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Editorial 9/30/2014
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IDA Conflicts
presented by Peter Kohler

Fly over Canon USA’s Melville headquarters to Tanger’s Arches outlet center in Deer Park and you’ll see both powerful and controversial examples of using tax breaks to spur economic development.

In Canon’s case, Suffolk County’s Industrial Development Agency engineered $30 million in tax breaks credited with relocating this sprawling corporate headquarters to a former pumpkin farm, and bringing more than a thousand jobs.

But when Babylon’s IDA extended tax breaks to Tanger’s Arches, critics questioned awarding additional tax benefits to a shopping mall, costing Deer Park’s schools hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

And now the man who led Babylon’s IDA in assisting the Arches project is poised to lead the Suffolk IDA – or was poised to do so, until Robert Stricoff ran into a political buzz saw.

Recently, Stricoff, who is also Babylon’s Democratic leader, was the subject of an audit finding he received unauthorized compensation from the party, a matter referred to the Suffolk DA by Suffolk Democratic leader Rich Schaffer. Schaffer, who is also Babylon’s Supervisor, urged Stricoff to turn down the IDA offer.

All this makes you wonder why Stricoff was ever chosen to lead the county’s IDA. Party leaders who raise campaign funds should not hold public positions that can offer tax benefits to businesses they might solicit.

Republican Suffolk Legislator John Kennedy says he will push for legislation to prevent town or county political party leaders from taking leadership jobs at Suffolk’s IDA. Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, a Democrat, agrees in principle. So do we.

Frankly, it just doesn’t look right.

Richard Murdocco
Syosset, NY
My name is Richard Murdocco, and I am writing regarding the 9/30 Cablevision Editorial “IDA Conflicts.” I write on regional land use issues, with my work appearing in Newsday, LIBN and national planning publications. Clearly, Long Island’s IDA system is fundamentally broken. It needs to stop. The toxic cronyism and patronage is impacting our municipal bottom line. Both counties are on the brink of fiscal ruin, and yet, policymakers in both counties give away tax breaks like they are candy. Worse, despite the ever-present IDAs, we’re hemorrhaging corporations on their diligent watch. Instead of focusing on the apparent exodus of millennials (which is a statistical farce anyway), we need to focus our efforts on crafting a comprehensive, regional approach that takes our fractured and broken IDA network, and unites it. We shouldn’t focus our efforts on a town-by-town basis, but rather, across Long Island. We need to sell Long Island for what makes Long Island special – yes, our costs are high, but our workforce is one of the most powerful assets in country. We have the spending income, education and wherewithal to grow almost any business. How many corporations and jobs have to leave before we get our act together? Long Island’s IDA strategy must be comprehensive in nature and regional in scope. When it comes to our economy, we have two options: United we stand, divided we fall.
Oct 25, 2011
Canon USA’s new headquarters, under construction here in Melville, is a Long Island success story. But it represents the old way of doing economic development in New York State…
Aug 31, 2010
If you’re looking for a bright spot in Long Island’s otherwise bleak economy, you can find it right here in Melville, where Canon USA is building a new corporate headquarters, promising to bring thousands of new jobs. But just around the corner, it’s a different picture…