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After budget cut, CEDA, Cayuga County Legislature discuss how to measure success

AUBURN — Cayuga Economic Development Agency staff met with county legislators Wednesday to discuss the agency's 2019 work plan and what metrics should be used to measure success.

CEDA Executive Director Tracy Verrier's presentation to the Legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee followed a $50,000 cut to the agency included in the county's 2019 budget approved last week.

At the time of the budget vote, several legislators said dissatisfaction with the amount of information they receive from CEDA regarding its work to retain, expand or attract businesses in Cayuga County was at least part of their reasoning to support the cut.

Verrier provided a 2018 work plan progress report to the committee that outlined the agency's activity as of Nov. 21. The report includes measures including growth opportunities identified, private investment, jobs created, startup survival rates and more.

Legislator Andrew Dennison, R-Cato, told Verrier he felt the reports should be focused more on specifics of what was successfully brought into the county — a point he also made in a recent letter to editor in The Citizen.

Referring to the eight new businesses that opened in the county in 2018, according to the report, Dennison said that should be accompanied by a breakdown of what each business is and how many jobs came with each.

"I want to see what was the growth, what did we bring in?" Dennison said.

Verrier said the agency has been working to develop a new customer relationship management system which would help with reporting real outcomes. Additionally, Verrier said CEDA would provide legislators with the same reports it provides to its board of directors.

While he agreed with Dennison's desire for more specifics, Legislator Keith Batman, D-Springport, said it was unfair for the Legislature to change what it wants to see from CEDA only once the numbers have already come in.

"If we have expectations not being met, we need to be very clear what the expectations are," Batman said, noting that the deliverables CEDA is required to report are part of the agency's contract with the county.

To remedy that, Committee Chair Paul Pinckney, R-Aurelius, said the committee should work to clearly define what it wants to see at its January meeting so the issue doesn't wait until next year's budget cycle.

Separate from what numbers CEDA reports, Legislator Timothy Lattimore, R-Auburn, said the county had missed out on big economic development projects in the state — like the del Lago casino — partly because CEDA's board does not have any elected officials for developers to meet with.

"When the opportunity arises and it goes somewhere else, shame on us," Lattimore said.

County Administrator J. Justin Woods, who sits on CEDA's board, said there were several projects the agency has recently had coming together that would likely have that kind of "transformational" impact.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Julie Richards casts her vote for a capital project at Moravia High School on Wednesday.

Nation bids goodbye to George H.W. Bush

WASHINGTON — The nation bid goodbye to George H.W. Bush with high praise, cannon salutes and gentle humor Wednesday, celebrating the life of the Texan who embraced a lifetime of service in Washington and was the last president to fight for the U.S. in wartime. Three former presidents looked on at Washington National Cathedral as a fourth — George W. Bush — eulogized his dad as "the brightest of a thousand points of light."

After three days of remembrance in the capital city, the Air Force plane with Bush's casket left for a final service in Houston and burial today at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. His final resting place is alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daughter who died of leukemia at age 3.

His plane, which often serves as Air Force One, arrived at Ellington Field outside Houston in late afternoon. As a motorcade subsequently carried Bush's remains to the family church, St. Martin's Episcopal, along a closed interstate, hundreds of people in stopped cars on the other side of the road, took pictures and shot cell phone video. One driver of a tanker truck climbed atop the hulking vehicle for a better view, and at least 15 firefighters scaled a pair of stopped firetrucks to salute.

Upon its arrival at the church, Bush's casket was met by a military band and Houston Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The national funeral service at the cathedral was a tribute to a president, a patriarch and a faded political era that prized military service and public responsibility. It was laced with indirect comparisons to President Donald Trump but was not consumed by them, as speakers focused on Bush's public life and character.

"He was a man of such great humility," said Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming. Those who travel "the high road of humility in Washington, D.C.," he added pointedly, "are not bothered by heavy traffic."

Trump sat with his wife, a trio of ex-presidents and their wives, several of the group sharp critics of his presidency and one of them, Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic foe. Apart from courteous nods and some handshakes, there was little interaction between Trump and the others.

