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Power & influence of Governor's regional economic development councils

The power and influence of Governor Cuomo's regional economic development councils are drawing the interest of state politicians. 

Now, one Assembly candidate is turning the matter into a campaign issue. 

If you wade through Empire State Development's website, you can find a list of the members of the Western New York council. It's not quite accurate, since there is no mention of Senate Mike Ranzenhofer or Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, both powerful Albany figures who have been named to the Western New York board.

Across the state, a senator and an assemblyman have been named to each regional council, with Speaker Sheldon Silver on the council for New York City. They aren't supposed to vote on specific cash grants but can vote on policy and sit in the meetings.

Assembly candidate Kevin Gaughan is blasting these semi-secret appointments.

"It undermines the very purpose and end of the councils which is to introduce private sector and citizen interest and knowledge in these important decisions.  I think politicians have demonstrated that when they make development decisions they do so based on shall we say self-interested reasons sometimes even building bridges to nowhere," said Gaughan.

Gaughan said private sector people won't be as forthright about the public interest with politicians sitting at the table.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.