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May 13, 2013 - 8:16am

Today's Poll: How would you grade GCEDC's effort to improve Genesee County's economy?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
bud prevost
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WGRZ is doing a piece on the GCEDC and King Steve tonight at 5 and 11 pm. I encourage viewership. They are asking the same question I've been asking for years; how does this guy make $30,000 a year more than Gov Cuomo? I'm interested to see what fallout, if any, occurs. I also hope they expose the county legislature for the fraud group that they are. Legislators are elected to represent. This group has no intention of listening to its constituents.

Jeff Allen
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Interesting question as to why someone makes $30,000 more than the governor...in fact in 2012, 3,256 public employees made more than the governor. 446 public employees fell into the Obama Administrations definition of "rich" at $250,000 or more annually. In 2011, 1,515 public employees made 250K or better with 2 over a million. In 2011, a staggering 5,498 public employees made more than the governor. At least in New York we can't acquiesce to being topped by a sports coach. http://deadspin.com/infographic-is-your-states-highest-paid-employee-a-c...
Kyle Couchman
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I love this debate.... On one hand GCEDC is public as they recieve taxpayer money to operate, (at least they SAY they need it to operate when the Legislature is handing out money) But when you question the enormity of Steve's salary and how out of line it is with the rest of the county. Ho then they say how they are private or semi-private and he has to paid a salary that is similar to private companies.

Does this double standard bother anyone else?

How about the number of stories on how they make money hand over fist over their land investments and the grants they get. But come budget time there they are with their pockest turned out claiming they need their share to function. Last year I echoed a suggestion from either here or from one of the 3 legislators that seemed to not be on the GCEDC boat. My suggestion was not to give GCEDC the money but to set it aside, then make them apply to ways and means comittee showing (on paper) what they need our money for.... Thats not taking it away, it's adding accountability to the taxpayer and transparency, is that not reasonable? Not according to a majority of our County Reps. But it was trashed canned in favor of just handing them the money.

Howard B. Owens
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I find salary comparison completely bogus. Hyde Makes more than the governor. The governor makes more than a teacher. A sports star makes more than all of them.

This is a free society, folks. You are paid what you are able to negotiate for yourself. It's called capitalism.

Steve Hyde's bosses believe that if he wasn't paid what he is paid, he could bolt for a job with a private company. Kyle, the argument isn't that GCEDC is a private company when it comes to paying Hyde. The argument is that Hyde might be able to make more working for a private company.

Whether you agree with him or not, Steve Hyde has a real passion for what he does. He believe what he says and does what he believes in. The fact is, even at his current salary, if he wasn't motivated by a passion for his job, he could likely make more in the private sector.

Just as the governor could make more in the private sector, if that was the life he wanted to choose for himself.

I'm not suggesting that anybody like Steve, agree with what he does or agree with what GCEDC does, or even support GCEDC in any fashion. I'm arguing purely for the free market system. Steve's paid what he's paid because that's what he's been able to negotiate for himself. End of story.

BTW: Unlike the governor, Steve doesn't get a taxpayer-funded mansion, a chauffeur driven car, a personal security detail, nearly every meal -- and some very expensive meals -- free, and countless other perks that go with being a chief executive of a big state. So a straight comparison of salaries is hardly apples to apples.

There are four basic issues with GCEDC:

-- Do they accomplish what they say they accomplish?
-- Should IDAs even exist, and if they're unavoidable, should Genesee County at least be represented by a IDA
-- Should the legislature partially fund the EDC with taxpayer money?
-- And my personal pet peeve, should IDAs been giving tax breaks to retail stores?

There was an issue of bonus pay, but that has gone away. To me, griping about how much Steve Hyde is paid is a distraction from the other issues and flies in the face of free market capitalism. I can't stand the idea of resenting what another person is paid.

And if you think the IDA should be run differently, then you need to change the legislature. All nine seats up for a vote this November. At least one of the pro-funding incumbents (Dejaneiro) has a challenger. There are currently three legislators -- Cianfrini, Clattenburg and Ferrando -- who have taken stands against funding, or least curtailing (along the lines Kyle suggests) the EDC. There needs to be five legislators who fall into that camp before anything changes.

Jeff Allen
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Public employment is not capitalism. In New York State employment, you are not paid what you negotiate for yourself, you are paid with tax dollars for what someone has collectively negotiated for you. The overwhelming majority of NYS public employees are represented by a union. Union wages are not "freemarket" wages. Salary comparisons in the private sector ARE bogus, salary comparisons in public employment are very relevant, attempting to compare the two is completely useless.

