Senator Mark Grisanti and Assemblywman John Ceretto are sponsoring legislation that would expand USA Niagara Development Corporation's footprint to include the whole City of Niagara Falls. Right now, USA Niagara's charge is to focus in the tourist district immediately adjacent to the State Park. I'm told the legislators are doing this at the request of the Aquarium which is seeking state assistance. I'm told Paul Dyster is actively fighting this and former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte has made sure her old boss Shelly Silver won't move the bill. So, if this is all true, it raises many questions:
1) Why would Paul Dyster oppose this bill? He's the mayor of the entire city and if this measure leads to some economic growth, you'd think he'd be jumping for joy. After all, his economic development record pretty much sucks. Clearly Paul has some political motive to oppose this but I'm not quite sure what this is.
2) Why would Grisanti and Ceretto carry this? Both are aligned with Senator Maziarz who has made it pretty clear that USA Niagara has been a complete failure. Does it make sense to expand failure? Plus, Maziarz voted for the bill. The only thing I can guess is that this is a actually a way to redefine USA Niagara's mission and perhaps encourage some turnover. Maybe it's a way to make lemonade from an agency that only seems to give the community lemons?
3) How does any of this actually help the Aquarium secure the funds they need. First, there is no money anywhere in the state. Second, USA Niagara's track record is rather abysmal (Experience Center, anyone?) This seems like an attempt to show progress on a project that no doubt would be great but clearly has no momentum right now and isn't going anywhere any time soon.
4) Did Delmonte really weigh in? If so, why? And isn't that a violation of her two-year ban on lobbying. Is DelMonte bound and determined to stop anything and everything that Ceretto tries to do? Is she really that petty and vindictive? If these answers are all yes, then even I underestimated the depths she might be wiling to sink.
With session ending in the next few days, the bill appears dead for now. But the questions it raises aren't going away any time soon.