September 21, 2007

AES Lawsuits Dismissed

From the Buffalo News....

LOCKPORT — After State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. dismissed the remaining portions of their lawsuit, the Town of Somerset and Barker Central School District were left Thursday with the hope that an appeals court will overturn a tax break for their largest taxpayer.

In his ruling, Kloch also rejected Niagara County’s claim that AES Corp. had committed fraud by seeking a payment- in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement with the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency. Whether the county would appeal remained unclear.
_______________________________________________

The decision is pretty definitive and leads to several observations:

1) While one can appreciate the school district and the town making the case of the legality of the pilot and the process that was followed, the county's fraud case was a huge waste of taxpayer money that someone should answer for.

2) Isn't it time New York State stepped in and settled this power plant assessment issue statewide so communities are not torn apart debating whether a PILOT or future refunds based on assessment challenges is the lesser of two evils?

3) AES needs to make a significant investment in the plant to show they are indeed interested in being a long-term, good neighbor in the community and make doubters feel that the PILOT was justified.

4) Henry Sloma comes out of the decision looking pretty damn good.

5) The school district and the town come out of this looking like they fought the good fight for their constituency. The county looks ridiculous.

6) You can guarantee appeals because there is money to be made for lawyers.

7) Tough to tell who this court decision helps/hurts politically this election season.

Those are my snapshot judgments...let's hear yours.

27 comments:

Scott Leffler said...

Sail Away,

Your assessment is pretty dead-on. The legislature's role in this is somewhat iffy ... standing by the IDA while at the same time suing it. Appeals are certain - but this conspiracy that entities file lawsuits so their lawyers can profit if ridiculous. My impression of Sloma hasn't changed. I'm not sure how it will affect others.

In other legal news, Gov. Spitzer was found to have committed no wrongdoing yesterday. Is an apology on the matter forthcoming from the webmaster?

Larry S said...

Scott, no offense, but you're wrong about the take on the lawyers. No one said the entities will appeal so their lawyers can pocket more cash.

The point is that IMMEDIATELY upon the rendering of the decision, the attorneys said that they would appeal. Don't you have to have a reason to appeal a decision? Wasn't something have to have been done wrong for an appeal?

No one can dispute that Shoemaker has made a ton of money off of the AES situation. If the Appeals Court upholds Kloch's decision, the litigation is over and Fasy Eddy's gravy train pulls into it's last stop.

Meanwhile, if the case is appealed, he can pocket what will be his last couple of hundred thousand dollars.

That is HIS motivation to appeal. If you think his motivation is for the well-being of the town, the schhol district, or any other entity, ask him to file the appeal and litigate the case for nothing more than expenses.

Scott Leffler said...

Larry,

I can see why an attorney would do that. But wouldn't he have to first convince the school district or town that they could win on appeal? Maybe I misunderstood Sail Away's intentions. If so, I apologize.

Side note: The whole "fast Eddy's gravy train" talking point might win points with some, but I'm not one of 'em.

Sail Away said...

An apology? For what? Because a Democratic DA found that a Democratic Governor did nothing wrong?

If he and his staff did nothing wrong, why did he suspend his communications director, Darren Dopp, without pay for just over a month and demote another aide, William Howard?

Why has he repeatedly crossed the state apologizing for Troopergate?

Why did Andrew Cuomo conclude that top Spitzer aides acted improperly in using the State Police to compile damaging information for the press on the use of the state air fleet by Spitzer's top political foe, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno?

Why did the NY Post write:

SOARES WIMPS OUT
September 21, 2007 -- Albany County DA David Soares seems set to throw Eliot Spitzer a life raft: Soares will release a report today claiming that the governor and his staff engaged in "no illegal conduct" in their Dirty Tricks campaign.

But if Spitzer, Soares or anyone else thinks such a report will absolve the governor in the minds of the public and restore confidence in him, they're badly mistaken.

Instead, the report may be seen for exactly what it was no doubt intended to be: a whitewash of the governor's office's Dirty Tricks campaign.

In a statement late yesterday, Soares hinted at what he'll likely say today.

"This office has found no illegal conduct," it said. "To the contrary, we found that the governor, his staff, and the New York State Police were acting within their authority in compiling and releasing documents to the media concerning the use of state aircraft."

The statement is bizarre on its face.

Soares apparently placed no one under oath - even though he clearly had the power to do so. And his statement fell well short of what Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's report found in July:

* That the governor's staff directed State Police to manufacture documents smearing state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

* That the staff used the rationale that a newspaper asked for the documents in a Freedom of Information Law request - but the only such requests, from The Albany Times-Union, came long after document-gathering had begun.

* That the governor's staff had engaged in, at the least, unethical conduct that warranted disciplinary or other action.

The real story seemed even worse - because Spitzer and his staff refused to cooperate with Cuomo. And Cuomo lacked subpoena power to compel them to testify and hand over documents.

Which is why folks had hoped that Soares, who does have subpoena power, would get to the bottom of the matter: What did the governor, and his top aides, know of this sordid campaign against Bruno?

