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Andrew Cuomo

October 5, 2017 - 11:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, batavia, downtown, news.

Perhaps the third time is a charm.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after twice before scheduling announcements in Batavia and then quickly canceling the trip, has once again put Batavia on his schedule. 

Cuomo is expected to be at City Hall tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Members of the public who wish to attend are asked to RSVP.

The nature of the announcement has not been released, but Batavia is a candidate for a $10 million economic development grant and Cuomo has been traveling around the state in recent weeks announcing the grants in each of the 10 economic development regions. The winner for the Finger Lakes region has not yet been announced.

July 11, 2017 - 10:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in HP Hood, Andrew Cuomo, batavia, news, business, notify.

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Some businesses fail and some thrive, and if New York is going to grow economically, it needs to take the risk that not every business that receives state aid will live up to expectations.

That was the theme of comments by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Howard Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development, today in Batavia.

Muller Quaker Dairy didn't work out after being promised millions of dollars in state aid (most of which the project never received), but Cuomo and Zemsky are confident HP Hood is a good company for the state to assist as Hood prepares to expand the 363,000-square-foot facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

"If you want to be in the economic development business, you have to get accustomed to the adjustments," Cuomo said. "You know, only 50 percent of the businesses that start exist after five years. Fifty percent. By the time you get to the 10-year mark, only one-third are still in business. That's the nature of business.

"In the state of New York, we're doing economic development," he added. "We're creating hundreds of businesses, creating thousands of businesses. Well, then, you have to be prepared to have that number of defaults because that is the way the world works. The trick is to keep the fundamentals sound. Keep taxes low. Stay pro-business."

Both Cuomo and Zemsky said they believe Hood will succeed in Batavia.

"Think about the spectrum of industries out there," Zemsky said. "On the one hand, you've got relatively low-risk industries -- I would consider fluid milk to be a pretty stable. We're not figuring out if consumers like milk or not. You're not breaking new ground and producing milk.

"So milk is a pretty low-risk investment in the whole spectrum of things. On the other side, you've got chip fabs or really next-generation industries. We do take some calculated risk, but I'd say this is very low on the scale of calculating risk."

HP Hood is a 170-year-old company based in Lynnfield, Mass., with four other locations in New York. The company is licensed to produce, or has produced, brand-name dairy and non-dairy products throughout the United States.

Hood’s portfolio includes its own brand, Crowley Foods, Simply Smart Milk, Heluva Good!, Lactaid, Baileys Coffee Creamers, Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes, and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze.

The former Muller Dairy plant is the largest dairy processing plant -- even before Hood adds 100,000 square feet of the refrigerated warehouse -- in the United States and in the middle of Upstate dairy country. It cost PepsiCo and Theo Muller Group $206 million to construct. Pepsi took a $60 million write-off when the plant closed. It's unknown how much money Muller lost on the venture.

Muller Quaker was attempting to enter an already crowded and competitive Greek yogurt market with a product that tried to position itself as Greek yogurt but really wasn't.  

Dairy Farmers of America purchased the plant shortly after it closed in December 2015 for $60 million. News broke in June (as first reported by The Batavian) that HP Hood was acquiring the plant from DFA and last week, Hood closed the deal for $54 million.

To assist Hood with its $200 million investment in the plant, Empire State Development will provide up to $5 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits. As with Muller Quaker, these tax incentives are withheld until employment targets are met.

There is also a $2 million capital grant from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center is also amending the current PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes), which will provide Hood with more than $7 million in tax abatements over 10 years.

In return, Hood is planning upgrades and equipment purchases and labor costs for reconstruction of more than $150 million. Construction will create more than 500 jobs. There will be another 230 to 250 permanent jobs at the plant.

The support the state is providing HP Hood has an immediate payoff, regardless of what comes down the road, Zemsky said. He called the support a "no brainer."

"This is huge for the dairy farmers," Zemsky said. "It's huge for the whole footprint of the dairy industry. The returns are immediate. Fifty-four million to buy the plant, about $150 million to repurpose it. Two hundred and fifty jobs. That's more than was here at the peak when it was Muller."

During his public remarks, Cuomo said he's trying to reverse 40 years of Albany's neglect of Upstate's business needs, that includes commiting more than $25 million to the Finger Lakes Region for economic development. He said that's more than any governor in history.

"You keep raising taxes, you make it difficult for businesses to be here," Cuomo said. "I'll tell you what's going to happen at one point -- they're going to leave. And they did. We had what I call a 'hangover New York arrogance.' Well, wait, the businesses will stay here. Where else are they gonna go?

"There are actually other places they can go. You look at a map you will see around the State of New York other shapes squares and triangles. Those are called other states. If you force people, they will leave New York and we have essentially forced people (to leave). It's been a tough business, high-tax environment, high-regulation environment.

