Tom Golisano

RBTL Chair Discusses New Rochester Performing Arts Center

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Paychex founder and former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano has pledged $25 million toward the construction of a new downtown performing arts center.

Rochester Broadway Theater League chairman Arnie Rothschild said the pledge was actually part of RBTL’s proposal in September, but Golisano’s identity had been concealed up to this point. The story was first reported by WHEC-TV.

Rothschild sat down with Spectrum News anchor Casey Bortnick yesterday to talk more about where things go from here.

“There is no timeline,” he said. “I think we all would like to get this done. I think that this is something we’ve talked about for approaching 25 years.”

Rothschild said he’s convinced the project will finally get done, in part because of Golisano’s funding. Another difference from the past, he said, is that his organization is taking on the risk of an operating subsidy and raising money on its own.

“This is the first time, interestingly, that RBTL decided that rather than hooking itself to somebody else’s project, that we would be developer,” he said.

One thing Rothschild said is not clear yet is where the new center will be. The RBTL prefers parcel 5 at the former Midtown Shopping Plaza in downtown Rochester, there’s not guarantee the city will go for it.

“We know that there’s another project they like as well; we certainly can’t tell the city what the right thing to do with that space is,” Rothschild said.

He said the organization is looking at two alternative sites in the suburbs of Henrietta and Brighton, and the Golisano cash commitment isn’t tied exclusively to Midtown.

“Tom’s view is he wants it built on the right site,” Rothschild explained. “I liken him to this area’s Geroge Eastman. He wants to make a difference for his community. He is not tied to any one site, and certainly any decision will involve his visiting the selected site as well.”

Rothschild said one concern is that the RBTL may only be able to feasibly continue to use the Auditorium Theater downtown if the Midtown site is chosen. Once a location is determined, Rothschild said, RBTL will plan to raise $15 million more in private donations and also ask the state Senate, Assembly and the governor to pony up $15 million each.

Former Gubernatorial Candidate Golisano Supports Donald Trump

A billionaire former gubernatorial candidate could be looking to give Donald Trump a boost in New York this fall. That wouldn’t be news if we were talking about Carl Paladino, one of Trump’s biggest supporter, but it was actually Paychex founder and CEO Tom Golisano who brought up the GOP presidential candidate Wednesday evening.

A reporter in Rochester asked Golisano, who ran for governor on the Independence line in 1994, 1998 and 2002, if he would ever consider getting back into politics.

“I’m just an observer from this point on although, I don’t know, maybe Mr. Trump needs some help in New York. We’ll see,” he said.

Of course, Golisano was chuckling as he made the comment. His influence these days is also a bit more limited, now that his permanent residence is in Florida.

The former Buffalo Sabres owner said he hasn’t formally endorsed any presidential candidate but plans on voting for Trump. As for the Republican National Convention, he said so far he’s been impressed.

“I’ve been watching the GOP convention. I’ve found it very interesting, very entertaining and I think there’s an enlivened spirit I’ve seen the last few days,” Golisano said.

Golisano For President Closer To Reality?

Former Independence Party member and Staten Island gadfly Frank Morano claims he has made some headway in his long-shot campaign to draft retired Paychex CEO and ex-New York resident Tom Golisano to run for president as a (small i) independent.

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Morano, who first started pitching on Golisano’s behalf in February, sent out the email that appears here last week.

Oddly, it forwarded to me by GOP consultant Roger Stone, who has a Golisano connection – he worked on the billionaire’s third and final gubernatorial bid in 2002 – but is backing his own independent White House contender, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Morano followed that up with another email this past weekend that touted the efforts of Americans Elect – the organization that is petitioning to secure ballot access in as many states as possible for a yet-to-be-named independent presidential candidate who will be chosen in an on-line caucus process.

“It seems as if people are either suffering from Obamney fatigue or they or just bored to tears with the existing candidates,” Morano wrote. “Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.”

“There will be another choice. Americans Elect is currently in the midst of an online Presidential primary, in which ANY voter regardless of party can vote. If you haven’t done so already, you can become a delegate and cast your vote for anyone you like at Americanselect.org.”

“My choice for President is Tom Golisano. I think his business experience, sensible centrist positions, philanthropic history and compelling personal biography make him the ideal candidate to go toe to toe with The President and the eventual GOP nominee in November, but to do so I need your help and we’re running out of time.”