George W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost in 1953 and his mother, who died in April. He said he took comfort in knowing "Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again."

The family occupied the White House for a dozen years — the 41st president defeated after one term, the 43rd serving two. Jeb Bush stepped up to try to extend that run but fell short when Trump won the 2016 Republican primaries.

The elder Bush was "the last great-soldier statesman," historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy, "our shield" in dangerous times.

But he took a lighter tone, too, noting that Bush, campaigning in a crowd in a department store, once shook hands with a mannequin. Rather than flushing in embarrassment, he simply quipped, "Never know. Gotta ask."

The congregation at the cathedral, filled with foreign leaders and diplomats, Americans of high office and others touched by Bush's life, rose for the arrival of the casket, accompanied by clergy of faiths from around the world. In their row together, Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton stood with their spouses and all placed their hands over their hearts.

Simpson regaled the congregation with stories from his years as Bush's friend in Washington. More seriously, he recalled that when he went through a rough patch in the political game, Bush conspicuously stood by him against the advice of aides. "You would have wanted him on your side," he said.

Meacham praised Bush's call to volunteerism, placing his "1,000 points of light" alongside Abraham Lincoln's call to honor "the better angels of our nature" in the American rhetorical canon. Meacham called those lines "companion verses in America's national hymn."

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney praised Bush as a strong world leader who helped oversee the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and helped bring about the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, signed into law by his successor, Clinton.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the day marked "a celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life."

Bush's death makes Carter, also 94 but more than 100 days younger, the oldest living ex-president.

Following the cathedral service, the hearse and its long motorcade drove to the National Mall to pass by the World War II Memorial, a nod to the late president's service as a World War II Navy pilot, then transferred his remains at Joint Base Andrews for the flight home to Texas with members of his family.

Bush is set to lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church before boarding a special funeral train to be carried to his burial today.

Trump ordered the federal government closed Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.

Katko among members of Congress who attended Bush funeral

Many current and former members of Congress attended the funeral for President George H.W. Bush Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington. Among those in the crowd: U.S. Rep. John Katko.

Katko, R-Camillus, said in an interview that it was an "amazing" experience, especially with President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter present for the service.

Former President George W. Bush, the son of the 41st president, eulogized his late father.

"It was really moving and the tributes to him were well founded," Katko said.

George H.W. Bush died Friday at the age of 94. The World War II veteran had a long career of public service. He was a two-term congressman from Texas, a diplomat, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and vice president for eight years under President Ronald Reagan.

In 1988, Bush won the presidency and served one term before he was defeated by Clinton.

There have been numerous memories shared of Bush's public service. One of Katko's predecessors, former U.S. Rep. Jim Walsh, recently told The Citizen about some of his experiences with Bush. Bush was elected president in the same year Walsh won his first congressional campaign.

Katko said he met the late president on one occasion. He didn't remember the setting, but the brief encounter — he shook hands with Bush — occurred when he was a federal prosecutor.

With Bush's death, his one term as president has received a greater focus. Some pundits have noted that historians tend to overlook one-term presidents in favor of those who served two or more terms. There are exceptions for Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, two presidents who were assassinated while in office.

But for one-term presidents who lost their re-election bids, history usually isn't kind to them. But Katko thinks that will change for Bush 41.

"People are going to understand just how good he was as a president, as a leader and as a public servant," he said. "They talked a lot about when the Berlin Wall fell (in 1989) and the dignity and grace with which he handled that helped keep the hardliners in (the Soviet Union) from getting inflamed because he wasn't in your face about it. He was very, very subdued and lowkey about it because he knew how important it was to do that."

Katko added, "That shows you leadership isn't what you do so much as sometimes things you don't do. He was great."

For those present for the funeral and Americans watching at home, Katko hopes there was a takeaway from the service and Bush's contributions to the country.

Bush, he said, was a good guy and a good leader who "led with dignity and grace."

"He dispensed with bombast and bravado and tried to do what was right for the country," Katko continued. "We could all learn from that."