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Regarding Rudnick’s Holiday Regards

The last time I criticized Andrew Rudnick and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a couple of folks writing from the Partnership’s offices spent much of the afternoon giving me guff about it.

I guess we’ll see if they’re paying attention today.

On Tuesday evening, Rudnick dispatched a note to his organization’s membership titled “It’s a Wonderful Life,” positing the horror that would have gripped Western New York in 2010 if, George Bailey style, the Partnership had never been born. It’s a lengthy fantasy, but endeavor to persevere:

You know how the story angel Clarence Odbody shows businessman George Bailey what life in his community would be like without him:  not so wonderful.

What if Buffalo Niagara didn’t have businesspeople supporting each other and the region through their commitment to the Partnership’s mission? In 2010 alone, things might have been quite different..

Without the Partnership’s navigation through a tricky process, dozens of local businesspeople might still be stuck, unable to find their way through the alphabet soup of economic development agencies, grant programs, loan options and workforce training applications — instead of buying new equipment, hiring additional people, and landing new contracts.

You might still be reading front page news articles about the mess in the City of Buffalo’s economic development agency “BERC,” or instead of seeing pictures of the light display in Delaware Park, you might still be reading about the city and county’s dispute over how the Olmstead Parks will be maintained.

The 4,200+ people who exchanged business cards at Partnership functions this year might never have connected — consider the business lost, the partnerships not formed, the information not gleaned, the relationships not developed.

More than a thousand young professionals – who are committed to working and living in Buffalo Niagara – would still have social outlets and a lot of volunteer opportunities, but who would be looking out for their professional development? Who would be guiding their path toward becoming the region’s next private sector power brokers?

Would anyone have pushed for the local IDAs to include “buying local” as criteria for projects to receive a grant incentive? Without a Regional Agenda, would local municipalities be competing with each other for scarce federal and state attention and support? With all that noise, would any one of them be heard? Would proceeds from the sale of local hydropower stay in this region for economic development, or get swept into NYPA’s coffers?  Would the rail station in Niagara Falls or the federal courthouse in downtown Buffalo have local construction workers reaping paychecks?

A development-friendly Buffalo Common Council majority may not have been elected in November.which would mean more obstructionist votes on critical projects. And there’d be no Unshackle Upstate, and as a result, no broader political coalition that, with the direct financial help of Partnership members, helped changed the state senate majority from NYC-centric Democrat to upstate friendly Republican.

Who’d play defense against SO many government proposals that would kill jobs and hurt your business? Would a half-dozen proposals that would have made it easier for unions to organize at all types of companies and farms, and others that would open the door for frivolous lawsuits by disgruntled employees have sailed through the legislature? Would the government set wage rates (beyond the minimum) for all types of jobs at your company, and negate every dollar of economic development grants received by a business by increasing the rates it must pay vendors?  Would utility rates be going up because of more government-imposed mandates?

Thank goodness reality is much different – and that you’re a Partnership member who enables us to carry out critical work like what’s mentioned above..and so much more.

Thank you for all you made possible through your investment with us.

Happy holidays and my very best for a healthy and prosperous 2011,


Andrew J. Rudnick

p.s. Despite the fact that it’s almost the holidays and the state legislature has gone home, there’s one more bill that needs your attention ASAP – please click here to join the fight against another downstate-driven piece of legislation that will raise energy costs for everyone living and doing business in Upstate New York.

Andrew J. Rudnick
President & CEO
P:  (716) 852-7100
F:  (716) 852-1756

Jody Vohwinkel, Executive Assistant to the President & CEO

The Partnership extends its thanks to the member businesses in its Leadership Circle.
These companies represent the Partnership’s most significant financial supporters.

Let’s take this one paragraph at a time. First, credit where it is due: I don’t doubt that the Partnership helps local business owners find their way to whatever public money is available to help them. I do wonder why the organization and Rudnick consistently stake out such stridently anti-government positions at the same time that they are leading their membership to publicly funded tax break, grants, and job training programs.

