Dear Tom Golisano:

19 May

I read this in the Buffalo News yesterday:

“I wish there were 100,000 people standing behind me feeling the same way and acting the same way, but they’re not,” Golisano told reporters at the state Capitol. But, he added, he still feels a sense of responsibility to stay engaged in trying to change the ways of Albany — even if he has moved his legal residence to Naples, Fla.

There are a million people, probably more, who feel the same way as you about reforming New York, its taxation structure, its spending, and the general way it does business. We can’t all “act the same way” because we’re not billionaires. But many of us try, and still more have tried, to effect some change, with varying degrees of success.

I did a post last week that highlighted the fact that it’s no big surprise, and in no way unique for you to move to Florida. People move to Florida from western New York every day. It just so happens that you’re a politically connected billionaire, so there’s more at stake when it’s a guy like you leaving.

But back to your “wish” of having 100,000 people standing behind you – when exactly did you invite them? Responsible New York was never a grassroots organization. It never tried to organize people to take action – or really do anything whatsoever.

All you did was throw some money at some people whom you liked better than other people. You apparently helped to fund a vicious and likely illegal effort to obliterate Sam Hoyt and his reputation. Your political organization was a top-down affair run by one of the most divisive political figures western New York has ever seen. By selecting that person to run Responsible New York, it lost pretty much all of its credibility as a change agent, and guaranteed that its successes would be accidents.

Throwing money at races is fine, but money doesn’t always win the race. I’m quite sure that a well-organized, well-funded effort to organize average people to effect change in New York State government(s) would find a warm reception in every corner of the state. Imagine if there was a group representing average taxpayers that could rival the lobbying prowess and spending ability of the big special interests and unions that run the show in Albany.

You never set that up, though. Instead, you just wrote some checks and put up a totally non-transparent website that didn’t even have any sort of social media aspect to it – except a seldom-updated blog – so that the people you pretended to be representing in that effort could communicate with you, and with each other, and get involved.

I guess the upshot of it all is, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Responsible New York was never about change and reform. It’s about kingmaking and backscratching.

As for your grandstanding on taxes, I only wish that the unfriendly business climate in New York could someday enable my taxes to go up by $5 million per year when the rate is raised by 2.12%. Hope you enjoy Florida. I hear Naples is really gorgeous.



23 Responses to “Dear Tom Golisano:”

  1. Christina Abt May 19, 2009 at 5:54 am #

    Sending your “love” at the end is the perfect touch….and will encourage his reply no doubt!

    Well said, BP….

  2. sick of the same old same old May 19, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    It has been my unhappy experience to realize in life that those who succeed in business rarely maintain the ability to recognize their good firtune and the whims of fate that put them there. Instead, with wealth comes power and an enduring tendency to believe that you are right 100% of the time. As a parent of teenagers, one of the hardest things to do has been to recognize that I am no longer going to win every argument, nor should I. With wealth and power come the “yes men” and “yes women”, at the expense of the opportunity for growth and continuing self-analysis and awareness.

    I don’t know that there is ananswer for it, other than to work as hard as we can for the candidates who never lose focus of the fact that one second after they are dead they will be, like us, penniless and without any power.

  3. Ben McD May 19, 2009 at 7:44 am #

    How is Golisano in any way wrong for what he did, or what he has said?

  4. Buffalopundit May 19, 2009 at 7:46 am #

    @Ben McD – where did I say what he said or what he did was wrong?

  5. Pete at BS May 19, 2009 at 8:12 am #

    Ben McD – I think Responsible New York was wrong. I agree with Pundit. You want reform, get a group of people together to work for it. Tossing a bunch of money into the hands of hyperpartisan, take no prisoners Steve Pigeon made that organization irrelevant almost immediately, and look at the results of the candidates they funded. Kavanaugh, Konst, Mesi……He could have spent a lot less money and had a lot better results if he had focused on the issues. I think the time is right for an organization like that, but the implementation was just plain wrong, and the results proved that.

  6. Chris Smith May 19, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    Interesting thing about Responsible New York is that they endorsed a slew of incumbents across New York State…except for the political enemies of Steve Pigeon. Good stuff.

