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Sibley 220X165There’s a new RUMP Group in town. This time, the group of rich, older, powerful white men call themselves “Rochester Business Leaders Photonics Working Group.” The group includes Bob Duffy and Danny Wegman, as well as the CEOs of Paychex, Kodak, Home Properties and Pike.

None of them have any experience in photonics. But they do have experience in real estate. That’s why they feel they’re qualified to tell the Department of Defense that the photonics institute headquarters should be located at Legacy Tower, the former Bausch and Lomb building.

They do not think the headquarters should be located at the Sibley Building, despite the wishes of University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Senator Charles Schumer.

The group believes the Sibley Building will require too many infrastructure upgrades, while Legacy Tower is a turnkey operation. The group thinks the Sibley Building, which houses High Tech Rochester’s offices, is somehow not suited for photonics offices.

There’s no evidence to back up New RUMP Group’s claim. The SUNY people say it will take five months of planning to get the institute off the ground. That means we have no idea when the headquarters will need to open and the kind of space it will need. We have no idea if Legacy OR Sibley will be appropriate. We don’t know the cost of either space, in terms of rent or renovations.

Why would New RUMP Group come out in favor of Legacy Tower when they don’t know anything about the photonics institute’s needs or budget or timeline?

Money, of course.

Buckingham Properties must need the tenants at Legacy. Buckingham’s Ken Glazer was at the photonics announcement featuring Joe Biden. It didn’t take long for Glazer to figure out how to make money off the deal. Sibley is owned by out-of-towners and perhaps they didn’t get an invitation to New Rump Group.

It’s concerning these prominent business leaders would use their names for such naked favoritism. These men have essentially started an unnecessary public feud.

The Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster – a real group of people who actually work in the field – point out this fight doesn’t even matter.

The DoD’s designation and future interest in Rochester is unrelated to local development interests. The DoD wants integrated device development as soon as possible. This work can move forward without an administrative office.  It is unclear if it will stall if local interests refuse to coordinate and compromise.  Either way, because of the excellent working partnership so far, New York is leading the nation in an international competition fueled by billions in research dollars.  We have been designated and are the focus of international attention.


Links of the Day:


– So many opted out of NYS tests it casts doubt on reliability of scores, expert says.

ISIS and their sexual slaves.

– Warren Harding had love child, DNA confirms.


46 Responses to New Rump Group

  1. Really, gotta throw in that “white men” part? Coincidence shouldn’t be reported as such… you are just furthering stereo types in an already volatile environment where race is again a big issue in our country currently

    • August 13, 2015 at 12:25 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      I think it’s extremely pertinent that a homogeneous group of powerful men has decided they’re important enough to weigh in on this topic and create this controversy. The fact they are all old white guys and CEOs matters. It implies exclusive club.

      • Normally, I agree with you, but not on this point. Being white has nothing to do with the reasons the group is pushing for B&L. It is purely coincidental so irrelevant to the story. Being powerful, wealthy, influential is relevant, but not color of their skin. Ask yourself if they were all african-americans and you made the same statement….

        • August 13, 2015 at 12:40 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

          If this was an all black group, or all women group, you bet I would have pointed it out. You want to call yourself a group and dictate what should go where, you’ll be scrutinized for who is in it.

          • I don’t get the throwing in “all white men” either. Who cares what race they are. There’s nothing stopping “black men” or “white women” or “black women” from becoming equally involved in our community and leaders. So stop throwing out unnecessary labels that are meant to somehow discredit those leaders involved that are making the decisions.

        • May the story should be about how the Jewish men want the center in the Sibly building. What self interests are they trying to serve. Clearly they are craftier then the RUMPS as they were touting the Sibly building as soon as the presser was over. Hmmmm.

    • August 17, 2015 at 11:06 am Monkeytoe responds:

      Now now, Rachel is a committed leftist – as all her biased reporting shows. Of course she is going to say “old white men”. Even though she would never dream to do that to any other race or gender. Don’t expect honesty or integrity from a leftist.

  2. Rachel, you are all in favor of making downtown more vibrant and successful.
    If the Legacy Tower is chosen and the local group makes money (as distasteful as that may be) where do you think they may invest that money since they are experienced in real estate?
    If the Sibley Building is chosen and the out of town group makes money, how likely id it that the monies will be reinvested in the Rochester area?
    Which of the two groups of decision makers has growing Rochester as part of their long term agenda?

    If you keep griping about local people making money then you deserve to live in an area with little or no growth.

    • August 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      If you think I’m complaining about people making money, you’re missing the point of this piece, which is really about power.

      • If you think you wrote a story about “power” maybe you should read it again. “Money, of course” seems to indicate the whole thing is over money. And the only one trying to stir up a fued is you, you admit you know nothing about either building yet tear these guys down for saying it should go in the Legacy Tower. How come no one was up in arms over Seligman pushing for Sibley? Because no money was on the line?

