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Alain Kaloyeros

Alain Kaloyeros

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Assemblyman Joe Morelle are probably sitting back and saying, “I told you so.”

The pair was concerned about SUNY Polytechnic wielding too much power over the Rochester photonics initiative. Yes, it’s a federal program, but the state is kicking in $250 million and is a major stakeholder. Seligman and Morelle unsuccessfully fought SUNY Polytechnic and its powerful leader, Alain Kaloyeros, over where the headquarters would be located. The governor clearly sided with Kaloyeros, who enlisted Bob Duffy’s help in the fight. ( I explained the dynamic of this power struggle here, one that was mischaracterized by local media as local leaders infighting. It was always Rochester v. Albany.) The dispute may have cost Seligman his co-chairmanship of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council.

Now there are new questions about whether SUNY Polytechnic should control photonics.

That’s because SUNY Polytechnic may have done shady things in its stewardship of the Buffalo Billion project. The program is under federal investigation for bid-rigging and conflicts of interest among lobbyists and others involved in the project. SUNY Polytechnic used nonprofits to issue contracts and these contracts were not open to public scrutiny. For months, reporters had been questioning the total lack of transparency involved in Buffalo Billion.

I asked the governor last week if Kaloyeros and SUNY Polytechnic should remain in charge. He said there’s no proof anyone did anything wrong. But Danny Wegman said the investigation is slowing things down.

There’s a simple solution. Don’t allow SUNY Polytechnic to run photonics, or at least allow the entity to structure deals in the same manner. Even if the probe finds nothing criminal, it’s clear the state erred in the way it manages some of these large economic development contracts. Too much power is in the hands of too few people, who operate behind closed doors. Seligman, Morelle and other local leaders should renew their call for more local control. They should also demand more transparency moving forward.

6 Responses to SUNY Poly Folly

  1. Are we really surprised?! Government has no business being in business, period. Sooner or later some gutsy investigative journalist will get a handle on the truth, will get the story out. Then the lawyering will begin,… taking years to get a result. That’s how government “works”. With all the government commercials boasting and promoting NYS, and specifically Buffalo and Rochester, those two cities and New Orleans are in the negative when it comes to a business rating, NATIONWIDE!. Rochester is in the tank on education, crime, poverty, etc. You can thank uncle Cuomo and the Albany gang for that along with a slew of local “political experts”.. They have only one thing on their mind, politicking and they suck at it, big time. And then when they do get caught and finally get convicted,…a fat pension while incarcerated. It’s a pity that such a beautiful state, which has so much to offer is riddled with political incompetence, greed and first rate lying. Ugh.

  2. May 23, 2016 at 12:37 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    if Brother Andrew has so much money to pass out how about lowering taxs? i wonder how much of that 250 million will actually get to Research?

  3. May 24, 2016 at 1:30 pm Some Guy responds:

    Shouldn’t the lesson be that centralized economic planning not only does not work, not only creates the environment for corruption and graft, but by its very design (picking winners and losers) is inherently corrupt?

    From COMIDA on up, economic development in this state seems to always have beneficiaries of taxpayer giveaways in positions of decision-making authority.

    How can Theresa Mazullo represent the taxpayers as chair of COMIDA when her other state-funded gig (Excell Partners) has vested interests (i.e. iCardiac) in so many projects that come before COMIDA asking for handouts?

    And it only starts there, COMIDA’s longtime attorney, Michael Townsend, routinely works all sides of the table: “representing” taxpayers as counsel to COMIDA, “representing” each of the various LDC’s as their counsel, being designated contact for legal process for corrupt companies like Navitech Services Corp. (which received significant tax exemptions from COMIDA), as well as the business of convicted felon and husband of Maggie Brooks, Robert Weisner, and his one-time business partner, John Perrone (who was in the room when the bid-rigging crimes occurred for which four prominent people in county politics plead guilty, likely to avoid real dirt coming out at trial).

    Or as the Nolans discovered and WHEC reported, does Townsend work for Bill Reilich, and will use his position at COMIDA to manufacture political dirt on “enemies” of a Monroe County GOP that is so inept they don’t see the win-win situation that would arise if they simply made the decision to break entirely from the Maggie Brooks pay-for-play modus operandi, and engaged in honest dealing as fiduciaries for the taxpayers.

    Get rid of all county economic development, it is designed to create a steady supply of patronage positions and rewards for insiders and only insiders. It harms the general welfare of the people of Monroe County by increasing costs and obstacles on everyone else. The NYS AG and FBI were onto something when they raided Suite 8100 at City Place three years back, shame so little has come of it so far. I would note that the county has seen the last two executive directors retire after Dinolfo got elected (one of them after the legislature approved the new ethics office with subpoena power). I wouldn’t be surprised if that was more than a coincidence, as only active employees and contractors can be compelled to testify before the new office.

  4. My 2 cents as a community member and tax payer……Morelle, in my opinion, is a slime ball politician of the worst kind. So what we have here are one set of shady characters getting out maneuvered by another set of shady characters. What we need is a successful business person willing to serve as an elected official as he in nearing the end of his career. We do not need career politicians or worst yet, elected officials that are relatives or former staff members of career politicians. ( do the names of Joe Morelle Jr. Or Adam Bello Sound familiar? The SUNY Polytecnic folks are more than likely providing jobs to friends, family and political contributors of their own. Giving more control to Seligman and Morelle would just be transferring those jobs, contracts, etc to their friends and families. Finally a Federal Attorney is putting these people in jail. I suspect Morelle will be behind bars at some time. Hopefully Andrew Cuomo won’t be far behind.

  5. Only in the state of NY can a politician make more money than the average Joe/Sue on the street. Unusual? It is if said politician is earning that salary while incarcerated. They take so very, very good of themselves. There are few exceptions, very few.

    • May 25, 2016 at 11:06 am Some guy responds:

      Yup. Go back to Rachel’s posts last fall and watch a few government employees go wild lecturing the people who actually pay taxes* about how grateful we should be to all those that rob us at gunpoint to do things that people would not pay for if given the choice**.

      *when one’s income is derived from actual net taxpayers, is that individual really a taxpayer?

      ** “choice” to a statist means one thing, and one thing only

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