Note: Comments of readers are their own and do not reflect the feelings of Bob Lonsberry or lonsberry.com.
73 Responses to:
SYRACUSE GOT CONGELED
# 1. 6/7/12 4:55 AM by Jodi - Wayne County East
In the end the taxpayers are left wjth a 30 year monument to government stupidity and Congel gets a 10,000 acre private game preserve complete with mansion and underground parking garage at their expense.
He may be crooked but he is surely no fool.
The fool part is governments job.
# 2. 6/7/12 4:56 AM by little john - Mt.Morris,N.Y.
I enjoyed your informative column. It is like a consummated merger for richer and richer, no sickness, only health care costs for the consumed ones...A divorce or breach of promise is used in family court but corporate law seems to leave unfulfilled promises at the altars where integrity is sacrificed... A breach of contract escape clause in their pre nups I guess... Sounds good for the 'er; not the 'ee.
# 3. 6/7/12 5:08 AM by Jodi - Wayne County East
For the last ten years I've said continually that given twenty more years the only people left in NYS will be welfare recipients and government employees and they will all be standing around dumbfounded as to where everyone else went.
Californication hear we come.
# 4. 6/7/12 5:56 AM
When it happens in other countries we would call it Fascism.
# 5. 6/7/12 6:33 AM by Poplar Beach
This is trickle down economics at it's best Bob. The rich big business man convinces the rich politicians that it is all okay as long as jobs are created, those folks buy houses, they shop, they pay taxes, and in the end the corporate tax breaks are a good thing for everybody.
In actuality, not a bad theory, especially in NY where starting and running a business can be like walking through a mine field.
The problem is lack of integrity, that allows politicians to pick winners and losers, creating a situation where the rich get richer while other small businesses fail and far to little trickles down.
The Congels of this world are the winners, the more they make, the more they can afford to spend on tax lawyers looking for loop holes, and greasing the palms of the self serving politicians who create those loop holes. In the meantime other small businesses in NY who can not make enough money to play that game are going broke, or leaving the state.
I can think of two solutions, total tax reform and term limits. Get rid of all loop holes and all the a$$ holes at the same time!
# 6. 6/7/12 6:34 AM by tom - penfield, ny
Gee, sounds like a "Fast Ferry" deal, or the new Xerox call center in Webster that will pay people a little above poverty wages. Maybe anarchy wouldn't be such a bad thing compared to the foolishness of elected officials. The politicians are desperate, so they act desperately. What do we do when all the money is gone? I guess we are seeing what happens.
# 7. 6/7/12 6:51 AM
Amen. Just more of the continuing family saga. A couple months ago you wrote how we were getting "Conjugaled" by Scott. Ever notice that the family name "Congel" seems to be a close relative of that ubiquitous crossword puzzle clue "conger"... yep, those clansmen are as slippery as eels.
# 8. 6/7/12 6:57 AM by Mike - Victor, NY
And let the not for profits pay their share of taxes also. No property should get a free ride.
# 9. 6/7/12 6:58 AM by P. Mulley - Fairport, NY
Property tax is the most unjust and thoroughly immoral form of taxation there is, for it calls into question your right to own (not rent) property.
If you have to keep paying money indefinately to hold property, you don't own it, you're renting.
Editor's Note: that is a point that i frequently ponder
# 10. 6/7/12 7:02 AM by Woody
Like a previous column Congel should be pronounced Congigal cause when when Congel comes to town somebody is going to get screwed ,The really sad thing is that politicians never get wise to these clowns .It seems that anyone that comes around with totally brilliant idea that will put Rochester and Monroe county on the map the plan is never viable without a tax payer handout of some sort. And when the plan goes belly up the brilliant planner walks away with full pockets and the taxpayer still has to foot the bill. Can you spell Fast Ferry and Medley Center ?
# 11. 6/7/12 7:02 AM by hc
Some days, the only thing that keeps my head from exploding after reading stories like this is holding firmly to a belief I have; that in the long run, NOBODY GETS AWAY WITH ANYTHING!!!
"...and be sure your sin will find you out." ~Numbers 32:23
# 12. 6/7/12 7:06 AM by Eagles - Webster, NY
Meanwhile it's war on the property tax paying public employees who teach the kids, drive the busses, feed the kids, patrol the streets and put out the fires
Editor's Note: the plural of the large yellow things with wheels is "buses."
# 13. 6/7/12 7:07 AM by jk - largo,fl
no problem, contractors, subs and partners got screwed-so now the taxpayers; the taxpayers are used to it though.
# 14. 6/7/12 7:12 AM by Ron - 716
Syracuse could make the access road to the mall a toll road...