        • August 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

          I don’t care where it goes. The point is power. This is a story of people using influence for self-interest.

          • Isn’t Sibley at least lightly affiliated with the U of R? And Seligman works for the U of R? And you have no issue with the power issue there? Sorry but you’re making a controversy out of nothing as far as I’m concerned.

          • August 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

            Sibley has no affiliation with UR to my knowledge. But unlike New Rump Group, UR is actually involved in the project.

            And I don’t have a preference for which building it goes to.

          • You are also showing your ignorance on the facts of why they would choose the Legacy tower. It has all the modern infrastructure ready today. High Tech Rochester isn’t going to be in the Sibley building for another year and a half, and the big reason is because of updates needed in the building.

          • August 14, 2015 at 4:16 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

            What? Sibley said today they can be ready in 60 days. No clue where you got idea it will take year and a half for the photonics HQ. Who was ignorant?

      • Your two sentences, “Money, of course” and “It didn’t take long for Glazer to figure out how to make money off the deal” tend to lead a reader to think that you feel “money” is a part of the story.

        If money isn’t an issue, maybe the word shouldn’t play a prominent part in your rant.

        • August 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

          Money is a factor in the motivation for their involvement. Not only what’s best for downtown.

          • Then you missed my point.
            Which of the two groups would have more long term interest of Rochester in mind; local developers or an absentee owner? If each landlord were to make X dollars, what percent would likely be reinvested here by each one?

          • August 13, 2015 at 3:02 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

            You mean like Wilmot, the local owner of Sibley, who forced the city taxpayers to take a $20M haircut? Or the new owners of Sibley who are investing millions of private money to undo the damage?

          • No, I was actually referring to the Glazers that you mentioned in the story. I believe that after the parents’ plane crashed almost a year ago you spoke highly about how the family was good for the Rochester community.

            Also, some of the lighter complexioned people mentioned, like Danny Wegman and Bob Duffy seem to have a soft spot in thier hearts for Rochester.

          • August 13, 2015 at 3:36 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

            I also said at the time of the tragedy that the full impact was not known. I would not be surprised if the company is not in as good shape as before.

          • That’s true, the future is always unknown and many companies are not as strong initially when a leader dies, but that doesn’t change the culture of the people who have always worked there and made the company what it is. And does it makes sense not to give them the benefit of the doubt based on their past family history of commitment to the area?

            You sound as if you think the company from Massachusetts that is supporting communities in 23 states will be better for the development of Rochester.

            You haven’t mentioned then (and the elderly caucasian wealthy founder) and what they will add to the area. Will they be supportive? Have you looked into their plans for the area apart from Sibley’s?

          • August 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm Some Guy responds:

            Not to sound like I’m defending the Wilmot’s here, but I’d like to see an itemized assessment of what exactly the city claims it provided for the $20 million in unpaid property taxes on that building. If a for-profit company allows its subsidiary LLC that is $20M in tax arrears go insolvent, isn’t that the free market saying to our government vassals that “the rent is too damn high”?

            The reason America is falling apart is because government is held to such an obscenely low standard in everything it does, to the point of levying property taxes so egregious that no one these days even bothers to argue that taxes need to have some realistic connection to the actual cost to provide the services government alleges it delivers.

            Government is little more than an egalitarian version of La Cosa Nostra, where “we” get to vote for our “Dons” for the “privilege” of being robbed at percentages Al Capone could never get away with charging.

          • August 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm Some Guy responds:

            Thanks, Rachel, I actually forgot about the COMIDA aspect to this one! But the question was mostly rhetorical, as few people would consider the highest property-taxed region on Earth to be in any way commensurate with the actual value those taxes are alleged to provide. It’s all an extortion racket, and we’re the suckers, told to believe that stealing isn’t stealing when government does it and fails to provide what it claims to provide at a REASONABLE price.

      • August 13, 2015 at 3:20 pm Some Guy responds:

        I absolutely understand and agree with you on that point about power, but the race/gender thing has zero to do with any of that because none of those people got to positions of power based on their race or their gender, and it should have been left out.

        Danny Wegman didn’t get where he is by being an old white guy, he got there by being the eldest child of a really hard-working and decent and innovative guy who understood what his customers would pay for, and he ran with what he was given. Many of the same things could be said of Duffy and Glazer (I don’t know Judge’s, Clarke’s, or Pettinella’s backgrounds enough to comment on them).

        Seriously, the SJW nonsense is intellectually fraudulent. The free-market certainly isn’t perfect (and probably NEVER would have placed Duffy — a lifelong public servant with zero private sector experience — running the local chamber of commerce, let alone in a life of relative luxury, practically all of it taxpayer-derived), but it’s always going to be infinitely more moral than the collectivism the Social Justice Warriors want to impose on society via force.

