The New York State Fair has more management troubles, an investigation by the Inspector General’s Office found.
It’s the third report in recent years about troubles at the Syracuse-based fair. Other investigations found misuse of funds by the former director and other mismanagement.
“The New York State Fair is an institution that for more than a century has been an important summer attraction for millions of New Yorkers,” said Acting Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott in a statement. “It has a longstanding and proud tradition of showcasing New York’s agricultural industry. My office’s investigation revealed lapses and vulnerabilities which undermine that same, proud tradition.”
In one finding, Scott found that fair employees William Cooper and Kathleen Yockell had sleeping quarters at the sprawling fairgrounds. Yockell had a horse barn fill with her personal items, including exotic pet birds, the report found. Yockell, according to the report, admitted to sometimes sleeping at the fairgrounds.
The report found that officials at the state Department of Agriculture and Markets broke procurement policies, including former First Deputy Commissioner Robert Haggerty and former Fair Director Daniel O’Hara. The inspector general accused them of giving unfair advantages to bidders.
The state fired Haggerty, and O’Hara was quietly moved earlier this month out of the director position to another state job. His current status was unclear.
The report’s findings were sent to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the State Fair Advisory Board.