To answer that to New Yorkers' satisfaction, though, Soares needed to place Spitzer & Co. under oath.

Some 59 percent of voters in a poll just this week said they believe the governor hasn't been candid. An astounding 70 percent think he should testify publicly under oath about the scandal.

So why didn't Soares put anyone under oath? Why didn't he subpoena documents?

Having failed to do that, no one can now believe his claims that the gov and his staff did nothing wrong.

So what was the point of the probe?

An apology? Not likely, Scott, not likely at all.

Scott Leffler said...

Kind of like a Republican Judge who was formerly the IDA attorney found that the Republican controlled IDA did nothing wrong, Sail Away?

And when the president and VP and Rove testified before congress they refused to be under oath. And when the energy companies testified before congress they refused to be under oath. But baseball players ... better make them take an oath.

And you use the NY Post as your reasoning? While complaining that GNN is unfairly liberal?

I see. Just wondered. At least we're still playing to our bases.

Sail Away said...

Ahhh yes, the ol' "two wrongs do make a right" angle.

Have a good day, Scott, I still love ya!

Mr. Pink said...

Can we at least think for a moment that both Soares and Kloch...who by all public accounts are men of integrity...actually called these issues the way they saw them?

Everyone knows that Spitzer probably didn't break any laws, but may have some ethical violations. And everyone can disagree on whether a PILOT for AES is good public policy or not, but it's obvious nothing improper was done their either.

I go back to the theme of the site...public discourse. I think Spitzer was been publicy punished enough and I agree with the decision o the PILOT. Disagree with me if you want, but enough about black helicopters flying overhead. It makes the discussion trite.

Virtual Unreality said...

Back to the topic at hand, the political implications this season will be none.

Bender made AES the focal point of his campaign, and he got trounced. If the issue isn't playing in that part of the county, why would anyone think that it'll play in any other part of the county?

Keep pounding that message home, Rivera, keep pounding it home. That and a token will get you on the subway.

Pirate's Code said...

Pink said..." ...go back to the theme of the site...public discourse. ...enough about black helicopters flying overhead. It makes the discussion trite."

Public discourse requires people to think. Thinking is hard.

Conspiracy theories only require you to keep throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks. I posted elsewhere on this page that parochialism is what we do best in WNY. "Trite" is what we do second-best.

Scott Leffler said...

Oh, don't think there's still not love flowin' from my direction ... I just wanted to point out the irony of those decisions coming down on the same day and your handling of them.

From what I'm told, Bender won in Somerset - Syracuse in Newfane. So that's interesting.

Oh, and for the record, I took 10 calls today. So I have twice as many callers as listeners apparently.

Maybe someone could explain to me the campaign to discredit WLVL and my show particularly ... cause I'm not sure I get it.

Pete M said...

There's a campaign to discredit WLVL and Scott? Okay, what did I miss?

The assertion that there was "favoritism" granted to the Republicans by Kloch is a stretch to say the least.

Kloch would be putting his career on the line if he were to rule on anything else other than the merits of the case.

We'll know soon enough when it goes to the Appellate Court.

Scott Leffler said...

Pete,

I was talking about the oft-stated "Scott's five listeners" comment. I just wonder who has what to gain by downgrading the show ...

No one here has been quilty of it - at least no one with a name - but I thought you all might have a good theory.

Pete M said...

No, didn't catch it. But, if I had to venture a guess, I would think it goes along with being a public figure.

No matter what you say, you're going to tick off some segment of the population.

Mr. Pink said...

Scott,

You're a public figure and when you put yourself out there in a forum like this, some people are going to take shots at you.

I think the vast majority of readers like your opinions on the site and your participation here has me listening to your show when I have the opportunity.

Scott Leffler said...

I understand the public figure bit ... and I have no qualms about people shooting potshots. Frankly I find it invigorating. I'm wondering if there's more to it, though. A coordinated campaign, per se.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the AES decision came down just after the primary. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Or how about this fodder for the conspiracy theorists?

The AES Judge is not just a Republican judge, he is a Republican *appointed* judge appointed by a Republican Governor upon the recommendation of a certain Republican State Senator to the Court of Claims and administratively transferred to the Supreme Court to handle civil matters such AES the AES lawsuit.

Did I also hear somewhere that a relative of the Senator's may be associated with the Judge?
http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/8jd/Niagara/kloch.shtml

Not to mention that the judge at one time represented the Senator for political issues

If anyone would like to comment on connection of the State Senator with AES, Republican lobbyists Mercury Public Affairs (see their client list http://www.mercurypublicaffairs.com/political.htm
, Kevin Schuler, Harris Beach, IDA, NYPA, etc.go ahead.

Great fodder for the conspiracy theorist. that's all. Nothing more to it.

Scott Leffler said...

