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Communications Bureau, City of Rochester

Sometimes, there’s no conspiracy.

Mayor Tom Richards, wondering why COMIDA hadn’t quickly rubber stamped Sibley’s tax breaks, publicly accused Republican Monroe County leaders on Tuesday of stalling the deal. Richards said he was told by county insiders this was payback for his opposition to Monroe Community College’s desire to move out of Sibley to Kodak property.

That makes no sense for a few different reasons:

1. The Sibley deal isn’t contingent on MCC staying there.

2. The Sibley people had a meeting scheduled with COMIDA the next day. (The owners say the deal was never in jeopardy anyway.)

3. It’s not unreasonable or unprecedented for COMIDA to take a little time with such a deal. Taxpayers already took a $20 million haircut on this property.

4. Republicans don’t care what happens to MCC downtown.

Let’s examine that last point. Democrats believe the GOP secretly wants MCC’s proposed $72 million new digs at Kodak, complete with a power source, to be part of their fiefdom. But when have Republican elected officials expressed any kind of enthusiasm  for MCC vacating Sibley? County Executive Maggie Brooks, when asked about MCC’s move, says, “MCC has the right to choose where it wants to be.” That’s not the same as saying, “Yay, Kodak! Yay, MCC moving! Woohoo!” Her support has been lukewarm, at best.

Democrats don’t seem to understand they’re pretty close to winning the MCC fight and may have a secret ally in Monroe County. The county was instrumental in getting MCC to extend its lease at Sibley for another five years. That’s a long time. Over this period, the Sibley renovation and a changing atmosphere on Main St. will make it very hard for MCC to go anywhere. Furthermore, money for the new campus could dry up.

Former mayor Bob Duffy and now Mayor Richards don’t get that Brooks cares about downtown. She is the biggest champion in the county for MCC staying downtown.  A GOP source said the rest of the Republicans wouldn’t care if MCC packed up and moved back to Brighton.

Finally, all of this begs the question of why Richards knocked Brooks so publicly. It turns out the mayor was wrong. Either this was a genuine misunderstanding or he owed Louise Slaughter a favor. Richards doesn’t strike me as someone who plays politics, so I’m going with the former.

It’s good news Sibley is going forward, despite last minute – and unwarranted – drama.

Links of the Day:

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– The RPD struggles to find the resources to add foot patrols, which are popular among residents.

– New York congressional races could dictate outcome of who controls the House.

– Why are gas prices so high in Western New York?

10 Responses to No Sibley Conspiracy

  1. Between his over reaction to Occupy Rochester last year (I was at both OWS and OR and have to say, OR was an extremely not big deal) and this, I think Mayor Richards may not have the chops for the big boy chair.

  2. I just wonder why there is a deal for the Sibley building at all. It seems strange to me. Like the fake Medley Center deal that constantly gets tax breaks.

  3. October 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm Eduardo Ricardo responds:

    An undeserved attack on someone in the midst of a (serious) campaign. Shame on you Tom!

  4. October 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm cityresident responds:

    The guy changed parties to run for mayor and has played politics his whole time in office. Who are you kidding?

  5. My thoughts as just a regular guy…..I don’t understand why this guy is the mayor? Wasn’t he the architect of the Fast Ferry? Wasn’t he the guy who arranged for the long term lease with the Toronto port? Wast he the guy who wimped out and let the Occupy people take over a public park for months? He seems to be at the front of many decisions that turn out to be disasters. This last foot in mouth event is a pattern with him. What is the attraction with Richards?

  6. Don’t think for one minute that there is not some underline agenda that the republicans have. They care enough about mcc to take the all the money the kids pay to park in Brighton as well as the employees. Be ware

  7. October 4, 2012 at 11:23 pm Animule responds:

    From the MCC website…

    “The discussed historic tax credits that could accrue to the Winn Companies at the Sibley site can be obtained only if MCC leases the space for an additional 5 years after all renovations to the building have been completed — in reality, an extension of our lease for at least 8 years.”

    I’m not sure I have read this anywhere in the local press, but it ought to be looked into since it looks like there is more to this story. There appears to be a reason that Richards is jamming this through and the tax credits appear to bind MCC to Sibley, permanently.

    • October 5, 2012 at 10:28 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

      I would need to confirm that’s the case. There’s been a lot of back and forth between Winn and MCC over costs and other details. Each side says the other is misinformed.

  8. Pingback: MCC’s Costly Move » The Rochesterian

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