Robert Brown
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Let's not assume that having passion for a job (or publicly displayed passion for a job) equates to earnest, unselfish, and truly public serving behavior in any sector, but especially in the public sector. There are countless tyrants who were passionate about what they did...

Now Howard is right about one thing: the real problems stem from the cost of doing business in this politically manipulated overtaxed state and the silly practice of granting abatement and leniency to retail businesses, especially non-locally based retail corporations.

But that wasn't the question posted, although the practice feeds into the report card.

In my opinion, the GCEDC automatically drops to a C grade for granting any leniency/incentive to any retail business. They drop to an F when they manipulate (or work in conjunction with elected officials to manipulate) the system to their own gains, be they bonuses (the past was not that long ago), kick backs from abatement deals, failure to show accountability for their decisions and demonstrated payback.

Bottom line: my property taxes and sales taxes have not decreased over the time of GCEDC's existence. Has anyone's? That's a big fat "F" in my book. Mission NOT accomplished!

Mark Potwora
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Thats fine that Hyde can negotiate for a salary of 200,000 dollars...But to ask the county to support his enterprise with my tax dollars, whether its federal ,state, local or county also gives me the right to point the finger at how over the top his salary is .If the majority of county residents believe he should not be paid that amount is relivent...Without government tax dollars there would be no Hyde and GCEDC..If this was a totally private enterprise the it would be a non issue..Its a public entity ran with public money... I do agree with Jeff....Public employment is not capitalism...............

Jeff Allen
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Just as a point of disclosure, I am a New York State public employee and I choke at some of the salaries paid because I am also a taxpayer.

Howard B. Owens
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"Public employment is not capitalism."

You can't separate a person's ability to be an employee for whatever employer the person chooses.

An employee can choose to work for X amount for a public agency or Y amount for a private entity.

Union employment is a fix compensation system. An person says I prefer that option over my other options and makes a free decision to take that job based on free market considerations (pay, benefits, type of job, etc.)

Public employment is 100 percent capitalism in this country because every employee has a choice of where to work. Public employers must compete for every employee with the private sector. That's one reason unions have become so powerful. Through collective bargaining they've convinced their government employers they are indispensable in comparison to what they've demanded over the years.

Unless and until you start forcing people to take government jobs they don't want, it is and remains a free market choice for people about where to work and for how much. A guy who thinks he can make $100,000 a year as an engineer isn't going to take a job for $45K as a sanitation working, but the guy making $45K might be really happy with the seeming more secure employment, benefits, retirement and predictable hours.

These are all the trade-offs on employment opportunities that people make when deciding where to work, and if the government can't offer attractive employment packages, they're not going to have employees.

So, again, no matter what the job, whether union or not, the government agency is competing in a free, capitalist market, for employees.

As a member of the free market, Steve is free to leave GCEDC any time he feels the pay is no longer commensurate with what he believes he would want to make elsewhere. There is simply no agrument against this being a free market arrangement between Hyde and the GCEDC board. Nobody is forcing Steve, against his will, into his present job. It's his choice.

And the GCEDC board is paying Steve what they believe is necessary to retain his services because they believe his services are worth retaining.

You might disagree with the calculation, but it's a free market decision on both sides. If the board thought they could get the same level of service at half the price, that's the direction they would go. There's no con going on it. It's the free market at work.

Howard B. Owens
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BTW: it's a completely separate issue as to whether Mr. Hyde's salary is an obscene amount of money for this particular market.

Whether it's obscene or not is a subjective judgement, but it's easy to understand why people in this community would be upset by that amount and feel the GCEDC board is out of touch with the community.

The point is -- the salary was arrived in a competitive free market.

If you don't think public employees should be compensated accordingly, that's fine, make that argument, but also be ready to accept less qualified employees in public jobs.

Jeff Allen
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"Public employment is 100 percent capitalism in this country because every employee has a choice of where to work."
That is not the definition of capitalism, Webster defines capitalism this way: "an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market"
In capitalism, the sky is the limit on earnings both for the employer and the employee. If an employer wants to increase their capital, then by free market principles, they produce a better product or service, increase efficiency, increase quality, increase price to what the market will bear and so on. If an employee wants to make more money they; increase their efficiency, increase their value to the employer, make the employer more money, and so on.
Public employers and employees do not make or sell a product or service that competes in the open market (with some exceptions, but overall, no), they fulfill a mission function that is constrained by a facility budget, department budget, municipality budget, then ultimately state budget. They are also constrained by Civil Service law, and collective bargaining. There is no way public employment fits into an economic definition of capitalism. The fact that people can choose where they work is by virtue of our free society and is separate from our capitalist economy.

