The anticipated charges against Robert Morgan should be a wake up call to the City of Rochester and Monroe County. While other communities were reevaluating their relationship with his firm, our local officials buried their heads in the sand and continued to reward the company.
In the time since the FBI probe was made public in late 2017, COMIDA has awarded tax breaks to at least one Morgan project. The city attempted to give Morgan a loan but was blocked by city council. REDCO approved a loan to a Morgan-backed hotel and allowed the Alliance Building to change ownership, putting it 100 percent in the Morgan family.
A low point came when the Monroe County Democratic Committee allowed Morgan management to co-sponsor the 2019 Mayoral Ball. Not only did MCDC take money from a firm where executives had already been criminally charged, it bragged about doing so. Democrats cannot complain about Republican corruption when they engage in open cronyism, pay-to-play politics and unethical fundraising.
It’s time for an accounting of the public’s exposure on Morgan projects under worst-case scenarios. The city is owed millions of dollars in loans. Morgan properties have been awarded lucrative property tax breaks, which should be examined if any of the projects were involved in alleged fraud. Assessments on properties may not be accurate. Morgan’s name was suddenly removed from several projects, but we should not simply take developers’ word that he is no longer part of ownership.
Our community needs the kind of investment Morgan has provided over the years. But we shouldn’t be so desperate that we look the other way in the face of wrongdoing. It is time to prepare for any damage he may have done to the community while trying to “save” it.