Archive for the ‘Kathy Hochul’ category

Hochul a Captive of the Left, Damages NY – By George J. Marlin

September 3, 2022

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Thursday, September 1, 2022.

For Our New Governor it’s Business as Usual – By George J. Marlin

August 23, 2022

The following appeared on Monday, August 22, 2022, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website, theisland360.com:

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s performance in office brings to mind the French maxim “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which means “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Hochul, who had pledged to end business as usual in Albany, has become comfortable with the trappings, perks and power of her office and has been acting Cuomo-esque.

For example, Hochul, like Cuomo, has been using the state’s jet plane liberally. The New York Post has reported that “Hochul took 140 private-aircraft flights at taxpayer expense in just her first seven months on the job, zipping across the state to tap special interests for her huge campaign warchest.”

Air Hochul has cost taxpayers over $250,000.

Then there is the dazzling office she built for herself in Buffalo.

As governor, Hochul has spent only 12 days in her hometown. So, one would think, on the rare occasion Hochul requires indoor working space, an office in a state building would suffice.

Nope, not for Gov. Hochul. Her new Western New York “executive chamber”—which was built in a renovated warehouse and has access to a balcony and a rooftop garden—cost $2 million.

Construction expenditures included: $413,000 for electricians; $362,000 for engineering and architectural services; $240,000 for—get this—doors and frames; and $172,000 for finishes—whatever that means.

The Empire State Development Corporation, which is under the governor’s thumb, paid for the renovations. That’s the same state agency Cuomo used to pay for his handouts to favored interests.

And by sheer coincidence, the Hochul office is located in a building owned by a developer who has donated $62,500 to her campaign committee.

State business to a donor? That’s another Cuomo habit the governor has embraced.

The seriously flawed, Cuomo-promoted, Penn Station real estate development deal that Hochul approved is another example of cronyism. A key developer has donated $69,700 to Hochul’s coffers office.

It gets worse.

In November 2021, Hochul extended Cuomo’s COVID state of emergency order, which suspends not only competitive bidding for various contracts, but the review and approval process performed by the office of the state comptroller.

One company that has greatly benefited from the bidding exemption is Digital Gadgets, which provides Hochul’s Department of Health with at-home COVID tests.

Digital Gadgets, the Albany Times Union has reported, is a “New Jersey-based wholesaler of household and other electronic devices that sells its wares to companies like the Home Shopping Network QVC [and] in 2020 the company pivoted to supplying medical equipment and began landing major contracts in New York.”

In December 2021, Digital Gadgets was awarded a no-bid purchase order to supply the state with 52 million at-home tests. During the next three months the company received 239 payments totaling a whopping $637 million.

By the way, Digital Gadgets owner Charles Telebe, his wife and various family members have donated $300,000 to Hochul.

And, surprise surprise, a member of the Telebe family, James, an NYU undergraduate, was hired by Hochul’s campaign to work on its fund-raising staff for approximately $3,700 a month.

According to James Telebe’s LinkedIn profile, he also worked on the staff of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s short-lived 2020 presidential campaign.

Another coincidence: In 2020 Digital Gadgets received an emergency no-bid contract totaling $119 million from the de Blasio administration.

That contract, according to the Times Union “came on the heels of about $44,000 in donations from Telebe family members to de Blasio’s campaign and related action committees.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, as the jet-setting governor, who has raised a record-breaking $38 million in political contributions, gallivants around the state, New York’s overtaxed common folks aren’t traveling much this summer.

The looming recession, rampant inflation, high gas and food prices and the crimewave sweeping the state are keeping them close to home.

Quite a contrast.

Hopefully, voters tired of “things remaining the same” will turn out on Election Day and send Hochul packing to Buffalo.

 

Why We Can Call NY Nation’s Abortion Capital – George J. Marlin

July 1, 2022

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Friday, July 1, 2022.

Gov. Hochul — Cuomo Redux – By George J. Marlin

June 14, 2022

The following appeared on Monday, June 13, 2022, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website, theisland360.com:

In her quest to win this year’s gubernatorial election, Gov. Kathy Hochul has been adhering to the key precept in the Andrew Cuomo campaign playbook: “Take the money.”

Like Cuomo, the governor has taken money from every conceivable special interest group. Numerous real estate developers, government employee unions, and corporate giants have donated the maximum amount permissible under law, $69,700.

Employees of Ostroff Associates, a noted Albany lobbying firm, have given her the maximum so far. And a firm that represents banks and automotive dealers has contributed $25,000.

Crypto currency miners have also opened up their checkbooks. The CEO of one such company, Coinmint, has donated $40,000.

Will such contributions affect her decision to approve or reject legislation on her desk that curtail bitcoin mining operations utilizing carbon-based power sources? We will see.

Then there are the real estate developers. One player, who was very close to Andrew Cuomo, Scott Rechler, and his wife, have given the Hochul campaign the maximum as of the last filing with the state.

The chairman of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer, wrote checks totaling $50,000.

The owner of Madison Square Garden, James Dolan, who has a major interest in the future of the area around his midtown real estate, has donated $69,700.

Lest we forget, Hochul, like her predecessor, has endorsed the revitalization of the Pennsylvania Station area that will include 10 new buildings. The governor made the commitment despite The New York Times reporting that “New York City’s Independent Budget Office has raised serious questions about the financial viability of the development, the state’s role in it and the possibility that taxpayers would have to foot the bill if the revenue its boosters are expecting fails to materialize.”

Hochul has also been placating another group of generous donors—government employee unions.

There’s the rollback of pension reforms; reduction of vesting periods to five years from 10 years, and the cutback of some pension contribution rates.