Back to AES and Anon's post. Perception is reality ... and had Kloch simply recused himself, there would be a lot less questions. Burmaster is quoted as saying the lawsuit was "money well spent" so it would quell the questions from taxpayers. Another judge would have quelled them even more. Just my 2 cents.

Pirate's Code said...

One of the many "anonymous" posters posted a whole bunch of stuff about AES, Kloch, Maziarz, and a raft of others, then closed with "...Great fodder for the conspiracy theorist. that's all. Nothing more to it."

As I said, just keeping throwing stuff against the wall and see if anything sticks. So much for reasoned public discourse.

(And, yes, my online moniker leaves me anonymous, as well. But, at least it allows readers distinguish one from the other. If I ever get a radio show, I'll use a different name. Maybe "Sandy Beach." That's original.)

Scott -- I'd be surprised and disappointed if there was a campaign to discredit your show or the station. Besides, shows like yours earn credit or lose it based on the content and listenership, every time you go on the air.

Or maybe that's just a conspiracy, as well. Yeah, that's it. So, is Scott your real name? And why is it so many of your callers sound like the same person? Have we ever seen you and Dan Rivera in the same room at the same time? C'mon, fess up.

Ship of Fools said...

hey losers...pull up your pants, push yourself away from the computer and go out into the world and get a job.

Anonymous said...

I certainly think that the other anonymous writer hit the point on the head. Kloch is a republican in tight with the NC Republicans such as George and both Henry's. Almost all the writers on this blog seem to defend the republicans and when someone speaks out against them, they all criticize the writer. Amazing that this blog must be controlled by a certain party.

The AES decision could be seen from a mile away. Kloch simply should have let another judge not so closely connected hear the arguments from the county, town, and school district and then many wouldn't play into the conspiracy theory.

Although I'm disappointed Kloch rendered his decision, I further disappointed in the waste of my taxpayers $. I know this has been brought out in previous posts, but when I vote in Nov. it will be fresh in my mind!

Anonymous said...

ship of fools said...
"hey losers... go out into the world and get a job."

I say.

If all the losers had jobs, then only corporations would get welfare!

Roberson said...

FACT: County attorney/political hack Claude Joerg has funneled close to $1,000,000 of taxpayer dollars to his friends at Phillips Lytle on the AES matter alone. Someone please submit a Freedom of Information request to the County to sunshine this abuse of taxpayer dollars - clearly Prohaska was unable to exert the effort investigate this spend. This travesty was spearheaded by Malcolm Needler and Joerg as one last biscuit to their buddies at Phillips Lytle.

sam in Lockport said...

I guess its against the law to have friends today. And I'm sure the next thing is everything, police, courts, banks -- everything is corrupt. What a sad life some of our bloggers live!!! Will the same be said now that Delmonte has a say at who gets appointed to the Bench? And how bout the other judges Maziarz had a helping hand getting appointed??? There's a long list. We all have to be realistic here - there are some laws judges must follow. I'm quite sure Kloch is a smart man and he is not going to put his career on the line for a company or a small little town in Niagara County.

And as far as AES goes... why don't we start working to bring more business into Niagara County so AES isn't the only company paying taxes. Republican... Democrat - who cares!! We need to work together.

And Leffler - keep your head up. Atleast the 5 of us on this blog love you.

Mr. Pink said...

I would like to know how much money the town and school district spent on their lawsuits?? Now the the PILOT is in place, the people of our town must pay more attention to what our elected leaders do. This reckless behavior is going to be the main reason our taxes will go up. Please, please people in Barker - pay attention!!

Mr. Pink said...

While I don't disagree at all with the last post, I want everyone to know that whoever posted under the Mr. Pink name needs to be a little more original and come up with something different.

There's only room for one Mr. Pink on the message board. Folks, you can tell it's me by the blue highlight.

I hope this isn't a start of a bad trend.

Anonymous said...

Yes Sam, they're all "just friends",

There is no connecting the dots among the 100s of thousands of dollars in professional fees, jobs and campaign contributions between and among them, a political chair who sits in on meetings that he doesn't remember but somehow show up in his firm's time sheets, the Senator's wife is secretary to the judge and I guess its meaningless that the Senator spearheaded the failed AES bid against another plant that was pushed by the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership/Enterprise which was paid $50K by county taxpayers.

As far as whether or not there are crimes involved, perhaps someday the FBI will let us all in on their view of the subject, as news reports suggest that they have been looking into some aspects of the Power Coalition deal, which, just coincidentally of course, involves many of the same players, namely the Senator, his boy Henry W., Harris-Beach and Mercury.

Until then, folks can draw their own conclusions from these innocent until proven guilty set of facts and circumstances.

Doug L said...

anon, er, I mean bender:

maybe the authorities can reopen the investigation looking into your insurance fraud. you know what I am talking about bender and so does the fire department. its no coincidence shoemaker is the main contributer to your campaign. ripping off the elderly or the small mom and pop vendors through your multiple bankruptcies, you leaches roll in the same sewers. the newfane voters found you out. shoemaker's cash cow looks like it is coming to an end as well. RIP