Monday, September 24, 2012

Bernardo Watch: No More Freeloading?

So, our favorite chairwoman of the legislature, and her would-be kingmaker hubby, have finally received some overdue media attention for their cozy relationship with the Ulster County Industrial Development Association, of which Bernardo towel boy David O'Halloran is the chair. Michael Novinson of the Times Herald Record began the bloodletting (warning: paywall):
Ulster County's job creation agency is considering scaling back future tax breaks to a business owned by the chair of the county Legislature for failing to hit job targets.

Terry and Len Bernardo's Skate Time 209 has come under the Industrial Development Agency's microscope for projecting the equivalent of 37 full-time jobs but generating only nine. The roller skating center and skateboard park has received nearly $160,000 in property and sales tax breaks since 2005. It's slated to receive another $35,000 in breaks between 2013 and 2016.
Nice to see these number put in such stark relief. These are the alleged captains of Rondout Valley industry, the Bernardos, nothing more than welfare recipients living off the county dime. And we're talking about a lot of money, nearly $23,000 annually of the taxpayers hard-earned cash going to pay for whatever -- and leaving the rest of us to pony up the difference to make the county's coffers whole. If you want to know why your property taxes are so high, one of the reasons is that you help subsidize the Bernardos' upscale lifestyle.

And, not to be outdone, that old fossil Hugh Reynold came out of his Washington Irving-induced coma to jump on the Bernardo-bashing bandwagon:
It seems the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency is finally getting hard-nosed about underperforming recipients of county-sponsored tax breaks and low-interest loans. At its meeting this month, the IDA board identified nine organizations (out of 45), including a Kingston church, that it said hadn’t lived up to job-creation forecasts made on their IDA applications.

[. . .]

Behind the feel-good taxpayer-first sound bites lurks the rancid smell of politics. One of the outfits on the IDA hit list, buried in eighth position on its “2011 under-performance review,” is TLB Management, headquartered in Rochester township. Though TLB is a combination of Len and legislature Chairwoman Terry B. Bernardo’s initials, it was husband Len who invested the $1.7 million to convert an empty field in Accord to the Skatetime USA roller rink he supervises. The IDA report says TLB underperformed in providing only nine of the 20 jobs it “promised” on its original application in 2005.
Reynolds then gives his readers a little background on the relationship between the Bernardos and Mike Hein:
The subject of job creation at Skatetime, or lack thereof, came up during Republican Len Bernardo’s 2008 campaign for county executive against Democrat Mike Hein, when Hein colleague March Gallagher paid a surprise visit on the skating rink and discovered that Bernardo had hired only a handful of part-time teenagers to operate the place. Hein publicly accused Bernardo of “lying” on his IDA application, and went on to run circles around the hapless rink owner in the 2008 election. Gallagher went on to a $100,000 job (with benefits) in the Hein administration as the executive’s chief of economic development.

Hein, seemingly permanently miffed about some of the things I’ve written about him, does not respond to Ulster Publishing inquiries, nor do any of his staff.

Feeling threatened by the executive, the Bernardos apparently decided to turn up the heat. Chairman Bernardo, who says Hein refuses to speak to her, has of late been accusing the executive of what she calls “pay-to-play politics,” citing donations to Hein’s campaign from Albany lawyers in quest of county contracts and from southern Ulster camp operators seeking the executive’s support in a dispute over camp control last spring.
I have to hand it to you, Hugh. "Hapless rink owner" is a pretty terrific moniker, as in Len Hapless-Rink-Owner Bernardo. But I digress.

The one thing Reynolds doesn't mention is very-much mentioned by Novinson in his article, the fact that IDA chairman O'Halloran is a Bernardo toady:
Terry Bernardo, a Republican, became chair of the county Legislature this year. She has feuded with County Executive Mike Hein, a Democrat. Len Bernardo ran unsuccessfully against Hein for county executive in 2008. Current IDA board Chairman Dave O’Halloran managed Bernardo’s campaign.
I wouldn't call it a "campaign," more like the rookie league getting schooled by the Triple-A affiliate. Bernardo didn't belong on the same field. Do you think, Hugh, that this connection to Bernardo might have influenced O'Halloran's past decisions? Maybe? Possibly? Surely, old timer, you know about the O'Halloran connection. Why not mention it? Pretty lousy journalism if you ask me.

As for the freeloading Bernardos, hopefully the free ride is over.


  1. This is only part of the hap-less guys shananigans. Terry lost the first time she ran and had no major party opponent since????? Terry has paid fines for violation of Election Law. When should we expect them to be taken out in cuffs. Is there a pool I can get in?

  2. In fairness O'Halloran was appointed to the IDA pre-Bernardo, I believe. And the chairman is elected by the members of that Board.
    Now if you wanna dig deeper though, old Davey Boy was on the Town Planning Board when SkateTime 209 was being reviewed and approved. Oh the tangled web we weave.