To the Editor:
The conversation surrounding the Inner Harbor has been a healthy discussion for the community but there are a couple misconceptions I would like to clarify. First, there are some in the community who have said that the developer “cut out” the city by going to the Onondaga County IDA. As a matter of fact, the PILOT proceeds are required by law to be divided the exact same way no matter which IDA handles the transaction. The city of Syracuse and the Syracuse City school district will get the exact same amount of money no matter whether it is the City IDA (SIDA) or the County IDA (OCIDA )that does the financing.
The other point that I want to address is the suggestion that the developer went to the County to “get around” having to hire people from the city on the project. Again, that is simply not true. SIDA requires that employees come from a six county region and OCIDA requires that employees come from an eight county region—neither IDA has any legal requirement to hire city residents.
The Urban Jobs Task Force has made requests of both SIDA and OCIDA to include stricter guidelines for hiring people from the city. To date, neither IDA has done so.
The county has not waited. Since I took office in 2008, I have made it a priority to level the playing field and ensure that people who have not had opportunities in the past have them now. We have gone far beyond community benefit agreements in PILOTS and have included them in all aspects of County government. Here are a few examples:
- We added language in our requests for proposals to let contractors know that their plan for Minority participation will be heavily considered in determining the winning response on every single proposal we put out in every single county department and any contractor who has done business with us will tell you that we enforce it.
- We carved out summer jobs specifically for young people who participate in OnPoint for college and we asked local community leaders to fill summer jobs in the county with young people from the neighborhood.
- We worked with the Hotel Syracuse Developer and the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center which resulted in city residents being hired for the project.
- We funded a built to build pre-apprentice program which graduated 40 African American men and woman and I personally worked with them upon completion to assist them getting jobs with both the local trade unions as well as in the private sector.
- We negotiated a first of its kind Project Labor Agreement on the Amphitheatre project which created enhanced opportunities for minority owned firms to compete. As a matter of fact, I do not know of a project that had more minorities and women participate than we had when we built the Amphitheater and I would be happy to share the numbers with anyone who is interested.
I grew up in Syracuse and am a proud graduate of both Corcoran High School and Syracuse University. I’ve been honored to serve as County Executive and I made it a priority from day one to make sure all county business reflects the value of the city of Syracuse to our region as a whole. I am proud of the fact that we share more sales tax with the city, we spend millions of dollars bringing county services into the city schools to support the Say Yes to Education Program, we stopped building sewage treatment plants in our city neighborhoods and invested in Save the Rain instead. We work closely with city government and help out every place we can—even going so far as paving the city roads for them because their infrastructure is crumbling.
Please remember all of these things when people suggest that by working with the County instead of the City we are going around the city. The truth of the matter is that the City is in the county all of our words and deeds reflect that. We are all in this together and are stronger when we pull in the same direction. When people try to divide us, please let them know that it isn’t the old city vs. county days. We have a county government that works for all of us. Thank you.
Onondaga County Executive