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Politics
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced early in his term that he'd be creating a set of "regional economic councils" to build plans for funding economic development across New York, from the ground up.In the summer of 2011 he finally announced some of the details of the program, to be led by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. The ten councils each have dozens of members, and are charged with gathering input from the public and business leaders, and creating a plan by November 14. Those plans will be pitted against each other for a pot of $1 billion in grants, incentives, and tax relief from various state agencies. The winners will get more funding, the losers will get less.But other details - like whether funding will be available past the initial term, and who will serve on the board that decides who wins and who loses - have not been released.The Innovation Trail is looking for your feedback about what your regional economic priorities are, and what you want your community to look like once the councils have completed their task.

Mohawk Valley economic council: Who's in charge

The Innovation Trail is taking a look at the members of the governor’s regional economic development councils. Here’s what we found.

Methodology

Our reporters brought back short biographies of the folks behind the councils, including campaign contributions in the 2010 gubernatorial election (courtesy of public filings at the State Board of Elections).

The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), at our request, retrieved data about the state lobbying expenditures of council members’ employers from a database that they created using Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) information. The also retrieved the party enrollment of council members, where available, from a database that they compiled based on FOIL’ed information (that’s accurate as of October of 2010). Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG was instrumental in pulling this information together.

See an error, or want to add more? Let us know.

And without further ado, here’s who’s who in the Mohawk Valley.

Regional Co-Chairs

Bjong Wolf Yeigh is the president of SUNY’s Institute of Technology.  He is the former vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Norwich University in Connecticut, and has also served as an administrator and faculty member at St. Louis University, Yale, and Oklahoma State University.  He’s a veteran of the U.S. Navy and earned engineering degrees from Dartmouth and Stanford, and is a Segway enthusiastA proposal from SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher would see Yeigh heading up both SUNY IT and Morrisville State College.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Democrat

Lawrence (Larry) T. Gilroy III is the president of independent insurance firm Gilroy Kernan & Gilroy in Utica, which boasts the honor of being one of the top 40 companies to work for in New York State.  His father founded the agency and he purchased it from him  several years after graduating from Hamilton College, where he studied economics. He is a former chair of the board of the Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises (EDGE) Corp. and still serves as a member.  He’s also served as a board member at Utica College and the United Way of the Valley & Greater Utica Area.

  •  2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  •  Registered Democrat

General Members

Charles Green is the president and co-founder of Assured Information Security, Inc., a computer and network security firm based out of Griffiss Park.  He studied computer science at SUNY IT and Syracuse University, and is “skilled at hacking,” according to the bio attached to his SUNY IT alumni association, which presented him with a “distinguished service award" in 2008. Green serves on the board of directors of the Rome Industrial Development Corporation, and recently completed Leadership Mohawk Valley’s 10-month professional development program to boost civic engagement and leadership.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Marianne W. Gaige is the president of Cathedral Corporation, which started out as a direct mail service for church fundraising, and now provides a gamut of services including invoicing and customer service.  Gaige has been with the firm since 1992, and president since 2008.  She has degrees from Alfred University and Harvard.  She serves on the board of the St. Elizabeth Medical Center.  She’s all over YouTube for winning printing industry awards.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Nicholas O. Matt is the chairman and CEO of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, which makes Saranac beer and sodas.  He serves on various boards and councils, including Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises (EDGE) Corp., M&T Bank, Brewers’ Association, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and the Greater Utica United Way.  He studied at Union College and has an MBA from Cornell, and is a Navy veteran.

  •  2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Total lobbying dollars spent in New York State by Matt Brewing in 2010: $8,363
  • Registered Republican

V. Daniel Robinson II is the president of the New York Central Mutual Insurance Company, which was founded in 1899 by Robinson’s great grandfather.  He graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 1978 and is a major donor to the school. He is also a director at NBT bank. 

  •  2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Richard “Dick” Smith is the president of commercial laundry and dry cleaner Robinson & Smith.  He’s the third generation of Smiths to operate the company, following in his father Arnold and grandfather Willard’s footsteps.  The firm’s retail Laundromat partners with a children’s book program to provide books for bored kids waiting for their parents’ laundry to finish.

  •  2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

William L. Keller III took the reins from his father at Keymark Corp. in 1988, who took over for his father, William Jr., in 1954.  Keymark is an “aluminum extrusion manufacturer,” which basically means it makes stuff out of aluminum.  The firm originally sold home energy efficiency products, then expanded to storm doors.  It now also has a plant in central Florida.  Keller is a 1978 graduate of St. Lawrence University.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Nancy Pattarini is the president of the Paige Group, a marketing firm based in Utica, where she’s served since 1990.  She specializes in crisis communications and nonprofit and government communications.  Pattarini also conducts seminars and workshops about marketing and branding, and has been published in the Journal of Communication Management. She is the treasurer of the board of the Issue Management Council, and also sits on the Utica Industrial Development Agency board, and is a member of the Mohawk Valley Ad Club. Her M.S. is from Syracuse University, and her B.S. is from Utica College.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Democrat

Juanita Bass is the owner of Juanita’s Soul Classics Inc., a maker of packaged food products like sauces and spice rubs.  She is the former owner and founder of the White House Berries Inn bed and breakfast.  Bass procured a contract with the U.S. military to provide over a million sweet potato pies. She serves on the board of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Utica & Watertown.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Democrat

Sheila Murphy was originally announced as a member of the council but has declined membership.  She is co-owner of Nunn’s Home Medical Equipment with her sister Nancy Ryan, but their father Martin founded the firm in 1942.  In 2010 they had 32 employees.  A spokesperson from Empire State Development says that Murphy has not yet been replaced on the council.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Frank DeRiso is the president of UFCW Local 1 in Oriskany, which represents workers ranging from grocery store clerks, to butchers, to retail clerks.  He was at the helm of the union when the Penn Traffic Co. announced in 2009 that it would be closing dozens of stores and laying off more than 4,000 employees.  Those stores were eventually sold to Tops Markets.  DeRiso represented union interests in continuing Penn Traffic’s pension plan for workers during those negotiations.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Total lobbying dollars spent in New York State by UFCW in 2010: $42,000
  • Registered Democrat

Randall VanWagoner is the president of Mohawk Valley Community College, which serves about 6,000 students. VanWagoner previously served at schools in Nebraska and Colorado, and holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.  He’s been named a “community visionary” by the Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, and blogs regularly about life at MVCC.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Democrat

Margaret O’Shea is president and CEO of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, a charitable organization that marshals and then targets philanthropy in the Mohawk Valley.  The organization has been recognized as one of the nation’s most active grantmakers among community organizations, and for the generosity of its local donors, on a per capita basis.  O’Shea serves on the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area’s education committee.  She goes by "Peggy," and has been called an “unsung hero”by the Red Cross.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Mary Morse is the owner of Kwik-Kut Manufacturing, which makes cutting devices for baking and cooking.  The firm has been in its current location since 1955, and was purchased by Morse’s father in 1966, who passed the reigns to her in 1989.  Morse serves on the board of the Herkimer County Chamber (and is a past president), and is a founding member of the Mohawk Valley Chamber Alliance.  She has been honored as a “woman of distinction”by state senator James L. Seward.  Morse is the secretary of Fitzer Homes, which owns two parks for mobile homes in Ilion, N.Y.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Republican

Richard Ball is the owner of Schoharie Valley Farms, a 200 acre farm along Schoharie Creek, and the Carrot Barn, a retail store offering produce, dairy, protein, and prepared goods (with an emphasis on carrots as an ingredient).  Ball is involved in the “Farm to School” nutrition and purchasing program, and has participated in the State Department’s program to offer tours of U.S. agriculture to international visitors.  The farm was granted funds by the USDA to install a 95kW photovoltaic system.  The Innovation Trail’s Marie Cusick interviewed Ball after flooding from Hurricane Irene affected his farm.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Steve DiMeo is the president of the Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprise Corporation (EDGE).  He formerly served as the commissioner for urban and economic development for the city of Utica, and has degrees from Georgia State University and SUNY Albany.  EDGE has been a booster of Griffiss Business and Technology Park, a repurposed Air Force facility that's now a tech park, and the Advanced Nanotech Park project at SUNY IT.  He has lead marketing trips for the Mohawk Valley region to Europe and Israel.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Michael J. Reese is the president and CEO of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation.  He has previously served with SUNY Plattsburgh, where he received is B.S. in accounting, and with the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District.  He is a recipient of the New York State Economic Development Council’s “Economic Developer of the Year” award.  Reese has referred to the new council system as “bureaucratic” in an interview with The Leader-Herald.  He is the co-author of the Fulton County Regional Business Plan.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Republican

Deborah Auspelmyer is the president of the Montogomery Area Chamber of Commerce.  She is an advocate for small and local businesses, and was selected as one of the Albany Business Review’s “40 Under 40” in 2004.  She had supported the Fulton and Montgomery region being included in the Capital Region economic council (which were in the end aligned with the Mohawk Valley).

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Carolyn A. Lewis is an economic developer with Otsego County Economic Development, which works to find incentives and packages for companies looking to locate or stay in the county.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Scott White is the president of the Bank of Cooperstown, a community bank that, along with the Bank of the Finger Lakes, is part of the USNY Bank family, specializing in services for small and mid-sized business, farms, and individuals.  White writes in a letter to customers that the bank's business plan is to "develop local deposits, provide you with solid customer service and make sound loans to individuals and businesses in our bank markets." The Bank of Cooperstown is a member of the Cooperstown chamber of commerce.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration

Elected Officials

The regional council also includes a number of local elected officials. The “electeds” serve in an ex-officio capacity and are considered non-voting members of the council.

They are:

Oneida County Executive, Anthony J Picente, Jr.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Republican*

Chairman of Montgomery Board of Supervisors, Thomas L. Quackenbush

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Republican*

Chairman of Fulton Board of Supervisors, David B. Howard

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Unable to determine voter registration*

Chairman of Otsego Board of Representatives, Floyd "Sam" Dubben, Jr.

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Republican*

Chairman of Herkimer County Legislature, Raymond Smith

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Republican*

Chairman of Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, James R. Brown

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Republican*

Mayor of the City of Utica, David R. Roefaro

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Democrat*

Mayor of the City of Amsterdam, Ann M. Thane

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Democrat*

Mayor of the City Gloversville, Dayton J. King

  • 2010 gubernatorial campaign contributions: $0
  • Registered Independent*

For the membership of the other councils in the Innovation Trail's coverage area, check here.

*Data retrieved from open sources by Innovation Trail, not NYPIRG database

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