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The men who designed and built DeWitt’s $14.4 million Central New York Film Hub are now convicted felons. Still, state officials refuse to disclose the under-performing studio’s financial reports to the taxpayers who funded it.
Fort Schuyler Management Corp., the state-controlled nonprofit that owned the hub until this past May, reportedly denied a Freedom of Information Law request for unredacted copies of the failing movie studio’s contracts.
According to Robert Freeman, New York’s top FOIL expert, the public has a legal right to view the records.
The hub is a prime example of government agencies risking taxpayer money on speculative investments with no guaranteed payoff. It is often left vacant and created nowhere near the 350 new jobs that were promised.
For taxpayers not to have access to contracts from a failing studio that they funded is illegal and immoral. And on top of that, citizens have a very good reason to be suspicious of the studio.
Fort Schuyler and its development projects were a central focus of the recent bid-rigging trial of former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros and three business executives, each with strong ties to the nonprofit.
All four men were indicted on corruption charges after Kaloyeros used a state-controlled nonprofit like a private business, skirting regulations to favor developers in Syracuse and Buffalo. A request for his private emails discovered evidence of conspiracy and wire-fraud.
Critics say the taxpayer-funded Central New York Film Hub also operated like a private business in order to fast-track projects. Fort Schuler’s refusal to hand over public information on the taxpayer-funded film hub should certainly raise a red flag; the recent corruption trial highlights why.
Citizen-driven oversight is necessary to prevent government corruption. New York has seen time and again what happens when public officials are able to avoid accountability without consequence.
To learn more about the Freedom of Information Law and how to file a request, click here. Join the fight to Reclaim New York today!