What is it about Democrats and their seeming inability to either turn over records to the public (e.g. Hillary’s Whitewater indictment) or to “find” such documents when asked? Here’s yet another puzzling example of the same phenomenon taking place out here in New York. For those not familiar with the Empire State’s business history, General Electric once maintained a huge amount of their national corporate presence here. They had a large headquarters down by the Hudson river and not one… not two.. but three major industrial plants located in the upstate city of Utica. (Disclosure: my dad worked there for more than a decade and I took many tours through their French Road plant.)
That all came to a screeching halt starting back in the nineties. One plant after another either closed entirely or massively shrank their workforce. It turned some areas of upstate into essentially ghost towns compared to their glory days during the manufacturing boom. Since then, politicians have tried unsuccessfully to woo them back and bring their jobs with them. The current governor, Andrew Cuomo, is no exception and he’s given multiple interviews with the press talking about all the hard work he’s been doing on the behalf of his citizens. Deals with sweet tax incentives have been put on the table along with various taxpayer funded incentives.
Since the efforts have proven fruitless, the International Business Times put in an open records request to find out exactly what sort of deals were offered and why G.E. wasn’t budging. Wouldn’t you know it… the dog must have eaten Cuomo’s homework.
In response to International Business Times’ open-records requests for any emails, memos or documents relating to incentives to GE from New York, Cuomo’s office and his economic development agency told International Business Times that it has no such documents.
Despite his office saying it has no record of incentives offered to GE, Cuomo and his aides have publicly acknowledged communicating with company officials about moving back to New York. Cuomo, though, has refused to detail what he says he “put on the table.”
Exactly how much Cuomo is proposing to give General Electric — and whether he should be giving anything — has become a controversial issue in New York. GE is currently shutting down its Hudson River cleanup operations without having removed all the toxic chemicals it discharged into the river in the mid-20th century.
IBT is focusing on one aspect of the story which is important, but doesn’t really speak to the larger issue of the state bleeding jobs. GE was supposed to be doing some cleanup work on one of their old sites and it was apparently not done satisfactorily. Should Cuomo have been doing business with them before they saw to that work? That’s an open question for others to settle. What’s perhaps more interesting is the fact that Andrew Cuomo (who still has visions of becoming President some day) either lost all of his records or, more likely, never had any sort of negotiations going on in the first place. If the latter, then he’s basically been selling his constituents a bill of goods when he really had nothing on the front burner.
Digging a bit deeper, this raises yet again the question of the business climate in New York and the bad habit which state and local leaders have developed when dealing with large employers. First of all, the corporate tax rate is through the roof and nobody wants to do business here. The state has cooked up one scheme after another to tempt employers to move here, but they all involve short term tax breaks to help them get established, after which they go back to the old crippling tax rates. On the flip side, employers looking to leave have negotiated huge tax breaks on the local level (property taxes, municipal fees, etc.) as bribes to get them to not close down and keep their jobs local. They gladly accept the money and then generally wind up leaving anyway with the local homeowners having to make up the losses.
None of this would be necessary if New York wasn’t such an unfriendly place to do business and run by people who are so frequently associated with corruption and federal investigations. But since we keep electing Democrats to run the state’s business year after year I suppose we’re getting what we deserve.