State Fair stinging report leads to firings and discipline: Matt's Memo

The New York State Fair is our celebration of summer and fried food. It's a spectacle of crowds, concerts and cotton candy. It is a tradition that entertains, reunites and showcases Central New York. Yet, for the second time in two and a half years sharp criticism and serious allegations have come from Albany directed toward Fair administration and Ag and Markets senior leadership. The Inspector General's report was released from Albany late in the day.

The report casts the role of greatest villian in this report as Assistant Commissioner of Ag and Markets Robert Haggerty. He is not alone. Former Fair Director Dan O'Hara is also faulted for his involvement and poor oversight of procurement, security issues and management of employees. O'Hara is one of several to be disciplined as a result of the report and ultimately removed and repositioned to another state job. The firing of Robert Haggerty from his high paying Ag and Markets position happened last summer. Several other Ag and Markets leaders were also let go.

In the wake of the last critical audit that criticized both O'Hara and former director Peter Capuccilli much of the responsibility for expenditures and contracts was transferred to Albany for greater oversight. Robert Haggerty has apparently proven that ethical considerations are not better monitored from a couple of hours down the Thruway.

A hybtrid solution to the problems now include sending contracts through a department seperate from Ag and Markets called the Office of General Services. That's the part that will remain in Albany. The other improvements will be based in Syracuse with a return of a business manager and local auditing.

The new guy leading the way is Thomas Ryan. In the true tradition of New York State politics he comes to the Fair after failing to push through a toll hike on the New York State Thruway. He needed a new gig. What he really needs at the Fair is a professional quality team doing things the right way. Taxpayers and fairgoers deserve a Fair that's is run clean. That includes on the Midway, in the Grandstand and in the business offices.


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