SCOPE NY

Albany Emergencies and Corruption

07/24/2022 7:13 PM | Anonymous

Albany Emergencies and Corruption  by Tom Reynolds

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s emergency pandemic powers were renewed on July 14th through her own executive order, which extends the state disaster emergency through August 22nd, 2022.  This, despite COVID-19 cases and fatality levels dropping in a majority of the state.

One of the many benefits granted to the governor from her emergency powers is the ability to hand out taxpayer-backed contracts without having to go through the normal bidding process. That process, along with the contract review and approval by the state comptroller’s office, are important safeguards to protect against wasteful spending and corruption.  But, Hochul says it’s an emergency, so waste and corruption are no longer a concern.

Recently, Gov. Hochul used that lack of oversight to grant no-bid contract to the family of Charlie Tebele, whose Digital Gadgets LLC has already pulled in $637 million selling at-home test kits. Also noteworthy is the Tebele’s family’s $300,000 donation to the governor’s election campaign*.

The governor is publicly going all-out to boost another donor, Vornado Realty head Steven Roth. He’s given nearly $70,000 to her campaign; his company is in line for $1.2 billion in tax breaks under her Penn Station redevelopment plan.**

The $850 million, taxpayer-funded deal to build a $1.4 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills is a big win for the firm of Kathy Hochul’s husband.  Bill Hochul is senior vice president and general counsel for Delaware North, the major food concessionaire at the Buffalo Bills’ current Highmark Stadium.  Delaware North has operated concessions, premium dining and retail services at the NFL’s Buffalo Bills since 1992***.  So, the existing vendor, with a direct connection to the governor, will be bidding on operating the concessions at the taxpayer financed new stadium.  

From 1991 to 2016, Bill Hochul was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and then a U.S. Attorney.  After his wife became Lieutenant Governor, he resigned to become senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary to Delaware North.  Purely coincidence that when his wife moved into the NY executive offices he moved into the private sector where he and his wife could benefit from her connections?  His Wikipedia biography says he lectured frequently on corruption.  He should know!

Emergencies happen and when they do officials need to react quickly.  But this also sets up the government for abuse by those same officials, something our founders were very concerned about.  What geniuses gave the governor the power to unilaterally make herself an empress?  Any chance there will be an emergency session of the state legislature to rescind her powers?  Any chance Hell will freeze over?

Since his departure, we are finding out more and more about Andrew Cuomo’s use of his position to enrich himself and get reelected.  It appears that Kathy Hochul is intent on out Cuomoing Cuomo in just her two years in office.  Is she hurrying because she expects to only be in office for two years?   

*Albany Times-Union July 19, 2022

** New York Post July 20, 2022

*** Per Delaware North’s web site

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