Next paragraph. Unless Rudnick personally lobbied for approval of the loans to One Sunset, there is no world, not in this or in some alternate universe, in which Rudnick and the Partnership can claim credit for the implosion and subsequent, slow-going dissolution of BERC. BERC has long been an organization through which the Partnership exercised influence in city government. BERC’s heads have generally been Partnership-approved. So, if the Partnership wants to take credit for BERC’s demise, then it must also take credit for the policies and practices that led it there.

Consulting on how best to dissolve BERC and transfer its functions elsewhere is not the same as precipitating its dissolution. And if the Partnership’s advice on dissolution had been truly helpful, I imagine the city would not be paying at least two private consultants to work it out.

On the other hand, former Olmsted Conservancy board chair David Colligan affirms that Rudnick deserves full credit for helping to broker an agreement between the city and the Olmsted Conservancy. When the mayor’s office was no longer speaking to the Conservancy and Colligan, Rudnick acted as an intermediary and eventually brought all parties to the table.

On to the next two paragraphs. I imagine that the card-sharing and elbow-rubbing to which he refers is good for local business people. I’m not convinced that it wouldn’t happen without the Partnership. Some folks have told me approving things about the Partnership as a resource for professional development, some have rolled their eyes.

In the next paragraph, the answers are as follows: Yes, Buffalo First would have pushed and continues to push a “buy local” agenda to business owners and development agencies. Yes, local IDAs do compete with one another for scarce public funds, despite the Partnership’s annual Regional Agenda. Yes, NYPA money would have stayed in this region for economic development. The Partnership may have approved of and even advocated for the agreements that protected the settlement money from being swept, but I don’t think it can take credit for those agreements. And I believe that the new railroad station in Niagara Falls and the new courthouse would be under construction even in a world in which neither Rudnick nor the Partnership had ever been born: Listing projects on the annual Regional Agenda does not entitle Rudnick to credit for their realization. Five years ago, Rudnick argued against investments in the Niagara Falls International Airport. In a blog post three and a half months ago, the Partnership claimed credit for improvements at the NFIA because it had eventually made it on its annual wish list.

The first claim in the next paragraph is predicated on the belief that the current Common Council majority is unfriendly to development, which is absurd. Everyone in city government, regardless of political affiliation, is in favor of economic development. And ice cream. And fireworks on the Fourth of July. (As a rule, those who label their political opponents as “anti-development” and “obstructionist” are liars, nine times out of 10: They’re trying to win an argument rather than use the argument to get to the truth or the best course of action.) In any case, the only change in the Council this year is the replacement of a professional economist, Dr. Curtis Haynes, with an entrepreneurial pastor, Rev. Darius Pridgen. True, the Partnership endorsed Pridgen and gave his campaign $1,000, but Pridgen did not need the endorsement or the money to win that seat. In a mayor’s or a county executive’s race, the Partnership can be influential. But it can play little useful role in the election of the Ellicott District councilman. That seat is won with votes, not money and endorsements, and few, if any, of the Partnership’s members vote in the district.

As for the State Senate, I suppose Rudnick is talking about the Grisanti campaign. Like most everyone else, the Partnership jumped on Grisanti’s bandwagon at the late last minute, donating $3,500 one week before election day. I know Grisanti and those running his campaign welcomed the cash, but the groundwork had already been done. And in the final push, the money and volunteers from the trade unions—Rudnick’s bugbears—were much more valuable to Grisanti than the Partnership’s support.

Also, UPAC, Unshackle Upstate’s political action committee, gave $9,500 to the campaign of Tim Kennedy, a Democrat (and gave that money two weeks before the Partnership’s PAC, Committee for Economic Growth, lined up with the Republican Grisanti). I think it’s fine that Unshackle Upstate supported Kennedy instead of his Republican opponent, Jack Quinn III. But let’s not undercut one viable Republican candidate, Quinn, come late to the successful longshot’s party, and then claim credit for helping Republicans take control of the State Senate.

