January 26, 2020

Ad Campaign Selling State to Businesses Is Criticized

Much of the money spent has been used to buy television ads, half of which are being broadcast outside New York, celebrating the state’s economic success stories as part of an effort to lure and keep business here.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, which began the campaign, says the ads are a valuable tool for recruiting businesses, but critics say they are a backdoor way of elevating the governor’s stature, even though they do not mention his name and he is prohibited from appearing in them.

“We are doing everything we can to level the playing field to bring businesses and jobs to the state of New York, and will continue to double down on those efforts as long as this governor is in office,” Melissa DeRosa, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, said.

A portion of the campaign is being financed with money from public authorities, which have missions that include protecting the environment and financing public building projects, drawing some criticism. Additionally, a coming phase of the campaign will use $40 million from the federal government to promote businesses and tourism in the areas struck by Hurricane Sandy.

When the campaign began last June, a top state official, Howard Glaser, noted that New York was competing with other states to attract and keep businesses.

“Connecticut is spending $27 million promoting its state, Michigan $25 million, New Jersey ran a campaign to recruit businesses featuring its governor,” Mr. Glaser, the state operations director, said. “California spent $50 million on a campaign to promote its state. We have to compete.”

Mr. Cuomo’s office says that much of the money has not yet been spent — it says it spent $24 million on ad buys for the campaign last year, and another $12 million so far this year, and it says the scale of the campaign is similar to that in other states. A state filing last December said that by then, most of the initial $50 million allotment for the campaign had “been either spent or committed.”

Critics of the “Open for Business” campaign, which the Legislature approved, have proliferated as the commercials receive heavy airtime on networks like CNN, CNBC and NBC. Some have questioned whether the campaign is a wise use of money, while others have questioned whether New York, with its high tax burden, is truly business-friendly.

Andrew Rudnick, the chief executive of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a trade group, said in an interview, “New York’s business climate still isn’t competitive enough, in any objective sense of the word, for an ad to overcome.” He added, “I don’t think it’ll make a measurable amount of difference.”

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who like Mr. Cuomo is a Democrat, said in an appearance on NY1 this week, “They’ve spent who knows how much money on TV ads that are fluff and a waste of taxpayer money.”

One of the forces behind the campaign has been Harvey Cohen, who served as the adman for the political campaigns of the governor’s father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, and who now works at the Empire State Development Corporation, the state’s economic development arm. Advertising giant BBDO was hired to produce the commercials.

In a presentation to Empire State Development’s board in 2011, Mr. Cohen described the campaign as confronting “a classic marketing problem.” He said consultants who helped businesses relocate had misconceptions about New York.

“Yes they knew high taxes, yes they knew regulations, yes they knew right to work, but interestingly, they would tell me that many companies don’t even know that upstate New York exists,” he said, adding, “They certainly don’t know the new attitude brought in by the new administration.”

An early commercial featured a voice-over by Robert De Niro and the Jay-Z song “Empire State of Mind.”

“Some said we lost our edge,” Mr. De Niro narrated. “Well today, there’s a new New York State, one that’s working to attract businesses and create jobs.”

Another ad highlighted small businesses, from an ice cream factory to a bicycle shop, while a third ad focused on the state’s emerging technology sector.

In a statement last year, Mr. Cuomo said, “By telling the stories of businesses that are already succeeding in our state, we can attract even more economic opportunity and jobs.”

But others have raised concerns that the governor and lawmakers are draining money from ostensibly independent public authorities for purposes running counter to their missions, in a practice that is controversial but common in Albany. The state regularly takes what it describes as excess funds from public authorities, to finance state programs.

A state official said the early stages of the ad campaign were partly financed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which runs programs intended to reduce energy consumption and improve the environment, and the Dormitory Authority of New York, which supports universities and nonprofit institutions.

Last December, the Cuomo administration added another $50 million. The money came from the State Power Authority, which was created to generate and provide cheap electricity to lower bills for residents and business. In public filings, officials with the authority described the advertising campaign as part of a broader effort by it to promote economic development.

Richard Brodsky, a Democrat and former assemblyman from Westchester County, said, “These authorities should be lowering electric rates, building dormitories and otherwise doing what they were created to do, rather than being raided” to pay for the ads.

