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Readers weigh in on Duffy's performance

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Rochester Business Journal
May 16, 2014

Robert Duffy, who recently said he would not seek re-election to a second four-year term as lieutenant governor, gets mostly good grades from readers for his job performance in Albany.

The plurality of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll—32 percent—graded Duffy’s overall performance since becoming lieutenant governor in January 2011 as good. Slightly more than one in five said he has done an excellent job.

This compares to 31 percent who graded Duffy’s performance as fair and 15 percent who answered poor.

Saying it has “never been my intention to seek a statewide political career,” Duffy notified Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week that he would not run for re-election.

The former Rochester police chief and mayor cited constant back and leg pain from travel related to the job and his desire to spend more time with his family in the Finger Lakes region. He plans to step down Dec. 31, at the end of his term.

Elected with Cuomo in November 2010, Duffy is the first lieutenant governor from Rochester since 1858. Among numerous administration accomplishments he cited in his letter to Cuomo were formation of regional economic development councils, fiscal restraint and property tax reduction.

Duffy also noted that “in many ways the most important aspect of my candidacy and service was bringing much-needed attention to Upstate New York.” In particular, he wrote, “contrary to some perceptions, we have brought more economic support to the Rochester region than we have seen in decades.” He pointed to investments in Eastman Business Park, the rebuilding of I-390/Kendrick Road and ongoing redevelopment of the Midtown Plaza site, among other projects.

Most poll respondents disagree. More than half do not think Cuomo and Duffy have brought more economic support to the Rochester region than any administration in recent decades.

Roughly 560 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted May 12 and 13.

How would you grade Robert Duffy’s overall performance since becoming lieutenant governor in January 2011?
Excellent: 22%
Good: 32%
Fair: 31%
Poor: 15%

Do you agree or disagree that Andrew Cuomo and Robert Duffy have brought more economic support to the Rochester region than any administration in recent decades?
Agree: 46%
Disagree: 54%

Bob Duffy is a great person to represent our region in whatever capacity he has chosen to serve us. We are extremely fortunate to have him in his current role, as we will be with whatever role he takes back in our local community. His sincerity and personal integrity are beyond question.
—Ray Hutch, CEO, Synergy Global Solutions

We can applaud Bob Duffy for many outstanding contributions to our region. He deserves much of the credit for helping work through the political, environmental and energy hurdles so that Eastman Business Park has a promising future.
—Bill Pollock

As a Conservative who most often votes Republican, there is little a liberal, progressive Democrat could do that would please me. Democrats are into pleasing constituencies by picking winners: Solyndra LLC, General Motors Co. and that solar project Gov. Cuomo is planning on funding. Conservatives support level playing fields, free-market solutions, lower taxes and smaller government. For a Democrat, Lt. Gov. Duffy did well. I only wish he had been able to do better.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

Mr. Duffy was a good police chief and mayor in Rochester. I am less enthralled with his lieutenant governor position. I had hoped he would be more visible to upstate folks and more influential with the governor on modulating his arrogant agenda and style. I believe that Mr. Duffy should have pushed the governor to abandon the SAFE Act and especially not try to ram it through the way it was done. Perhaps Mr. Duffy did try to get Cuomo to chill out a bit, but I see no evidence of this.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

He did the best he could. New York should really be split up into two states.
—T. Baker, West Henrietta

Robert Duffy did his duty; he balanced a ticket by providing someone geographically different than Cuomo. I can’t really recall anything Duffy did as lieutenant governor other than that.
—Damian Kumor

Just about everything seems to be under construction or pending construction, so the region is receiving funds. Hopefully these projects will lead to a variety of long-term jobs and further investment in the region. I wanted to see more tax breaks given to companies that stayed here and want to expand and hire more people here. As much focus needs to be on retaining people and businesses as bringing in new ones, especially with existing businesses and residents paying taxes.
—Keith Newcomer

It is extremely difficult to respond to this request. Most of us have not a clue why we have a lieutenant governor at all! Secondly, most of us expected much more from the state with Robert Duffy’s presence in Albany instead of Rochester. Finally, Robert should be free to do what he wants without scrutiny as to why!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

Robert Duffy’s overall performance since becoming lieutenant governor has been disappointing at best. He promised to be a champion for Rochester in Albany, yet Buffalo and Syracuse still receive the bulk of state aid for Western New York.
—Peter J. Gregory, Rochester

Any lieutenant governor is chosen to get votes in a geographic/cultural area that may not be fond of the gubernatorial candidate, in this case Cuomo. That worked for Cuomo, but he really did not need him because there was no meaningful opposition in the last election. It is a shame that Duffy, seemingly a very good person, associated himself with a thug like Cuomo. I hope he takes the RBA job, where he will be free of the sad state of New York politics.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield

I am saddened to read that Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy is not going to run for re-election next year. I do understand his reasoning and laud him for that. He has done an outstanding job for New York State and our Rochester region. His record is his legacy. My wish is that he now will focus his efforts back in Rochester and continue serving us in Monroe County—hopefully in the public arena. Good luck, Bob. I know your family is very happy to have you back full time!
—Toni Connors

The Bob Duffy whom I have known is a man of high integrity and strong moral and ethical values. Those virtues are not well-accepted among our political elites.
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency, Inc.

I actually liked Bob Duffy very much, since his days as police chief and subsequently as mayor, in what I believed was his having Rochester’s interests at heart. But joining the Cuomo administration was, in my opinion, selling his soul, especially as a participant in the most egregious expansion of abortion ever attempted in New York State. He was faceless in the disassembling of New York mental health care providers, unleashing the problem on our small communities. He was speechless in the attack on our 2nd Amendment rights, and he was spineless in being part of an administration passing midnight legislation against the rights of the people to review and comment on what so deeply affects us and our state. Duffy played a mute Mortimer to Edgar, when he had such a wonderful stage he could have used for the betterment of New York State. It is a more far-reaching indictment than just “What has he done for us lately?” It is all about what was left undone, about lack of leadership and courage, regardless of political risk, and it is about disappointment.
—Diane Harris, president, Hypotenuse Enterprises Inc.

Claims by the Cuomo administration must be looked at comparatively. The governor was recently quoted as stating that Rochester received “only” $80 million less than Buffalo in the past decade; therefore we should have no complaints about state aid. I believe a check for $80 million to the city/county and its impact on local finances would be quite significant.
—Jim Bertolone, president, Rochester AFL-CIO

I selfishly hate to lose Bob Duffy as one of the biggest supporters of the Finger Lakes in many years within the executive branch of New York State government. He campaigned especially for the wine regions of New York State. His support is sincere and helpful.
—Ted Marks, Atwater Estate Vineyards

One word: disappointing!
—Bob Miglioratti

Mr. Duffy was “window dressing,” Cuomo’s token gesture to this region. He should have stayed in Rochester as mayor, capitalized on his popularity and actually put it to use for the benefit of our area.
—George Thomas, Ogden

Given the limited constitutional role of the office, Bob Duffy rivals Stan Lundine in being an effective advocate for our region. We owe him our thanks for his outstanding service to our city and state.
—Nathan J. Robfogel

Lt. Gov. Duffy insisted that if he were to run as lieutenant governor, he did not want just a ceremonial job; he wanted to accomplish meaningful outcomes. To the governor’s credit, he modified the scope of the lieutenant governor’s job. By mixing Duffy’s strengths to Cuomo’s weaknesses, he created a dynamic duo that was good for the state. Even if Rochester and Western New York didn’t get as much aid as we would have liked during difficult economic times, the idea of openly competing for scarce development dollars and establishing a process is a very good thing. I hope that Cuomo’s precedent of having a lieutenant governor as a partner in governing the state continues; it’s too good a strategy to abandon. Having said that, Cuomo will be very hard pressed to find a replacement that’s as loyal, hardworking, popular or has as much integrity as Duffy. I doubt he can be replaced. The upstate/downstate dynamic is difficult to change or manage; the vast majority of population and economic activity exists in the eight or nine counties downstate. It’s up to us, the remaining “upstate” communities, to make ourselves heard and indispensable. We need to collaborate and speak with a strong voice. Perhaps Duffy’s tenure in Albany was a first small step in that direction.
—Frank Orienter

I believe Robert Duffy was used by Cuomo for political expedience; Cuomo and his handlers figured by including Robert Duffy on the gubernatorial ticket that his reputation would bring them more votes from Western and Northern New York. That’s Democrat politics, and as usual, voters fell for it. Though allowed to come out occasionally, Bob Duffy was used and generally kept in the background and brought out only when Cuomo needed Western and Upstate New York support. (You can’t always depend totally on NYC.) As a good mayor he did some good things for Rochester and as lieutenant governor had much to offer the state; he may even have kept Cuomo a bit under control. Too bad he couldn’t have kept Cuomo from ramming the SAFE Act down our throats.
—Michael F. Kloppel, Canandaigua

5/15/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

What You're Saying 

JOSEPH MILLER at 3:00:29 AM on 5/17/2014
The SAFE Act did not make us safer.

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