How can our state government help revive Upsate's reeling economy? Raise Thruway tolls, of course!
A top official at the state Thruway Authority on Wednesday didn't rule out a potential toll increase as the authority develops a long-term financial plan.
Yeah, that's the ticket! Raise the cost of transportation! Take more money out of Upstaters' pockets, while at the same time raising the price of all the goods and services thy need to live!
Who's responsible for this brilliant insight? While, its Howard Milstein, a billionaire real estate developer from Manhattan who also happens to be one of Andy Cuomo's biggest donors!
Milstein, a billionaire banker and real estate businessman and a major donor to Cuomo and other state Democrats and Republicans, is the governor’s choice to head the Thruway Authority. Cuomo rejects the notion that Milstein’s donations had any link to his appointment, and maybe that’s possible. What does a billionaire want with a high-level patronage job, anyway? Defending the appointment, Cuomo said, “He’s an extraordinary businessman and having a private sector businessman who’s successful in real estate and finances makes total sense for the Thruway Authority.”
Well, maybe. First, though, you have to define successful. The fact is that Milstein’s real estate record in Niagara Falls has been abysmal. Milstein and his brother, Edward, have purchased about 441 parcels in downtown Niagara Falls over the last 12 years under the company name of Niagara Falls Redevelopment.
The Milsteins have done virtually nothing with these properties. They have outsized influence over economic development in Niagara Falls and that influence is shown in a swath of vacant, unimproved properties. Now—from the perspective of Western New Yorkers, at least—that disastrous record is being rewarded with a plum assignment from the governor. It’s deflating.
Bid out Thruway maintenance to private contractors? Privatize the whole thing? Don't be meshuggina. It won't bother Milstein to an spend an extra buck to see a specialist in Rochester, or take his kids to the State Fair. And as for you, who cares?