  7. mike hudson May 19, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    the hate continues. actually, golisano did run for governor, three times, spending $93 million of his own money on the efforts. in their wisdom, the voters of new york state chose to elect george pataki, re-elect george pataki and then elect eliot spitzer, which led to the the mess now in residence at albany.

    and pundit, all billionaires are politically connected.

  8. lulu May 19, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    What is the purpose for this BNews article? Is it supposed to show that you don’t have to be a politician to screw the little guy in NYS? Am I supposed to be angry that a billionaire who made his fortune on the backs of working stiffs like me was unable to change the system with his uber money and politically connected buddies? Should I say, well if he couldn’t do it, why should I even bother to fight for change? Again, how exactly is this newsworthy and what is the readership supposed to do with this new found knowledge?

    Show me NY-based multimillionaire WITHOUT an out of state address if you want to shock/scare/annoy/disappoint/belittle/educate me, Thank you very much.

  9. Russell May 19, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    How did he make his fortune on the back of working stiffs?

  10. lulu May 19, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    off our pay checks

  11. lulu May 19, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    Russell – if you prefer, My point would not be lost if you replace “on the backs of working stiffs like me” with “in New York State”.

  12. Russell May 19, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Really? Because developing a business in New York State that provides a more cost effective way for businesses to manage and process their payrolls is the same as saying “on the backs of working stiffs”?

  13. lulu May 19, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    He made his money off paychecks for working stiffs. Better?

  14. mike hudson May 19, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    paychex is used by a large number of employers because it is cheaper than supporting a payroll department, which companies would have to do if paychex and other, similar services, did not exist.

    this, in turn, would force employers to spend more on overhead, which would mean less money for lulu and the rest of the “poor working stiffs” represented and championed here.

  15. Russell May 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    Actually, no, he saved working stiffs and their employers money. He made money off businesses by saving them money.

  16. mike hudson May 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    you’re right pundit. i should have said “in their wisdom, the voters of new york state chose to elect george pataki and then re-elect him twice more.”

    as for anybody being my “benefactor,” the bullshit never stops. i’ve billed responsible new york for one ad in the past six months, and the $1,000 remains unpaid.

    i know tom’s good for it, and am not worried. but each and every night i wish that i had instead become a lawyer representing insurace companies in their neverending quest to ripoff the public and not have to resort to this grimy journalism thing.


  17. Pete at BS May 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    I was thinking that Hudson was a kinder, gentler guy in recent days. I was wrong.

  18. hank May 20, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    @mike h—I understand your journalistic sense, but that’s one you should have e-mailed alan on personally.

    BTW, considering Alan’s just a lawyer, and wields no real political power, the chances of him “risking it all” for some side action seems low. And I wouldn’t believe any stories to the contrary unless he admitted it.

  19. lulu May 20, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    For the record – lulu is her own employer and does not use Paychex as she has found a more accurate and reliable competitor with better rates and better service. Lulu is also grateful to Mr. Golisano for buying the Sabres and in disagreement with his political activities.
    Regardless, my initial argument stands and I’ll simplify to hopefully get a constructive response or conversation generating feedback. My issue here is with the BNews. Many wealthy people from from NYS have out of state residences. One benefit of that is the tax issue. This is nothing new.
    So, how exactly is this newsworthy and what is the readership supposed to do with this new found knowledge? Shall we become anti-Golisano, anti-wealthy people in general, or pro-moving out of state ourselves? How does this type of reporting affect readership, and is it really “news”?

  20. izengabe May 20, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Actually they raised Mr. Golisano’s taxes by a lot more than just 2.12%. 2.12% is just the extra amount of his total income he has to give to Albany.

    When you go from paying 6% of your income in taxes to 8% you are increasing the amount you are paying to the state by almost 33%!

    What you you do if they increased the total dollar amount of taxes you are paying by a third?

    My guess is $5,000,000 a year is a little too much of a cover charge for the privilage of living in Rochester.

    And the reason 100,000 people don’t join him in fleeing NY and it’s high taxes is some of us don’t have a choice. Our jobs force us to stay here and take it. But believe me he is not the only one who is thinking of getting the heck out of here.


  1. Some Reaction - May 22, 2009

    […] Other takes from Albany Insanity HERE and Buffalo Pundit HERE.  […]

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