What a joke.
State Rep. Francine Del Monte of Lewiston has finally gotten around to noticing downtown Niagara Falls, a decrepit and blighted neighborhood now currently dominated by the Seneca Nation of Indians.
Is she going to do something about the shameful housing stock, the number of mom-and-pop restaurants and taverns that have gone out of business since the casino she championed opened, or the fact that well over 50 percent of her constituents who live in the district are trying to survive on some sort of public assistance?
Is she about to announce some new program that will address the growing problems of drugs, crime and poverty that plague the struggling community?
No, she's not. She couldn't care less. Instead, she's carrying water for one of her largest campaign contributors, the Maid of the Mist Corp., in an effort to run one businessman, Frank Parlato, out of town.
In fact, she's asked state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate.
According to Del Monte, a total of 27 complaints against Parlato's operation have come to her attention. All were made this year. None were made between 2004, when he took over the former Occidental Headquarters on Niagara Street, and 2007.
Most of the complaints were written on Maid of the Mist stationary. None has yet been verified as having come from a real person. A common theme in all 27 is that the alleged writer alleges they thought they were parking in a state-owned lot rather than a privately owned one.
Parlato's lot sits directly across the street from the state lot, a matter of about 20 yards.
The Niagara Reservation State Park has, as long as anyone can remember, sucked millions upon millions of tourism dollars out of the city of Niagara Falls each year. The tourists manage to avoid the city entirely by driving in on the heinous Robert Moses Parkway, which was built specifically for that purpose.
Once inside the park, they are treated to overpriced snacks, overpriced junk from state-run tourist shops and a ride on the Maid of the Mist, which the Glynn family of Youngstown will apparently be allowed to run forever without having to bid for the privilege against competitors who say they can do it better and cheaper.
It's a pretty sweet deal if you're one of the Glynns, or if you are an unscrupulous social-climbing politician like Del Monte, who will defend the state's right to rape the economy of her district so that the powers in Albany have even more money to squander.
Parlato says a million people passed through the doors of his building over the last year, and the state itself often uses the figure of 14 million as the number of tourists who visit the mighty cataract annually.
Of that number, Del Monte believes that 27 complaints constitute cause for bringing in the attorney general and trying to derail the efforts of a private businessman to make a go of it in downtown Niagara Falls.
Del Monte is a disgrace. Her pandering to a well-heeled contributor at the expense of those who elected her to office makes her unfit to serve, even in the state Assembly, which since time immemorial has been a cesspool of criminal activity, graft and official corruption.
What Cuomo ought to be investigating is Del Monte's joined-at-the-hip relationships with people like the late labor racketeer Michael "Butch" Quarcini, our indicted former mayor Vincenzo V. Anello and the thuggish county Democratic Committee Chairman Dan Rivera.
He ought to investigate Del Monte's close ties with the Senecas, who have employed members of her immediate family, and her role in the Hickory Stick golf course scandal that has now become the object of an FBI investigation.
But most of all, he should investigate the cozy relationship now existing between Del Monte, Mayor Paul Dyster, the shadowy Building a Better Niagara Falls Fund and the Glynn family.
Because from here, it looks as though these grifters are conspiring to turn the city's West Mall, and perhaps the Comfort Inn that the Glynns are scheduled to take possession of next month, into an extension of the state park, one that encroaches farther into the city and strips even more business away.
Glynn's Buffalo connections, particularly with Empire State Development Corp. CEO Robert Wilmers, are on track to deposit yet another untaxable white elephant in our midst, the Niagara Experience Center.
This colossal project will suck even more money out of the city, and at the same time make a few connected politicians and chiselers fabulously wealthy.
The last time such a project was foisted on the citizens of Niagara Falls, we lost Falls Street, and such hideous monuments to bad taste as Lackey Plaza, the Rainbow Centre Mall and the city's parking ramps were thrown up where once profitable businesses stood and families lived.
Led by a pair of derelict mayors and City Council members who were in it for what they could get, the city bought into a stupid idea called Urban Renewal that made the downtown into the tacky and crumbling mess it is today.
Dyster and Del Monte seem perfectly willing to repeat the mistakes of the past, and there is nothing for the good and honest citizens of Niagara Falls to do but stop them.