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Post date: February 1 2000

Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding Approval Of The Stewart Airport Lease

As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to review all state contracts. This is an important function -- especially in this case, which is the first of its kind in the United States. Stewart Airport will be the first airport in the nation to be operated by a private corporation and not a public agency. The key document in this transaction is a complicated lease, which, by its terms, creates a century-long relationship between the state and the lessee.

For these reasons, a careful review is needed to protect the public interest in the future operation of the airport and to save taxpayer dollars, maximize return to the state and help protect against legal challenges in the future.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of attempts to influence the contract review process. Most of these appeals were well-intentioned, but some were designed only to politicize the issue. It was imperative that my office resist all such efforts. I happen to support privatization, but whether I support the project or not, I have an obligation to ensure that each line of the contract protects the interest of the people of the State of New York. In this regard, the businesses with which the state deals have sophisticated lawyers; the people of the state expect and deserve equally sound representation.

The review by my office is now complete. We are continuing to assist the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration with the preparation of documentation necessary for closing of the transaction. Along with others in the community, I look forward to the successful completion of this important project.