        Affirmative Action can never be any more fruitful than social promotion has proven to be in government schools — premature at best and disastrous at worst. It has never changed the paradigm of WHY so many fewer people of a given race/gender pursue certain opportunities, and it certainly hasn’t explained how, particularly in STEM disciplines, where there are now FEWER women graduating than 40-50 years ago, making them actually over-represented in the ranks of management in many technical disciplines.

        I’ve yet to hear a social justice warrior justify their racial “bean counting” when confronted with the fact that (outside of technical disciplines and the highest achievers), academia is leaving the males behind. It’s as if logic ceases to operate when statistics are used on a mass population rendered incapable of honestly analyzing them, by virtue of the abysmal and overpriced government education to which more and more people lack a credible alternative.

  3. If there was one black guy in the group it would not change the point of the story so pointing out that they are all white is irrelevant. Media race-baiting. This story is not about racial issues so why make it one? And who says they are old? Relative to the author I suppose…. Which says a lot.

    • August 13, 2015 at 2:33 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      You’re right. The story is not about race. Thanks for realizing that.

      • I feel like sometimes being in the media, you think its your job to find some hidden controversy in everything. Even when there are logical reasons why a decision is being made. You are showing your ignorance on this quite frankly, and I think you are fishing for a controversy because the “media personality” in you thinks that you must pull a rabbit out of the hat here.

  4. I cannot believe what I just read. Do you really believe what you wrote or are you just fishing for reactions? Basic human instincts include feeling comfortable with others who share common traits. These include social characteristics and certainly economic status. To have a group of successful males forging a friendship should not be a surprise or a shocking development. Yes, it does go against the current media and PC crowd agenda of pushing diversity as the only acceptable practice. It is my belief that forcing people to include others who are completely different from them into there daily lives is more harmful than beneficial. But to the specific point of your post, what is your REAL issue? Is it that they are all men? Is it that they are all old? Is it that no women are involved? Is it that they are all white? Is it that you have an issue with that a certain developer and this group are somehow friends and will somehow share in the profits of a government program? I must admit, when I first heard that the Sibleys building was being mentioned as the first choice, I couldn’t understand why? What made this building a first choice? It needed plenty of work. Now I read that the B&L building is being described as needing very little work to be ready. So what am I missing? What is the truth?

    • August 13, 2015 at 10:02 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      The real issue is power and people who have nothing to do with this project using it to perhaps help out a friend.

      Sibley is a fine space. So is Legacy. This isn’t really about which building is better. It’s about a group of CEOs who are trying to wield their influence. You can decide whether you think that’s appropriate.

  5. August 13, 2015 at 10:37 pm orielly responds:

    Ok Danny Wegman is going to be part of this group because he wants to get the Glazers more rental income? Really? The money / rental income is so small in the scope of things for the Wegmans or Glazers, money has absolutely nothing to do with it. They / He could care less.

    Perhaps they see the B&L building as being a better home, more high tech, a better image and off main street and away from the many liberty pole “issues”. Clearly the Broad street area is far nicer, prettier, close to the dinosaur etc than Main street and Sibleys.

    Where was the outrage at the UR being given all the land for College Town making it tax free and then choosing a Cleveland based developer and property management firm who then takes the profits gained from that tax free rental property in the city, to Ohio? There was no local or at least a NY based developer who could meet the UR’s vision?

    And regarding the “white guys comment” clearly that white guy comment is viewed these days as a derogatory comment and was used that way here by the writer…no doubt about that. Viewing a “white guy” comment positively would be viewed by most today as a racist reaction… no one is supposed to be happy because they were “all white”.
    And you are right, we can almost guarantee if they were all minorities you would have reported it–and that comment would be celebrated by you and shown as an indicator of how far we have come. IT would be cool.
    All minorities or all women…..cool. All old white guys….. bad. Yep no bias here.

  6. Rachel – great article!

  7. And here is the big miss…. our City has been working on creating a true innovation district at the corner of East and Main – where the Sibley Building (High Tech Rochester and RIT StartupNY), 40 Franklin St (RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship)., Winstream/Gannett, and Midtown are all located. If you look at the Brookings Institute and all other experts who have studied successful places – the goal is to put as many high tech and innovation-related things in dense areas, to promote cross-fertilization. Literally – put companies and research centers in the same buildings, and on the same floors of buildings. We are finally just starting to get some critical mass going, and everyone who knows how this should be done is suggesting the photonics HQ go into one of the same buildings as others are going into (at Sibley). So, to splinter the momentum already, from a group who are not experts on how successful cities have done this before, is truly a sad reflection on our town. I thought we were finally rid of some of the political nonsense, but maybe not. Crazy.