Kyle Couchman
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Interestingly enough the last Comptroller's report had this to say in 2011. Granted this was 2 years ago but its the only halfway clear data out there at the moment.

Interestingly, the largest component of operating revenues ($32.5 million) is designated as “other revenues.” It is not clear what is contained in the “other revenues” category, if the meaning of this designation is consistent between IDAs, or even if all of these revenues are properly authorized by statute.
IDAs reported $11.3 million in compensation for IDA employees in 2011, or an average of $35,512 for the 317 reported employees. The average compensation for full-time IDA executives (a category that includes executive directors, CEOs, CFOs, and similar titles) was $81,971. However, only 78 IDAs reported any compensation data, and 25 of these reported only having part-time employees, so reported compensation does not appear to include all the pay of persons doing IDA-related work.
The highest paid IDA employee in 2011 was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Genesee County IDA, who received $186,342 in total compensation. Eighteen IDA employees, all executives, received compensation of over $100,000. Sixty-nine IDA employees were reported as receiving no compensation in 2011, including 37 described as full-time, again suggesting that the reported compensation does not cover all of the pay of persons working at IDAs.

Notice the average Salary for IDA CEOs is 81,000. The highest paid IDA employee statewide.....(Thats Statewide including places like Syr, Albany, and NYC and Buffalo.) Is president and CEO of Genesee County Steve Hyde... with a Total (salary and bonuses) of 186,342.00
When I talked to the comptroller's office in Jan they tell me that this is STILL the case that he is the highest paid IDA employee.

That Howard is a fair comparison among similar jobs, and it still comes up obscenely higher than it should be.

So what if the bonuses were ended, when they ended them they just upped the Salary to compensate for the lost bonus. Its a shell game except this is what he gets now despite his performance. And as they showed with COR they could care less about the citizens of this county and what they want they are gonna do as they please. No one's saying they arent doing a good job. (Til they granted COR's request that is) But its still all pie in the sky. The employment numbers arent there, to be honest I predict that when the abatements run out you'll see Alpina and Mueller looking like Lowes and Wiard Plow. They have the money to pick up and leave for greener pastures and then what we are left holding the bag?

Jeff is right Howard,this isnt a free market in my mind either. The retirement/Health care benefit packages of these public employees are cushy compared to private sector. Sure a guy can go get that 100,000 dollar job then end up paying out 35 to 45,000 in retirement and health insurance and end up almost at the same pay. Job security too, if you were to have some health issues or personal stuff going on you dont get fired as easily from a public sector job. But private can fire you very easily. No matter how you look at it the pro's and cons balance out in the end making that argument pretty weak.

Bottom line he is taking money from our pockets and putting it in his, maintaining his lifestyle at the expense of ours. If things fell through and we ended up with all these projects failing. I'd be willing to bet he'd be slipping out of town and going down south to retire, laughing all the way on how he ignored us. wooed our county govt and ended up pulling the wool over our eyes til the end.

Howard B. Owens
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Until you can convince me that Steve Hyde or any other public employee is FORCED into the jobs they hold, you're not going to win this argument.

Each and every person has the right and freedom to chose to work on the terms and conditions laid out by any employer, private or public. That makes the employee a free-market capitalist entity.

The only way you win this argument on facts and logic is to prove the employees don't have a choice.

If the employees have a choice, then the employer is competing for the work hours of the employee. Period. That's capitalism. That's free market.

Prove to me that the employees don't have a choice and are compelled by force into their labor and I'll concede the point, otherwise, you have no basis to say it's anything other than a free market.

Jeff Allen
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I don't have to try and "win" this argument since I am right...period. I never said public employees are forced into their jobs. But at the same time, the public employee system of compensation does not fit the definition of capitalism. You are confusing two very different principles. Again, the ability to choose your occupation has nothing to do with Capitalism. Even under Communism, a person can choose WHAT they do for a living. You have clouded the definition of capitalism by inserting employee choice to be employed. Capitalism and free markets are supply/demand (value/need) based systems where public employment is simply filling a preset number of positions in a defined budget, producing no product or service for the purposes of competition, with little or no influence from market forces.