I am in favor of tax abatements during construction. (With a time limit, to avoid a time-honored Massachusetts trick.)
I hope the Congels at least give the cities cab-fare.
# 15. 6/7/12 7:28 AM by Rob - Lewis County, NY
This project has been nothing more than a pipe dream from the start. It was billed as a resort destination that would provide lodging, dining, and shopping. Am I missing something here? Why would it be assumed that people would flock to the area to shop at chain stores and eat at chain restaurants that are available in virtually every other metropolitan area of the state and country. Sorry, but when I think vacation, Syracuse doesn't even come to mind. A 1300+ room hotel? Syracuse doesn't fill all of it's hotel rooms now. Okay, they're looking to get the NCAA tournament. That's great. That's 1 week out of the year, and it certainly won't happen every year.
Yes, it provided construction jobs and continues to provide retail jobs. The construction jobs will end soon with the completion of the project. And the retail jobs? Are people going to stay in Syracuse for a carrer in retail?
At one time, Syracuse was a major industrial center. Carrier, New Process Gear, Allied, GE, etc. All gone or vastly downsized. Now they're basing their entire economy on a service industry, which will ultimately fail as it will be unable to sustain itself.
But apparently, 1 guy made out well in the deal.
# 16. 6/7/12 7:34 AM by Tom - Fairport, NY
It's time that all "industrial develoment agencies" be disbanded.
We've seen it here in Monroe County, how COMIDA is simply a conduit to direct tax dollars to the politically connected.
These IDAs are one of the biggest scams in the entire state.
# 17. 6/7/12 7:41 AM
The dreamers on the Irondequoit Town Board are probably in tears right about now. When the Town Supervisor had a vision of a ferry boat and tea houses in Seabreeze, I knew something was really wrong. The only people walking to the bank are public employees and the taxpayer is the sucker, then, now, and forever. Suckers!!!!!!!!
# 18. 6/7/12 7:43 AM
Scott Congel for Mayor!!!
# 19. 6/7/12 7:43 AM by Joe - Rochester, N.Y.
I am not a lawyer (thank God), however, isn't the tax exempt thing kind of like fruit from the poisoned tree? In other words, if the tree dies, so does the fruit.
# 20. 6/7/12 7:44 AM by GEORGE (THE OTHER ONE) - GANANOQUE ONTARIO CANADA
In fairness, the mall does draw tourists from as far away as Ottawa and Montreal. Had the expansion gone through, that catchment area would have grown even larger. However, it has been obvious since last fall, when the construction stopped and the site was cleaned up, that the dream was over. The officials who gave him all the tax breaks, land etc should have included defined performance requirements and penalties if those requirements were not met. That is standard practice in the private construction sector. One wonders if these public officials knew from the start, that the 'fix was in'.
# 21. 6/7/12 7:54 AM by Matt - Rochester, NY
# 22. 6/7/12 8:02 AM
You said government has no place in business.
Excuse me, but this story screams business has no place in business if said business needs subsidizing by government funding.
Why the heck is a business involved in something that is wholly funded by taxpayer dollars? What, do they need a private name, ala Congel, to do what?
Why can't the taxpayers own the mall or whatever it is and save the trouble of getting a slimeball private business person involved? Was Congel in any way crucial to this project reaching completion, doesn't sound so.
But then cries of socialism would be screamed by the right wing and they'd raise such a stink about government ownership it would make Congel smile broadly. Better a private enterprise steal multi-millions of taxpayer money than we allow government, aka taxpayers, own the property outright.
# 23. 6/7/12 8:03 AM by Dave
When General Electric does not pay any taxes and gets a refund, that is good, they create jobs.
When Exxon Mobil does not pay any taxes and get billions in cash from the government, that is good, they create jobs.
When 100 of the fortune 500 business pay no taxes, that is good for, well something or another.
When the Congel's build one of the largest mansions in Western New York, on Skaneateles Lake, that is bad?
Bob you are confusing
# 24. 6/7/12 8:12 AM
Also every media company with the exception of the Syracuse New Times which at the time was locally owned, supported this project. Channel 3 and 9 both ran on air editorials. The Post-Standard supported it until very recently. All thinking they were going to cash in on big ad bucks. Yea, we got screwed over big time.
# 25. 6/7/12 8:14 AM by John - SLC
It is shyster scumbags like the Congels who give big business a bad name, and in this case richly deserved.
Free market and free enterprise is the only fair way to go. Everything else is either socialism or cronyism or outright fraud.
If it were not the fact that many hard working an honest business people operated stores at the mall, I would not object if some thug noted that "It's a nice little mall you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it."
