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January 31, 2011 - 7:19pm

Legislature needs to hold GCEDC accountable

posted by Lorie Longhany in GCEDC, genesee county legislature.

I don't think many would disagree that we all want a robust and aggressive job-creating engine in Genesee County. We also can agree that unfair tax burdens created the need for IDAs with their enticements and tax incentives in the first place.

In the big picture, we all want our county to be chosen as the next home to companies like: Barilla Pasta, Google, Yahoo or Geico -- and without an IDA we don't compete at all.

Even the smaller companies with a vision to produce a new product or service can help make our county vibrant and offer those vitally important, but few and far between, living wage job opportunities. Jobs that can lift our median income and bring some of our citizens their own little piece of prosperity-- the kind that bring money to other businesses by circulating it around our communities.

The jury is still out on how I perceive the GCEDC's, or any IDA's  performance. But I do firmly believe that more stringent oversight on pay rates and elimination of performance bonuses needs to swiftly be put in place by the Legislature to restore the public's trust. I'm also curious about the $500 bonus given to a consultant.

I, too, am a small business owner and, although I won't be creating any jobs other than my own and have no need for a shovel-ready site, I know that I prosper with my business when Genesee County is prospering. I've talked to a few people whom I admire and respect who also own their own businesses. They made some points that make a whole lot of sense.

What if the bonus money and inflated salaries had been allocated and/or redirected for infrastructure or start-up rent subsidies? Phase two of the county water deal is in limbo.

In my own town, we have a great location on Route 19 at the 490/90 interchange. The property known as Oatka Hills has sat empty for years, and for the last several years has had a "For Sale" sign with the GCEDC logo on it. It lacks the infrastructure and utilities and even though the location has so much potential, it sits empty.

Bringing in utilities is an expensive undertaking. Funds being used to pay large bonuses and inflated salaries could, and should, serve more people than just the privileged few who work at the GCEDC. Another alternative is using the bonus money to subsidize rent for start-up businesses that are taking a chance on our main streets -- something the Orleans County IDA is doing.

As the leader of the Genesee County Democratic Party, I have had the opportunity to work closely with candidates running for office at several levels. Invariably, when we've had state and some local candidates running, IDA reform has come up in their campaigns. Like Senator Mike Ranzenhofer, some candidates have come from Erie County with their knowledge on the subject, reflecting what they experience in their own backyard.

And from our local media, and the promising GCEDC press releases, we have always been led to believe that it was different here -- that our IDA was accountable and delivered the goods. I always cringed when our candidates made their opinions on this issue public, waiting for the swift redress that came from one particularly vocal legislator, and occasionally from the local press. This made wading into reform almost a certain political misstep.

For my own complacency about this subject, I apologize. Healthy opposition is needed over some issues and should translate into vigorous debates which show alternatives to the status quo and maybe uncover some things that need correcting in the process.

As a citizen, I am calling on the county legislators to take the responsibility they have been given by the people who have entrusted them. Their responses to date have been very disappointing and show a disconnect.

Our county's median income is around $33,000. We have more rentals in two of our larger population centers than owner-occupied properties, many of our villages have more empty storefronts than filled ones, and our population stands at around 57,000 and dropping.

If crime goes down, there is no bonus check for Sheriff Gary Maha. If road repairs for a given year come in under budget, the windfall doesn't go back to Tim Hens, the county highway superintendent. It is the responsibility of the governing body to hold all public entities accountable, including the GCEDC.

