We explained last Sunday and Tuesday why the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency is entitled to have a copy of the lease between the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp. and NYRI, why the public would be entitled to see what the OCIDA has, and why the arguments offered by NYRI to keep the lease secret are lame. We also suggested "no disclosure = no tax break."
According to the "Tax break for railroad rejected" article in today's O-D, the OCIDA rejected the tax relief deal at yesterday's meeting.
"The board cited an incomplete application as the cause, but the railway is blaming the decision on controversy over a proposed power line project."
We wonder if there is another reason.
The court proceeding that NYRI brought to block OCIDA from disclosing the lease is scheduled for only a few days from now, November 1. Why did OCIDA rush to decide the application now? For the reasons previously discussed, there was a potential that on that date NYRI's request would be denied. The railroad would then have to decide if it wanted to continue its application for a tax break (and have the lease disclosed to the public) or withdraw its application and take its papers back (preventing disclosure). OCIDA seems to have relieved the Railway of this possibility by simply denying the application now before the court has an opportunity to rule. Now that it has made its decision, OCIDA has no justification to hold onto the application papers. If the lease is not properly in the possession of OCIDA, the O-D may not have a basis under FOIL to see the lease. It's possible that we may be wrong on this, not being privy to the various court papers that have been filed . . . Regardless . . .
The timing of OCIDA's action is odd.