|James V. Glynn owner of boats, and politicians.
When attempting to justify Gov. Andrew Cuomo's gift of $100 million of taxpayer money to Lewiston businessman James Glynn, owner of the Maid of the Mist franchise, it was said that the state had to do it in part to keep the Maid of the Mist name inside the state park.
When Glynn lost the bid for the boat tours in Canada in 2012, he threatened to sue the winner, Hornblower Cruises, if they tried to use the name, Maid of the Mist.
Glynn added, if he were to lose the New York side he would retire "Maid of the Mist" and forbid the world from using the name.
Hornblower named their boats Niagara Cruises.
Former Niagara Parks Commissioner Robert Gale, the man who blew the whistle on Glynn's secret Canadian deal that led to Glynn losing his lease across the border, said "I find it very puzzling when I hear people say that the name Maid of the Mist must be preserved. They are wrong because what you have to produce is a quality and affordable boat ride for the tourists and they will come."
Using the example of the Baltimore Colts that changed their name to the Ravens, Gale said, "The name Maid of the Mist is a small item that will be forgotten."
So why did Gov. Cuomo, after Glynn lost the Canadian lease, not require a bidding process for boat tours on the New York side?
Was it to save the name?
Back in 2002, when Glynn signed his New York lease, he had the Canadian lease (signed in 1989). The Canadian lease gave him space for winter storage at the bottom of the gorge on the Canadian side.
There were no docks on the New York side.
In New York, in 2002, when it was time to give Glynn a new lease, New York parks officials said there was to be no bidding against Glynn for the right to operate boats on New York property because Glynn, having the Canadian lease, had the only winter dry docks, and therefore was the only company that could provide boat tours in New York.
Angela Berti, then-spokeswoman for the state park, said, "No bids (for the New York lease) were taken because the Canadian agreement (makes Glynn) a 'sole source' provider" because he has a lease on the Canadian side that "allows (N.Y.) Maid of the Mist Corporation to dock its boats on the Canadian side."
Still, when New York was arranging Glynn's lease in 2002, state officials knew that Glynn's Canadian lease was expiring in 2009. There was no guarantee Glynn was going to have his Canadian lease renewed and continue to be the "sole source provider."
The law states that sole source deals should be for the shortest possible time. In this example, the shortest possible time would have been seven years when Glynn's Canadian lease expired.
New York State Finance Law Section 163 reads: "The term of a single source procurement contract shall be limited to the minimum period of time necessary to ameliorate the circumstances which created the material and substantial reasons for the single source award."
The length of Glynn's New York lease, granted in 2002, was for 40 years, until 2042 -- the longest lease in State Park history, 33 years beyond the expiration of his Canadian lease.
Curiously, also, in 2002, they secretly dropped Glynn's rent, on his 40 year lease, from 10 percent to four percent of gross sales.
|Long before Glynn owned boats, there were boats called Maid of the Mist, giving boat rides under the falls
In Canada, he was paying 15 percent.
The low rent deal was never reported until the Niagara Falls Reporter exposed it in 2009 as part of a series.
Today, Hornblower pays 25 percent in a formula that guarantees Canada more than $10 million per year in rent. Glynn is expected to pay about $350,000 in rent to New York in 2014.
In any event, it was evident that, in 2012, when Glynn lost the bidding war to operate tour boats on the Canadian side, and lost the right to use the docks on the Canadian side, the old argument that Glynn was the single source for boat tours in New York was no longer true.
Instead of using the old argument to award the lease to Hornblower, who voluntarily agreed to pay $100 million more than Glynn was paying New York, Gov. Cuomo was now able to find land to build docks in New York, and decided that, rather than open the boat tours up for competitive bidding, he would give Glynn a new deal and build docks for his boats on state-owned property.
Cuomo called giving the lease to Glynn (for $100 million less than taxpayers were offered by Hornblower) a "special circumstance," a term of art that suggests the loss of Glynn's business would be incalculable to the public.
Despite New York State finance law (sec. 163) that says the state must put leases out to bid, unless there is only one (a sole source) company that can perform the lease, Glynn got the deal without bidding- even though, now that they found space for docks on the New York side, any number of boat tour companies could compete to pay the highest price, as it happened in Canada.
Glynn's rent was raised from four percent to eight percent, which was less than what he paid in the 1990's, about half what he had paid in Canada and one third of what Hornblower offered New York.
As if on cue, perhaps to squelch objections raised by this publication, sentimentalists came pouring forward to save Glynn and support the governor - over, amazingly, the name. They got misty eyed about old Glynn and his company.
They cherished the name, Maid of the Mist. Besides, Glynn's company has been around since 1846.
Do you throw away 175 years of history for a mere $100 million?
Like many maudlin appeals this one was not accurate.
Glynn's company was not in operation since 1846.
In 1846, it is true the first boat named Maid of the Mist was launched.
It was not a tour boat, but a ferry service between Canada and America
It was not operated by Glynn's company or Glynn's ancestors.
In 1854, the ferry boat became a tourist attraction, after the opening of the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge. This lasted seven years before it ceased operations in 1861.
There were no boat tours for 34 years, until 1895, nine years after the state park opened.
These boats were also called Maid of the Mist.
Again, neither Glynn nor the company he owns operated Maid of the Mist boats that sailed for nearly a century before he got the leases on both sides of the river.
Various owners operated these boats, always calling them Maid of the Mist.
Glynn's "Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co. Ltd." was formed in 1971, when Glynn bought the assets, including two boats of the former, similarly named Maid of the Mist boat company.
Glynn's boat operation existed for44 years, not 176, as he claims.
This means the name Maid of the Mist belongs in the public domain, since it was used by both parks to identify vessels that gave tours below the falls since 1895.
In 1993, however, Glynn moved to take the name away from the people. He filed a U. S. trademark application stating (as is required for trademark) that he had sole and exclusive use of the name.
At the time Glynn filed the application, he had a Canadian lease in force (signed in 1989), which stated: (Paragraph 6.03) "Tenant (Glynn's Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company) acknowledges that it does not claim any interest in or rights in the words 'Maid of the Mist' and the Niagara Parks Commission is free to use 'Maid of the Mist' in identification of its structures, retail or promotional material."
He signed a U. S. trademark application falsely stating he had sole and exclusive use of the name, four years after he signed a lease with Ontario that stated he did not "claim any interest in or rights in the words "Maid of the Mist."
So how does he own the name?
This year there will be competing boat rides on the Niagara River below the falls.
One, operated by Hornblower Cruises, will pay Canadians more than $10 million in rent - a sum that the people of Ontario secured by the process of competitive bidding.
On the New York side, boat tours will be operated by James Glynn and his Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company. Glynn will pay about $350,000.
In Canada, they will have $10 million each year to improve their parks.
In New York, they will have $350,000.
|Two different boat tour companies will compete this year for boat tours below the falls. Left: Hornblower's Niagara Cruise. Right: Maid of the Mist.