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.
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