jason reese
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Thank You Lori. The Politicians whom are running our local governments have an i don't care attitude. They seem happy and content with the way things are for The City Batavia, ny and Genesee County, New York. It's time for a Major shake up within these two area's of Government. The newly elected Governor and The Feds really need to investigate and begin to move Genesee County, New York and The City of Batavia, New York foward. This community has been at a stand still for 30 years (Except Genesee Community College) Think of it this way, if you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
John Roach
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Jason, Can you give us an example of what you think the Federal Government needs to investigate in the City of Batavia?
Bea McManis
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John, Are you going to that meeting this afternoon?
Mark Potwora
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Lorie well said..I agree..
jason reese
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OK. No Minority Police Officers In The City Or Fire Department in Batavia, NY. after thirty years. I'll use those two because it's easy to prove. I find it funny in the days of an African American President or a former African American Governor for our State you couldn't find one. How's that for an answer. For all your other sins, i don't care. I am i lying or making this up? That's my argument.
bud prevost
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Jason, how many African American applicants have been denied? If there have been none- and I don't know if there has been or not- but if there have been none, your point is moot. Before you start barking about injustice, make sure one has been done. Peace, buddy
bud prevost
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.
John Roach
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Jason, Ask one of the African American applicants to tell us where they scored on the exam. I know a white male, two time combat veteran, who has been passed over 3 times, because the people hired not only scored as high, but had 4 year college degrees, where he had only a 2 year degree. So how many African Americans do you know, with a 4 year degree, that even wanted the jobs and scored high enough to be considered? Personally, I think you're blowing smoke.
Bob Harker
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Jason, where exactly would you set the quotas for minorities in the police department? Would it be 1 in 10? 1 in 8? That is EXACTLY what you are advocating. Some guy said a long time ago that he longed for a time that folks were judged on the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. Wasted words? I guess you weren't taught about such things in school. Please explain to me why, when a person is born with a skin color other than white, he/she should be granted a special status in areas of education, employment, and society. I've never been able to figure that out.
Mark Potwora
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I was watching the Gov state of the state message today..He put up a chart that said we were no.1 in spending for economic development but 50th in results...I did not vote for him but that being said i like alot of what he had to say ,,He claims that we have alot of overpaid school admin...But we don't get any results..Claims that we should be cutting some of those salary's..Said many make more that the governor..Something wrong with this picture..He also claimed the 53 cent of every dollar for medicade goes for admin..only 47 cent for the people..that is so wrong..said he will fix it..Bravo Mario..
Bea McManis
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Mark, You heard exactly what he was saying when he ran for governor. His message was on point then and it still is now. While many were waxing estatic over Palindino and supporting him 100%, Cuomo was giving the facts and figures he mentioned in today's state of the state. We heard it last spring at the Rural Caucus, we heard the same thing, after he was elected, in Jamestown. He isn't backing down. I pity any legislator, regardless of party, that attempts to sideline his mission to fix NY.
John Roach
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Bea, It sounds like you just declared war on Sheldon Silver. The automatic spending increase built into the budget mentioned by the Governor has long been supported by Mr. Silver. It will be interesting to see if Silver backs down. It will also be fun to watch both parties trying to decide which of the unneeded prisons to close down.
Bea McManis
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I'm not declaring war on anyone. I am declaring my support for the Govennor. I truly believe that he has the answers to fix the state. In order to do that, we'll all have to take a hit in one way or another. A favorite program may be cut or funds diminished. It will be worth it to see light at the end of the tunnel. Something that has been missing for a long, long time.
Bea McManis
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The snowstorm will find many of the Paladino supporters home. I'm sure they will burn the bandwidth with their comments against the governor. I won't be at the computer much tomorrow, but it should be interesting to read when I do get a chance to look at the site.
John Roach
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Bea, I know lots of Paladino supports and none, not one, have said anything against the Governors plan. But almost all wonder if he can push it through.
kevin kretschmer
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"The snowstorm will find many of the Paladino supporters home......" I never realized Mr. Paladino was so popular with school children or the members of NYSUT.
Bea McManis
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Kevin, Does that mean, if businesses close, that all of the Paladino supporters will brave the storm and go to work anyway? If county offices close, will all the Paladino supporters make it to their jobs anyway? If the Paladino supporters are members of NYSUT, will they go to school anyway? Mr. Paladino carried Genesee Co. I would bet that there are those who voted for him who will be at home tomorrow due to closings. Just curious, do you really believe that all NYSUT members are Democrats? My ex was not only a NYSUT member but held office for many years...he is a card carrying Republican.
John Roach
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Bea, So are you saying Democrats will stay home no matter what?
kevin kretschmer
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The giveaway that my post was clearly a joke was including school children because as we all know, they're too young to vote. Unlike quite a few here, I don't live and breathe politics into every situation that arises on any given day.
Bea McManis
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John, No. I believe Kevin, in a joking manner, was saying that. While he doesn't "live and breathe politics into every situation that arises on any given day", he certainly painted the picture that only the Democrats (NYSUT members) would be staying home if the storm materialized.
John Roach
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Bea, You were the one who brought politics into a snowstorm. Read your comment at 6:59 pm yesterday. It appears he only was commenting on your post, as I did.
kevin kretschmer
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Bea - could you for once try to look at life outside of your; "everything is about politics". Yesterday when you made a comment about how the Paladino supporters were going to be home today, railing on about the Governor, school closings were being listed on WBEN. Schools by and large are filled with???????????????? STUDENTS AND TEACHERS. IT WAS A JOKE!!!!!!!!! As much as I would love to sit here and argue about anything and everything, today is like every other day for me - I can think of 100's of better things to do than that. For starters, not that I've warmed back up from snow blowing our driveway I'm going to take care of the neighbors house. He might even be an evil Conservative but I've never asked him because.....I don't care.
Chris Charvella
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Make sure you charge your neighbor for that driveway clearing, otherwise it's socialism. ;)
Ricky G. Hale
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A neighbor helping a neighbor is not socialism. However, when the government shows up and says "we're here to help", that's socialism. When the government sticks its nose where it doesn't belong, into the private sector, that's socialism. Hypothetically, if the government were to bail out a failing snow removal company, and run that company themselves, that's socialism. Sound a little familiar people?
Mike Corona
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Wrong Jason, there certainly has been a minority firefighter in the city of Batavia. That also would be very easy to prove.

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