He expanded on that theme with the press after his speech.

"We have businesses in New York who just get calls at their desk from other states -- come to my state and you won't have to pay any taxes and we'll send the plane and we'll bring you and your wife for the weekend," Cuomo said.

"It is amazing, the competition. So if you said, 'Well, I'm not going to try to do economic development,' you would just be sitting there as a target for every other state.

"One by one they would pick off your companies, and in a relatively short period of time, you'd be sitting there alone -- losing jobs, losing people, which is what happened to Upstate New York."

Representing Hood at the event was Vice President Jeffrey Kaneb. He is the son of John Kaneb, who first tripled revenue for Gulf Oil to $4.6 billion before selling it in 2005.  The Kaneb family acquired Hood in 1995, growing annual revenue from $600 million to more than $2.3 billion. 

"We're very excited to have this opportunity to grow our business here," Kaneb said. "We are very very grateful for the support that we've gotten from the governor's office, from his staff, from the county, from the entire community, in getting us to this point. We look forward to becoming a supportive member of this community, a good neighbor, and an employer of choice here in Batavia."

Hood is hiring. People interested in a job should call (1-800) 428-6329.

As for STAMP (Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park), the super site in Alabama intended to attract high-tech manufacturers, Zemsky said he thinks it's inevitable that big businesses start to move into that park, because of the location and its access to hydropower and fresh water.

However, Zemsky sounded a cautious tone about whether 1366 Technologies, the solar wafer startup from Massachusetts, that was the first announced tenant for the park, ever breaks ground. 

"I have met with them," Zemsky said. "I haven't talked to them in a while and I think, again, these businesses are competitive. They have to raise capital. I think they have some more capital to raise, so whether or not it happens depends, but it's not going to be all state-financed."

One of the holdups may be the change in presidential administration, from one that supported renewable energy to one that may be more skeptical about the need to support wind and solar. While 1366 has raised substantial private equity, receiving backing from the Department of Energy seems to be a key component of its financial package. The company was previously promised a $150 million loan guarantee from the DOE.

"I think, like anything, the changing of the landscape politically through regulations of the federal government, the vagaries of the financing market, the price of alternative energies -- these are all factors that make being in business really difficult," Zemsky said.

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Hood VP Jeffrey Kaneb.

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July 10, 2017 - 9:32pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Andrew Cuomo, batavia, GCEDC, business.

Announcement: 

From Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

Fellow New Yorker,

New York is one of the largest dairy producers in the country, being home to nearly 5,000 dairy farms and more than 600,000 dairy cows.

And the majority of the farms in the state are family-run operations -- that's why it's crucial the state invest in hard working New York families and ensure they have the support they need to succeed.

Tomorrow, I am announcing the details of a new partnership that will create hundreds of new jobs at an idle dairy facility in New York.

Join me tomorrow, July 11th at 12:30 p.m. as I unveil the details of this new investment.

WHAT: Announcing new investment in New York dairy industry
WHEN: Tuesday, July 11th at 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park
5140 Ag Park Drive, Batavia 14020

Thank you for your support, ever upward.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

April 4, 2017 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Medicaid, news, Andrew Cuomo, chris collins.

It's just two partisans fighting, County Manager Jay Gsell said of a proposal to shift money around so that counties in the State of New York could get relief from the unfunded mandate known as Medicaid.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is backing legislation called the Empire State Equity Act, which would shift back to New York, some $30 billion in taxpayer money from the federal government to the state.

With that money, the state then could assume the cost of the $2.3 billion shelled out by counties now to support Medicaid, but only for counties that agreed to cut local property taxes by the amount of their current share.

That could be $277 average savings per property in Genesee County, according to a chart released by the governor's office.

Where the governor sees tax savings for county residents, Gsell sees smoke and mirrors and political rhetoric aimed at Rep. Chris Collins.

"It's a political war of words between two people, Collins and Cuomo, who seem to really dislike each other and engage in negative partisanship to the max," Gsell said.

The way Gsell sees it, the proposal is asking the feds to "artificially" adjust a funding formula for New York, which is similar to something Schumer did temporarily a few years ago, and give it the "innocent sounding phrase, 'Empire Equity,' and then only provide a cost shift."

Gsell noted the benefit level -- a cause of the state's high Medicaid expense as he sees it -- wouldn't be cut under the governer's proposal, which leaves him distrustful of the long-term effects.

He thinks many counties might pass 100 percent of the cost savings onto taxpayers in the form of lower property taxes, but he fears that is just a trap.

