An upstate county executive fired off an "open letter" to Mayor Bloomberg, complaining about the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and its role as caretaker of a nearby watershed, which the city uses for drinking water. Ulster County executive Michael Hein writes, "The NYC DEP is presently operating much like an occupying nation within our county, extracting the natural resource of clean water while simultaneously polluting our waterways and causing massive regional economic hardships."

You can read the letter there (PDF)—Hein accuses the city of forcing the small towns to, as CBS 2 puts it, "subsidize New York City water rates in an effort to lower their own property taxes." Hein is inviting Bloomberg to see the issues in person, "We believe that Mayor Bloomberg — if he sees first-hand what we’re talking about, the abuse that’s going on within this community, will fight to make things right."

The NYC DEP told Capital Tonight:

This is not the first time County Executive Hein has resorted to cheap political stunts. Unfortunately, he rarely is supported by the facts. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is actually an economic engine upstate, investing $1.5 billion over the past two decades in watershed protection efforts that support sustainable economic development with good jobs for local communities. We also contribute more than $130 million per year in direct tax revenue and employ nearly 1,000 upstate residents.

Not only that, but DEP sprang into action following the devastation of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, providing emergency help with recovery efforts and spending millions of dollars to help local businesses and homeowners get back on their feet. At the end of the day, DEP provides one billion gallons of water a day to nine million New Yorkers, including one million upstate, thousands of who are in Ulster County. By every measure the product is outstanding.

Hein's folks responded, "This is yet another example of the DEP’s disgraceful spin machine attempting to deflect from reality. It is not that far of a drive for the Mayor to visit Ulster County and see for himself what the facts actually are."