When the New York State Parks Commission gifted Jimmy Glynn's Maid of the Mist Corp. with a 40-year, no-bid contract said to be worth as much as $1 billion, Angela Berti, the commission's spokeswoman, told the Buffalo News that "no bids were taken and no public hearing was held because the Canadian agreement gives the company exclusive access to the river below the falls, making it a 'sole source' provider."
Last week, when the Canadian government stripped Glynn's company of its sole source status and threw the entire operation open to competitive bidding, we found ourselves wondering what sort of BS Berti will come up with next.
Glynn's sweetheart contract is an outrage. At least two other companies, Ripley's and Alcatraz Media, were in line to submit their own bids, which they said would provide better service and a better return to both the New York and Ontario governments, but were shut out of the process by corrupt bureaucracies on both sides of the border.
Ontario Parks Commissioner Bob Gale spoke out publicly about the disgusting situation and, predictably, lost his job. The Niagara Gazette and the Niagara Falls (Ont.) Review each published a few pro-Glynn articles, but basically ignored the situation occurring in their own back yards.
Even the Buffalo News failed to do any original reporting on the Maid of the Mist scandal, despite the fact that the attraction is likely better known around the world than the Buffalo Bills football team, on which the paper expends considerable ink.
Exposing garbage that other media outlets seem, for whatever reason, afraid to cover is what the Niagara Falls Reporter was created for. And the disgraceful Maid of the Mist contract, along with Glynn's cozy relationships with government officials on both sides of the Niagara, fit the bill perfectly.
Correspondent Frank Parlato has stayed on the story for the past year with the tenacity of a bulldog. His investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Glynn contract was groundbreaking to the point that some of his writing was read into the record of the Ontario Parliament as it looked into the scandal for itself.
It didn't come cheaply, either. At Mount St. Mary's Hospital, the Reporter was banned from the premises, and at the Parkway Condominiums -- where the Maid of the Mist houses its corporate offices -- bundles of papers are stolen regularly.
Longtime advertisers canceled their accounts, stating privately that they simply didn't believe the things Parlato wrote about the Maid of the Mist Corp. were true.
Now the Ontario provincial government says they are indeed true. And unless Angela Berti is prepared to adopt the exact opposite position she claimed was official New York State Parks Commission policy just one year ago, the Maid of the Mist contract should be opened to competitive bidding on this side of the river as well.
Here at the Reporter, we're proud of a 10-year record that has seen the corrupt former leadership of Laborers Local 91 laid low, former mayor Vince Anello indicted, and Buffalo Children's Hospital saved from closing by a greedy corporation.
And we're proud that the Canadian government, at least, has been moved enough by the simple truths surrounding the sleazy and unprecedented Maid of the Mist contract first reported here that it is finally taking steps to correct the gross injustice.