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There is a very fine line between Jeff's and Howard's arguments, however, one thing I am sure that they can both agree on.

Steve Hyde successfully negotiated a lucrative salary and benefits package that is 'A' not illegal and honestly not wrong in the legal sense. The GCDEC board and our County legislators at the time offered that package whether it was suggested by Mr Hyde or not, and therefore are the ones responsible if the public [Taxpayer}considers anything that may be excessive here.

If anyone can honestly say that they would turn down a compensation package because they think it is too much money for the position or a higher pay than someone else doing the same job, they are a far better man than I.

bud prevost
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I have nothing against the player(Hyde), it's the game that sucks.

Howard B. Owens
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I'm not confusing any principles, Jeff.

Each and every person is sovereign. They can choose who to work or who not to work for.

As an employee, you are selling your labor.

This is a foundational principle of a conservative view of capitalism -- that each and every person has a right to the fruits of his or her labor. Who have free choice in who to sell our labor, too.

We may chose to sell it to a private enterprise or we may choose to sell it to a non-competitive government entity. The choice is still ours.

I realize I'm being categorical here, but it's a categorical issue. Either a person is free to sell his or her labor or the person isn't. It's a very binary subject.

So Jeff, answer this question if you dare: Is Steve Hyde free to work for whom he likes are is he forced to work for GCEDC?

Mark Brudz
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Well said Howard

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Jeff,
Rich Ellerson, West Point Football Coach made $610,000 in 2011.
Government employee, albeit federal not state.

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The fundamental issue for me is the absurdity of increasing the size of state government via economic development corporations in order to address the problems created by that same huge, cumbersome government bureaucracy. We need to decrease the size of government, not increase it. The burdens of high taxes and over regulation make NYS a difficult business environment, not just for new business, but also for established businesses. Look at the city of Batavia, where property assessments on some local businesses went up from 55% to 400%. How do we expect those businesses to prosper? So, does the answer lie in having the GCEDC pick winners and losers? I don't believe so. Every time GCEDC gives away millions of dollars in tax abatement to new business ventures, they effectively say to established business, "you lose". EDC's are no more than well intentioned but misguided attempts to address a problem that they are part of; the systemic dysfunction of Albany. I won't blame Steve Hyde for negotiating the best possible compensation package for himself. In a free market, he is entitled to do that. However, Pardon me, if I don't admire him for it.

Howard B. Owens
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The only way you're going to change the system that makes IDAs necessary is secession so that there's a whole fresh start on state government.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Well, I don't think Batavia will be seceding from the state anytime soon Howard. However, I firmly believe that we can change the culture of the state one community at a time. Otherwise, why even vote? We have a few local voices speaking out against misguided state policies. I think there are many, many more out there. Vehicles like The Batavian are forcing agencies like GCEDC to be more transparent with the community. Information is power. We can't get overwhelmed by a "you can't fight city hall" mentality. Of course we can fight City Hall...and Albany. We might not win every battle but we can make them sweat in the process. Do you really think that GCEDC would be holding an informational (read:PR) meeting at GCC if they didn't feel the heat from this community? No way. Let's keep them on their toes....one step at a time.

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The WGRZ piece on the GCEDC and Mr. Hyde was not faltering. It showed that while we have the highest paid IDA director in the state, we are not #1 in job creation.

One reporter called Mr. Hyde's salary outrageous.

Mark Potwora
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Lets just say then that Mr.Hyde is not worth the 200,000 dollars that he gets paid..........If it hadn't of been for public out cry over the years he would of still been getting a bonus and a Stafford CC membership..I'm sure our elected officials are glad to see we made it WGRZ
news tonite..

Jeff Allen
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Howard,
I addressed the question as to whether someone is forced to work at a particular place or not and it has nothing to do with capitalism and free markets. Capitalism is about the compensation of and for goods and services. Public employment and it's compensatory structure do not fit capitalism as defined. I am using facts, logic, and existing definitions. You are using nuances and massaging of definitions. Capitalism is dependent upon free market influences to determine pricing, size of workforce, labor costs, etc. Public employment is not subject to free market influences. No matter how the market, economy, pricing, demand, etc. are doing, there will be a set number of Corrections Officers, Sheriffs Deputies, Thruway workers, Teachers, Legislators, Secretaries, and so on. Their salary, benefits, and retention are determined by Civil Service law, not market forces. It can't get anymore clear than that.