# 26. 6/7/12 8:27 AM by Batman
The history of COMIDA shows that it falls short on creating jobs and is long on enriching a clique of cronies, many of which participate in organized crime.
The ten year tax abatement incentive should go. History has shown that when the ten years are up, the owners threaten to shut down the plants and most do unless they continue to receive incentives. Tax assessments are artificially low and other manifestations of fraud are rife and rampant. The exemption of developers to avoid sales tax on construction materials is abused, with many buying excess materials and diverting them to non-exempt projects. Audits are necessary but never done. Where are the whistleblowers that know what is going on? They are either intimidated or dead - by natural causes or otherwise.
# 27. 6/7/12 8:32 AM by Christopher - Newport News, VA
This is the problem with liberal led states. Government policy, taxes and regulation make it difficult to run a business. Instead of making the state more business friendly for ALL businesses, they create special programs and incentives that are only available to a select few. This is why people and businesses continue to leave NY. And the NY economy continues to shrink.
# 28. 6/7/12 8:33 AM by Dumb Yank
The days of US malls drawing tourists from Canada are numbered. Now that the Canadian dollar is at par with the US, the need for these excursions is diminishing rapidly.
# 29. 6/7/12 8:35 AM by Paul - Rhode Island
I used to shop at that mall in Irondequoit. I don't think anyone is going to make any successful big ventures there. Dollar stores maybe? The area simply can't support much more than that, unless it's turned into a casino. I think I remember hearing some "developer" talking with a straight face about a luxury hotel and luxury condos for MDs. That'll be the day.
Meanwhile, here in Rhode Island we've been Schilling'ed by the former Red Sox pitcher, with the state on the hook for the failure of his video game company 38 Studios, shortly after it was attracted here with great fanfare and loan guarantees. (Naming a company after your jersey number - bit egotistical there, eh Curt?) Too bad the sports jock couldn't keep his company running even with $75 million - that has somehow grown to $115 million by latest reports - of taxpayer money. It's the local equivalent of Rochester's fast ferry.
# 30. 6/7/12 8:36 AM
Have you ever wondered why good people never get ahead and the scammers always come out smelling like roses?
# 31. 6/7/12 8:53 AM by LB - Penfield, NY
When can we get a court to throw out all of these tax exemptions and IDAs and giveaways as violations of the 14th amendment (equal protection of the law)?
# 32. 6/7/12 9:00 AM by S J - Rochester, NY
To anyone who regularly shops at this mall: Stop. To anyone thinking of shopping at this mall: Don't. I hope the mall's tenants find somewhere else to provide their retail services before the whole place, with any luck, becomes a Medley Centre.
# 33. 6/7/12 9:25 AM by Steve - Fairport
Apparently your understanding of basic economics is faltering.
With the Canadian dollar at par with the US dollar as you noted, Canadian shoppers would benefit more than ever by shopping at US malls. Their strong Canadian dollar would buy far more at an American shopping mall now than in normal times. You implied the opposite.
Nonetheless, the point is that nobody from Canada who did want to shop at an American mall would come to Rochester or Syracuse. They'd simply cross the border and shop at the Galleria in Buffalo.
# 34. 6/7/12 9:49 AM by A Patriot - People's Glorious Republic of NY
Our kids did enjoy the merry-go-round there. That was years ago. Haven't been back since.
# 35. 6/7/12 10:16 AM by Hm - Rochester
The way to make it in this system is to screw others, legally.
As long as it is by the book, it does not need to be moral, or fair. A high stakes game that some play well and most fail at, either because they are not smart enough or motivated enough, or can't fool others well enough.
The taxpayers deserve everything they get, if they just lie down and take it. That's what the wolves in sheep's clothing bank on.
# 36. 6/7/12 10:20 AM by Jerry - Rochester
Cities, Counties and Municipalities in upstate NY are put in this awkward situation by State-level politicians (most of whom are from NYC) that have created an anti-business, high-tax climate. The only tool the locals have to entice business development is to offer businesses a way to circumvent the situation created in Albany. Unfortunately, the cost of that offer is born by the individual taxpayers as you so rightly point out. But the point you miss in your comments is that as ugly as this process is, it's the only way to stop upstate's decline into Appalachia.
# 37. 6/7/12 10:29 AM by Ted - Fairport
"The mall got built."
And how many people received jobs from building the mall? And how many people took the money they earned and put it back into the economy? And how many other businesses benefited from the money that was turned back into the economy?
# 38. 6/7/12 10:37 AM by Sam - Syracuse
Did Congel do anything illegal? NOT using the extent of the law for your business' bottom line is nothing short of bad business.
