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May 9, 2018 - 3:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Larry Sharpe, Libertarian Party, Governor, news.

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The Libertarian candidate for governor, Larry Sharpe, stopped at T.F. Brown's in Batavia on Monday and told about two dozen people who attended the breakfast that he has two main issues in his campaign: fighting corruption and returning more control to local governments.

Sharpe's plan for eliminating corruption is to either eliminate or make more accountable the state's various boards and commissions, to change the way infrastructure is funded, and reduce if not eliminate taxpayer funding for economic development.

"Forget the MTA or the Port Authority or Oasis or the Board of Regents or insert name here," Sharpe said. "All they are are boards that now people can be rewarded for being party loyalists. That happens all the time.

"Our current leader, King Andrew, he actually has received over eight hundred thousand dollars from the people he's put on boards for his campaigns."

Sharpe said these boards are unaccountable and impose edicts that people can't fight.

They also give Gov. Andrew Cuomo a layer of insulation. They allow him to say, "it's not me, it's the boards," he said.  And he's insulated from any charges of corruption with those authorities.

"That's why everyone around him goes to jail not him," Sharpe said.

Sharpe's plan for infrastructure, he said, will not only help eliminate corruption but it will help get more things funded.

Local businesses should be able to sponsor locks on the Erie Canal to help cover its $100 million annual price tag for upkeep and maintenance. RIT or some other school should release its students on a project to come up with hovercraft to transport people and goods on the canal, which would also help being a student in New York more exciting, to work on those kinds of projects.

"I also want to build whatever is the new Erie Canal," Sharpe said. "I don't know what that is. I want to talk about it. I want to become the marketer-in-chief so I can sell whatever the new Erie Canel is. Is that a new Google road? Is that driverless vehicle road or something like that? I'm OK with that. Let's do it."

Google, or some other company, Sharpe said, would pay for it.

Bridges, he said, should be paid for by private companies. He envisions sponsorships or naming rights, just like, according to him, companies do with sports stadiums now.

"The idea of sponsoring stadiums is working," Sharpe said. "It is successful people keep doing it all over the place. You keep seeing it even locally now, right?"

When somebody in the audience suggested a company could fail, Sharpe said, "yes they could." 

But he said, have you ever heard of a stadium named after a company failing or falling prey to corruption?

He said the current system for building and maintaining bridges is rife with corruption and cronyism. Turning the bridges over to companies through naming rights would solve those problems, he said.

"Now while you may not like the idea of some company having the naming rights for a bridge at least the company that has naming rights for the bridge, that company is responsible," Sharpe said. "Someone is actually responsible. Right? Someone is. If they can't do it, you fire them and let another company in there. It's fine. Someone is responsible."

(NOTE: When a company buys naming rights for a stadium, the company is just another advertiser and does not participate in the management of the stadium.)

Just as important to Sharpe as eliminating corruption, the candidate said, is returning control to local governments. 

Not only would he end unfunded mandates, he said, he would eliminate all mandates.

Mandates, he said, discourage people from participating in government because they have no control over how their money is spent, so they just give up.

"I get that the reason why so many people don't want to show up for their own government," Sharpe said. "They believe there's no value in doing it. And in many cases they're right. If you have a county or a township or a village where my perception of your budget is mandated why bother showing up?

"Your county your township or village is actually being run by all of you in Albany or Washington, so why show up? It makes no sense. We have a situation where only the four of us show up. So guess what? I guess you're chair, you're vice chair, you're a secretary and you're treasurer. That's it. No one else ever shows up unless they're mad. You've seen that happen. I'm sure you have. People don't show up unless they're mad."

And then when the only people local government officials deal with are people who are mad, Sharpe said, they stop taking them seriously and then make decisions behind closed doors.

Eliminating mandates would re-engage people in their local governments, he said.

He also wants to create a $500 tax credit that people can direct to charities of their choice, with at least half required to stay in the county of the taxpayer's residence.

His other local issue he wants to change is economic development. He believes only private money should support economic development.

"There's a problem that has been popping up in New York State and that is if there's a problem, how can we find a government program to solve it," Sharpe said. "That has been failing again and again and again and again and again. I like when money goes to a small business. I like when money goes into a community. I like when money goes into a town or a city. That's awesome. But how about it not being taxpayer money?"

David Olsen, chairman of the Genesee County Libertarian Party, asked Sharpe to discuss his views on the Second Amendment.

He started by noting that the Second Amendment is about more than a right to own guns. 

"It says 'the right to bear arms,' Sharpe said. "What does that mean? It's the right to defend yourself, whether that's a knife, a gun, whatever, it's the right to defend yourself."

He added that the First Amendment and the Second Amendment are interlocked and the Founders intended these two key rights to top the Bill of Rights because of their importance.

"The First Amendment is the most important amendment," Sharpe said. "I don't care who you are. Number one. They're all important freedoms and number one is the most important. If you don't have free association, you don't have a religion, you don't have a press, you don't have freedom of speech. If you don't have those basic freedoms, you don't have freedom. That's the number one overall.

"The rest all matter. That one is number one over all of them. Without that there's nothing. That's critical. What did they put right after that? The one that defends the first. They didn't wait for the right to bear arms to be 10. They made that two."

