RAY BROOK — The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee on Tuesday approved Sherman Craig's position on the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners.
Craig has been seated — with a vote — for two months via a clause in state Public Officers Law.
Clearing this hurdle, the pending appointment faces two more.
A formal decision still has to come from the Senate Finance Committee and then gain approval in the full Senate.
The Finance Committee will likely consider the appointment on Jan. 18, according to Sen. Betty Little's spokesman Dan Mac Entee.
A rustic woodcraftsman and retired teacher from Wanakena, Craig was appointed Nov. 9, 2010, by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, filling the vacancy left when Curt Stiles, former APA chairman, retired after his term expired.
Past Regulatory Programs Committee Chairwoman Leilani Ulrich was moved to chair the APA at the same time.
Craig's appointment came with Senate clearance before the 2012 legislative session got under way.
The provision used is part of Public Officers Law, Section 39, called, generally, a recess appointment. Section 39 says a vacancy "while the Senate is not in session shall be filled by the governor for a term which shall expire upon the qualification of a successor."
The law also says "in any event such term shall expire at the end of 20 days from the commencement of the next meeting of the senate."
The Senate reconvened Jan. 4.
At the Adirondack Council, spokesman John Sheehan said a similar federal law allows the U.S. president to make an appointment when the U.S. Senate is not in session.
"It is the same mechanism used by the state in this case. I had never seen it used here before, not with any appointment related to the Park Agency."
The governor had to reach an agreement with Senate leaders to activate the mechanism.
"They (governor's office) had spoken with Senator Little about his interim appointment, which she cleared through the Senate with the understanding we would be back in January for a vote by the full Senate," Mac Entee said via email when asked about the process.
The new commissioner is the first APA appointee from St. Lawrence County and one of two new decision-makers alongside Department of Environmental Conservation Region 6 Director Judy Drabicki, an attorney who was moved into that agency's designee seat in fall 2010.
Craig's appointment drew no evident squabble from any segment of the Adirondack Park land-use review spectrum, despite rigorous discussion that began when the APA took up Adirondack Club and Resort proceedings in November.
"I think everybody saw the need to fill vacancies on the APA Board," Sheehan said.
"Vacancies had been there a long time. Any business the agency wants to do requires a quorum."
Craig has participated in two full APA meetings, both of which dissected the adjudicatory record from Club and Resort hearings, preparing commissioners for a final vote expected next week.
He could not be reached Tuesday for comment on the Senate proceeding or approval timeline.
Email Kim Smith Dedam at: email@example.com