In the corruption case announced Sept. 22 by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the individuals charged included Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros, who has played a leading role in Cuomo’s upstate redevelopment initiatives. At the same time, Todd Howe, another onetime Cuomo aide, entered a guilty plea and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.
Ninety-four percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say Cuomo bears at least some responsibility for the alleged corruption in his administration’s upstate redevelopment initiatives. Nearly three out of four say he holds a lot of the responsibility.
The complaint includes allegations that in exchange for bribe payments, Howe and Kaloyeros secretly rigged bids on lucrative state-funded contracts under the Buffalo Billion initiative and similar programs to ensure that certain developers would win the contracts. And Percoco allegedly solicited and accepted more than $315,000 in bribes in return for taking official state action to benefit two companies.
No charges were filed against Cuomo. In response to the allegations, the governor issued a statement saying “if the allegations are true, I am saddened and profoundly disappointed. I hold my administration to the highest level of integrity. I have zero tolerance for abuse of the public trust from anyone.” He also said that
“SUNY has rightly relieved Alain Kaloyeros from his duties and has suspended him without pay, effective immediately.”
Some people argue, however, that Cuomo bears some responsibility for the environment in which the alleged corruption took place.
Roughly 880 respondents participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Oct. 4 and 5.
In your view, does Gov. Andrew Cuomo bear responsibility for the alleged corruption in his administration’s upstate redevelopment initiatives?
A lot: 74% Some: 20% Not much: 4% None at all: 2%
Are you kidding? The guy as everyone knows is a micro-manager. Todd Howe was one of his closest friends and aides both in Washington and Albany, and Joe Percoco was Mario Cuomo’s “third son.” The real question should be, “By what date will Preet Bharara have Andrew Cuomo do the ‘perp walk’ out of the governor’s residence?”
Yes, of course, he does. In the same way that the CEO of Wells Fargo does for his employees creating fake credit card accounts.
—Sam Messer, Applied Measurement and Controls Inc.
We are known as one of the most corrupt states. With so many close allies, appointees and “second son” (Percoco) already exposed, how could Cuomo not have major responsibility? He should do the honorable thing and step down from office.
—Art Elting, Palmyra
There is no way that Cuomo did not know of a scheme of this magnitude and approve it—as well as probably profit by it. The worst part is that many people have pinned the region’s economic hopes on this photonics ruse and it has proven to be a scam. And, to make it worse, we have given over responsibility for our own region’s economic development to the Regional Planning scheme set up and appointed by Cuomo. What good can we hope for?
It is on his watch, as they say. It is so pervasive that it is an indictment on his leadership capabilities.
—Tom Brady, XLR8 Team Inc.
While one might want to hold our elected officials to a standard that none of us as individuals, managers or owners could attain, I don’t think the governor has much control over individuals within the government. I am reminded of the fact that we as parents are not responsible for our children’s bad behavior. We can teach them, guide them, and impart the best of values, but in the end they are responsible for their actions.
Let’s see whether there is any genuine evidence of culpability on the part of the governor. Your Republican readers, of course, already “know” that he is a crook, because they are Republicans and do not reach judgments by making logical inferences from observable facts. The rest of us should be content to see whether investigators come up with anything credible.
Follow the money.
—Lester Wilson, North Syracuse
You are innocent until proven guilty, but I’m guessing without a doubt that he knows everything going bad in this state. I think he’s representative of most politicians on all levels. Why do we still have the NY SAFE Act?
—Daniel Mossien, architect
Anybody who has had both the privilege and responsibility to manage/oversee an entity may be innocent of what happens in the organization, however, he/she cannot escape the consequences of actions under his/her leadership. True, one cannot be everywhere all the time, but then that is why leaders have subordinates to help manage the entity. I am not rushing to judgment, but find it extremely difficult to believe a controller such as Gov. Cuomo is totally innocent. If he is, then he should be removed for dereliction of duty!
—J.A DePaolis, Penfield
The same people and companies are winning all the bids. Gee, I wonder why! The bidding process is supposed to make it fair for all companies to compete for the projects. The governor doesn’t question why the same companies are always doing the work. Now that’s interesting. He doesn’t want to see what is right before his eyes. I bet these fine people give an annual contribution to the party to secure their spot.
Cuomo made a big deal of his efforts to clean up Albany. Then he backed off and is suffering the consequences. I voted for him and for his father. I am very disappointed.
—T.G. Tormey, Rochester
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the strategic center of the entire corruption in New York State government.
You are known by the company you keep.
Of course, as has been said, “the fish always rots from the head down.”