Last month, the state expanded the “Open for Business” campaign, using $40 million from the federal aid package intended to help New Yorkers recover from Hurricane Sandy, records show. A new series of ads will, according to a state document, “promote seasonal business in areas” affected by the storm and a program focused on helping small businesses rebuild. New Jersey plans to spend $25 million of its federal funds on a campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and other storm-damaged areas.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/nyregion/new-york-states-ads-to-attract-business-also-draw-complaints.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New York State’s Ads to Attract Business Also Draw Complaints

Much of the money spent so far has been used to buy television advertising, half of which is being broadcast outside New York, celebrating the state’s economic success stories as part of an effort to lure and keep business here.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, which began the campaign, says the ads are a valuable tool for recruiting businesses, but critics say they are a backdoor way of elevating the governor’s stature, even though they do not mention his name and he is prohibited from appearing in them.

“We are doing everything we can to level the playing field to bring businesses and jobs to the state of New York, and will continue to double down on those efforts as long as this governor is in office,” Melissa DeRosa, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, said.

A portion of the campaign is being financed with money taken from public authorities, which have missions that include protecting the environment and financing public building projects, drawing some criticism. Additionally, a forthcoming phase of the campaign will use $40 million from the federal government to promote businesses and tourism in the areas struck by Hurricane Sandy.

When the campaign began last June, a top state official, Howard Glaser, noted that New York was competing with other states to attract and keep businesses.

“Connecticut is spending $27 million promoting its state, Michigan $25 million, New Jersey ran a campaign to recruit businesses featuring its governor,” Mr. Glaser, the state operations director, said. “California spent $50 million on a campaign to promote its state. We have to compete.”

Mr. Cuomo’s office says that much of the money has not yet been spent — it says it spent $24 million on ad buys for the campaign last year, and another $12 million so far this year, and it says the scale of the campaign is similar to that in other states. A state filing last December said that by then, most of the initial $50 million allotment for the campaign had “been either spent or committed.”

Critics of the “Open for Business” campaign, which the Legislature approved, have proliferated as the commercials receive heavy airtime on networks like CNN, CNBC and NBC. Some have questioned whether the campaign is a wise use of money, while others have questioned whether New York, with its high tax burden, is truly business-friendly.

Andrew Rudnick, the chief executive of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a trade group, said in an interview, “New York’s business climate still isn’t competitive enough, in any objective sense of the word, for an ad to overcome.” He added, “I don’t think it’ll make a measurable amount of difference.”

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who like Mr. Cuomo is a Democrat, said in an appearance on NY1 this week, “They’ve spent who knows how much money on TV ads that are fluff and a waste of taxpayer money.”

One of the driving forces behind the campaign has been Harvey Cohen, who served as the adman for the political campaigns of the governor’s father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, and who now works at the Empire State Development Corporation, the state’s economic development arm. Advertising giant BBDO was hired to produce the commercials.

In a presentation to Empire State Development’s board in 2011, Mr. Cohen described the campaign as confronting “a classic marketing problem.” He said consultants who helped businesses relocate had misconceptions about New York.

“Yes they knew high taxes, yes they knew regulations, yes they knew right to work, but interestingly, they would tell me that many companies don’t even know that upstate New York exists,” he said, adding, “They certainly don’t know the new attitude brought in by the new administration.”

An early commercial featured a voice-over by Robert De Niro and the Jay-Z song “Empire State of Mind.”

“Some said we lost our edge,” Mr. De Niro narrated. “Well today, there’s a new New York State, one that’s working to attract businesses and create jobs.”

Another ad highlighted a montage of small businesses, from an ice cream factory to a bicycle shop, while a third focused on the state’s emerging technology sector.

In a statement last year, Mr. Cuomo said,“By telling the stories of businesses that are already succeeding in our state, we can attract even more economic opportunity and jobs.”

But others have raised concerns that the governor and lawmakers are draining money from ostensibly independent public authorities for purposes running counter to their core missions, in a practice that is controversial but common in Albany. The state regularly takes what it describes as excess funds from public authorities, to finance state programs.

A state official said the early stages of the ad campaign were partly financed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which runs programs intended to reduce energy consumption and improve the environment, and the Dormitory Authority of New York, which provides financing to universities and nonprofit institutions.

Last December, the Cuomo administration added another $50 million. The money came from the State Power Authority, which was created to generate and provide cheap electricity to lower bills for residents and business. In public filings, officials with the authority described the advertising campaign as part of a broader effort by it to promote economic development.

Richard Brodsky, a Democrat and former assemblyman from Westchester County, said, “These authorities should be lowering electric rates, building dormitories and otherwise doing what they were created to do, rather than being raided for the purpose of funding television ads.”

