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There is a place, right here in Niagara Falls, where cynicism takes a holiday and mockery hasn't yet been invented. A place where whatever bum of the month happens to be our mayor is portrayed as an individual of rare genius, and where a tear or two is shed even for Francine Del Monte, perhaps the most reprehensible woman ever to disgrace the state Assembly.

You can go there anytime; things are always looking up. No matter what year it happens to be, no matter how bad the economy or the crime rate, there are always signs of hope, sought out and cataloged in much the same way an entomologist might seek out and catalog various subspecies of gnats.

The fact that no streets have been closed by snow when there hasn't even been much snow is hailed as a crowning achievement by the city. The resurfacing of a few streets, considered elsewhere to be the most minimal sort of service provided by a municipality, is heralded as the brilliant move of a mastermind unseen in these parts for decades.

And let's not worry when a nationally known and respected author comes to town and focuses on the bombed-out neighborhoods, the abject poverty and the vile corruption that most people see here. That's only a part of the story. Just wait until he sees the success that will be ours right around the corner!

There's light at the end of the tunnel. We're moving in the right direction. The future's so bright, you've got to wear shades.

If you're like most Niagara Falls residents, you may be asking, "Where is this place?" That's because most Niagara Falls residents stopped reading the Niagara Gazette long ago, or look at it only to see who died or who was picked up by the police the night before.

Because that place, the place where the governmental administration of Niagara Falls outshines its counterparts all around the country, can only be found in the Gazette, in the form of a column written almost weekly by Mark Scheer.

We say almost because, in addition to his regular vacations, the Gazette forces its employees to take unpaid leaves of absence throughout the year that cut into the number of columns a weekly columnist might file, unless he or she wants to work for free.

If you haven't lately, you might try reading Scheer's column. It's almost like being somewhere else.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Jan. 11, 2011