“We have only 29 days left to qualify Golisano for the next round, that’s why I’m asking you to add your support for Tom Golisano today. You can do so by going to draftgolisano.com, filling out your information to become a delegate and adding your support. I’m asking you to do this as a personal favor to me, even if you don’t ultimately vote for Golisano in the general election. Why not give the voters a real third choice?”

Morano added that he had received some “very exciting news about Tom Golisano and the Americans Elect process” that would become public in the coming days. When I emailed to ask what that might be, he responded:

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Draft Golisano Begins

A push is underway to draft Rochester area billionaire Tom Golisano into a 3rd party run for President.

Staten Island resident Frank Morano, who is a long time supporter of Golisano, sent out a letter today urging people to go onto the Americans Elect website and sign the petition supporting the former candidate for NY Governor.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter.

What makes Tom Golisano so special? In a word…..everything. At a time when our country is drowning in debt and government is clearly broken, we need a man who has a successful track record as a businessman and has a history of making and keeping a budget. Tom is a self made Billionaire and has demonstrated the kind of ambition, creativity and competence that our country needs.

Americans Elect is pushing to be on the ballot in all 50 states. Last month, their Chief Operating Officer was on Capital Tonight and explained the process. They are going state by state trying to certify spots on the ballot – and investing millions of dollars. This summer they will do an online convention where they will pick a candidate for president, and a vice presidential candidate from a differing party.

Currently, some of the most tracked candidates on the Americans Elect website are New Yorkers, including NYC Michael Bloomberg, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Hillary Clinton.

Complete letter is after the jump.
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Golisano: ‘Pleasantly Surprised’ By Cuomo’s Success

Billionaire businessman and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano, in Albany today to push his national popular vote plan, said he was both “pleased” and “surprised” by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first few months in office.

Golisano, who had previously announced that he was leaving Rochester for Florida because of New York’s tax and business climate, commended both the governor and the Legislature for argeeing to an on-time budget reduces spending.

“I am totally pleased, not only with Gov. Cuomo, but the Legislature because they pulled together something that was very important,” he said.

He said the year-to-year reduction in spending was “remarkable.”

“I was very pleasantly surprised,” he added. “I didn’t think it would happen that easily.”

Tom Golisano, Pitchman

On the same day his sale of the Buffalo Sabres to Pennsylvania oil and gas magnate Terry Pegula becomes official, Paychex founder erstwhile gubernatorial hopeful Tom Golisano is announcing his intention to try to do away with the Electoral College as part of the National Popular Vote campaign.

Golisano, who is now primarily living in Florida and apparently is no longer interested in New York politics, is pumping an undisclosed amount of cash into this effort.

(I’ll be asking him that for tonight’s show, but knowing Golisano, I’m probably not going to get much of an answer. He reportedly sold the Sabres for between $175 million and $190 million).

He’s being assisted by two longtime advisors – former Erie County Democratic Chairman/Pedro Espada Jr. aide Steve Pigeon and Laureen Oliver. Golisano is announcing his new quest at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. today, and is appearing the PSA below.

H/T to Joe Spector.

When Andrew Met Tom

…That would be Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo and erstwhile gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano, who has been quietly advising his fellow WNYer, Carl Paladino, in his quest to defeat the AG in the fight for the state’s top post this fall.

A source close to Cuomo confirmed the AG met privately with Golisano during the Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan late last month. (Golisano is a big underwriter of the event, and Cuomo is a former Clinton cabinet member).

The retired Paychex billionaire switched his official residence to Florida as a sign of protest to New York’s ever-growing property tax burden. However, he maintains a house in Monroe County – which has the nation’s highest property taxes compared to home value – and recently gave a seminar on how to successfully challenge your tax assessment.

Cuomo did not directly seek Golisano’s endorsement, according to my source, but the topic of the governor’s race did, of course, come up.

“It was a generic conversation, and I don’t know that he’s supporting (Cuomo) or anyone else,” the source said.

“It was more of a courtesy meeting. He’s been sort of disengaged since he moved to Florida, and the whole (Majority Leader Pedro) Espada thing had to leave a bad taste in his mouth.”

Golisano, as you’ll recall, played a big role in the 2009 Senate coup and subsequent 31-day stalemate, the most lasting result of which was a six-figure job for his longtime advisor, former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon, as Espada’s counsel.

Pigeon’s days in that post are numbered since Espada was defeated in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary by newcomer Gustavo Rivera.

