On August 29, 2015, Tarik Abdelazim (the former Director of Planning, Housing and Community Development under Democratic Mayor Matthew T. Ryan) had a partisan hit piece published in the Press & Sun newspaper. This political attack was masked by on-going issue of additional parking space in Downtown Binghamton. But the opinion of Mr. Abdelazim fails to address facts as they exist, and the repercussions of his call for inaction.
The issue that Mr. Abdelazim purports to be addressing is the Metrocenter Courtyard and the potential of an additional 10 parking spaces. Mr. Abdelazim claims it will cost $500,000 and opposes the idea (though he never states his opposition directly). He then goes into a political attack on Mayor David and ignores the central issue of the Metrocenter.
On April 30, 2014, Ellis Brothers Contemporary Furniture burned down. This in fact is the source of the Metrocenter discussion. To ignore this is to throw all facts out the window and play partisan games to affect the upcoming elections.
Ellis Brothers is one of the oldest businesses in Binghamton. The tax revenues and jobs it provides are critical for a City that is plagued with lack of opportunity. A fact that existed during the Ryan Administration, when roughly 1 in 3 downtown storefronts were vacant. Today, the vacancies have diminished as The Colonial, Taste of Europe, Galaxy Brewing, Chenango Place and the relocation of Ellis Bros. have improved the face of Downtown Binghamton.
It was Ellis Brothers, seeking to remain in Downtown Binghamton, that requested a 15 space parking lot – where their former building had existed. Since the initial fire and relocation planning, Ellis Bros. have modified their request to a 10 space parking lot – for the amount of $300,000. It will be an improvement for their customers, and gives the company reason to remain in an area that during the Ryan Administration had a business survival rate of approximately 18 months. Without this parking space, Ellis Brothers is rethinking where they want to be. As Tom Ellis stated on August 21, 2015,
“We’re just rethinking … every single aspect of our presence downtown.”
So here are the facts that Mr. Abdelazim and the Democrats on the City Council do not want the public to think about.
1) Keeping one of the oldest businesses in Binghamton requires additional parking. Keeping Ellis Brothers in Binghamton means keeping people employed and tax revenues in place that the City needs.
2) The cost is NOT $500,000. Mr. Abdelazim and the Democrats of the City Council are fully aware of this. It is an exaggeration of the facts for only one apparent purpose – to create an emotional response for the benefit of an election.
3) The request for the parking space, by Ellis Brothers, was publicly known. (July 24, 2015 http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/2014/07/24/ellis-brothers-new-location/13099261/)
4) Unproven and blanket accusation, based apparently in political preferences do NOT equate to wrongdoing, as Mr. Abdelazim would like the public to think. While he repeatedly makes a claim of “breaking rules” and acting “behind doors”, Mr. Abdelazim never once mentions what rule was broken to support his case. As for public, one need only do a Google search if you don’t recall the public announcements at the time.
But what is the alternative that Mr. Abdelazim, and the Democrats on the City Council that he praises for endangering the jobs and tax revenues from Ellis Brothers, offer?
“…outdoor yoga sessions, jazz events on Sunday, and interactive events during First Friday.”
Exactly how many jobs can be created by temporary, transitory, weather restricted, events like yoga? Or outdoor jazz? Yes they are entertaining, during summer months on the weekend when the weather permits. But what about in the middle of winter? Much like the Downtown Binghamton Roundabout, created by the Ryan Administration under which Mr. Abdelazim served, 0 long-term jobs created, 0 tax revenues generated, $336,000 taxpayer funds (with $3.3 million in taxpayer funding indirectly coming from Federal and State funding) used which created more problems than it was supposed to resolve.
What Mr. Abdelazim (who declined to note his failed run for Broome County Executive in 2012) and Democrats are offering is higher unemployment, higher taxes, and a distraction. The cost, just the votes of the public in support of Democrats. Rest assured that if the Democrats prevail, and Ellis Brothers move out of Binghamton, the loss in jobs and higher taxes will be put firmly on the shoulders of the David Administration and Republicans.
The City of Binghamton needs jobs and tax revenues from businesses. Like the entire Southern Tier of NY, bringing in new business is challenging enough in a State ranked 50th in business friendliness. It does not serve the people to promote thinly-veiled political propaganda, for the singular purpose of swaying election voting, in place of sound long-term preservation of jobs and tax revenue.
Michael “Vass” Vasquez
** Mr. Vasquez is the owner of M V Consulting, Inc. and a political commentator. He is a homeowner in the City of Binghamton, and ran for Congress from 2013-2014. Mr. Vasquez is also a Committeeman for the Republican Party, representing the 18th Election District in Binghamton, NY. **
Update – As seen in the comments, Mr. Abdelazim made comment on Facebook. In response the following 2 photos were added to Facebook with the attached comments: