October 26, 2010
Arcuri touts record on small business support
Democratic incumbent speaks at Cortland Chamber of Commerce candidates forum
CORTLANDVILLE — Rep. Michael Arcuri says he is indeed a friend of business, especially small local employers.
Remembering his nine years of private law practice in Utica, the incumbent Democrat said Monday he understands how many pressures small businesses face.
Arcuri spoke at the Ramada Inn to 15 local business and government leaders, as part of a Cortland County Chamber of Commerce series of candidate forums.
The audience included representatives from Marietta Corp., First National Bank of Dryden, Higgins Supply, AT&T and Albany International.
Arcuri is seeking his third term against a tough challenge by Republican candidate Richard Hanna, who has been touting his experience as a business owner in Cooperstown for many years.
Arcuri said he took out a $60,000 loan to start his law practice, after deciding he did not want to practice in New York City, where he graduated from law school.
“I will never forget what it was like to have my own business,” he said. “It had a profound effect on me.”
Arcuri said that as a member of the House Transportation Committee and its economic development subcommittee, he is pushing to replace roads and bridges, to study consolidation of local governments and their services.
Arcuri said he obtained $1 million in federal money for Utica College to create a cybersecurity school, and helped Ilion-based Remington Arms obtain a contract for a new silencer, which created 250 jobs.
He also promised to find a way for milk shipping costs to be transferred from farmers to processors and distributors.
Ruth Grunberg, a local political activist, thanked him for fighting to save the P&C supermarket in Cortland’s Riverside Plaza when the Federal Trade Commission ruled in August that the store’s new owner, Tops supermarket chain, needed to sell the store within three months, because the existing Tops on Route 281 meant there were two Tops stores in too small an area.
Arcuri said at times he is almost a “federal councilman,” aiding residents with local problems.
Grunberg said afterward that Arcuri gave the FTC more information and told the agency that P&C had operated two stores in Cortland for years without being faulted by the FTC. P&C had stores at Riverside Plaza and on Homer Avenue. Tops purchased the Riverside Plaza store along with over 70 other Penn Traffic properties last spring.
Grunberg said she is optimistic that the Riverside Plaza Tops will remain open. The deadline for selling it is Nov. 4.
A Tops spokeswoman said the company is awaiting the results of public comment gathered by the FTC. Until the FTC has a decision based on that, the seven stores that are supposed to be sold — including Cortland’s — will remain open.
Michael Shattuck, an officer for First National Bank of Dryden, asked Arcuri why he is using negative political ads for this campaign and attacking Hanna’s reputation as a businessman.
The ads say Hanna’s construction business has a poor safety record and that Hanna got rich from taxpayer dollars, including millions in projects given to him by his uncle, Ed Hanna, who was Utica’s mayor. Hanna has sponsored ads critical of Arcuri’s voting record.
Arcuri said he did not use negative campaigns in 2008 while Hanna did, and he saw his lead drop from 22 points to the final 4-point margin on Election Day. He said this time, he waited for Hanna to attack first, then fired back.
“Nobody likes negative ads but they are effective,” Arcuri said.
Shattuck said Arcuri’s solution for problems seems to be “to throw more money at them,” and asked why he did not do more to help business owners keep money their businesses generate.
Arcuri mentioned the Remington jobs in Ilion and said he has cut his own office’s budget by 8 percent. He said he has introduced a bill in the House to cut all office budgets and salaries by 5 percent, and did not fill two openings in his staff right away.
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