Inside the KGVG

In the last week a new grass roots group has surfaced in support of the Geneseo Lowe’s project calling itself Keep Geneseo Vibrant and Growing. The public face of the group is Ted Universal of Booher Hill Road who has signed a long letter that was printed in the Livingston County News and published as a one-and-a-half page paid ad in this week’s Pennysaver.

Ted made his first known appearance at a planning board meeting on this subject Monday and refused to answer questions as to who else was in his so-called citizens group. There is strong suspicion that KGVG is what is known in the trade as “astroturf,” a fake grassroots group organized and paid for by a developer, despite the fact that in his letter Ted disavowed all association with Newman Development.

Adding fuel to the fire is the appearance of representatives from the Public Strategy Group, a Rochester PR firm at the meeting. A look at Public Strategy’s web site shows that they are specialist in organizing just this kind of “grass roots” campaign.

Under the heading of “Pro-group development” the firm brags that it “takes a comprehensive approach to rallying the supportive public and forming a coalition to see your project into development. We provide resources and guidance to facilitate pro-group presentations using a blanketed media approach, acquiring a strong foundation of community supporters.”

Do you suppose providing “resources and guidance” could involve helping Ted write his letter? Clearly Public Strategies was behind the full page pro-Lowes ad that appeared in the LC News two weeks ago which featured a picture of a man in a hard hat carrying some 2 x 4s.

It’s ironic that among the guests invited by Public Strategies to attend Monday night’s meeting were representatives of the local construction unions. That strategy backfired, however, when the unions discovered that Lowe’s has a history of using non-union and foreign labor to build its stores.

If you look at the resumes of the Public Strategy staff, they all feature strong political backgrounds and the firm solicits business as political consultants and campaign managers. It is entirely possible that they view part of their job as electing a new (or the same old) town board that will be favorable to their client.

Of course they will deny any such motive and for a good legal reason. If they were found to be involved in supporting a particular political candidate they might have to file a financial disclosure form and tell us how much Newman is spending to buy public opinion in Geneseo.

In that regard, it is perhaps not surprising to note that Mr. Universal was one of the signers of the tainted Conservative Party petition that put the incumbent team on the ballot. The plot thickens!

4 responses to “Inside the KGVG

  1. Phillip J. Bracchi

    The plot not only thickens, it reeks of someone’s belief that the ends justify the means, no matter the level of honesty. Corporate greed combined with secretive governing would seem to be a recipe for a poison dish that can be forced on people against their will. Let’s all drink tainted Kool Aid!

  2. Oh no. Not again. Ted Universal sounds like a made up name to me. Perhaps he is writing under a pseudonym? Or, perhaps he is a student at SUNY (better have Bill check the directory). Maybe he has a relative who works for Newman? I’d get the crack investigative PDDG team to see if they can find this guy’s computer footprint and hunt him down like a dog.

  3. I have known and worked with Mr. Universal for some 30 years and, politics aside, have great admiration for his abilities. His forceful personality makes me very surprised to think that he has become part of “astroturf”. The errors in his initial letter were uncharacteristic – he is usually meticulous about facts, especially when statistics are concerned. His change of heart in no longer being open to communication may be because of warnings he has received. Has Ted become unbearably frustrated with the childish “tit-for-tat” that this ordeal has fallen into? Is his timing incredibly poor? In 30 years I have never, ever had reason to doubt his sincerity. KGVG needs another look.

  4. Warnings from whom? He requested communication. Let’s have communication!

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