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Suit to block state funding can go on <br> Court reinstates group's challenge

An Albany appellate court reinstated a lawsuit by Lockport financial adviser Lee Bordeleau and 49 others that challenges the constitutionality of distributing state funds to private companies to foster economic development.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the five-judge Third Department Appellate Court returned the case to State Supreme Court Justice Michael C. Lynch of Albany for further action.

The appellate court agreed with James Ostrowski, the Buffalo attorney representing the Bordeleau taxpayer group, that Lynch wrongly dismissed the case on March 5, 2009, by ruling the plaintiffs had no legal standing to challenge the distribution of taxpayer funds.

Ostrowski and the Bordeleau group filed the suit in August 2008. A spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office and attorneys for IBM, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and West Genesee Hotel Associates, who urged the appellate court to uphold the ruling, could not be reached to comment.

During a news conference outside Erie County Hall on Thursday, Ostrowski said the decision "will send shock waves through New York State" because it impacts "corporate welfare" totaling $3 billion to $4 billion

Ostrowski is working with the Tea Party Coalition of Western New York on filing a class-action suit in several months against every municipality in the state passing out taxpayer funding to private concerns.

This suit, he said, will include both City of Buffalo and Erie County governments as defendants, and, in particular, he hopes to kill the Bass Pro development deal on the Buffalo waterfront.

Present for Thursday's news conference were Allen Coniglio, Tea Party Coalition coordinator, and South Buffalo Tea Party spokesman Roy Scherrer.

Coniglio called Thursday's ruling "gigantic" in its assault on political and corporate cronyism.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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