Press Pass: Bringing transparency to state economic development

Sep 27, 2016

Prior to last week's indictments of some of the key players involved in state economic development projects, Charlotte Keith of Investigative Post had been reporting extensively on some of the questionable practices related to those projects. Keith shared her experiences with WBFO's Press Pass. 

It's easy to get lost when reviewing the levels of players who hold a role in state economic development projects. The Fort Schuyler and Fuller Road Management corporations act as real estate arms of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and have helped to administer many of the state projects in Upstate New York. That would include the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo.

"It's kind of a curious situation where they are ostensibly private and have said they're private," Keith explained.

"For a long time (the corporations) held they didn't have to follow state transparency laws."  

That assertion made it difficult to review the bidding process that was handing out millions in state dollars. However, calls for greater transparency eventually produced results.

"Investigative Post and WGRZ filed a lawsuit against Fort Schuyler and then they sort of relented and starting posting stuff on their website," Keith explained.

"They've since been much more amenable to FOI (Freedom of Information) requests. But it kind of goes to the heart of this confusion over what their status is and what rules in particular they have to follow."