Timothy Hens
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In my own opinion, the negativity focused upon GCEDC, or any other IDA or EDC for that matter, is misguided. The EDCs, especially those in WNY, are playing in a game regulated and dictated solely by Albany. The EDCs are the only tool that municipalities in WNY have to attract ANY BUSINESS AT ALL. Left to our own, the property tax burden upon developers and industry make the "game" unplayable.

The property taxes in WNY aren't high because local government is spending willy nilly on wasteful things. The majority of your property taxes are paying for programs that Albany (read NYC) says we must provide. This is true for Schools and Counties. The other reason our property taxes are high is that New York incessantly clings to an archaic structure of government created to meets the needs of the 18th century and not the modern world.

You can scream all you want at Albany, but nothing will change. We always have good representation in Albany, but the leaders there just don't need WNY to get re-elected. The number of downstate representatives far outweigh what exists upstate and other than throwing the occasional bone our way, they feel no need to truly respond to our concerns. You can have 600,000 people screaming and it won't matter. It is as about as useful as spitting into a hurricane. Our needs are polar opposite of theirs!

Assemblymen Hawley's campaign for two New Yorks may seem like a publicity stunt, and is probably doomed to fail, but it is really one of the only options we have left. Nearly every single county and school in Upstate New York has been screaming about unfunded mandates from Albany for the past twelve years (with three different governors) with absolutely zero change. People and businesses have been "voting with their feet" for decaades, but what has it changed?

Do some research on the nation's highest property taxes relative to home values and median incomes and you will find that WNY counties take up the top ten in each category...at nearly three times the national average!! How can we compete on that type of a playing field? It is easy to take pot shots at the EDCs because they are local and can be affected by pressure, but they are one of the few agencies working to make the "game" fair enough for us to survive.

Maybe one day Albany will change, but until then we need to scratch and claw for every bit of growth we can. Absolutely make sure the EDCs spend our money wisely, but keep the pressure on Albany--they're the reason we have EDCs at all.

Howard B. Owens
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Jeff, there's no nuance here. Unless you're saying public employees have no choice in what jobs and career paths they take, then you're saying its a capitalist system.

Try cutting employee wages by 20 or 30 percent across the board and see how many jump ship. Do way with all the benefits and retirement system, and see how many jump ship.

The fact that so many people seek government jobs proves that it's a free market system that has done a good job of meeting the needs and desires of a lot of people.

I'll say it until you get it: You can only argue against it being a free market unless you take a position that public employees have no choice about their jobs. There's no nuance about it. It's black and white. It's a fact. It's an immovable object. To deny it is to deny fact and logic. I don't get why that isn't clear. You keep talking about the public agencies, but the agencies are immaterial. Where a person works isn't what makes a person a free market entity. It's the person, and nothing else. The fact that the employer is a public agency doesn't matter in the least to the issue that the person has free choice of where to work and will make that choice based on a variety of compensation factors.

Jim, I'm not talking about Batavia breaking off -- it's all of Update that needs to dump downstate.

Until then, the GCEDC is a necessary to have any chance of drawing employers such as Alpina and Pepsi.

Of course, we don't need an IDA to bring in Dick's Sporting Good's, but that's another issue.

Bob Harker
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I completely disagree Howard. Two things must happen:

1.) The voting public must "grow a set" and vote these career politicians out of office.

2.) Term limits.

NY's financial crisis is NY's financial crisis. We are 2nd to last as far as a business friendly environment. 48 states are doing a better job without having seceded. Our problem is Albany. Granted it is exacerbated by DC, but we've made our bed and now we lie in it.

"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."

Howard B. Owens
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Bob,

So long as the voting public keeps voting for Republicrats, nothing is going to change.

Term limits are useless. California enacted term limits for its legislature in 1990 and the state is arguable worse off now. Term limits have brought about absolutely no positive change.

Why, because term limits just replace one member of Team Red or Team Blue with another member of Team Red or Team Blue. For the team members, most of them, it's all about serving the team, not the constituents (for us, I'd like to think Steve Hawley is an exception, and I've known other politicians who are exceptions, but the exceptions are always in the minority).

The system as we know it needs to be torn down to below the root level and recreated. That means secession, revolution or a constitutional convention that isn't populated by Team Red and Team Blue.