(I was wrong about that. See comments below.)

I’ll give Rudnick the benefit of the doubt on the rest of his claims, though it sounds to me like a combination of self-inflation and fear-mongering on the part of the overpaid chief of an organization that is losing members: Pay your dues, or the government’s going to come and steal your money! Pay your dues, we’re your last best hope!

Don’t listen to that goddamned Carl Paladino: Pay your dues!

  • AmusedbyStupid

    Hey GK.. your favorite BNP employee here! Of course we are paying attention. You’re just too gosh darn hard to ignore. Google Alerts help, too.

    I’m not going to waste our time nitpicking all of your attempts to bash the Partnership, because we both know you’re not going to read them and I really don’t care if you do. But once in a while, you’re so wrong I’m forced to speak up.

    Unshackle did’t donate money to Kennedy… they maxed out to Quinn. Just like the Partnership did. Re-check your filings champ. Partnership even hosted a fundraiser with their membership for Quinn. But those facts wouldn’t fit into your story about how much we suck, right? Naw… “We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don’t it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions.” Or in your case, just change the facts!

    In the 60th District, the Partnership maxed out to Antoine Thompson’s primary opponent, Rory Allen, which helped lay the groundwork for Grisanti’s victory. (Do you not remember your foot-stomping here: And don’t forget the trades also endorsed Allen in conjunction with the BNP’s support! Quinn’s race may not have been successful, but it certainly drew public union/Senate Dem/special interest $$ and manpower away from Thompson’s race (and in the North County and Long Island.) The Partnership also supported/donated to other GOP Senate candidates across Upstate NY, working with our partners in Unshackle Upstate. Those are facts, Geoff. Inconvenient truths for your story (look, I referenced your buddy Gore!), but truths nonetheless.

  • Hey, welcome back!

    You’re right about Quinn; that was stupid of me.

    The rest I stand by. I like Rory Allen, but in no way did his campaign “lay the groundwork” for Grisanti. Neither did Al Coppola’s. Grisanti’s campaign was well underway before Rory Allen entered the Democratic primary, and both Coppola and Allen benefited from the work of people on Grisanti’s campaign. I agree that Quinn-Kennedy drew resources from state Democrats, but I see no reason to believe that Thompson, in one of the most easily held Democratic seats in the state, would have received more state Democratic money if Kennedy had had an easier time of it. By that argument, the Quinn-Kennedy race drew Republican resources away from Grisanti, too, right? So it would be a wash. But in fact, Grisanti received very little support from state Republicans and from groups like the Partnership and Unshackle Upstate until the very end of the campaign.

    Finally, I would note that it’s not all bashing, so you ought to retire that accusation: I’m happy to give credit where it’s due. Colligan described to me how helpful Rudnick was on the Olmsted deal, and Rudnick deserves praise for his work.

  • Also, your link seems to lead to a post about Trent Edwards from 2008.

    Is it because the actual link would belie your description of the post as “foot-stomping”? It’s a photo and a caption with a straightforward description of what’s in the picture.

  • AmusedbyStupid

    Not sure why my link didn’t work, but you obviously got the gist of it. No conspiracy theory there GK… And the foot-stomping came from your colleague, Buck, in this similar post, so I’ll give credit for foot-stomping, snarky comments where foot-stomping, snarky comment credit is due – to Buck.

    As for Trent Edwards, what a bum.

  • Buck Quigley

    Too funny! Thanks for reminding me of that post.

    20,000 UB2020 JOBS LOST

    It still makes me laugh. 20,000 jobs. Right.

    Maybe the Partnership’s problem is they’re not thinking big enough. Why not claim 500,000 UB2020 JOBS LOST? I mean, why limit yourself when you’re describing imaginary jobs that you never created in the first place?

    Let’s not forget this little gem, from the 2002 BNP Regional Agenda: “Thanks to much hard work by many groups of people, including members of the Partnership, Buffalo received a designation as a Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics by New York State at the end of 2001. This center represents our community’s best opportunity to find a niche in the ‘new economy’ creating thousands of good-paying jobs in life sciences and related businesses.”

