Hennessy Clarifies Position on Cree Announcement, Says Taxpayers Deserve Answers, Voice
The Democratic challenger for Oneida County Executive says he isn't against the recent announcement that Cree Inc. would build a state of the art wafer manufacturing plant in Marcy, but Michael Hennessy says he's skeptical and has lingering questions.
Hennessy says he welcome the jobs and investment, but says his skepticism comes from failed promises and poor state investments of the past, including the Buffalo Billion scandal, a film hub in Syracuse that never materialized and the clamoring over a proposed AMS project at SUNY Poly in Marcy that promised some 3,000 jobs but never created one.
Hennessy also believes the taxpayers are left in the dark, then left out to dry by continually paying for deals that don't yield their promised outcome. And, with New York State kicking in a $500 million grant, plus millions more in tax breaks, Hennessy believes the public deserves to see the deal on paper and any associated agreements that involve public money.
''If Cree brings in the 600 promised jobs, if and when they do that, I can assure you that I'll be the person greeting them at the county airport as the next county executive,'' Hennessy said.
But, Hennessy questions whether the silicon carbide chips that Cree would manufacture in Marcy will still being made there in five or eight years. He says incumbent Republican County Executive Anthony Picente and Democrat Governor Cuomo don't have a good record when it comes to following through on past promises, and thinks they have over-promised the local impact when sharing the news with taxpayers this time, too.
''This is not cutting edge technology. Cutting [edge] technology will be quantum [computing], I keep saying that. We're always chasing the ball at the end of the game instead of finding a new ball at the start of the game.''
And, Hennessy says he's not opposed to all incentives to grow new businesses, but thinks the half-billion-dollar state investment for the Cree project sends the wrong message. He asked what type of a economic impact $500 million would have if it were invested in several existing businesses, rather than one.
''Just think if they had gotten part of this money, how many more jobs could they have created? How many more jobs could ConMed bring back to the area? How many more jobs could be brought back to this area from the companies that we already have that have paid their taxes and supported our area for a long time. We need to support them, too,'' he said.
Hennessy is a former Oneida County legislator and a past commissioner in the city of Sherill. He'll face off with Picente this November.