Sharpe said he thinks the SAFE Act is horrible and though he wouldn't have the power to repeal it, he would pardon the 1,000 or so people who have been convicted of SAFE Act violations so far and encourage law enforcement not to enforce it. He would also block any SAFE Act funding. 

As governor, he said, he will be accountable, not appointed boards and commissions.

"What I'm saying is when I'm governor, I'll make sure that every board, every issue, every concern is either under me, chief justice, the Assembly, someone will be responsible for every single thing to get it done," Sharpe said. "I won't be like, our current governor who sits here his last State and laments about how tough things are. Anybody happen to see his state-of-the-state?

"Oh, tough, bad spot, things are so bad -- [interruption] -- he lamented how bad things were. He's the governor for seven years. He's the governor for seven years. What are you lamenting about? It's you. You're the one responsible. It just randomly happened that things got bad in seven years? Come on. It's crazy."

May 6, 2018 - 8:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Marc Molinaro, Governor, news.

As a man who grew up in a house that sometimes relied on Food Stamps, Marc Molinaro would like to take the governor's office away from Andrew Cuomo and become a leader who represents all New Yorkers, the Duchess County elected executive said during a visit to Batavia on Thursday.

"I just know how difficult it is to live in the State of New York and I want families all across the state to know that that I care personally," Molinaro said during a press conference at the ARC Community Center or Woodrow Road.

"I've been able to achieve some success in my life, but most importantly, I never forget where I came from. There are good and decent people who just want a government and a governor that will stand up for them."

Molinaro, running for governor, took a few shots at Cuomo during the 10-minute conversation before an event where he talked about a program in Dutchess County that provides a broad range of assistance and recognition for citizens with special needs.

The day before, Cuomo, while proclaiming New York the leading progressive state in the nation, said, “New York is the alternative state to Trump’s America and we’re proud of it.” Molinaro said he doesn't even know what that statement means.

"I really lost track of the number of irrational things the governor has said," Molinaro said. "I mean, quite frankly, two weeks ago he announced he is the government. Then he announced that he was raised by immigrant middle-class citizens, and then he said that he was, in fact, an undocumented citizen himself. He also says that he pays property taxes. None of those things have ever been proven true."

Later in the conversation, Molinaro said -- echoed by Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who was hosting his visit to Batavia -- that if Andrew Cuomo wants to run against President Donald Trump, then he should go do that. He's running to represent the people of New York.

"I really think we need to talk about where this state has been over the last seven years," Molinaro said. "I was somebody who, when he came into office, was thinking that this governor was going to sweep in a new day. Instead, we have this entrenched new normal. I think New Yorkers, regardless of party affiliation, know that there's a question of competency. And certainly, there's a question of whether or not the state is any more affordable today than it was seven years ago. It is not."

Molinaro was critical of Cuomo's economic development efforts, which has focused on billions of dollars in tax breaks and grants for private enterprise, including: a $10 million prize to Batavia; support for the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in Alabama; and the agribusiness park in Batavia.

"First, we have seen this economic development model on trial for the last several months," Molinaro said. "It is clear that the governor's chief assistant sold his office to the highest bidder and was brought to justice. It was as a result of what is an unaccountable process that allows the governor to hand out dollars to private interests. It's going to be on trial again over the next several months in the Buffalo Billion corruption scandal. It is not appropriate for a democracy to have any one person have the kind of authority and latitude with no transparency."

He said New York needs procurement reform and a database of deals so people can actually see how economic development money is being spent.

"No we shouldn't be taking money from taxpayers to give to private interests to compensate for the fact that the state of New York took too much money from taxpayers to begin with," Molinaro said. "That's not economic development. It's a form of money laundering.

"At the end of the day, this is their money. This is taxpayers' money to begin with. We're supposed to be grateful that he's giving it back?"

Molinaro said the State needs to decrease the burden it places on everyday New Yorkers. He said taxes need to be lower; the cost of doing business in New York need to be lower and that government should invest in the people of New York.

"I come from a place called Tivoli," Molinaro said. "When I moved there in 1989 with my family I told my granddad we were moving to the middle of nowhere. I have always lived and worked with people who feel a little bit left out. I'm here today because there are citizens all across the state with disabilities who often feel a little bit left out. Help is on the way. I care deeply about the fact that too many parts of the state and too many families across New York feel that their government doesn't listen."

He said because of his background and experience in government, which includes time in the Assembly, he knows how to make New York work for everybody.

"I understand and I know the way government's supposed to function," Molinaro said. "I've spent every day of my adult life bending government to serve its people. I know that this government, in particular, New York state, is too big. It's too bloated. In many ways, it's too arrogant. We have to focus on making it easier for families. You know I didn't grow up in a famous political family. I wasn't born into money. I am a middle-class New Yorker."

To win, Molinaro knows he will have to bridge the gap of a Republican-leaning upstate and a Democratic-leaning downstate, where most of the voters live.

He said he can do that by being true to himself.

"I'm a pragmatic person and no matter where it is, I begin from my perspective, my goal, is to find commonality," Molinaro said. "What I want New Yorkers to know is that at the very least I intend to redefine what it means to be in government; to redefine the way government functions and to redefined democracy in the state of New York.

"I'm not running to be the governor of a political party. I'm running to be governor of the State of New York. I want residents, regardless of ideology, to know that they're going to have a government and a governor that's going to listen to them and strive hard to bring people together."

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