Last month, the state expanded the “Open for Business” campaign, using $40 million from the federal aid package intended to help New Yorker recover from Hurricane Sandy, records show. A new series of ads will, according to a state document, “promote seasonal business in areas” affected by the storm and a program focused on helping small businesses rebuild. New Jersey plans to spend $25 million of its federal funds on a similar campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and other storm-damaged areas.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/nyregion/new-york-states-ads-to-attract-business-also-draw-complaints.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook Column: Outdoor Channel Bid by Hindery Is Colored by Gun Debate

Leo Hindery Jr., a top Democratic fund-raiser, owns the Sportsman Channel and won a bid for the Outdoor Channel.Chuck Liddy/The News ObserverLeo Hindery Jr., a top Democratic fund-raiser, owns the Sportsman Channel and won a bid for the Outdoor Channel.

A takeover. Private equity. Politics. And guns.

That is the potent mixture of issues surrounding an obscure $200 million merger that is quietly combusting on Wall Street.

At the center of this fiery tale is Leo Hindery Jr., one of the biggest Democratic fund-raisers in the nation and a longtime media executive and investor who founded the YES Network, the cable channel of the Yankees.

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Among the companies that Mr. Hindery’s private equity firm owns is InterMedia Outdoors, which publishes magazines including Guns Ammo, RifleShooter and Handguns. It also owns the Sportsman Channel, which counts the National Rifle Association as one of its big advertisers. It broadcasts shows like “Cam and Company” from NRA News, and “Wanted: Ted or Alive,” featuring Ted Nugent.

Late last year, Mr. Hindery won a bid to acquire the rival Outdoor Channel, a publicly traded company, for $200 million. Outdoor Channel could be described as the more politically correct and less sensationalistic competitor to Sportsman Channel, focusing on hunting and fishing.

The deal, which is set for a shareholder vote on March 13, has inspired a heated debate about whether Mr. Hindery’s backing of Democrats who support stricter gun-control laws would alter programming and scare away advertisers. Some shareholders who see too much of a conflict between taking revenue from the National Rifle Association and supporting the likes of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who recently signed a strong gun-control bill for the state, are seeking to block the deal.

The story took an even stranger turn last week with a conspiracy theory, published in The Daily Caller, the conservative news Web site, asserting that Mr. Hindery’s ultimate aim is “consolidating all of America’s leading gun-culture media outlets and stripping them down to virtual destruction.”

For Mr. Hindery’s part, he is dismayed by the speculation and said the accusations were categorically false. “This has nothing to do with gun rights or the fact I’m a Democrat,” he said in an interview.

He’s probably right. In truth, the debate over the Outdoor Channel has more to do with the price Mr. Hindery is paying — shareholders say it is not enough — than his politics.

Andrew Franklin, president of UTR, an investment firm with a large stake in Outdoor Channel, is among those who want a better payout. Mr. Franklin was part of a consortium that bid on the company but says his group was shut out of the auction in favor of a lower bid by Mr. Hindery.

While some other investors privately express opposition to the price, Mr. Franklin has emerged as the point man in the politically charged fight against Mr. Hindery. Mr. Franklin contends that because Mr. Hindery’s offer allows shareholders to receive cash or swap stock for a stake in the newly combined company, investors who choose to hold onto their investment in the combined company face risks because of Mr. Hindery’s supposed conflict of interest.

“Sponsors and advertisers will have a difficult time reconciling the fact that network ownership supports politicians and policies that are severely harming their business,” Mr. Franklin wrote in a commentary in The Daily Caller, which, somewhat oddly, has had a fascination with this deal. “Hindery will continue to be a lightning rod for aggrieved gun-control activists who will target the media network as a proxy. Should Hindery succumb to political pressure from his close friends in the Obama White House and throughout the Democratic Party, we could see a shift in programming, which would further alienate loyal viewers.”

Mr. Hindery said it was a disingenuous argument. For starters, his political views have not altered the tone and direction of his gun culture media holdings in the several years he has owned the companies. He insisted that his publications were simply responsible voices about hunting and fishing, what he described as the largest sport in the country.

“I believe in the Second Amendment,” he said, adding that he grew up hunting and fishing. Yet he insisted, “I’m a Democrat and I’m proud of it.” He said the contention that he has a grand plan to destroy the hunting media is plainly false. The claim, according to The Daily Caller, came from an InterMedia employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“This is coming from a disgruntled employee,” Mr. Hindery said. “We know who it is.”

He also said that his company could responsibly accept the financial support of the N.R.A. “The N.R.A. is an appropriate advertiser. They represent four million people who hunt and fish.”

So does Mr. Hindery advocate reform of gun laws?

“I believe in appropriate restrictions — that’s just my personal view,” he said without providing additional detail, but still differing with the N.R.A. He added, in reference to the coverage of hunting that his company provides, that “nobody with any integrity has said it should be limited.”

