Feb 26


Monday Morning Read

The Niagara County IDA could find itself a target of a state Senate investigation probing wasteful tax subsidies. It certainly deserves scrutiny.

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There’s more heat being applied to industrial development agencies. We’ve already reported on reform legislation being championed by Sen. Sean Ryan. Last week, the Albany Times Union reported that the chairman of the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations is launching an investigation into how IDA’s dole out tax breaks. Sen. James Skoufis is hot and bothered by a deal in Orange County. He’s likely to blow a gasket if he looks into the deals approved of late by the Niagara County IDA, subsidies for everything from fast food restaurants to market rate housing to a warehouse for Amazon, which was brazen enough to declare it couldn’t afford to build without a handout.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is quoting an industry study in justifying her proposal that the state extend loans worth $455 million to help prop up the Belmont Park horse racing track in Long Island. New York Focus wants a copy of the study. She won’t give it to them. Sounds like the state’s response to us when we ask for a copy of the feasibility study used as a basis of negotiating a deal to build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. We sued, and the state relented. Go get ‘em, New York Focus.

Yet more subsidy news: There’s a move afoot to provide tax breaks to benefit the ailing newspaper industry. The problem: the industry’s business model is broken and tax breaks aren’t going to fit it.

More media news: NPR is cutting loose 10 percent of its staff. Tough financial times extend to public media, too.

And some more media news: Legal experts say Fox News has set itself up to lose the libel lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems. A news outlet – and I use the term loosely when discussing Fox – has to screw up big time to lose a libel case, by publishing information it knows to be false. Texts and other internal communications show that Fox honchos and on-air personalities were privately dismissive of the claims of Donald Trump and  his minions that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that Dominion was in on the ruse. Yet they kept parroting the lie on the air.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, in another would-be step towards authoritarianism,  wants to make it easier for people to sue the press for libel in his state of Florida.

Ken Kruly, in his Politics and Other Stuff, catches us up on the latest shenanigans at the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. (An aside to the FBI and state AG and Comptroller: When are you wrapping up your investigations? It’s been like, forever.)

The New York Times magazine details the dysfunction within the Democratic Party here in New York. An insightful read on a state party whose ineptitude helped hand the U.S. House of Representatives to the crazies.

A couple of professors are promoting the idea of appointing Mayor Byron Brown as president of Buffalo State University. Ah, no..

Words I thought I’d never read in The Buffalo News, courtesy of this story extolling the benefits of avoiding silver bullet projects:

“The Buffalo Billion brought more than $1 billion to a handful of high-profile projects, from Tesla and IBM to Athenex. All have disappointed, barely meeting or falling short of their employment goals, while largely failing to deliver on the promised broader goals of spurring a gush of good-paying spinoff development.”

The News and Investigative Post played a journalistic version of Battle of the Bands over the years involving the Buffalo Billion. It seemed every time we published an investigation exposing wrongdoing, The News responded with a “don’t worry, be happy” story. Over time, the failure of the program’s marquee projects became impossible to ignore.

Investigative Post

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