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Cuomo appoints Leecia Eve to Empire State Development

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The economic development agency that holds the purse strings for New York has a new senior VP.

Top brass at ESD
The governor has appointed Leecia Eve as the senior VP for Empire State Development (ESD), reports Gannett's Vote Up! blog.  Eve was considered for the lieutenant governorship by the Spitzer campaign, and currently heads up a nonprofit in Buffalo.  The Buffalo News has a good look at her biography:

A graduate of City Honors High School, Eve majored in government and Afro-American Studies at Smith College, earned a law degree from Harvard and a master’s in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, specializing in urban economic development. After Harvard, she served as a judicial clerk for state Court of Appeals Judge Fritz W. Alexander II. She went on to practice law at the firm of Covington&Burling and then worked as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del. In 1996, Eve joined the Hodgson Russ law firm, where she worked for five years in litigation as the first black general partner in the firm’s history. She left in 2001 to become counsel to Clinton, helping to craft legislation on homeland security, the judiciary and election reform.

But the Times Union's Capitol Confidential blog reports that Eve's appointment points to a larger question about the future of ESD:

The move is interesting, as it is not the top job at the organization. I had heard from a source in the business community that Cuomo was thinking of re-combining the chairman and CEO roles — bifurcated under Spitzer — at the agency, currently headed by Dennis Mullen. He has been let go, the Rochester Business Journal reported last week [the Innovation Trail spoke with Mullen about this in December - he says he chose not to put his name in for consideration to lead ESD under Cuomo]. Based on chatter I heard during the transition, this is not surprising. Unclear is exactly how ESD will be headed. Cuomo spoke during his campaign and State of the State PowerPoint about regional economic development councils, which will be overseen by Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy. Might ESD move into some sort of ministerial role?

Wine grants
The federal government has granted Cornell $1.3 million to study wine production in the eastern United States.  That's according to the Cornell News Service, which says the research will be conducted jointly by Cornell and Virginia Tech researchers.

Earmarks in WNY
The Buffalo News has a debrief of a number of earmarks that western New York won't be getting, thanks to the veto of an ominibus spending bill - including the cyclotron at the University at Buffalo.

Hydrofracking celebrity
The Times Union has a profile of actor Mark Ruffalo's participation in the movement against hydrofracking in the Marcellus shale:

"The issue was pretty much dead until we brought Mark on board. Suddenly, people started to pay attention," said Susan Zimet, director of Frack Action, which has an unpaid staff of three and a cadre of volunteers. "This issue affects Mark personally and he's gotten deeply involved. He has a long reach. Every cause should have a celebrity like him," she said.

The paper reports that the issue is personal for Ruffalo, whose Catskills property draws on well water for drinking.

GE sales to China
GE, which will host the president later this week, is set to announce Chinese sales hovering around $2.1 billion this year, reports Bloomberg.  The sales are in "rail, aviation and energy projects,” and the announcement coincides with the Chinese president’s visit to the U.S.

The New York Times' Economix blog has a post up looking at the shut-down of a heavily subsidized Massachusetts solar company.  Edward Glaeser writes that we shouldn't be surprised that government subsidy didn't create a rash of green jobs:

For decades, local economic success has come from entrepreneurship and education, not large-scale manufacturing. The Devens closing doesn’t imply that there is anything wrong with clean energy, but it does suggest the difficulties inherent in trying to beat China at cheap manufacturing. In the long run, America will be richer than China only by having smarter citizens, and that requires the skills that come from schools and cities, not dispersed factories.

The Times Union has an editorial calling on SUNY to reconsider giving out merit-based raises, as other state agencies and municipalities cut back drastically:

Could this have been a moment for someone at SUNY, perhaps [Chancellor] Ms. [Nancy] Zimpher herself, or forward-thinking union leaders to say that maybe $1.2 million in extra raises isn't such a great idea right now? Not for SUNY, if it hopes to be credible in asking lawmakers for more money, or students and families for higher tuition. Not for [United University Professions] UUP, if it hopes to counter the increasingly anti-union voices in the debate over public employee pay and benefits.

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