On February 4, 2020, prominent local businessman Bob Stivers was arrested and charged by the New York State Police with driving while intoxicated last Christmas Eve when Stivers was allegedly involved in a personal injury accident in the town of Varick.
Stivers, 57, is the owner of Finger Lakes Water Adventures, a company that leases lakefront space from the City of Geneva to run boat tours, and is the president and organizer of the National Lake Trout Derby on Seneca Lake. Stivers’ real estate company manages multiple rental properties in downtown Geneva and the rest of the city, including approximately 150 residential units and 25 stores.
In addition, Stivers currently serves on the Geneva Community Board for the Bank of the Finger Lakes, the Board of Directors of the Geneva Business Improvement District, and the Board of Directors of Finger Lakes Health, while also serving as chair of the Finger Lakes Federal Credit Union Board of Directors. Stivers previously served as President of the Board of Directors for both the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and the Geneva Business Improvement District.
Stivers was also one of eight recipients to split $400,000 in grants from the Adaptive Reuse Program, part of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award, using his share to complete improvements on one of his Castle Street properties.
Local Media Nearly Silent On Stivers’ Accident And Arrest
The first and only media reference to Stivers’ arrest was on page 5A of the Thursday, February 6th Finger Lakes Times (print edition only), a one-sentence summary in the DWI section of the Police Beat column:
“Robert L. Stivers, 57, of Waterloo, by state police Tuesday, the result of an investigation into a Dec. 24 personal-injury accident in Varick.”
Geneva Believer reached out to the New York State Police on Friday February 14th and requested any other available information related to Stivers’ accident and arrest, but has received no reply at the time of this article’s publication.
While local media obviously doesn’t publish stories about every DWI case in the area, the involvement of such a well-known figure within the local community would certainly merit more media attention than just a 1 inch by 1.75 inch blurb at the end of the police blotter, especially when it involves an unidentified person being injured in a drunk driving crash on Christmas Eve.
So why hasn’t the Finger Lakes Times covered this entirely newsworthy story?
Stivers is one of the wealthier business people in the area. He has numerous personal and professional ties to Geneva city government, as well as local banking institutions, economic development agencies, the local health care system, and others. Stivers rents storefronts to multiple businesses across our historic downtown.
Did the Finger Lakes Times commit an honest oversight when they failed to investigate and publish a story about a well-connected and moneyed local business leader getting into a drunk driving crash on Christmas Eve in which someone was injured?
Or did they intentionally downplay the arrest and hold off on investigating and publishing the story because of Stivers’ prominence and connections in the community?
Stivers has been accused of a very serious crime, which has left the people of Geneva questioning whether there are two sets of rules in Geneva: one for the wealthy and connected, and one for everyone else.