Golisano and Paladino share a consultant, Roger Stone, who is an unpaid advisor to Paladino and worked on Golisano’s third and final failed bid for governor on the Independence line in 2002. While Golisano has been advising Paladino, he has so far not ponied up any cash to assist him.

Flying The Coop

So, this picture is a little hard to make out, but if you are a student of the Albany scene and you look veeeeery closely, you will be able to determine the identity of this individual.

pigeon campaigs for pedro

Give up?

It’s none other than Steve Pigeon, the controversial former Erie County Democratic chairman, advisor to coup-inducer/Rochester-Florida billionaire B. Thomas Golisano and counsel to the illustrious Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. (Both Pigeon and Espada are under investigation).

Pigeon was spotted this morning far from his Buffalo stomping grounds. He was handing out Espada lit at a Bronx polling site called “The Arbor.”

As you’ll recall, Pigeon, who got his $150,000-a-year state job thanks to the coup and 31-day Senate stalemate, became an issue in the Democratic AG primary when Sean Coffey tried to tar Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice for meeting with him and Golisano and accepting his support. (Pigeon was at the Democratic convention in Rye and cast a vote for Rice).

Golisano Doesn’t Want To Talk About Cuomo On Indy Line

Paychex billionaire Tom Golisano doesn’t appear to like the idea of Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo running on the ballot line of the state Independence Party established and nurtured by his three unsuccessful self-funded campaigns for governor.

It’s hard to tell, however, because he refused to answer when asked by YNN’s Leah George earlier today if he wouldn’t mind weighing in on Cuomo’s candidacy on Row C.

“Yeah, I do mind,” Golisano responded. “Yeah, I do mind. Yeah, I do mind, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about the Buffalo Sabres, either.”

Golisano’s comments came at a press conference where he discussed the resignation of his successor as Paychex CEO and president, Jonathan Judge. There has been some speculation that Golisano would come out of retirement – if only temporarily – to re-take the helm of the company he founded.

Golisano didn’t appear inclined to return full-time to Western NY, however, telling reporters that Florida, which he made his permanent residence last year to protest the high taxes here in the Empire State, is “good” and “different in a lot of ways.”

He looked tan, rested and happy – all of which would be difficult to maintain in the long term if he were back in the thick of New York politics.

Golisano’s Paychex Successor Resigns

Paychex, the Rochester-based payroll company through which state Independence Party founder Tom Golisano made his fortune, just announced that Golisano’s successor, Jonathan Judge, has resigned his post as president and CEO to pursue “other interests.”

Judge, who has been with Paychex since October 2004, will depart at the end of the month, but will complete his term as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.

An executive committee has been formed to lead the company. Members include: Delbert Humenik, senior vice president of sales and marketing; John M. Morphy, senior vice president, chief financial officer, and secretary; and Martin Mucci, senior vice president of operations.

Golisano, who is in retirement and makes his primary residence in Florida (to escape NYS taxes, he says) and the Paychex board will provide oversight for the committee while the search for a new CEO is conducted.

“Jon joined Paychex as my successor, bringing with him experience and qualifications gained during his 25-year career with IBM,” said Golisano in a press release.

“During his tenure with Paychex, Jon guided our company’s revenue growth from $1.4 billion in fiscal 2005 to $2.0 billion in 2010. He also strengthened our management practices, oversaw key technology advances for our payroll and HR offerings, and led our successful entry into the health and benefits business.”

“We thank Jon for his leadership over the last six years and wish him well as he pursues new interests.”

Golisano, who spent some $93 million on three unsuccessful campaigns for governor (1994, 1998 and 2002), switched his enrollment in October 2005, sparking speculation that he would try to run a fourth time to challenge Democrat Eliot Spitzer, with whom the Paychex billionaire didn’t get along.

Ultimately, Golisano took a pass on the race, preferring instead to form a PAC, Responsible New York, that has tried to influence legislative contests, particularly in Western New York, with the influence of his longtime political advisor, the controversial former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon.

Golisano played a role in the Senate coup last year, saying his efforts were due in part to the fact that then-Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has disrespected him by BlackBerrying during a meeting. Golisano continues to maintain his interests in New York, particularly through his ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, but more or less leave the political decisions up to Pigeon, as far as I can tell.

This year, the state Independence Party has tapped Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo to be its standard-bearer in the governor’s race – a contest in which the party must win at least 50,000 votes in order to maintain its ballot line. Cuomo accepted the party’s nod despite the fact that it remains in the crosshairs of the Manhattan DA’s office in the John Haggerty/Mayor Bloomberg contribution mess.