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Percy Caught in Lie
Supported New York State losing $100 million in order to help Glynn

“When has the truth ever mattered to John Percy?”

That’s how a source close to the NTCC described what appeared to be an outright lie in a letter sent last week by Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. President and CEO John Percy to state Sen. George D. Maziarz.

In the two-page letter, dated Aug. 12, Percy claimed to have not weighed in on the ongoing legal battle between James Glynn’s Maid of the Mist operation and Hornblower Cruises and Events, the boating concession awarded a contract to replace Glynn on the Canadian side of the Falls.

To refresh our readers’ memories, Glynn, the longtime operator of the world famous Niagara Falls boat tours called Maid of the Mist on both the Ontario and New York sides of the river, lost the Ontario lease in an open bidding process which saw the (Ontario) Niagara Parks Commission get $10 million more per year than what they were getting from Glynn. It totaled some $300 million more during the life of the lease and proves that open bidding is the best, most honest practice in dealing with public assets.

It was anticipated that New York would follow Ontario's lead and put the lease up for bid. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo made no comment on whether or not he would order an open bidding process on the boat tour concession.

Hornblower, operators of the Statue of Liberty and Alcatraz Island boat tours, wanted to bid and offered New York State $100 million more for the concession on the New York side than Glynn was paying during the life of the 30-year lease. That comes to $3 million more per year.

But Glynn hired lobbyists and got his supporters to write politically charged letters for him. Many felt at the time that the behind the scenes nature of Glynn's dealings were improper and would wind up with Glynn winning and the public losing.

Late last year, Gov. Cuomo inexplicably ignored the Hornblower offer and made a sweetheart deal with Glynn that was $100 million lower than Hornblower's offer.

Hornblower commenced a lawsuit.

With extra millions in Glynn's pocket (he has in effect a lease that is $3 million per year lower than market value while the Ontario side reaps a windfall) it will further distance the two sides Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York in the competition for tourism.

After all, Ontario got the maximum for their boat tour and can reinvest in their park. Cuomo saw to it that state parks got $3 million less per year for the New York side so that Glynn can reinvest in his bank account.

Pushing hard for it was John Percy.

But as we said above, he didn't quite tell the truth.

“John Percy, as a board member for the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce, did sign on a letter of support for the Maid of the Mist product staying within Niagara USA. His signature, along with many other tourism stewards, supported the need for that product but did not comment on any legal or political argument that may have been surrounding this iconic product,” both Percy, who loves to refer to himself in the third person, and NTCC Board of Directors Chairman, Frank Strangio wrote in a jointly signed letter.

A review of the actual letter, however, suggests that Percy’s statement is not truthful.

Contrary to Percy’s assertion that he “did not comment on any legal or political argument ... surrounding” the Glynn-operated tour boats, in the letter, dated March 11, Percy flatly states, “As you may know, there is a legal challenge to the agreement. We reject claims (by Hornblower) that the deal was improper - such claims are being made by an entity that does not and would not have a similar commitment to the well- being of Western New York.”

And, while Percy and NTCC leaders deny Percy chose political sides, the letter goes on to state, “We, the undersigned, are in full support of Governor Cuomo and the Maid of the Mist Corp.”

While the mischaracterization of the nature of the Chamber letter is, in itself, problematic, the decision by the NTCC to suggest Percy was signing a letter “along with many other tourism stewards” is also at best a grotesque stretching of the truth.

Of the nine signers of the letter, four are members of the NTCC’s leadership: Percy; NTCC Board member Robert Emerson; NTCC Board member Deanna Alterio Brennen; and NTCC Board member Mayor Paul A. Dyster. The remaining “tourism stewards” include Niagara Hub website operator Chris Stoianoff and former Niagara University President Rev. Joseph L. LeVesque.

At the end of the day, Percy weighed in politically for Glynn.

When asked, he lied and said he didn't.

The NTCC source that provided us with the documents said none of this is new:

“John Percy has always seen himself as Jack Nicholson in ‘A Few Good Men,’ shouting at anyone in Niagara Falls who challenges his authority: ‘You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.’”



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

AUG 20, 2013