"Our concern, borne out of 50 years of NYS unilateral imposition of cost shifts and mandates," Gsell said, "is that just like with re-K/EI (early intervention) funding and the elimination of the counties from the AIM dollars (a state revenue share with municipalities), as the state was going to take over 75 percent of the total program cost, but they stopped at 59 percent and left the counties out to dry.

"The same can happen with the Empire Equity Act in that the state holds all the cards, all the control, and always blames we locals for the abysmal state of property taxes, and they -- and he, Gov. Cuomo -- refuse to take any responsibility for the unfunded mandates and cost shifts, creating in essence a NYS property tax 'levy' within our county budgets."

Cuomo has called New York a "donor state," in that it pays out $30 billion more in taxes to the federal government than it receives in benefits. He touted this bill as a way to "level the playing field."

The governor backed the proposal as a response to an amendment from Collins to the American Health Care Act, which was eventually pulled from a vote by Speaker Paul Ryan, that would have prohibited the State of New York from taking money from counties to help fund Medicaid. Cuomo called the Collins proposal "a fraud."

"Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, God rest his soul, used to talk about the unfairness that New York gave so much and got back so little," Cuomo said during a press conference on the proposal. "Second, the promises made, from Congressman Ryan to President Trump to Mr. Faso to Mr. Collins was tax relief for the working men and women of this country. Right? That’s what they all ran on. That’s what they all promised. That’s what they all said.

"Well, this actually does just that. This says, 'let’s give New York additional Medicaid money because they are a donor state, let’s reduce the inequity' and New York will then give the money to the taxpayers in property tax relief."

An aide to Collins provided this statement:

“Although late to the party, I am glad Governor Cuomo has finally seen how unsustainable it is to force hardworking property taxpayers to subsidize New York’s out of control Medicaid program,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “Unfortunately, instead of reviewing his own bloated budget for the 1.5 percent needed, the out-of-touch Governor demands more federal government for the nation's most bloated Medicaid program.

"The Governor needs to quit living a federally funded fairy tale and find savings in New York's Medicaid program which costs 44-percent more per recipient than the national average, and spends more than those of Texas and Florida combined.”

February 20, 2014 - 11:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, Andrew Cuomo, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced his opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s plan to give free college degrees to people in prison. The governor’s plan reflects the misplaced priorities of Downstaters who continue to ignore the needs of hard-working Western New York families. Instead of rewarding criminals, Hawley says the state should help the families who are taking on overwhelming debt to put their kids through college.

“The governor’s plan to give free college to convicts is one of the worst ideas I’ve heard during my tenure as an assemblyman. It’s insulting to middle-class Western New Yorkers who are taking on debts over $50,000 to go to college,” Hawley said. “This plan punishes law-abiding citizens while rewarding criminals. Not only is this idea wrong in principle, but it may cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We should never ask taxpayers to pay for the college education of convicts while they are taking on debt to pay for their own.”

Press release Congressman Chris Collins:

“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals with New Yorkers’ tax dollars is an insult to law-abiding citizens all across our state who are struggling to pay for higher education or find employment in this stagnant economy. This plan is just the latest sign that for a state that is the highest taxed and ranks among the worst in job creation, Albany has its priorities all screwed up.”

The Wall Street Journal: New Gov. Cuomo Initiative Will Fund College Classes in Prisons

UPDATE -- from Chris Collins:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide a college education to convicted criminals. The pending legislation is in response to Governor Cuomo’s announced plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals in New York State prisons.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons provides states with funding for educational and other programs at state prisons and correctional facilities. Collins’ legislation would ban states from using the federal taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals.

“We hear over and over again from politicians concerned about the growing cost of higher education and the amount of student debt our young people are sacked with after earning their degree," Collins said. "Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”

According to The Project on Student Debt, 60 percent of college graduates in New York State carry student debt. The average amount of student debt for New Yorkers is $25,537.  

Congressman Collins will formally introduce the legislation in the coming days. As the House moves forward with the Appropriations process later this year, Collins will also introduce a limiting rider to ensure no appropriated funds in a particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals. Collins’ bill would not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.

January 18, 2014 - 2:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Andrew Cuomo, 2nd Amendment, SAFE Act.

More than 100 gun rights advocates turned out this morning in 20-degree whether at the NYSP barracks on West Saile Drive to protest the SAFE Act.

As expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the target of the protest signs and the speakers' rhetoric, but as it turned out, Cuomo gave the protesters a little extra ammunition when, during a radio interview yesterday, the first-term governor said, “If they are extreme conservatives, they have no place in the State of New York."

More than one speaker mentioned Cuomo's statement and suggested that perhaps it's Cuomo who should leave New York and is the one out of step with the majority of New Yorkers.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley also took Cuomo to task for his statement.