—D. Giambattista, Fairport
Gov. Cuomo must bear responsibility. Remember when he stopped the attorney general investigating corruption in New York State government? When the AG got too close to the Cuomo administration, funding ran out or something happened to stop the investigation. Why are executives in government, Wall Street and corporate not held responsible?
We’ve been talking about the Ciminelli contract for more than a year. Cuomo belongs in jail, and I hope a competent DA puts him there. One would think enough crooked politicians are in jail to deter the ones who are not in jail!
—David Rubin, retired
I feel he has some responsibility as the leader of the state and the moral compass for decision-making. His administration has done an average job with job creation and tax relief, but the pay-to-play for some companies and industries opened the door to potential favoritism and the appearance of corruption. Rochester has gone through it with COMIDA and other bid-rigging problems. The state needs to work harder to remove unnecessary fees, regulations and taxes that hurt all business owners or individual taxpayers. Cuomo may not pay the price legally, but may pay for it with the next election.
I have no inside info on the oversight mechanism established for billions of tax dollars intended to revitalize and bolster New York State’s economy. However, it is clear that it was inadequate and sloppy. The governor is directly responsible for adequate oversight, and he failed—or worse was complicit—in the mismanagement of the processes.
—Wayne Donner, Rush
Crooked is as crooked does. Absolutely, he’s as guilty—and probably more so than those who got caught. He’s like most politicos, saying one thing and stealing money when he thinks he can!
Does Cuomo bear responsibility? Obviously he does. He is the CEO of all the state’s operations. If he set the tone, policy and discipline such that no “what’s in it for me” behavior was ever permitted, we would have no ethics problems. Period. And, as a bonus, we’d probably reduce the cost of running the state by 20 percent. Taxpayers must revolt at the ballot box to remove from office those who think of themselves first, their friends second and the general public last.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster
How can Cuomo not be involved or at least know what is going on with his closest aide and friend? As a leader of this state, he needs to put the people first.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The more power we put in the hands of government, the more corruption we should expect.
—Kenya Burne-Moore, Rochester
Cuomo surrounded himself with cronies. His cronies, almost invariably, turn out to be corrupt. Now he’s turning his back on them just to avoid being dragged down, too. I think we’ll ultimately learn that he’s more than responsible for reason of negligence and that he, too, ends up incriminated as a (if not “the”) central figure in all of the corruption.
Cuomo is responsible for the corruption in his administration. A leader cannot delegate away responsibility. He or she may delegate authority, but the responsibility remains. Cuomo has surrounded himself with questionable people as has much of the Albany leadership. Cuomo is just another of the corrupt hacks that run New York State government.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield
It has been widespread knowledge that Cuomo “micro-manages” every issue from fracking to gender identity. Strange that he seemed to be “out to lunch” while those closest to him were deeply involved in this corruption which involved billions of state money. Cuomo, who was also the Third Man in the Room with Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos (while tons of corruption were engaged) seems to have forgotten he was once the attorney general of New York!! It seems apparent that (like Hillary Clinton) those who are at the top of power in this country do not have to abide to the same laws as the rest of us!! The U.S. has become a banana republic!
—Al Kempf, Fairport
The fish rots from the head down. Ultimately, the person at the top should acknowledge failure in their ranks.
—Lou Calarese, Applied Audio & Theatre Supply
Given the depth and breadth of the corruption along with Cuomo’s abrupt disbanding of the panel empowered to search out problem areas plus the hit-and-miss aspects of the money allocated around the state and understanding who the players of destruction have been, Cuomo is responsible at a minimum. Looking at his huge re-election purse, the word could be complicit. He has done a great job diverting all eyes from the budget and taxes simply by decorating certain population areas with “new” money. Sadly, he is not alone.
By dangling billions of dollars in front of developers, it is only logical that those that contribute the most get the biggest piece of the pie.
It’s clear that Cuomo is the head of the snake. If there is any justice in this state, Bharara is currently investigating him and his day of reckoning will come soon enough.
To not know what’s going on around him is certainly a reflection of total ignorance or acceptance.
Some, but not too much. He’s a Democrat.
As President Harry Truman, a fellow Democrat of Cuomo’s, said, “The buck stops here.” That meant at Truman’s desk as president. And today it means that the buck should stop at Cuomo’s desk as governor.
Governor Cuomo’s failed economic policies unwittingly have redefined “trickle down” economics!
Silver and Skelos and all this Buffalo Billion Bull happened on Andrew Cuomo’s watch. Governor Cuomo bears some responsibility for this mess, and that “some” may grow to a lot more than “some.” My mother always told me, “You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.” The next shoe to drop may just be Andrew Cuomo’s size.
—Clifford Jacobson M.S., Vanguard Psychiatric Services PC
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