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Glynn Will Pay Double, Not Triple Boat Rent in New State Deal

By Frank Parlato

Some people, including some in the media, were apparently misled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's December announcement that Maid of the Mist owner James V. Glynn will be paying New York almost three times more rent for his boat tours than he was paying before he lost his Canadian license
The fact is, it is not true.

If the Cuomo- Glynn deal survives lawsuits and environmental challenges, Glynn will pay double on his boat tours to New York State.

From four percent to eight percent of gross boat tour sales.

The rent the governor is referring to as nearly tripling is not for the boats alone, but the combined rent Glynn pays on boat tours, a souvenir store and the fee he pays the state for the exclusive right to control and collect all admission money for the State's Observation Tower.

Hornblower Cruises and Events, who competed against Glynn and other companies and won the right to operate boat tours in Ontario, will be paying around 33 percent in a complicated rent formula that will see Hornblower pay more than $60 million in the first five years alone as a guarantee.

That is more than Glynn will pay in boat tour rent for the entire 30 years of his Cuomo-sponsored lease.

Compared to Hornblower's 33 percent rent, Glynn's eight percent rent is more than just a sweetheart deal - it is rip-off of the public.


The Glynn Sweetheart Lease Graph


The graph compares the rent that Maid of the Mist owner James V. Glynn paid to the State of New York and Ontario over the years. Glynn pays a
percentage of gross boat tour revenue. In 2014, the comparison is made
between Hornblower Cruises in Ontario and what Glynn will pay, if his deal with the governor holds, to New York.

Then again Glynn always gets sweet deals from government officials and, until the Niagara Falls Reporter published the terms of deals, the public never even knew it.

In 1971, when he first started operating the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company, Glynn paid both the Ontario and New York State Parks 10 percent of gross boat tour sales.

When he renewed his Ontario lease in 1981, the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) raised his rent to 12 percent.

In 1989, Ontario raised him to 15 percent.

In 2002, when Glynn's New York lease expired, the State Parks, instead of raising his rent, reduced his rent from 10 per cent to 4 percent.

The public was never told that State Parks dropped his rent by 60 percent.

And, despite the New York state law requiring competitive bidding for leases on public lands, there was no bidding. State Parks, when questioned, said they had no choice but to give the lease to Glynn because he had the Canadian docks, the only place to store boats in winter.

In 2008, a group of NPC commissioners in Ontario (who were later fired for their roles in the Glynn lease) determined also to decrease Glynn's rent, using a sliding scale formula that made it look like Glynn would pay slightly more in rent (17.5 percent) but in reality he would pay a lower rent. Using a sliding scale based on low threshold gross revenue figure, much of his rent -- over the 25-year life of the secretly negotiated lease - was to be paid at 5.5 percent.

After the Reporter discovered the terms of this lease, we revealed our findings. The Toronto Globe and Mail, using documents we provided to them, secured the services of a forensic accountant who confirmed Glynn's rent would go down by an astonishing $600,000 per year in the first year alone, and this was at a time when the NPC was laying off more than one hundred park workers.

In 2011, an open bidding process was ordered in Ontario and in 2012 Hornblower won, paying, as we said above, a rent of 33 percent, netting the Canadians more than $300 million more than what Glynn would have paid had the lease not gone out for bidding.

Last December, Gov. Cuomo told a gullible media that he saved the boat tours in New York and raised Glynn's rent to boot.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding between Glynn and the state, the rent for Glynn will be 8 percent, or less than a quarter of what Hornblower will be paying. In fact, Glynn's eight percent rent is less than the 10 percent he paid for most of the tenure of his New York lease.

That is why it is factual that Hornblower is offering $100 million more than Glynn in New York.



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

Mar12 , 2013