|Where in the world is John Percy?
To hear John Percy tell it, the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. (NTCC) is one of the most strangely powerful organizations in the world, rivaling even the Trilateral Commission and the feared Illuminati in terms of sheer power and influence.
Nik Wallenda walks across the Canadian Falls on a tightrope? The NTCC orchestrated the whole thing. A trip to Niagara Falls is being offered as a prize on some quiz show? Again, the hidden hand of the NTCC moved those Hollywood producers in much the same way as a puppeteer with his marionettes. And when a painting of Niagara Falls pops up behind the head of President Barack Obama at the Inauguration Luncheon in the Capitol Building, Percy uses that hidden hand to extend his reach and pat himself on the back once again.Is there anything that Percy and his organization cannot accomplish? Not according to him.
Is there anywhere in the known universe that the NTCC doesn’t have an almost mystical ability to manipulate? Well maybe one.
That place is the Niagara Falls City Council Chambers, located conspicuously just off the lobby at City Hall, still conveniently located on Main Street here. The Council majority, our old friends Sam Fruscione, Bob Anderson and Glenn Choolokian – are poised to cut the Percy mob’s budget by an astounding $1 million annually. Which is good news for all of us.
Clearly, if Percy were to use his powers for evil, we’d be in a lot of trouble. But instead, he uses them to pull down a nice six-figure salary, live as far away from Niagara Falls as the price of gas will allow, and pursue a mad and extravagant globetrotting lifestyle that most here could only dream of, a lifestyle funded to the hilt by the taxpayers of this city.
Actually, I had lunch with John Percy once. It was a meeting arranged by my great and good friend Frank Thomas Croisdale, the book writer and one-time columnist for this paper. Croisdale had a great belief in the inner goodness of man, a belief I never shared, but truly admired him for.
Croisdale believed that, if you took any two guys and sat them down at a table in the back of Eddie Gadawski’s great Falls Street restaurant, they could come together, see eye to eye, and iron out whatever differences they might have between them. It was a noble belief, and I hope Frank still has it, but that particular afternoon, when Percy weakly reached for the check, I snatched it up. I’ve never had a public official buy me lunch, and I wasn’t about to start with John Percy.
I believe it was that Beatles song, “Can’t Buy Me Lunch,” that instilled this little false virtue in me, but I might be mistaken. In any event, I took up the check, pulled out a sawbuck, and called for the waitress, whom I knew well. I paid up and we were on our merry ways.
The thing is, though, that a public official should never allow anyone to buy him lunch, and Percy did that day without protest or comment.
It was another couple of dollars he didn’t have to pay out of his $130,000 salary, another grilled cheese sandwich paid for by a Niagara Falls taxpayer.
There are public officials in Niagara Falls who are facing federal charges right now for essentially allowing someone to buy them lunch.
Percy will never face such grief, given his carefully delineated setup, one in which he is not a public official, despite the fact that his activities and his personal life are subsidized 100 percent by public money.
He will never know the joy or the sorrow of being able to provide some poor kid or ex-con with a job on his own dime, or of having an oppressive government step in to take the fruits of his honest labor away.
Because he has never labored honestly. He has never been in a situation where the amount of money he earns has any kind of correlation with the amount of revenue he’s generated.
So let him take false credit for bringing Nik Wallenda to Niagara Falls, for the producers of “The Price Is Right” for giving a cut-rate Falls vacation away as a prize on their show, or for having a mid-19th Century painting placed behind the President’s head during a photo op. That’s all he will ever have, after all, and –really – we should feel sorry for him.