He said he was very sensitive to the issues of gun violence, which have been thrust into the national debate since the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“What happened in Sandy Hook is an inescapable tragedy,” he said.

Still, Mr. Franklin, the investor, said in an interview that one other potential risk to the deal raised particular questions about the state of investing after the Sandy Hook killings.

The New Jersey General Assembly recently passed a bill aiming to prevent its state pension fund from investing in firearm manufacturers. The state is the biggest institutional investor in Outdoor Channel. Mr. Franklin questions whether the fund would feel pressure to withdraw from its investment in a combined InterMedia-Outdoors.

Mr. Hindery said the argument made no sense. “We don’t manufacture weapons. We don’t manufacture ammunition,” he said.

A spokesman for the New Jersey pension fund declined to comment.

Mr. Franklin’s grievances may be for naught. A rival bidder with a higher offer worth $8.75 a share, compared with Mr. Hindery’s $8 a share, emerged late last week: E. Stanley Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams, the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche.

Mr. Kroenke has made an all-cash offer and has been described as a staunch Republican.

Mr. Hindery said he wouldn’t talk about the deal’s price or whether he would raise it. If there new battle over the deal, it will most likely be more over cash than conspiracies.

A version of this article appeared in print on 03/05/2013, on page B5 of the NewYork edition with the headline: The Debate Over Guns Now Colors A Buyout Bid.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/outdoor-channel-bid-by-hindery-is-colored-by-gun-debate/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Zuckerman Spaeder Builds Out Its New York Practice

Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesSteven M. Cohen, left, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s former top aide, joined Zuckerman Spaeder last month.

Over the last 35 years, the Washington law firm Zuckerman Spaeder has built a well-regarded litigation boutique, largely inside the Beltway. Now, with the hiring of three prominent lawyers in two weeks, the firm has moved to establish a formidable criminal defense practice in New York.

Steven M. Cohen, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, joined Zuckerman Spaeder last month. On Monday, the firm said that Paul Shechtman, a top criminal defense lawyer, had come on board. And the firm is expected to announce on Wednesday that it has lured Andrew E. Tomback away from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley McCloy.

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“Zuckerman has made a smart investment in an extremely talented trio of quintessential New York lawyers,” said Andrew Levander, a white-collar defense lawyer at Dechert L.L.P.

Zuckerman Spaeder, which has 92 lawyers, is not an unknown quantity in New York. The firm recently made headlines here when William W. Taylor III, a partner based in Washington, helped successfully defend Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, against charges that he had sexually assaulted a hotel maid.

Mr. Tomback, 51, spent 14 years at Milbank after serving in the Clinton administration. He represented a number of American International Group employees in the government’s investigation of the insurance giant, and served as Robert De Niro’s lawyer during the actor’s child custody and divorce dispute.

John Marshall Mantel for The New York TimesOn Monday, Zuckerman Spaeder said Paul Shechtman, a top criminal defense lawyer, had joined the firm.

Mr. Shechtman, 62, was a name partner at Stillman, Friedman Shechtman, a criminal defense boutique in New York, where he had worked since 1997. His representations include the rapper Lil’ Kim, who was convicted of lying to a grand jury about a shooting incident. A former law clerk to Warren Burger, a chief justice of the United States, Mr. Shechtman has also served in several top government posts in New York, including director of criminal justice under Gov. George Pataki.

In addition to building out a traditional criminal defense practice, Mr. Shechtman said Zuckerman Spaeder’s New York branch was expected to handle internal corporate investigations, regulatory work and complex commercial litigation.

Mr. Cohen, 48, is to oversee the growth of the office, which already has three lawyers. He is taking up his new post after nearly five years with Mr. Cuomo, first as chief of staff in the attorney general’s office and then as secretary to the governor.

Mr. Cohen said that after he had explored the idea of opening his own firm, Roger E. Zuckerman, the Zuckerman Spaeder founder, persuaded him to join the firm in New York, where he would effectively have a start-up firm without many of its hassles.

The new partners have deep professional ties. All are former federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Mr. Shechtman, who has been an adjunct professor for 20 years at Columbia Law School, taught Mr. Cohen evidence. And Mr. Tomback and Mr. Cohen both served as law clerks to Judge Stanley Sporkin in Washington.

In an interview in their offices on Monday, the three new partners exuded the bonhomie of old friends, trading war stories and banter.

When a reporter asked why he would leave a firm with his name on the door, Mr. Shechtman joked that “they’ve agreed to put my name on the door here in about a year.”

“Yeah, we’re going to put your name on the door,” said Mr. Cohen, motioning toward Mr. Shechtman’s new office down the hall. “On your door.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=65f1df576b963f7c71a9d2841e729460