“The governor’s comments about my constituents are offensive and are a Freudian slip, which reveals what he truly thinks of Upstate New Yorkers. He has no right to come to Upstate New York and call himself governor when he has such obvious disdain for its people,” Hawley said. “The majority of Upstate New Yorkers are pro-Second Amendment and believe in traditional family values.

"If the governor does not think the good people of Upstate New York have a place in New York, he seems to be doing a good job of driving our families out of the state with his highest-in-the-nation taxes and infringements on our rights.”

Cuomo's apparent lack of fondness for the people of Upstate New York is yet another reason, Hawley said, for supporting his call for a voter referendum on dividing New York into two states.

For more on Cuomo's statement, see this Buffalo News article.

We had a request to purchase these photos, so, for anybody who would like to purchase prints, click here.

June 10, 2013 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, taxes, Andrew Cuomo.

The language of the proposed law that would create "Tax Free New York" has been released. It articulates how tax free zones would be created on SUNY campuses, as suggested by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Genesee Community College would be among the state's colleges that could potentially host tax-free zones.

In order to foster entrepreneurial businesses, especially in tech fields, Cuomo hopes the proposal will lead to start-ups and business expansions on college campuses.

Highlights:

  • Colleges would apply for use of vacant space on campus or on property owned by the college and within one mile of the campus with space allocated to business not to exceed 200,000 square feet.
  • The state could also select up to 20 strategic locations of currently vacant or soon to be vacant state buildings for tax-free zones.
  • The college must demonstrate how a business located within a zone would align with or further the academic mission of the college.
  • In its application, the college must discuss whether the business in the tax-free zone would compete with a business in the community, but outside the tax-free zone.
  • Businesses would be required to create new jobs and pay employees prevailing wage in accordance with the Labor Law.
  • The tax exemption would last for 10 years and in order to maintain tax-free status, a business must retain the new jobs it created or face sanctions.
  • Businesses that cannot participate: retail, real estate and professional services.
  • The state will not reimburse local governments for any tax revenue loss.

The state Legislature has this week to either pass or reject the proposal.

Documents (PDF):

May 31, 2013 - 9:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Andrew Cuomo, Batavia Towne Center, COR Development.

During the "gaggle" (that's what reporters call it) with Gov. Andrew Cuomo following his speech at GCC yesterday, I asked him specifically about Genesee County Economic Development Center providing tax incentives to the retail project at Batavia Towne Center.

In these mini-press conferences, reporters are only given enough time to ask a few questions and it's difficult to ask follow-up questions, so I fumbled through my question (which really should have been a two- or three-parter), trying to cram in as much information into a short time as possible (and it was still a pretty long-winded question).

Another media outlet has reported that Cuomo was critical of the retail tax subsidies given to COR. The quote used: “It wasn’t the smartest investment of money."

The quote, in my view, is being taken out of context.

Here's Cuomo's full response to my question:

Your case is fact specific and I would have to look at the actual facts to see what they did. We had proposed IDA reforms. I believe there are economies that I can find there and I believe there are incidents where you can find it wasn't the smartest investment of money. That's why, that's one of the reasons I like the approach we're talking about here today. It's simple. It's clean. It doesn't have a lot of bureaucratic red tape. It's very easy to administer. Very few government officials required to administer it. So I think it's preferable to a lot of things we've done in the past.

Included in Cuomo's budget was a reenacted law meant to curtail IDAs providing tax breaks to retail projects. I asked Cuomo what the intent of that law was. He said, "Just improve the process and address the kind of abuses you've been talking about." He then said thank you and turned and left.

I didn't report any of this because I didn't find it particularly newsworthy. He couldn't address the specific local issue (hardly surprising, but I had to ask) and his answer to the more general "intent" question referenced my own question, which by his own admission, he didn't know much about. That seemed like a kind of circular logic that didn't make a lot of sense.

However, given that another media outlet used the quote, and though I don't mean to be critical of a fellow reporter, I feel obliged to put the quote in context.

May 8, 2013 - 5:47am
posted by Bob Harker in politics, business, taxes, Andrew Cuomo, ny.

"ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Chief Executive magazine ranks New York as the49th worst state for business in the opinion of CEOs questioned. The ninth annual survey of CEOs blamed New York's high taxes, bureaucracy and a regulatory system that is difficult to navigate. The CEOs ranked New York just better than California. Most larger states with strong labor unions faired poorly in the rankings. CEOs liked Texas most for the ninth straight year, followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana. The ranking comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is continuing a "New York Open for Business" campaign with TV ads that say the Empire State is now far more welcoming of business and employers. A Cuomo spokesman notes the state is now at its highest work force size ever."

April 27, 2013 - 2:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, Andrew Cuomo, 2nd Amendment, SAFE Act.

