Buffalo Billion

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The scandal over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs has led to more scrutiny of whether the projects are the best way to improve the state’s economy, and some watchdog groups are asking questions.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is distancing himself from the corruption scandal within his administration and placing the blame on others. But some say Cuomo might be better off making some changes instead.

Cuomo has made a number of public appearances across the state, continuing to promote economic development efforts, just as he did before U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara charged several of Cuomo’s former close associates and two major real estate developers with bribery and fraud in connection with the Buffalo Billion and other projects.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making some changes to prevent any future bid-rigging in some of his major economic development projects. But critics on both the left and the right say Cuomo is failing to address the bigger picture — whether the $8.6 billion worth of programs are an effective use of public money.

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The criminal charges against nine of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s associates is the latest incident in a wave of corruption that has enveloped the state Capitol for the past several years.

When Cuomo first became governor in 2011, he promised to do something about it. So far, he has not been particularly successful.

Cuomo, in his inaugural speech as governor on Jan. 1, 2011, promised that corruption at the Capitol would end and public trust would be restored during his tenure in office.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said there is no political agenda behind a series of audits critical of some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs. The democrat said the auditors in his department are simply calling shots as they see them.

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With the discussion surrounding a federal probe of contracts connected to the Buffalo Billion, there are concerns about possible effects on any related economic development projects throughout the upstate New York area.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in March that two companies would be coming to Rochester, creating hundreds of jobs as a result of the recent push into photonics, which involves the use of light in robotics, medical imaging and other fields.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is defending the state's economic development competitions such as the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which pitted different regions of the state against each other for financial aid. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development projects have come under fire as the Buffalo Billion project is currently under a federal investigation.

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SUNY Polytechnic

Until recently, Alain Kaloyeros, leader of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, has been the darling of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. But now, he’s one of the figures at the center of federal and state investigations into alleged pay-to-play schemes for economic development projects and is increasingly on the outs with the administration. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

Two western New York lawmakers have asked State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development projects.

The comptroller says an ongoing audit is already looking at some aspects of the increasingly controversial project and other Cuomo administration economic development initiatives that are currently under federal investigation.


It’s been over a month since Gov. Andrew Cuomo hired a special investigator in response to a federal probe of his Buffalo Billion project and other economic development programs. But so far, no contract with that investigator, Bart Schwartz, has been released, and questions remain about what exactly he is investigating.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

A board controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders voted Wednesday to approve more than $485 million for the Buffalo Billion project. But there were some questions from board members about details of a program that is now under federal investigation.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a key vote on the next installment of the Buffalo Billion project is merely postponed, not canceled, and he denies that he’s feeling defensive about the widening federal probe of his administration’s economic development projects.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation of some of the circumstances of a U.S. attorney’s probe into his administration has left some answered questions.

Cuomo offered a brief explanation of his former top aide’s involvement in a scandal now encompassing his administration, saying the actions of Joe Percoco were perfectly legitimate. The governor says he knew that when Percoco left his $156,000-a-year job to manage Cuomo’s 2014 reelection campaign, that Percoco would also work for private clients, but that’s all he knew about the situation.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke for the first time since news broke that his former close associate is under federal investigation for possibly taking illegal payments from developers working on state economic development projects.

Former top aide Joe Percoco left his state job for several months in 2014 when he managed Cuomo’s reelection campaign. Cuomo says  Percoco told him that he might do some other consulting work while he was off the state payroll, but Percoco did not tell him who the clients were and the governor said he did not ask.

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The New York State Legislature has been on a three-week break. In their absence, federal investigations into aides close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have intensified, spurring even more calls for reform. Also, both former leaders of the legislature will be sentenced in the next few days on multiple felony convictions.

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Over the weekend, news broke that top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being probed by the U.S. attorney in connection with the Buffalo Billion economic development project.

The Buffalo Billion project is the centerpiece of Cuomo’s efforts to reverse decades of economic decline in New York’s second largest city. It’s been credited with helping spur jobs and new industries, including in high tech and the medical field.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing questions about the ongoing federal probe of contracts associated with his Buffalo Billion economic development project, was reluctant to say much about the progress of the investigation.

Cuomo was asked by journalists whether he or anyone on his staff has been questioned or subpoenaed by federal prosecutors looking into the awarding of state contracts as part of the massive economic development protect in western New York.

“I have not,” said Cuomo. “But I don’t want to get into commenting on the U.S. Attorney’s investigation.”

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Questions continue about economic development practices by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, including the proposed sale of valuable piece of land from one state agency to another state entity for a dollar .

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is reported to be probing contracts awarded as part of Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion project, with questions over the timing of campaign contributions to the governor, as well as criteria used to choose the vendors.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

New York Republicans re-elected Ed Cox to a fourth term as their party’s chairman, while GOP members talked of strategies toward winning more seats in statewide races.   

Ed Cox, who is the son in law of former President Richard Nixon,  was elected unanimously by party leaders, after a threatened challenge by Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey failed to materialize.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in an address before the state’s business leaders,  promoted his economic development plans, including the Buffalo Billion initiative, and fended off questions on reports that some of the projects are under investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

What would the city of Syracuse do with $1 billion? Syracuse City Hall has put together a series of projects that it hopes could be the basis for a Syracuse Billion agenda, based loosely on the state funded Buffalo Billion.

Mayor Stephanie Miner says topping the wish list is replacing a 550 mile, 100-year-old water system that constantly breaks down. The project would cost $750 million.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The city of Syracuse is ready to jump into a competition for more state funds meant to spark the upstate economy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to announce a competition based on the model of the Buffalo Billion.

Cuomo, during an political stop in Syracuse last month, said he’ll start talking up the program in his State of the State speech in January.

“We’re going to ask for a billion and a half dollars to bring the Buffalo Billion type program to other cities across upstate New York," Cuomo said.

Matt Ryan, New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was nominated to run for a second term, along with his freshly chosen running mate, former western New York Congresswoman Kathy Hochul.

Cuomo was nominated by a diverse group ranging from former President Bill Clinton, Harry Belafonte and union leaders via video, and ending with an endorsement by his daughters.

Cuomo, speaking to a packed and excited hall of delegates, recounted his accomplishments, including passing same sex marriage, rebuilding the Tappan Zee Bridge, and capping property taxes.