Conflicts of interests in Finger Lakes Region Economic Development Council.

Friday, December 23, 2016

In the rush of the holiday seasons you might have missed the announcement of the winners of New York States regional  economic development hunger games.  If you did notice then you know our region did well getting $80.7 million in aid for our area. Unfortunately this is only part of the story.  What seems to have escaped notice by the press are the numerous conflicts of interest present in this award.

For 5 years now Cuomo has made different regions compete for economic development money. The state is divided up into 10 regions each with their own economic development council composed of the political and economic leaders of the area.  This group then chooses projects to include in their bid for funds and the state then chooses what to fund. 

This process was put in place by Cuomo to make economic development more effective through the magic of competition.  It is hard to tell weather competition is working in economic development it seems conflicts of interests abound.  In the Finger lakes region alone 8 of the 33 awards announced have a direct connection to board members.  

The Cost of Corporate Welfare

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Why Rochester Can't Have Nice Things

Running for city council

Friday, May 22, 2015

Four years ago I ran for City Council against Adam McFadden. Since this time poverty has increased in Rochester by more than 1 percentage point, we have had numerous major police incidents while our crime rate remains one of the highest in the state, and our neighborhoods are littered with vacant abandoned homes. Meanwhile our city has given more than $600 million to rich people to build buildings which despite the promise of jobs have failed to halt the rise of poverty. Meanwhile my opponent seeks a new job with Rochester Housing Authority and is willing to lie to get this job. Clearly we are on the wrong path. I am Alex White, I am a small business owner, I have created jobs, I have rehabbed houses in the city, and I have advocated for the citizens of Rochester. I feel we elect our leaders to provide prosperity to our city and they have failed. I believe I have the experience to help restore prosperity for all Rochestarians.
How to improve our city 
The Poverty Problem in Rochester
How to reduce violence in Rochester
Making our neighborhoods safer
Corporate Welfare in Rochester Makes us Poorer
Movie on Corporate Welfare

Our Single Party System

Monday, November 3, 2014

In school we were taught that American Democracy is a two party system. Rather than having one party in control we have two and they compete against each other which brings out the best in our political system. The problem is every election I look at all the races being run in our county and find that this is not true. This year we have 35 non judicial races at all level in all parts of Monroe County from receiver of taxes to governor of the state. In these races only 17, less than half, are contested and of these only 14 have a democrat and republican in the race. While shocking this just a little low for an election in Monroe county where only 56% of all races in the last decade have been contested. Most distressing is that recently this number is has been trending down not up. This is not an isolated trend in politics as Monroe County is more competitive than most. The rural counties around Monroe have far fewer contested races. There are many reasons for this from gerrymandering, to conservation of party resources, but I think that the real reason for our one party system falls on us the voters. Too often our only knowledge of a candidate is their party affiliation. Too often we let national party identifiers define local candidates. So we assume that the democrat is pro-choice and the republican pro-life or that republicans are gun lovers and democrats are for Obama Care. Thus we too often vote for a candidate not on qualifications, programs, or even performance but on party. This makes it almost impossible to defeat even the worst incumbent in a district with a majority for their party. The result is a one party rule almost where ever you are. The problem with this is that we are the losers when politics get stale. Lacking challenges our leaders have little incentive to tackle hard problems. They are not held accountable for their actions, and their is no discussion of alternative solutions to our problems. The solution is simple -- the voters need to start paying attention and become informed -- but this is never going to happen. There are just too many other things to do. Further we are too afraid that the other party will do terrible things if elected like take our guns, or turn our nation into a socialist state. So even though we all feel our current leaders are terrible we return them at rate higher than the Soviet Union did their Politburo! Unfortunately until we start voting against the incumbent there is little hope for real change.

Citygate and the government gravy train

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A recent article in the paper about COSTCO has once more brought up the problems with College Town. Perhaps you remember this project on Mt Hope which was to have a bus terminal, grocery store, book store, gym and other retail but now is an office park for the Strong Hospital. The city, state and county have given the developer more than $60 million for an office park for the largest employee and one of the colleges with a more than $1 billion endowment. Well COSTCO is going into a project called Citygate built by Anthony J. Costello & Son Development, less than 3 miles away. Citygate is a $177 million project which was already getting $32 million in tax breaks to build a COSTCO, street of shops, 300 apartments, hotel, and parking garage. As Costello was clearing the site they discovered a few unforeseen problems in the 42 acre of the project. This meant an additional $3.7 million in expenses. The odd part is that COMIDA with the full support of the city and county gave them $11.7 million more. Now this project was already approved and development was moving ahead. The main Anchor store of the project was almost signed. We had already given a very generous package to Costello and they agreed at the time this was enough. They have also been in business long enough to know that every project has unforeseen expenses and to plan that into the costs. They also were not going to stop the project if this money did not come through. Under these circumstances it seems unbelievable that we would give them more. It is interesting that in the story the head of Neighborhood and Business Development Del Smith, claims that without this we would not be fair to Citygate as its package was so much less than College Town. So we get to the crux of the problem. The package of government support was so generous for College Town that Citygate could demand more money. While this may seem fair to Costello what about all the small projects which receive no help, no tax breaks, and no government support for 75% of their debt. These people just have a harder time competing or never start at all. Further any large project now has a precedent for getting huge government assistance even though these projects are done by some of the richest in our area. So we are widening the income gap by using our taxes, making it harder for small businesses to compete, and making it harder to stop the subsidies. Not bad for a days work by our government.

Is Teacher Tenure really so bad?

There is presently a fight in NY over teacher tenure. While the case has been filed in NYC there is a local Rochester connection as two parents have joined on to this case. One of these, Mona Pradia has a student in the eighth grade who had an excellent co-teacher four years ago. This teacher was suppose to follow her child to the fifth grade but was laid off in one of Rochester's yearly budget crisis. Mona claims the replacement teacher did not work as well for her child. I do not know all the details but what I do know is that tenure is not the villain here, budget shortages are. Our state refuses to fund our schools adequately and our city has refused to increase the schools taxes for a decade. It is interesting that Mona did not sign onto this until a meeting at City Hall. Which is interesting as this is the city government which has refused increase funds for the schools for a decade and is really responsible layoff. Now tenure may not be a perfect system but it was instituted for very good reasons. Teaching is after all a government job and before there was tenure elected officials used teaching as a way to reward campaign workers, friends and family. Teaching is a skill and to make it a patronage job would be a much worse problem. If you think this would not happen consider that in 3 of the last 4 mayoral changes the incoming mayor preformed an almost clean sweep of all positions they could. This has resulted in upheaval which makes the schools yearly lay offs look fine. So perhaps tenure is not such a bad idea.

Listen to Alex...

...on Transforming Rochester on Rochester Free Radio. You can see when it's on at the Rochester Free Radio show schedule.

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