I'm seeing quite a few anti-Cuomo, anti-SAFE Act signs around Genesee County this spring. This one is in Elba.

January 26, 2013 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, genesee county, Andrew Cuomo, pensions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a program that would help local governments save on near-term pension costs, potentially relieving local administrations of a major budgeting challenge, but both County Manager Jay Gsell and City Manager Jason Molino are reacting to the news with some caution.

Molino said until he can fully study the budget bill, assuming this provision even moves forward, he can't really comment on it.

He isn't yet ready to agree with the governor that the city will realize $3.1 million in pension savings over the next five years.

In a press release yesterday, Cuomo isn't promising local governments that they will completely avoid the pension expense, just some relief from near-term pension cost instability.

From the press release:

Under the plan, localities are given the option for a stable pension contribution rate that significantly reduces near-term payments but still keeps the pension systems fully funded over the long term. Local governments which opt in would avoid significant volatility in contribution rates and be better able to plan for the future. Though the locality receives short-term relief, because the contribution rate remains fixed, the total amount paid into the fund by the locality would not be diminished over the life of agreement, thereby maintaining the fiscal stability of the pension fund.

While over the next five years, Genesee County could receive a $11.5 million benefit over five years under the plan, Gsell is also keeping the proposal at arm's length.

Here's his e-mail response:

On the surface it is intriguing, but there are concerns as to the back-end balloon escalators in 10 to 25 years and what Comptroller Dinapoli will do every 5 years to "protect" the retirement system dollars is a major note of caution. This could be the NYS version of the Titanic iceberg, only it involves our budgets and employees retirement assets. Once the full details and not just the second-floor spin are revealed we will look at our pay-as-you-go options.

A year ago, Albany enacted a Tier VI retirement plan, which covers only new hires by government agencies. The plan will supposedly greatly reduce local government pension costs, but not for decades from now. What Cuomo is proposing now is to shift those savings so local governments can realize some benefit from Tier VI in the near term.

In the press release, Cuomo hails the plan as a major step toward helping local governments.

"The difficult financial pressures facing localities are well-known here in Albany, and my administration from day one has been committed to helping local governments meet their budgetary obligations as well as continue to provide critical services to their residents," Governor Cuomo said. "While the Tier VI reforms were a major step toward helping local governments deal with the pension crisis, we understand that more help is needed. For this reason, the Executive Budget proposed the Stable Rate option to offer local governments and schools a bridge to the long-term savings of Tier VI, as well as greater predictability."

September 11, 2012 - 9:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, 9-11, kathy hochul.

Press release:

"On this day, we mark the eleventh anniversary of the terror attacks that claimed thousands of lives and truly changed New York and our nation forever. On this day, we honor the memories and the lives of those who were killed and the families who will never forget them. We also honor the first responders who bravely put themselves in harm’s way – many of whom never returned home.

"It is also our obligation and our duty to make sure that we will always remember. As a new generation grows up without having witnessed the horror of September 11th, it is important to educate our children so they can understand the tragedy that unfolded on that day, the bravery and courage of our first responders, and the outpouring of goodwill in communities across New York and America as we recovered as one state and one nation."

UPDATE:  Statement from Rep. Kathy Hochul:

“Today as we mark the passing of another year since the September 11 attacks in 2001, we honor those we lost on that day. We recall the innocent victims taken too soon, the courage of the passengers who prevented further tragedy, and those first responders, who in doing their jobs, laid down their lives to protect their fellow Americans.

“What grew from this tragedy was an all encompassing spirit of patriotism, bonding our nation together in common purpose to move our country forward. Our endeavor today is to find that spirit once again. We must recognize that so much more binds us than divides us, and as Americans we are capable of solving the challenges of our time.

“In the memory of all who were lost on 9/11, I call on each of us to rekindle the spirit of patriotism that brought us together in our country’s darkest hour.”

August 7, 2012 - 6:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Andrew Cuomo, synthetic drugs, bath salts.

Local officials welcome new NYS Health Department regulations cracking down on the sale and possession of synthetic drugs, but also say the new rules are no substitute for aggressive legislation from Albany.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made three stops across the state today to announce new rules against drugs he deemed more dangerous than crack cocaine or methamphetamines or heroin.

“It is a new face on a very old enemy. It’s an enemy that we fought decade after decade. The enemy is drugs, and it’s an ongoing battle. When you beat one manifestation of the drugs, it comes back in another form, sometimes more virulent.

But whether it’s crack cocaine or methamphetamines or heroin back in the old days, this is just the newest explosion of that old enemy. And in some ways it’s more dangerous and it’s more insidious, because this wasn’t sold in a back alley. This wasn’t sold on a street corner. This isn’t sold in the shadows. This is sold in broad daylight, over the counter in stores all across this state and across this nation.”