  8. August 14, 2015 at 7:51 am Animule responds:

    It’s amazing how these rent seekers are attracted to the prospect of free public tax dollars like a moth is attracted to light. It would be interesting to run a calculation on the millions of tax dollars over the years that have gravitated toward almost all of the people on both sides of this. Just look at the millions in tax dollars we’ve spent directly or indirectly (highway improvements) on the University of Rochester over the years, a private institution with assets of over $4 billion and an endowment of over $2 billion that takes every opportunity it can to glom onto free money from the government and yet pays nothing in property taxes.

    The same could be said for the Sibley building. There hasn’t been an economically feasible use of that building since Sibley’s shut down, but that hasn’t stopped the gusher of money flowing into the building to prop it up. Between the $20 million plus that Tom Wilmot stuck taxpayers with (not to mention millions in rent that MCC paid to the Wilmots over the time period in question) to the millions of tax dollars WinnDevelopment has tapped to “buy” and refurbish the building (using the exact same limited liability chicanery that RochWil used with Wilmot to stick taxpayers with the risk), you could have probably built a replacement for Blue Cross Arena with all of these tax dollars.

    Maybe we all just need to admit that Rochester has a ridiculous surplus of commercial office space in the center city and we need to take some of it down to trim away at the overhang and try to tamp down on all of this rent seeking behavior. A good start would be imploding the Sibley building, a money-sucking black hole for tax dollars.

  9. August 14, 2015 at 11:08 am theodore kumlander responds:

    the RUMP group has always been wolves in sheeps clothing. A revolving door of hustlers and grifters in expensive suits. Their pitch has always been give me the money.

  10. If it were an all-black group the story would be about a city that doesn’t exist.

  11. August 14, 2015 at 4:17 pm Steve Bathory responds:

    Nice job with the article, Rachel. Good ol’ boys clubs exist everywhere, and none of them ever like being exposed. Especially in Rochester.

  12. So what actual power do they have? If they can’t steer the placement of the site does it really matter? Seems like a good idea to have a couple sites downtown as viable options. If all the eggs were put into the Sibley basket, seems easier for the DoD/SUNY Poly to say “Sibley doesn’t fit what we want, we’re not going to be in the city.” With several city options seems like it really puts the pressure on SUNY Poly to locate it somewhere in the city or have a real compelling reason why it won’t.

  13. August 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm John Smith responds:

    I think SUNY ultimately gets to decide where the institute will be located, but is this debate really a bad thing? If anything I think it’s a good sign for Downtown Rochester that there is are multiple desired site locations to choose from.

    The big picture here would be to use the photonics center as a magnet to attract companies like Canon, Google, or Nikon to our city to invest R&D Dollars into the community which will result in job opportunities for others, and tenants for other locations. If it can get up and running sooner and it’s in the central business district that’s a win in my opinion.

    • August 17, 2015 at 9:58 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      And SUNY did decide, we learn today.

      In hindsight this blog post was a little off. I merely thought they were presumptuous. No, they were Machiavellian. This was a deal to put UR in its place.

  14. August 17, 2015 at 11:10 am Monkeytoe responds:

    The idea that the individuals involved in the Rump group shouldn’t have any say is interesting. Tell me again Rachel why they are not allowed to voice their opinion?

    Because they are white? Because they are men? Because they are old? Because they have money?

    Which thing makes you believe it is improper for them to voice an opinion?

    too funny. Your leftism isn’t just showing – it’s pouring out.

    You have no idea what place is better for the photonic building, so aside from saying the president of the college prefers Sibley, you have no basis to suggest that Legacy will not be as good or better. But, because they are “rich, old, and white” you are infuriated that they would have an opinion.

    Please. Get a grip. If Sibley is the best place, make that argument (or rather, let people who have a clue what they are talking about make it). Don’t get hysterical because someone you don’t like (based, apparently, on gender and race) voices an opinion.

  15. Well it’s irrelevant now b/c it’s going to the so-called “Legacy” Tower.

    • August 17, 2015 at 9:59 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      Not irrelevant. We now know who’s in charge.

      • August 17, 2015 at 10:04 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

        And not so fast anyway. Power struggle is very real.

        Danny Wegman, CEO, Wegmans; Co-Chair, Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council
        Joel Seligman, President and CEO, University of Rochester; Co-Chair, Finger Lakes Regional Economic
        Development Council
        Joseph D. Morelle, Majority Leader, New York State Assembly

        “Despite press reports to the contrary, no decision has been finalized on a new downtown headquarters for AIM Photonics. We welcome SUNY Polytechnic’s interest in locating a headquarters downtown and we thank them for their recommendation, which we will take under advisement. The Rochester leadership, in conjunction with Governor Cuomo, will make the final decision on where to locate the appropriate photonics facilities in our community.”

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