Perhaps more achievable reforms that might help: the end of gerrymandering; the end of public financing of primary elections; and, an end to voter registration that puts tries to steer people to joining a team.

Mark Brudz
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To think that reducing state income taxes will end the need to give tax breaks and abatements in order to attract manufacturing is just factually wrong. States are in competition for manufacturing companies especially.

“Everyone wants to talk about the incentives package. If you run the company, you’d be remiss not to ask for it. They’re going to get it somewhere.” Catherine Morse, general counsel of Samsung Austin

Alaska, Texas and Florida have ZERO income tax yet ( $per capita & ¢per dollar of state budget are what to watch to make my point here)

Alaska spends at least $704 million per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:
$991per capita
11¢per dollar of state budget
.
Top Incentives by type
$697 million in Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction
$6.93 million in Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee

Top Incentives by industry
$691 million in Oil, gas, mining
$6.12 million in Agriculture
$3.65 million in Film

Florida spends at least $3.98 billion per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:
$212per capita
16¢per dollar of state budget
.
Top Incentives by type
$3.66 billion in Sales tax refund, exemptions or other sales tax discounts
$108 million in Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee
$102 million in Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction

Top Incentives by industry
$142 million in Agriculture
$83.9 million in Film
$43 million in Manufacturing

Texas spends at least $19.1 billion per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:
$759per capita
51¢per dollar of state budget
.
Top Incentives by type
$14.9 billion in Sales tax refund, exemptions or other sales tax discounts
$3.27 billion in Property tax abatement
$743 million in Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction

Top Incentives by industry
$11.7 billion in Manufacturing
$2.79 billion in Agriculture
$77.3 million in Health care

If you want to compare to New York State

New York spends at least $4.06 billion per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:
$210per capita
7¢per dollar of state budget
.
Top Incentives by type
$1.82 billion in Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction
$1.11 billion in Property tax abatement
$871 million in Sales tax refund, exemptions or other sales tax discounts

Top Incentives by industry
$816 million in Manufacturing
$359 million in Film
$130 million in Agriculture

New York actually spends less per capita on tax incentives than the TOP two performing states as far as economic growth Texas and Florida. What these states have that we don't economically is far less regulation on businesses, less support for labor unions in the private sector, low corporate taxes and no personal state income tax.

All of which we need to do here if we want to truly compete, but do not be lulled into thinking that if we cut off tax incentives for manufacturing businesses that we will be better off.

Retailers are another animal, if you attract manufacturing and agricultural manufacturing, the retailers will come and the local retailers will grow on thier own, we should not spend a penny to attract large box retailers other than possibly some infastructure improvements (Which you need for manufacturing anyway)

REGULATION & INCOME TAX RATES are the problem in New York State, NOT Tax incentives & abatements which are actually les here in New York then states that are prospering.

Mark Potwora
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Tim if we have to have IDA'S to create businesses in this state then what is the answer for the property tax paying homeowner...If business's can't survive in this high tax environment how can any of us who are footing the bill..Where are all the tax abatement's for the rest of us ....

Howard B. Owens
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Good post, Mark.

Jeff Allen
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I give up, it is impossible to argue when you are debating a form of capitalism that is not congruent with standard definitions:

Webster : an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.
Wikipedia: an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production, with the goal of making a profit.
American Heritage: An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.
Dictionary.com: an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
Am I missing something? Not one of those definitions addresses forced labor or employee career path choice. So other than continually reasserting your opinion of capitalism and public employment, show me where New York State public employment fits into any of the capitalism definitions that are listed above.

Howard B. Owens
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"the private ownership of the means of production, with the goal of making a profit."

Ta-da. I win.

What's more private than owning your own labor -- you are your own means of production and your goal is to make a profit for yourself in order to improve your standard of living (if you're a normal, reasonable human being.

You keep missing the point -- you are the sovereign. You own yourself. You sell yourself out to highest bidder, whether it's a private company or a government entity.

All labor markets in a capitalist society -- and you don't deny we are a capitalist society, do you -- is a capitalist market.

You're WAY too hung up on who's buying the labor. As I said before -- the buyer of the labor is completely immaterial. You keep coming back "New York State public employment" ... but "New York State public employment" is just one possible buyer of labor in a market where the seller has complete freedom to sell to the government or to another buyer.