Unlike a previous health department ban on synthetic cannabinoids, which allowed only for civil penalties, the new emergency regulations give local police officers the power to arrest people found in possession of banned substances.

If convicted, a person caught selling or possessing one of the banned substances could be fined $500 or serve 15 days in jail, and while the new regulation (PDF) allows for multiple penalties for a shop owner caught with several packages of drugs, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he's concerned the new rules won't have the desired effect.

"When you consider the harm that we know is caused by these substances, I would like to see more teeth in the law," Friedman said.

When The 420 Emporium stores, along with the residence of the owner(s), were raided by the DEA on July 25, agents recovered more than $700,000 in cash.

Friedman said thinks the penalties need to be harsher than just a $500 fine, even if the fine and jail time can be strung together.

Sheriff Gary Maha expressed some of the same reservations.

Maha urged the Legislature to pass a bill that would make the sale or possession of synthetic compounds a violation of the law under the state's penal code, rather than just a violation of the public health law.

"This appears to be a 'Band-Aid' approach until the legislature enacts such legislation," Maha said. "It helps, but is not enough."

The new regulation bans a dozen specific compounds associated with the type of synthetic drug commonly known as "bath salts." 

While the state has already listed some "bath salt" compounds as controlled substances, the state doesn't have a comprehensive "analog" law (a law that bans substances that are the same or similar to already illegal controlled substances).

The new regulation does specifically cover analogs of banned substances. It also covers a wider variety of the more than 450 known synthetic cannabinoids.

While the regulation specifically states employees of stores selling such products can be prosecuted, the store owners (anybody with an ownership interest in the store) are also held to criminal liability even if not present at the time of sale.

Besides the fine and jail time, a store owner could lose his business.

Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch wasn't available for comment today, but City Manager Jason Molino said the health department's new regulations were a topic on conversation today in a meeting between city staff and the county health department.

Molino said that while the new law seems to lack teeth, it is a step in the right direction.

He also pointed out that tonight is National Night Out and several neighborhoods in the city are actively participating, including the neighborhood around Pringle Park, which organized its own event this year.

"When neighborhoods get together, that is your more powerful enforcement tool," Molino said.

Inset photo: File photo.

February 19, 2011 - 7:44am
posted by Bob Harker in Andrew Cuomo, nys taxes Governor, NY Politics.

AP) An early list of proposals from a task force redesigning the most expensive Medicaid system in the nation seeksto charge hospitals and nursing homes more as a way to cut New York's cost.

The above appeared on a Rochester news site, The link for the full article appears below.

How in the world is charging hospitals and nursing home morea  cost cutting move?!! After wooing the state's taxpayers with a speech revolving around a redesigning the way state government works, it seems the old doublespeak is alive and well.

It seems the governor does not have the guts to say that he isconsidering cutting aid to these facilities by 750 million bucks over two years. Instead, he buries this fact by creating a charge back instead. Any bets the chargeback will be called a fee?

 

http://www.wham1180.com/pages/localnews.html?feed=122742&article=8195356

 

 

 

 

January 8, 2011 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, elba, Andrew Cuomo.

sam_parents.jpg

Sam Lamont, a student in Elba, was selected to attended Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech earlier this week.

He was one of 62 students selected from throughout New York. The Elba Central School District was asked by the governor's office to select one of its student.

Sam was selected because of his leadership qualities, involvement in the community and was a Boy's State representative last summer.

Above, Sam is pictured with his parents, Skip and Mari-Ellen Lamont.

Below is his report on attending the event.

Being chosen to attend the "State of the State Address" was an honor. This was my first trip to Albany and yes it was impressive. This was a moment in history.

Seeing Governor Andrew Cuomo outline his plan to bring New York forward and reduce spending was inspiring and rang true with those present.

He is an emotional speaker and today, in Albany, it didn't matter if you were a Republican or Democrat.

He does care about the future of our state. Rochester's own Robert Duffy, taller than I had expected, gained the respect of everyone in the room.

As I sat on the stage, I was immediately impressed by the number of black power suits and the presence of the press. Cameras were everywhere. It seemed everyone was making contacts and later being interviewed as to their opinion of the speech.

The receptions were filled with a cross section of New Yorkers looking forward to a canoli or cheesecake while discussing politics.

I came to the realization that Albany is a powerful place and those individuals in dark suits are many of our elected officials. They are powerful people and are decision makers in our future. Let them hear your viewpoint; vote, contact your representatives and be informed.

January 5, 2011 - 5:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in new york, Andrew Cuomo.

