.

  9. Brian Mann says:

    Regarding Bob’s voice, he was sick the day I did the interview. I should have mentioned this in my text.

    -Brian, NCPR

  10. Not in my back yard! says:

    Well Pete he is an attorney! He did sound horrible. I thought he was 90 until I saw the photo.

  11. Will Doolittle says:

    Yes, Brian, but “regulate within the statutes in question,” there’s the rub. Who interprets the statutes in question? Mr. Glennon was seen, and by his own admission was inclined to be, someone who interpreted the statutes all one way, the preservationist way. I saw him operate as executive director and there was nothing even-handed about the way he did his job, nor did he pretend there was, nor does he pretend now that he has any appreciation for any point of view but the strict preservationist one. I think this is fine for the advocate he now is, but entirely inappropriate for a state bureaucrat charged with administering state laws.

  12. Not in my back yard! says:

    So true Will. The ability to compromise is important in gov’t. A lost art these days.

  13. Solidago says:

    “Or do you think the “common ground” era is a good direction for various factions to take?” YES!

    The “strange bedfellows” look to me like effective and productive alliances that we need a lot more of. I hope that those that like fighting for fighting’s sake continue to be pushed to the margins. Let’s focus on the common ground and choose our battles wisely.

  14. Paul says:

    When I was growing up in the Adirondacks maybe this guy is why I heard so many bad things about the APA?

    He is a classic NIMBY guy. Clearly his position can be defined by three words. No, No, No.

    He sounds like a very divisive figure.

    When he was asked by Brian about economic development or some kind of balance the best he could do is come up with “I don’t know, BUT SMALL, maybe some tourism….”. That is as close to NO as you can get without saying it.

  15. Paul says:

    I would have asked him about this opinion piece that he wrote in the Times Union. In it he states that the ACR project would be a violation of Article 14 of the NYS constitution? He says:

    “The resort project would violate several sections of the APA Act, the Environmental Conservation Law, DEC regulations, and Article 14, Section 1 of the state Constitution — the provision that requires the Adirondack Forest preserve to remain “forever wild.””

    Article 14? How could a development on private land violate a law that governs the use of public land??

  16. Distraught says:

    Paul, NIMBY means …”people who advocate some proposal (for example, austerity measures including budget cuts, tax increases, downsizing), but oppose implementing it in a way that would require sacrifice on their part.” Or as I now call it, A Sangenberger. I don’t think that is fair to Mr Glennon. Do you have any idea how much he could make in private practice as an environmental attorney defending a developers or industry? Much more then as an advisor for Protect! or Adirondack Wild. (We could ask Mr Ulasawicz spp.) So I don’t think that commentary is fair. Divisive? No doubt on that one Paul. I don’t understand the Article 14, section 1 comment either. I ‘ll go read that one again.

  17. Distraught says:

    Read it again Paul. No idea what he is talking about there.

  18. Peter Hahn says:

    He is an advocate for a particular position (anti-development) that he believes strongly in. As a lawyer he is making an argument in favor of his side interpreting the law in a way that is compatible with what his group is trying to achieve. Whats wrong with that?

    There are plenty of people who believe and advocate for the opposite position.

  19. Peter Hahn says:

    I would add – he’s a neighbor. I see him frequently as I walk the dogs. He drives by waving and smiling. No demon.

  20. Paul says:

    “Read it again Paul. No idea what he is talking about there.”

    Sorry I don’t understand this comment?

    Article 14 covers state land, it does not cover private property where the ACR is planned. How can that project violate a law that does not cover it?? Despite what he says, it doesn’t.

    Perhaps APA and DEC laws in his opinion but Article 14 is totally irrelevant in this case. Unless we have a new legal twist where it covers private land that borders state land. That would basically be everything.

  21. Paul says:

    Peter, I am sure he is a good guy. He sounds like a pleasant character from the interview.

  22. Paul says:

    One thing I can appreciate about Mr. Glennon’s comments is that he seems very genuine. I find many environmentalists these days to be quite disingenuous. They talk about things like economic development to try and argue their points. This guy just lays it out there and says I want one and you guys that want the other can figure it out but I am not going to compromise.

  23. tourpro says:

    Great interview Brian.

  24. Distraught says:

    Yes, Paul I agree with you. Sorry, I was using the verb in the transative form, applying read to myself and not you. I often type quickly and seldom proofread these spontaneous posts. I more accurately should have said this….”Paul, I have read it again. I have no idea what he is talking about”
    We agree on this one! Common Ground!

  25. Will Doolittle says:

    I am not sure he is a good guy, but I am sure that is irrelevant. I also find Mr. Glennon’s frankness about where he stands refreshing. But, again, to be such a frank advocate for a preservationist interpretation of state law, as Mr. Glennon admits he is and has been, is, I think, entirely wrong for the executive director of a state agency that is supposed to administer and enforce those laws fairly and even-handedly.