I'm baffled -- why can't you see that it doesn't matter whether the buyer is a government entity or a private company? It's all one labor pool. The labor pool is the market and all employers -- public and private -- buy from it. They all compete for a piece of that labor pool, and individuals -- sovereigns -- make choices on what they think is best for themselves and their families, whether it be base salary, bonuses, benefits, retirement, vacations, fixed hours, psychic rewards or the number of beans for the bean stocks. It's all capitalism regardless of who the buyer is. The goods and services, the means of product, are the people selling their services.

Howard B. Owens
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"Labour was the first price, the original purchase - money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased." -- Adam Smith

Without labor, you don't have a free market, you don't have capitalism.

That's why the concept of sovereignty in labor is so important. You are your own means of production. As a sovereign, you have the right to benefit from the fruits of your labor, and labor at what you find both rewarding and meaningful. You sell your labor for your own benefit, whether that is to GCEDC, the Department of Corrections, Graham Manufacturing, Alpina, or your own business. That is your choice and you are compensated both on how you value your own labor and how others perceive value in your labor.

Without labor, you don't have capitalism. Without labor you don't have widgets or hamburgers or tax abatements or cuddling little prisoners snugged tightly in their bunks.

One of the problems with government is that it doesn't have competition, so in that regard, you are right that a government agency is not a capitalist agency. But that doesn't mean it's employees aren't products and beneficiaries of the free market. They all made their choice to work there for their own individual reasons, but if the government agency didn't offer good pay and good benefits, they would work else where.

It's all so simple. I would think it would be obvious. People are free to chose where they work, which means all employers -- whether public or private -- must compete for their labor.

Howard B. Owens
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Also, when you were looking in Wikipedia, I think you missed this: "Additionally, capitalism features a market for labor. This distinguishes the capitalist market from pre-capitalist societies which generally only contained market exchange for final goods and secondary goods."

And ... "There are three main markets in a basic capitalistic economy: labor, goods and services, and financial. Labor markets (people) make products and get paid for work ... "

People sell their labor -- that's capitalism.

And they sell it to the bidder (employer) they believe best suits their interests under the circumstances. That's capitalism.

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To be honest Howard it's my perception that this comment of your just pointed out the problem. Public jobs have to overpay and over compensate to stay competative with private. This is one of our nations/state's biggest problems.... Overspending. There ia a great big untapped resource of people with no jobs or underemployed or on state assistance that could be tapped to fill public jobs. If everyone in public jobs were to suddenly leave to go to private jobs then that market would be saturated and then they would become VERY selective. It all would balance out. Thats on the public vs private.

Now on to Steve's salary, I cant tell you how shocking it was to find that Steve's salary was even bigger in 2011 and 2012 than the Vice President of the United States. That plus the comparisons to our state's ida data (which is a fair comparison) show that something is WAAAAAAAY out of wack here. something needs to be done. If you cut Steve's salary in half thats 200,000.00 dollars the IDA wouldn't have needed of taxpayer money to operate. If you kept the the County's contributions to the IDA for 2011 and 2012 thats over 1/2 a million dollars more the county would have had to keep to eliminate the cutback of county services and employees.

Come on now let not keep complicating this with minutae and too much details. This whole thing is BS and this IDA's ivory tower is starting to teeter. I wonder what a true wave of media coverage and intense scrutiny is gonna uncover? Smacks of a good ole boy network going on here.

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"the private ownership of the means of production, with the goal of making a profit."
Ta-da. I win.
New York State is a non-profit entity (although I concede that can be argued!). When you remove competition and profit from the equation, the two main drivers of capitalism, the definition becomes a real stretch. As you conceded, New York State has locked out competition by virtue of each governing agency (Corrections, State Police, Thruway, Power Authority, Lottery, or any other state agency.). There is NO competition for those jobs and NO profit involved that is beholden to market forces. Your original statement that public employment is 100% capitalism cannot be supported. No competition, no profit, no market force influence, no capitalism.

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So, back to the initial question: "How would you grade GCEDC's effort to improve Genesee County's economy?"

After last night's report how can anyone grade the GCEDC with anything other than an "F"???!!! Orleans County has created more jobs (almost 100 more) than Genesee County with a cost structure (at least at the IDA head level) of about $140,000 less PER YEAR over the last 5 years. And that's for a county with approximately 20,000 fewer residents!

And there has been zero tax benefit to Genesee County residents. ZERO!!!

The GCEDC is failing us. Our County Legislature is failing us! In this day and age to allow Charlie Cook to not only set salaries that are way out of bounds but to authorize employee contracts with buy out clauses is irresponsible to the taxpayers who fund the system. None of us have such guarantees. They are not warranted. Did we not learn anything from the Buffalo City School Superintendent fiasco???

