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Billboards to Cuomo: Re-open the economy

ALBANY – A Buffalo man said he is placing billboards criticizing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and two other top Democrats for decisions that have kept closed thousands of businesses across Western New York amid the Covid pandemic.

“Re-open New York," say the billboards being put up on the 190 outbound and 33 inbound in Buffalo, according to Tim Walton, who has been identified in previous media stories as a landlord in the city. The billboards hold out Cuomo, along with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, all Democrats, for their role in keeping shuttered many private businesses in the region.

Word of the billboards came Monday morning as Cuomo was flying to Buffalo to announce that Western New York would start reopening Tuesday. Cuomo announced Sunday that the region had already met six of seven requirements – the seventh being a need for more Covid contract tracing specialists.

The first phase allows for everything from manufacturing and construction to be more fully staffed with workers, as well as curb-site pick ups at retail stores. Down the road, everything from hair stylists to other “more essential” services that are believed to have inherently lower risks of spreading the infection will be in the so-called phase two period. There are at least 14 days between the start of each phase. Cuomo over the weekend approved the resumption of horse racing and car racing as of June 1 – provided they have no spectators.

Walton, who leases some properties in Buffalo, said in an emailed news release that he raised money for the billboards from a GoFundMe campaign.

“When did ‘flatten the curve’ become 'find a cure?' " states a photo of one of the billboards that Walton sent around Monday morning to media organizations.

He did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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