What I do have a problem with is the way our government will flush new-found sales tax income down the toilet instead of putting it toward their bottom line.
# 39. 6/7/12 10:42 AM by Bob H.
Syracuse is not Minneapolis. The Mall of America is hundreds of miles away from anything. Anyone who wants a real day trip can go to Toronto, Montreal, or even New York City. Syracuse can't even come close.
# 40. 6/7/12 10:50 AM
There are some products that will always be cheaper in Canada, and others that will be cheaper in the US, due to disparities in availability and distribution. Government regulation and industry lobbying is responsible for those differences. You cannot bring certain foods into and out of Canada and the US, so they have to be domestically sourced. Items like coffee benefit by being imported in greater volume and with lower tariffs with the source country than that which exists in Canada. I cannot bring the delicious sausages from St. Catherines into the US legally, and there are items that they cannot do so here, solely due to regulations which are protective of domestic markets. True, the exchange rate helps but it is not the only factor. What good is being able to buy more of something if you are not allowed to bring it across the border. Canadian beer cost more than twice of what it does in the US due to the "sin" taxes there. True, their "bargain" here may be better than ours, like the weekend in Toronto which has skyrocketed for US tourists since canadian money achieving par. The Galleria and the area around it is mobbed with Canadians, and if you overhear their comments about the disparity in prices, both higher and lower it is amazing. Also Rochester and Syracuse cost a lot more to get to because of current gas prices. There is more to economics than just the exchange rate.
# 41. 6/7/12 11:04 AM by Mitt Fan - Victor
The sales tax revenues generated from the mall will dwarf the property taxes being received from this property had the mall not been built or expanded.
Congel himself is a citizen and pays income taxes and capital gains taxes and property taxes and sales taxes just like the rest of us.
# 42. 6/7/12 11:08 AM by Tom - Spokane, Washington
Misdirected anger. It's not Congel's fault that our politicians regularly give away the store. Blame the politicians not the business sector.
He negotiated a private business deal and he brings in lots of sale tax of which more now goes to the city....but, let's just throw him out and not have any business there.
# 43. 6/7/12 11:17 AM by Hockey Mom - Ontario, Canada
I came down to shop at the mall from Ontario last year. I really don't understand all this pent-up frustration for a businessman that seems to be eagerly trying to improve Syracuse. As taxpayers you're absolutely out nothing whether or not he builds as there wouldn't have been that tax base anyhow. He is, however, seemingly bringing jobs to the area, something no politician has been able to do.
I have no skin in this game so looking in from the outside I just don't understand the anger.
# 44. 6/7/12 11:36 AM by Tom - Wales, NY
Hey Matt #21. I attended a political fund raiser at on the 6th floor of the mall last year that Bob held for... wait for it... Kirsten Gillibrand. Last time I checked she is a democrat. I think Bob is neither R or D. Just a whore for tax payer $$.
# 45. 6/7/12 12:41 PM by Patrick - Syracuse, NY
Seems to me that the retailers have moved out of the tax-paying malls and moved into the no tax-paying mall. Our Shoppingtown Mall is a ghost town, as is our once thriving downtown commercial district, South Salina Street.
# 46. 6/7/12 12:53 PM by Poplar Beach
To all defending Mr. Congel and to those who say tax beaks are needed to entice development to NY, for the most part, you are correct. The problem here is some business get breaks, most other smaller businesses do not.
The big get bigger, and richer, the small struggle, tax breaks for all, or tax breaks for none!
# 47. 6/7/12 1:03 PM by Carl Retired Vet
Bob Please make a note of this The next time you have the Mayor on your show Please ask him why the Sibley 22 million + in taxes are never paid.He brushed it off when you brought it up in April.It was in the millions during the Johnson and Duffy years too.You could ask them this also if you speak with them
# 48. 6/7/12 1:18 PM by Sparky
Actually, #33, #28 understands economics very well. The Canadian dollar has been worth more than the US dollar, not less, for some time.
# 49. 6/7/12 1:18 PM by Chad - Owego, NY
Let's go further, Bob: all property pays property tax, PERIOD. This includes churches and non-profits and every other scheme out there.
It's a simple concept, it makes sense, and it is by far the most fair solution there is.
Good luck ever seeing anything even close to it.
Editor's Note: sounds reasonable to me
# 50. 6/7/12 2:32 PM by Leo - Downtown Rochester
Hey Bob....you should have asked Maggie about Janet Anderson Seaquist being placed on administrative leave.
Is this yet another scandal for the Brooks adminsitrtion?
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