Your State Fair Hound is alarmed that County Exec Joanie Mahoney has seemingly inserted herself into decisions about the New York State Fair despite having no authority to do so. Sure, she’s one of Cuomo’s political allies and she’s pushed through the ill-advised approval leading to the ongoing construction of an amphitheater on the lakeshore, but now she’s spouting her grandiose and uninformed ideas for changing the grounds.
No doubt Mahoney’s ultimate goals are political and will favor her friends and relatives. That’s what she does. We could even wind up with someone in her circle as director. That way Cuomo could reward her loyalty.
But at a time when there’s supposed to be less cronyism and political dealing in the administration of our favorite event, the sleeze factor behind Joanie’s operations are a step in the wrong direction. It would seem she’s got enough to do, finding jobs for her families, both biological and political, and advancing her own partisan agenda.
One group that should be terrified that Joanie may wield some power over the Fair are employees. Joanie Baloney has taken every opportunity to bash and mistreat county employees, not including those she favors, of course. She pushes for huge raises for political allies while fighting fair treatment of rank and file. The more involvement Mahoney has at the Fair, the worse for openness, fairness and integrity.
One thing that has been said is that the Grandstand, soon to be supplanted as the venue for paid-admission Fair concerts, is destined to be demolished. We aren’t completely surprised by that revelation and Acting Director Troy Waffner has said that the vacated space now occupied by the seating and track can be utilized in many ways for Fair attractions and events. Sounds promising.
But if the plan has been to tear down the Grandstand, why couldn’t the new amphitheater be built where it belongs—within the friendly confines of the Great New York State Fair?
Apparently it has finally dawned on the Post-Standard that Fair vendors would be adversely affected by the diversion of thousands of concert fans completely avoiding the grounds when they go to a show. Hound readers may recall—and can now review—our analysis on that subject (Hold the Shows, 7/11/14 and Concerted Success, 9/11/14).
Business operators rightfully fear loss of traffic to the new concert shell. That’s not to mention the racing fans who are facing the end of the phenomenally popular Super Dirt Week on the historic dirt track.
And we sure don’t understand the idea Joanie is promoting to build year-round stores along State Fair Boulevard, opposite the gates. Does she really think people will be strolling along that stretch to shop and eat, especially during the winter when they can drive less than two miles to Destiny and the Inner Harbor? Ridiculous. Plus it would take up acres of prime parking space, making the Fair itself less attractive to visitors.
We wish Mahoney would shut up and butt out. Leave it the Fair pros to plan for improvements, never forgetting that preserving the identity and tradition of the New York State Fair has to be the main focus.