Newly minted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his first State of the State message today and came out strongly against taxes:

The New York Times:

Mr. Cuomo proposed to freeze the salaries of the vast majority of public employees for one year, to limit new spending to no higher than the rate of inflation, to limit school property tax increases and to “hold the line” on taxes in general.

“New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Our young people will not stay, businesses will not come, this has to change. Put it simply, the people of this state simply cannot afford to pay more taxes, period.”

Cuomo pledged to cut spending, consolidate agencies and reform programs such as Medicaid.

We've been receiving reactions today from local leaders. Their full statements after the jump:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

In today’s State of the State Address, the governor acknowledged the dark times ahead, but looked to a brighter future on the horizon. Many of his cornerstone proposals, from a property tax cap to an independent redistricting commission, have been advanced by the Assembly Minority Conference for years.

What we must do now as state legislators is change the way we operate in Albany and run state government like a private-sector business. We need to find savings in the state budget through consolidating state agencies and ending optional Medicaid programs that other states do not offer.

Unfunded mandates that force localities to raise property taxes and drive our families across state lines must be repealed immediately. Powerful job-creating programs like IDA’s need to be embraced, not ignored. I am eager to work with the governor to accomplish these goals that will improve the quality of life for Western New Yorkers.

State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer:

Today, the Governor’s State of the State address echoed opinions of so many New Yorkers, including myself – especially for the state to close the budget deficit, impose a property-tax cap, and create private-sector jobs. 

I have been an outspoken advocate and introduced legislation on many of these issues during my first term and I am pleased to hear the Governor make them his major legislative priorities.  More importantly, New Yorkers have been demanding property tax relief and a smaller and leaner State government over the past few years as well. 

As the 2011 Legislative Session begins, the governor and legislature have an opportunity to turn our state’s fiscal and economic future around. I am eager to begin working with the governor and my senate and assembly colleagues during the 2011 Legislative Session.”

Steve Hyde, director of the Genesee County Economic Development Center:

The governor’s message today was one of change, coming together, and hope for a prosperous economic future for the Empire State. During his State of the State, Governor Cuomo mentioned his idea of creating 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC’s) throughout the state which will be chaired by Lt. Governor Bob Duffy. 

Steve Hyde, President and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), was impressed with the Governor’s message. “I’m optimistic that the REDC’s will help foster job growth and benefit Genesee County. The private industry uses pay-for-performance and competition to drive success and I think that our state will succeed through rewarding performance.”

He continued “… if done right the REDC’s have potential to better integrate the GCEDC’s regional partners, including Greater Rochester Enterprise and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, with the development communities, local governments, and the state’s Economic Development Agency. These ongoing partnerships will lead to more efficiency and development for all of Western New York.”

Genesee County has continued to grow and strategically invest to develop shovel-ready industry specific sites for medical devices, food processing, distribution logistics and high-tech advanced manufacturing companies. A mega site, Western New York Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP), is under development in Genesee County, Alabama, NY and has the ability to transform Western New York.

Hyde is convinced that STAMP will be a contender in the competitive funding pool that the governor announced. Funds will be allocated to the most innovative and creative regional job creating initiatives. The WNY STAMP project and the Buffalo East Tech Park in Pembroke, NY, have the potential to bring 11,000 jobs directly into Genesee County and add an additional 27,000 jobs through the supply chain impact between Buffalo and Rochester. Potentially, the REDC will assist to promote WNY STAMP and bring the project to a reality for Western New York.

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton:

Governor Cuomo's property tax cap plan is a much needed New Year's resolution for New York State farmers.

Because of our land holdings, property taxes are killing us. We love the governor’s plan to cap taxes at 2 percent. Also, we love the cap because it's coupled with a recognition that long-term restructuring is needed to Medicaid, government consolidation and education reform.

Equally exciting is his mandate relief program, which will help shrink the massive tax burden local municipalities are forced to levy against its residents and businesses.

The governor made it clear today, as he did throughout his campaign last fall, that agriculture will be a central factor in his effort to revitalize the economy.

We are grateful for his vow to help get more New York-grown food into the New York City market. This is a no-brainer. This idea will benefit farmers as well as city residents who will have greater access to fresh local produce and dairy products.

We applaud his support to renovate the Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, which is a vital resource for farmers to deliver produce into the New York City market.

We’re looking forward to working with Lt. Gov. Duffy in his role as advisor to regional economic development councils. He’s already visited my farm and many others over the past several months. He has demonstrated a clear recognition of agriculture and its role in the economy and culture of Upstate New York and Long Island.

Governor Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Duffy have pledged their commitment to the farm families of New York and we’re looking forward to working with this exciting new administration.

October 25, 2010 - 6:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, Democrats, Andrew Cuomo.

cuomo01.jpg

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo made a campaign stop -- he's running for governor -- in Batavia this afternoon at Larry's Steakhouse on East Main Street.