It honestly sounds like our County Legislature just handed the reigns to Mr. Cook and turned their backs. Where is the oversight? Where are the checkpoints to quantify the value added for the taxpayers who are supposed to be represented by the County Legislature? Where is the plan to actually reduce taxes annually for everyone while the investments made through the GCEDC help the county prosper? Where are all the additional infrastructure improvements from the economic boost through increased sales, etc...???

Charlie Cook was almost laughing as he described the losing "investments"! Really, this is the game we want to be playing where our local government is gambling on business? We'd all fare better taking our tax dollars to Batavia Downs. Are the contracts with these businesses written such that if they do not meet their goals the deals are off and they must repay all the taxes that were waived?

And it's actually legal for businesses to pay a 1% fee on their tax abatement? Really??? Isn't that essentially legalized bribery??? Hey Mr. Hyde, I have a proposition for you: how about I give you $10,000 and you erase $1,000,000 of my taxes! Holy crap!!! Yeah, I'd promise to create 100 jobs and plant 1,000 trees for that deal as often as I could get it!!! Especially with zero accountability!

And the GCEDC is sitting on "millions" in a cash reserve? Really? We can't fix a bridge but they have a cash reserve?

If this is the game we are being forced to play we should play it without a cent of taxpayer money. Heck, we could hire a monkey to jump up and down to rubber stamp business proposals for banana bribes!

How about this, Genesee County starts refusing to pay Albany for anything. How about we just stop implementing all of Albany's unfunded mandates? What are they going to do, withhold their $13,000,000 non-guaranteed state aid? Good, just cut that chunk of change out of the budget - it's just money we give away anyway. It's all non-sense.

Seriously, how about we bite the bullet and pay Mr. Hyde his $100,000 contract non-renewal fee. Let him go to the private sector and succeed at a level commensurate with his skills and experience. Better yet, let him go to another IDA and drive them to levels of success never seen before. We'd all win!

We could then either wipe out the current GCEDC and institute a plan of county wide tax reduction with a board of volunteers from the community to attract business or if we insist on playing the IDA game, then restructure the GCEDC with employees with reasonable salaries and benefits representative of the citizens they serve under a charter to meet specific criteria in order to obtain any taxpayer funding. And if we authorize an ability to obtain funds, then those funds get directed to the community annually - no reserve. You succeed to get paid in this business - no pay for gambling and losing.

Howard B. Owens
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Jeff, you keep talking about the function of government as the reason it's not free market. I keep telling you that's not even part of the equation. The ONLY part of the equation that matters is the free choice of the person. They can choose to work for the government or not. It doesn't matter one whit, not at all, zero, nill, nothing -- get it -- what the nature or function or profit or non-profit of the government.

Why do you keep arguing from a completely irrelevant point?

Jeff Allen
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Yeah, I get it...you win.

Mark Potwora
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Bob all great points...I think the county should take the millions that GDCEC made off all these tax abatements and put it towards reducing our taxes..We can't get the federal government to pay for the lyons st bridge,but hyde can get federal money to put in a road into an unused IDA park..I did send this video to the county legislators..Some were surprised by it..I find that hard to believe..

Bob Harker
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Valid points, Howard. You've witnessed my leanings beginning to migrate from conservative to libertarian.

I would, however, point out statement about Hawley. I believe a big part of the problem is most voters feel the same way about their representatives. "They're all worthless - but my guy does a good job". I TOO think that Hawley works hard and does a good job for the most part. I submit to you that until we are willing to clean house - start anew in local, state, and federal offices - across the board - nothing will change.

In closing, I'd like to say:

RUN, PHIL, RUN!!!!

Robert Brown
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It is not enough to have one well intended representative in a sea of frenzied sharks. Until you find someone who is capable of punching each and every shark in the nose, all you have are intentions without influence. Yes, the job is hard. Yes, the odds are stacked against rational thought and fairness. But there are countless real life successes of Davids overcoming Goliaths. Believe and push forward. Bob sounds like a wise friend of mine, who advises to just keep voting every incumbent out until you get the right group of folks in office who actually accomplish something. Start at the local level and look closely at what has been done to improve our plight. I'm not impressed. Vote them all out - ALL of them! From clerks to sheriffs and legislators to judges. Adios amigos/amigas.

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