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Letter to the Editor: Resident Invites Da-Lai Wu to Hold Maranatha Discussion

Written By Editor on 2/14/14 | 2/14/14

Dear Editor:
Da-Lai Wu is a businessman who asked for concessions from the Town of Richmondville and the State of New York in exchange for investing in the failed Maranatha Family Center.  Despite receiving concessions he has not come forward to invest in the facility or to pay any of its substantial debt.  Mr. Wu recently posted comments on the Schoharie News Facebook page in which he blamed critics of the facility for its failure and claimed that Maranatha was a positive thing for the community, despite millions in taxpayer monies that are now gone.
Mr. Wu’s statements point to what could be the saddest legacy of this failed facility – a failure to learn anything from its demise. Most of the community understands the Center closed after a year despite millions in grants, low interest loans and tax exemptions, but little more. Most people do not know that for more than four years red flags were raised about the projects planning, approval, funding and oversight. They also may not know that internal emails sent by those directly involved in the project called out financial irregularities, cast doubt on the honesty and accuracy of claims made by the developer and even warned about potential jail time for misusing public funds. Most area residents do not understand how many mistakes were made by local, County and State government agencies that repeatedly ignored poorly defined business plans, ever changing and unrealistic blueprints, unauthenticated claims of job creation and absurdly incomplete zoning and environmental reviews while the powers that be responded to intense pressure from influential politicians and fast tracked the ill-conceived project in hopes of a quick gold-shovel photo op.
Mr. Wu is inadvertently correct that the developer was not fully to blame. She, after all, just wanted to build a multi-million dollar facility with no real capital, no expertise to run it and little sense of responsibility to the community she thought should pay for it. The real culprits were those who helped her do it. With smoke screens like those thrown up by Mr. Wu we will never address the egregious failures that occurred at the Town, County and State Level.  Instead the millions lost will be swept under the carpet and written off at taxpayer expense and the real reasons why it all happened will never be addressed.
In response to Mr. Wu’s comments,  I have invited him to participate in a public discussion of the details of the Maranatha failure, including the project’s review and approval, allocation and accounting of funds and the various claims made to justify continued public funding as the project careened towards failure. I believe such a discussion is important to the community and would be eye opening, even to Mr. Wu, who is either joking or really believes that those who exposed the problems with Maranatha somehow caused them to not pay their bills and go bust.
If the taxpayers deserve anything for the money they invested in, and lost to, Maranatha it is the knowledge that such a blatant violation of the public trust and welfare will not happen again. To date Mr. Wu has not responded to my invitation.
Bob Nied
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