  26. Jim Bullard says:

    As someone who used to administer law I know all too well that there are lots of folks out there who’d like “compromise” on regulation. Thanks to those in our federal government who failed to regulate we almost had a total melt down of our economy. Laws and the associated regulations (rules designed to implement the laws) need to be followed by the administrators of them even if it isn’t popular. If the laws and regulations are bad that needs to addressed in the courts and legislature, not by administrators who are willing to compromise. That’s the kind of scenario where cronyism creeps in.

  27. tootightmike says:

    If he can stop this most recent development from happening again, he’s got my support.

  28. Paul says:

    “If the laws and regulations are bad that needs to addressed in the courts and legislature, not by administrators who are willing to compromise. That’s the kind of scenario where cronyism creeps in.”

    This is exactly how some opposed to ACR should view the decision.

    They had no choice. The law and precedent were behind the decision. Mr. Glennon appears to disagree with that position despite how it was.

    You can’t rule on something just because you don’t like it. That is where things “creep”in.

  29. Paul says:

    Distraught, thanks. It makes sense now. It is that crazy language we speak. Read and Read (“red”) are the same word! Got you.

  30. Will Doolittle says:

    Exactly right, Jim. But applying laws where they don’t apply, asserting jurisdiction you do not by law have, is what Glennon was accused of, many times, not the opposite problem of “compromising” laws, which you identify. Although I would argue that someone who asserts authority under color of law that the law does not grant also ends up compromising, as in weakening, that law.

  31. Jim Bullard says:

    Paul & Will, If you were reading the earlier discussion where Brian asked how we would have voted you’d have noted that I said I would have voted in favor “based on what I know of the issue”. Despite that I will be the first to confess that I do not have a complete knowledge of the APA rules and regulations involved. If I did, I might see things differently. My point simply was that a diligent administrator of the laws and regulations follows the law and does not ‘bend’ the rules in the name of compromise as some comments appeared to suggest should be how things work. I don’t know for a fact, and I would hazard a guess that no one else here does, whether Bob Glennon improperly asserted authority that was not appropriate. Accusations are opinion, like the opinion that the rules should be bent in the name of compromise.

  32. Will Doolittle says:

    No one said anything about bending rules, except you.

  33. Will Doolittle says:

    The point of my comments should not be difficult to grasp, Jim. Let’s say, after his tenure as executive director of the APA, which is a bureaucratic position with the responsibility of overseeing the administration of zoning laws in the Adirondack Park, Bob Glennon had gone to work for large developers, such as ACR, and become an outspoken advocate of industrial and other commercial development of the Adirondack Park. Let’s say he publicly avowed that he felt the Adirondacks should be developed as much as possible, said he had always felt that way, and dismissed arguments against development. Would you feel that he had been a proper and appropriate person to be the executive director of the APA? The executive director is not supposed to be an advocate but an administrator. Bob Glennon says, himself, he is an advocate and always has been. That means he should never have been executive director of the APA.

  34. Paul says:

    I think not, I am not surprised. You know that these guys will not go down without a fight.

    The complaints for the ACR lawsuit I assuming are being prepared right now also.

  35. I think not says:

    Mr Doolittle, so you are saying ,suppose Mr Glennon was actaully Thomas Ulasewicz? The only issue with your statement is that, clearly the APA act was to limit and control development in the park. If Mr Glennon was overzealous, as is a reasonable assertion, I believe it is better that it was on the side of caution then rather to assist developers, as has been the reign of Ms. Martino.

    A zealot yes, Mr Glennon did not play poilitics like Ms. Martino. In his view, he had a job to do and he didn’t care about the fall out. I had issues with some of his liberal president setting decisions but I have to respect the dedication. The APA has lost its way. If the APA continues this path, lets just remove the entire agency. They no longer regulate, just delay development. For what purpose? Only to protect their status and title. They serve no purpose except waste tax pay dollars and drain potential developers.

  36. Steve Erman says:

    Dale and company – –

    As I said in a post on another topic, people who place a comment on this blog should use their real, full names. Thats seems to be required in the “Leave a Reply” box, but is clearly not enforced. Whether I agree with them or not, I respect Brian Mann, Will Doolittle, Peter Haun, Pete Klein and Jim Bullard for clearly identifying themselves in this thread of commentary. They stake out a position and take ownership of it. Other comments, identified by monikers or a first name, I discount. Using your own name to express an opinion in public is, in my view, a hallmark of a free society and what I would assume would always be required from respectable media like NCPR and NPR.

  37. admin says:

    Steve Erman says: “As I said in a post on another topic, people who place a comment on this blog should use their real, full names. That seems to be required in the “Leave a Reply” box, but is clearly not enforced.”

    Actually, the reply form requires a name and an email address. It can be any name. How could we possibly enforce a “real name” policy? Investigate email and IP addresses? We do encourage people to “fly under their own flag,” because people are better behaved, and more accountable, when using their real names. Thanks, Steve, for using yours.

    Dale Hobson, NCPR

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