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Delayed canal project is chink in Cuomo’s armor

Who can argue that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a winning political strategy and a headline-friendly code name with his Buffalo Billion investment?

With some $300 million already awarded, $700 million in the budget pipeline, and a raft of local cheerleaders from the business and government arena fighting to sing his praises, the governor is riding high as he bids for a second term in November.

Carl Paladino may have spanked Cuomo locally in 2010, but the governor is hoping that his Buffalo Billion handout will help him reverse that tide this year against Rob Astorino or whoever turns out to be the Republican candidate.

If there’s one big chink in Cuomo’s armor on the local landscape, it’s the $20 million-plus replica canals project in the Canalside footprint that was scheduled to open last year but is now targeted for November after being delayed by costly legal battles between the state and the original contractor after the firm was fired last July.

It was, after all, Cuomo’s local development team under Empire State’s Sam Hoyt that pulled the plug on DiPizio Construction Co. in midstream, and the very costly legal battle is still ongoing, with DiPizio holding a legal edge in rulings so far. When all is said and done, the project might wind up costing state taxpayers close to $50 million.

Delaying any settlement before November avoids a possible embarrassing admission by the state that it acted improperly in firing the contractor and keeps the governor’s political bandwagon on track, no matter the cost.

Tony Farina

DiPizio Consultant

Buffalo