As a special committee of the Orange County Legislature met this past week to review the legality, or lack of, of a number of documents written by members of the Industrial Development Agency prior to its downfall earlier this year.
Ultimately, at least some members were confronted with playing “loosely” with the agency’s money, at times creating other administrative agencies from which they profited. In the end, we feel that those who played along the edge of fraud (for which the public ultimately paid) received only a slap on the wrist. Their actions cost both county residents, and especially small business owners (who do not get the prize of any 15-20 year PILOT , Payment in lieu of taxes, program). This new version of “Pay to Play” was built on the faulty foundation that big companies would be of big value to municipalities, especially in the way of providing many good-paying jobs. Most have failed in that respect, and now we will get to see if there is any further recourse to punish those who stole from us, and give a stronger message to others with a warning “DO NOT TRY THIS AGAIN”.
The committee is charged with reviewing legal documents, legal documents that many think are so faulty that they could be deemed “VOID”. The domino effect that voiding these documents could create is huge! Could sales and property transfers become void? We doubt it, and we fear that this will result in yet another slap on the wrist. If it does, others will feel liberated to do the same. The first set of “crooks” were punished by being required to return all of the money they unethically took. And get this….after the entire IDA Board was “let go”…. those who skirted the law are being “punished” by being required to teach the new IDA board how they did it (where they found loopholes). This is at best blind leading the blind, the fox watching the henhouse.
The Legislature’s review is ongoing and will continue at next week’s first September full session.
WE ARE WATCHING