Articles for Mark Scheer

Aug 1

2023

GOP lawmakers fight with public dollars to control OTB

It’s going to cost taxpayers in rural Western New York counties big bucks to support a legal challenge against state-imposed changes to the management structure at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. A June 20 legal services agreement obtained by the Niagara Gazette indicates that at least three counties — Niagara, Orleans and Genesee — agreed to pay $5,000 apiece, for a total of $15,000, to cover a retainer fee for Lippes Mathias, the Buffalo law firm hired to oversee the OTB litigation. Under the agreement, the firm’s lead attorney — former state Attorney General and U.S. Attorney Dennis Vacco —[...]

Posted 7 months ago

Jun 5

2023

Feds pause permit for critical industrial park work

Editor’s note: Investigative Post and the Niagara Gazette share selected stories, including the following report from Mark Scheer, who previously worked for Investigative Post. A federal agency has put a hold on a permit for construction of a piece of infrastructure critical to the development of a sprawling industrial park in Genesee County. An official representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has informed the Tonawanda Seneca Nation that it intends to take another look at the potential environmental impact of a wastewater pipeline that would connect a 1,250-acre industrial park in rural Genesee County to Oak Orchard Creek and Lake Ontario.[...]

Posted 9 months ago

Sep 20

2022

Hochul has inflated number of stadium jobs

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have repeatedly claimed that 10,000 jobs will be created during construction of the $1.4 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills.  “I love the fact that this is the largest construction project in Western New York history with 10,000 union jobs,” Hochul said during a visit in April to Buffalo.   It appears, however, that the stadium project will create about 6,800 direct construction jobs statewide, not the 10,000 claimed by Hochul and Poloncarz. That lower estimate was included in an economic impact study commissioned by the Bills. Only by adding “indirect” and[...]

Posted 1 year ago

Sep 19

2022

No relief for local taxpayers on Bills stadium

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz likes to say the new stadium deal he and Gov. Kathy Hochul cut with the Buffalo Bills gets the county “out of the football business.” The deal, however, does not get the county out of the business of paying for a football stadium.  The county’s annual costs for the Bills current home, Highmark Stadium, have ranged from $10.7 million to $12.6 million in recent years.  Estimates provided to county lawmakers for paying off bonds to cover the county’s share of new stadium construction have come in lower, between $7.7 million and $9 million annually. The latest[...]

Posted 1 year ago

Jun 9

2022

OTB reform bills stall in state Legislature

After state auditors criticized the handling of public funds and resources at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., a pair of Democratic state lawmakers sponsored legislation in hopes of changing the way the public benefit corporation operates.  The reform measures — sponsored by state Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, D-Lancaster, and state Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo — were not approved by the state Legislature before the end of this year’s session that concluded Saturday. Kennedy’s bills passed the Senate, but not the Assembly. Wallace’s bill never got out of committee in the Assembly. Wallace said she plans to submit a revised version of[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Jun 2

2022

OTB paying for an army of lawyers, lobbyists

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. continues to spend big bucks – large amounts of public money, that is – on attorneys and lobbyists.  Documents obtained by Investigative Post through a Freedom of Information request show OTB paid $333,684 to four Buffalo-based law firms between May 18, 2021, and April 1 of this year.  The legal fees are in addition to the $16,500 per month OTB pays to Albany lobbyists currently under contract.  What the lobbyists are doing for the money can be gleaned from documents on file with a state regulatory commission. But the bills submitted by two of OTB’s[...]

Posted 2 years ago

May 24

2022

East Side residents “exhausted” by inequities

Boarded-up buildings. Vacant lots. Gun violence. Lack of economic investment and jobs. A single grocery store where residents can buy quality food at affordable prices.  These are issues East Side residents have dealt with for years.  In the wake of the mass shooting that claimed 10 lives at the community’s lone supermarket — the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue — residents who spoke with Investigative Post last week said they’re hopeful some good can come from the tragedy. Hopeful, but not optimistic. Several residents said they’ve heard the rhetoric about real change coming to the East Side before. They’re still[...]

Posted 2 years ago

May 16

2022

Attorney General’s inaction on OTB

Last fall, an attorney representing New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli asked Attorney General Letitia James to take yet another look at the gold-plated health insurance Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is still providing to its part-time board directors.  The comptroller’s referral, made in September, called on the attorney general’s Taxpayer Protection Bureau to take “appropriate action,” noting that DiNapoli’s office deemed the practice “impermissible” in keeping with a prior attorney general’s opinion that “unambiguously” stated the same.  It’s now been nearly eight months since the referral was made.  What has the attorney general’s Taxpayers Protection Bureau done in that[...]

Posted 2 years ago
Investigative Post

Get our newsletters delivered to your inbox * indicates required

Newsletters *