    Read more:

    What happened to THOSE thousands of jobs? Or were they just carried over into the 20,000 figure? If they keep up such good work, the Partnership will have created a good paying job for everyone in western New York by 2020—with just one catch. The jobs won’t actually exist.

  • mark hines

    one look at Rudnick and any normal person turns the other way. This guy looks and acts like a clown and he is the face of your organization. what are you thinking?

  • jhorn

    “the Partnership jumped on Grisanti’s bandwagon at the late last minute” This clause could stand as a metaphor for mr. rudnick’s career. watching andrew recycle tired and tiresome chamber of commerce ideology as innovation, kiss the hem of each developer du jour, and wear out his arm patting himself on the back is a wny embarrassment topped only by mr. paladino’s run for governor and mr. collins’ existence. (Interesting, the animosity between mr. paladino and mr. rudnick. Two birds with one stone- a duel at two paces?)
    -isn’t it common knowledge that the key contributor to mark grisanti’s campaign was antoine thompson?

  • wny

    rudnick is a piece of shit

  • Rocco Polino

    Who is Rory Allen?

  • Clarence llama

    Thank BNP for the sycophantic vainglorious opportunities that arise from your mere existence !! The narcisistic ringleader The Wizard of Oz, known during his reign as The Great and Powerful Oz, is the epithet of Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs Rudnick.

    The Wizard is one of the characters in The Wonderful Wizard of WNY. Unseen for most of the time, he is the ruler of the Land of Oz and highly venerated by his members. Believing he is the only man capable of solving their problems, Chris Collins and his friends travel to the Emerald City, the capital of Oz, to meet him. Oz is very reluctant to meet them, but eventually each is granted an audience, one by one. On each of these occasions, the Wizard appears in a different form, once as a giant head, once as a beautiful fairy, once as ball of fire, and once as a horrible monster. When, at last, he grants an audience to all of them at once, he seems to be invisible—nothing but a disembodied voice.

    Eventually, it is revealed that Oz is actually none of these things, but rather a kind, ordinary man from Omaha, Nebraska, who has been using a lot of elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself seem “great and powerful.” Working as a magician for a circus, he wrote OZ (the initials of his first and middle name) on the side of his balloon for promotional purposes. One day his balloon sailed into the Land of Oz, and found himself worshiped as a great sorcerer. As Oz had no leadership at the time, he became Supreme Ruler of the kingdom, and did his best to sustain the myth.

    He leaves Oz at the end of the novel, again in a hot air balloon. After the Wizard’s departure, the Scarecrow is briefly enthroned, until the rightful hereditary ruler of Oz, Princess Ozma, is freed from the witch Mombi at the end of The Marvelous Land of Oz.

    In Chris and the Wizard in Oz, Rudnick explains that his real name is Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. To shorten this name, he used only his initials (O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D.), but since they spell out the word pinhead, he shortened his name further and called himself “Andy”.

  • Lancey Howard

    The Republicans lost every race they had a chance to. From Domagalski in the north, to Quinn in the south, with their only victory being brought to them by Democrat Mark Grisanti, in a district that was carried by Democrat Andrew Cuomo. While Rory Allen proved to be one of the most likeable candidates of the season, he was new to the game and out of his league, for now, but he seems like a quick learner. The BNP proved meaningless.

    Republican Chair, Nick Langworthy, also proved to be out of his league, again most likely because he was new, but should be given a second look. We’ll have to see if he and the BNP can keep incumbent Chris Collins in office if Kathy Hochul challenges them. It will answer a lot of questions.

  • chester

    First of all it’s sad that Rudnick can’t spell “Olmsted” correctly.

    More importantly it’s shocking that he’s either so naive or cynical about public perception that he tries to associate The Partnership with George Bailey, when there can be no question that it represents the Mr. Potters of the world.