(WKBW) — The fight over the stretch of the New York State Thruway which runs through Seneca Nation Territory continues. This time between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Congressperson Tom Reed.
"When you see a bully like that, you need to stand up to that bully and stand with the people and their safety," Rep. Reed (R-N.Y. 23) said.
"I don't believe it's about I-90. I believe it's about the tens of millions of dollars that are actually in dispute," Governor Cuomo (D-N.Y.) said at a media event Tuesday. The unrelated "legal dispute," the Governor said, has already gone to arbitration where the state won and left the Seneca Nation to pay millions. Something Cuomo said has yet to be done.
"They are being, I believe, holding the repair of I-90 as part of the larger dispute, which is the revenue that's on the table," Cuomo said. He added, the state would fix this stretch of Thruway, but believes the Seneca Nation would disapprove.
"It doesn't punish drivers, but I don't want to give them a reason to say well New York breached the agreement by coming on to I-90 when they had no right," Cuomo said.
In direct response to Governor's comments--the Seneca Nation released this statement:
“The Compact arbitration and the New York State Thruway should be two separate issues, but the Governor’s comments make it very clear that he is holding one issue hostage to the other. The only reason that the State repeatedly turns a blind eye to its obligation to repair the deteriorating condition of the portion of Thruway crossing our Cattaraugus Territory is pure, simple political retribution. He’s playing politics with the safety of the traveling public. There are processes related to the Compact that cannot be ignored, as much as the State may want to ignore them.”
-Seneca Nation President Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.
Reed, who earlier this month put the state on notice for what he calls a dangerous road, agrees with the Seneca Nation, saying the priority should be on the road and he will be looking at this issue seriously.
"To acknowledge that this is part of his strategy to deal with the gaming revenue issue is just appalling to me...The other battles that you have politically with other entities, you resolve those disputes in those respective forms, but you don't put people's lives at risk," Reed said.
The Governor's office responded to Reed in this statement:
“Everyone knows that the congressman is used to being the president’s patsy but he shouldn’t be the Senecas’ patsy as well. He should do his job, stand with the communities he represents and demand that the Senecas make good on the arbitrators’ decision and make their neighbors whole.”
-Rich Azzopardi, Senior Advisor to the Governor
Reed's office issued a response to the Governor's office Friday:
"Patsy? Unlike the Governor, none of Tom's aides are in prison for taking bribes in exchange for sweetheart deals. Tom just wants I-90 fixed for the safety of the travelling public. The Federal funds have been delivered. Just fix the road before someone dies." – Will Reinert, Communications Director for Congressman Tom Reed