The Medicaid budget which soared by 11% in fiscal 2021-2022 and is expected to jump another 11% in the 2022-2023 state fiscal year, takes care of unionized health care workers. Gov. Hochul’s spending increases, the Empire Center for Public Policy has reported, “included across-the- board increases in Medicaid fees for providers, extra funding for financially distressed hospitals and nursing homes, one-time bonuses for front-line health workers, and a $3 hike in the minimum hourly wage for home health aides.”

Hochul has also boosted state spending for education by 7.2%, or $2 billion, to make nice to the teacher unions. This increase is on the top of the $9 billion of “emergency” aid from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Spending on New York teacher salaries and benefits will top $18,000, about 120% above the national average.

To further placate teacher unions, the state Legislature and the governor are throwing Mayor Eric Adams under the school bus.

The extension of the mayoral control of public schools is for only two years. Provisions in the new law not only weaken Adam’s authority but impose increased spending that could cost as much as $1.5 billion.

Worse yet, the United Federation of Teachers will be granted a power they have sought for years: control over class size.

The legislation states that reducing the number of students in the classroom “shall be developed in collaboration with the collective bargaining units representing teachers and the principals and signed off on by the chancellor and the presidents of each bargaining unit.”

The “collective bargaining units” have to be overjoyed by this development. For the first time they will have a veto power over class size, and their membership rolls will swell as more teachers are hired to teach fewer children.

It also means more union dues to contribute to Hochul’s campaign treasury.

Gov. Hochul learned a lot from her mentor, Andrew Cuomo. He must be proud that his star pupil excels at fiscal “sleight of hand” of the worst sort: convincing the public that she is a responsible executive—all the while pandering to special interests by increasing spending and pork and building a fund-raising machine that is outperforming Cuomo’s operation when he was at the peak of his power.

Gov. Hochul’s budget giveaways – By George J. Marlin

May 17, 2022

The following appeared on Monday, May 16, 2022, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website, theisland360.com:

When Kathy Hochul was sworn in as governor in August 2021, she told New Yorkers that she would govern differently than Cuomo.

And so she has….

Unlike Cuomo, who fought tooth and nail with state legislators, Hochul has rolled over to their demands in order to get $600 million for the new Buffalo Bills stadium.

To secure that funding, she resurrected—what Cuomo had buried—pork spending for legislators known as “members items.”

On top of that, Hochul has kept alive Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development programs that replaced “members items” and served as Cuomo’s personal pork barrel spending for local projects that have often been dubious in nature or were rewards to supporters in the form of capital grants or tax credits.

Ed McMahon, of The Empire Center for Public Policy, has noted that the more than $12 billion committed to RED projects in recent years “is in classic terms almost Marxist. This is the state owning the means of production. It’s corporate welfare on steroids.”

Many corporations that received grants failed or the payback promised never materialized. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion,” for example, which included the Solar City factory, employed only about 20% of the 3,000 jobs projected.

Another flop, the Central New York film, hub cost taxpayers $90 million.

And let’s not forget that several of Cuomo’s economic development shenanigans led to the conviction in 2018 of two of his political cronies, Joe Percoco and Alain Kaloyeros.

Which brings me back to Gov. Hochul. Did she learn anything from the Cuomo-era regional spending boondoggles?

Apparently not.

To get a budget passed, “…she managed to make everybody happy on something,” Kathryn S. Wilde, president of the Partnership for New York City, told The New York Times.

The deputy senate majority leader, Democrat Michael Gianaris (whom I’m guessing is getting his share of pork for his district), likened Hochul to Cuomo “in terms of looking out for corporate interests and her ideological positioning.”

The state comptroller’s analysis of the 2022-2023 budget pointed out that “several new discretionary lump sum capital appropriations were added, with little detail regarding intended purposes…” In other words, political swag. These appropriations include:

• $800 million for “the New York State Regional Economic and Community Assistance Program”—also known as corporate welfare.

• $385 million for the Community Resilience Sustainability and Technology Program to support “projects intended to improve the quality of life of the residents of the state … through investment in facilities which support arts, cultural, athletic, housing, childcare, education, parks and recreational … tourism, community development … and other civic activities.” These are pork grants that state legislators could dole out to 501(c)(3)s, and community groups in their home district.

• $350 million for the Long Island Investment Fund to support “manufacturing, agriculture, business parks, community anchor facilities … and main street revitalizations.”

This is more corporate welfare with few strings attached.

• $185 million for the Local Community Assistance Program to “support community development or redevelopment, revitalization, economic development, economic sustainability … and local infrastructure improvement or enhancement.” Even more corporate welfare.

Here’s a tiny sampling from a “members items” list compiled by Newsday’s Albany reporter Michael Gormley:

• $5 million for a Rochester soccer stadium.

• $108 million to redevelop the Bronx Kingsbridge Amory.

• $8 million for a parking garage in Rochester.

• $20 million for Syracuse University’s basketball team Carrier Dome.

• $8.5 million for a Syracuse “Landmark Theatre.”

• $1 million for Old Fort Niagara.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars of such pork barrel projects.

Blair Horner, the executive director of the N.Y. Public Interest Research Group, stated that these funds “are used to bolster the image of elected officials in an effort to curry favor with voters.”

“Big lump sums,” like the $350 million coming to Long Island, Blair added, “limit public accountability and have been abused in the past.”

Yes, several legislators have gone to jail for abusing these grants by taking care of friends, relatives and donors.

Giving away the store may help Hochul get over the finish line in November, but it will not help taxpayers who will be stuck paying the tab for Albany’s unsatiable spending appetite.