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State Controller Thomas Di Napoli issued a scathing report last week on the state's 116 industrial development agencies, all but accusing them of cooking the books so that it appears they've created more jobs than they actually have in return for the millions in tax breaks they dole out generously.

He recommended that IDAs be subjected to tighter reporting requirements, and that those found guilty of inflating their job creation figures should be sanctioned.

We hope he begins with the Niagara County IDA, which has been a swarming snakepit of millionaire Republican contributors and soon-to-be-indicted labor thugs for as long as anyone can remember.

They've subsidized a yet-to-be-built golf course in Youngstown, a never-to-be-built hotel on Buffalo Avenue, a power plant out in Somerset that couldn't move out of the county if it wanted to, a beyond-belief debacle at the Niagara Falls International Airport that should have resulted in an FBI investigation, and countless other frivolous follies that all amounted to nothing more than providing welfare for the rich.

They've hopped into the sack with the predatory Buffalo Niagara Partnership and replaced former Laborers Local 91 official Paul Bellreng -- who pleaded guilty to federal racketeering and conspiracy charges -- with current Local 91 official Rob Connolly, who has never pleaded to anything.

Their director is Sam Ferraro, the former Niagara Falls economic development director best known for trying to stop developer Bill Glasgow from building the Twist o' the Mist ice cream stand downtown. In addition to Connolly, the board includes ubiquitous attorney Angelo Massaro and National Grid mouthpiece and Buffalo Niagara Partnership stooge Steve Brady. It is led by the politically connected Henry Sloma, whose Republican ties are well known.

Under the provisions of the New York Industrial Development Agency Act, the county IDA is "empowered to actively attract and develop economically sound commerce and industry, thereby fostering job opportunities, general prosperity, and economic welfare for all residents of Niagara County," the agency's Web site informs us.

If that is indeed the case, Sloma and his minions have failed miserably. A look at the welfare rolls, the staggering unemployment statistics or the tail lights of the 1,000 or so people who flee the county each year are proof of that.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com March 4 2008