Cigar Commentary: Extravagant Cigar Expenses, Or Bandwagon Journalism

Just recently, I came across an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle about cigars. I thought to myself, cool! But then I realized that it was an article about how a director of the Rochester, NY Airport purportedly misspent public funds on cigars.

David Damelio is the director of the Rochester airport authority. According to the D&C, “the authority is one of hundreds of quasi-governmental public benefit corporations across the state. It is not subsidized by taxpayers but acts as an arm of county government and its monies are considered public funds.” That seems fishy to me. How is the authority’s funding considered public funds if it is not subsidized by taxpayers?

Anyway, according to financial records for the Airport Authority, Damelio spent $21,746 on cigars and cigar bars/restaurants, since January 2008.

The reporter mentions that the tobacco purchases were suspect, specifically citing a two-day “junket” to Boston and New York City in March 2009, where Damelio charged the airport credit card $612 for six visits to four different cigar establishments.

However the reporter acknowledges that, “None of Damelio’s [other] business expenses appear so extravagant or out of place.”

Then the reporter cites to credit card charges of $977 at Morton’s of Chicago in Boston, $326 on chauffeurs in Boston, and $411 at a New York City steakhouse.

What a load of crap! How can the reporter say that $612 in cigars is a waste when $977 for a few steaks is okay? Methinks the reporter views any expenditures on cigars is a waste. Damelio can’t just buy his clients a Dutch Masters instead of cutting and lighting some super premium smokes the same way he can’t just take his clients to Nick Tahoe’s for a Garbage plate instead of taking them to Mortons for steak.

Those that know little about how business deals are made should stay out of the business making process. Some things are better left to the discretion of people who are best equipped to make such decisions – like the authority’s board! (Who, by the way, approves of Damelio’s expenses.)

Seems like this is another unfortunate case of jumping on the anti-tobacco bandwagon for this particular D&C reporter. It may be convenient to create outrage where there is none – simply because there is a tobacco whipping boy that can drum up readers, or in the case of politicians, votes. We know this happens all the time.

Here’s my favorite quote: “None of the receipts were itemized, making it impossible to identify what was purchased. But cigars in the $20 range include classes of Cohibas, Macanudos and La Gloria Cubanas.”

Maybe Damelio’s fault was simply making bad choices. Paying $20 for a Macanudo is not a question of extravagant expense but one of poor judgment.

What do you guys think? Do you think Dave’s cigar spending was excessive? Or should he have spent his money at the Super Wegman’s supermarket instead?

Merry Christmas.