The room was packed with local Democrats and several members of the media.

We'll have more coverage later.

UPDATE:  My digital recorder failed me. I was planning to post an audio of Cuomo's speech, but the file didn't save right.  All I have is his meeting with reporters (audio starts just after a TV reporter asked about his plans for the lieutenant governor). There are more pictures after the jump.

cuomo02.jpg

October 5, 2010 - 3:59pm
posted by Chris Charvella in Andrew Cuomo, Genesee County Democrats.
Event Date and Time: 
October 7, 2010 - 6:30pm to 9:00pm

The Genesee County Democratic Committee will be having grand opening party at their campaign headquarters, 10 City Centre Batavia at 6:30pm Thursday October 7th.  Special guests will include State Senate candidate Marc Coppola, multiple candidates for the 8th District State Supreme Court and other local elected officials.  Light refreshments will be served.

June 12, 2010 - 10:02am
posted by Dave Olsen in politics, Andrew Cuomo, ny, Governor race, Rick Lazio.

 In 2004 private citizens, Andrew Cuomo and Rick Lazio co-hosted a radio show in New Rochelle, NY, where they acted like old pals and complemented each other for their work on making housing affordable when Cuomo was HUD Secretary and Lazio was the House chair of the Housing Opportunity sub-committee. Pretty fascinating stuff (if you're a political nerd like me), about 2 guys out of politics that really want back in.  Anyway here is the audio of the show, it's a hour long and I haven't yet been able to listen to all of it. http://ia331203.us.archive.org/3/items/TheCuomoAndLazioShow/01Track1.mp3

 

and the Blog that turned me on to it.  http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2010/05/when_rick_lazio.php

 

I will try to listen to it tonight, as I have things to do now.

May 1, 2010 - 10:36am

Genesee County was well represented at the Friday night session of the Democrat Rural Conference in Niagara Falls with 12 members attending. 

Andrew Cuomo sparked a gread deal of interest and let the Rural Conference know how much he appreciated their continued support. 

“My friends, the job is not done. I believe this upcoming election is the most important for the state of New York in my lifetime, in my 52 years. And my friends, this state is at a crossroads, and I believe depending on what we do now this state will go up or this state will go down. And I’ll tell you what, this state is in drastic need of reform today,”

“The first thing we have to do is get the state’s fiscal house in order. And this is not just a question of balancing the budget.  The roaring days and the big income we’ve had in the past decade is over.  We need to look beyond the budget, hoping that the money will come back next year won’t work.”

“It’s going to be a reorganization. It’s going to be a restructuring,” he said. “There are 1,000 state agencies. But by the way, nobody really knows for sure.”

“Property taxes are going through the roof. Property taxes are driving people from their homes, literally, There are 10,521 local government entities in New York.  “You know what my friends? We can’t afford 10,521 governments anymore. That’s what it comes down. It’s not just about balncing a budget. It’s about changing the way we do business, rolling up your sleeves.”

“The second thing we have to do is clean up the mess in Albany.  We have to clean up the disgrace that is the legislative process. We have to clean up the gridlock. We have to dlean up the waste. We have to clean up the delay. Enough is enough, my friends. This government works for the people, and it has let the people down.”

“In this Democratic Party, there is no place for government corruption, period. This government has betrayed the public trust.

“The government is only as good as the level of trust people have, and this government has violated the trust. We also this year, have to hear and understand the concerns of the people in this state, and understand that in this political environment, I’ve been all over the state and everywhere you go, people are afraid.”

He spoke about “activist groups” that he said will seek to try and divide New Yorkers who are, by and large, “afraid.” The tea party has already begun to attack Cuomo and were present, in front of the Crowne Plaza with signs supporting Paladino. 

As an aside, it was interesting watching how the tea party group (of about 15 people) worked the media.  They had an organizer with a bull horn.  Anytime he saw someone standing in front of a camera for an interview, he would direct his 15 people to run over and picket behind the person being interviewed.  First they would all run to one corner, then be directed to the opposite corner. Then back in front of the hotel. 

“They’ll try to take divisions and exploit division.  They’ll use the fear to separate. Our message has to be the exact opposite: we won’t hear about dvision, we are about unity and unifying this state like it’s never been unified before. That’s who we are. Let them try to divide us.”

I took particular notice of the 10521 governments in New York State because this has been a topic of discussion on thebatavian quite often.  A real reason to take a look at consolidation.  Included in that number were state, county, city, town and village governments along with utility districts.
 

Governor Patterson hosted the opening reception, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand the banquet for about 500 guests, and Cuomo hosted the dessert.

The straw poll will take place today, Saturday. 

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