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Revenues at city parking lots were down by more than 10 percent over the busy Fourth of July weekend compared to last season, according to City Controller Maria Brown.

Private parking lot operators did just fine, with at least one reporting record revenue.

The city shouldn't be in the parking business, the concert promoting business, the museum business, the restaurant business, the golf course business or the filmmaking business. If the business of business is to make money, the city is failing miserably.

There are a number of reasons for this. Parking lot attendants working for the city, for example, make considerably more money than parking lot attendants working at private lots. And the people who run the municipal lots get paid the same whether those lots are full or empty, unlike their private competitors. In the private sector, success or failure has to do with being able to put bread on the table. In the public sector, the taxpayer is always there to bail out any failed enterprise.

The city, in fact, is the only entity that loses money running parking facilities here in Niagara Falls, ranked by Forbes as the sixth top tourist destination in the world.

When he was elected, Mayor Paul Dyster said he was a man of "big ideas." Thus far, those ideas have consisted of a publicly financed concert series, a taxpayer funded restaurant and cooking school downtown, and a museum dedicated to a history that didn't occur, but that is historic in and of itself for the monumental bill that will be left for future generations of taxpayers to cover.

Dyster's opposition to private business, on the other hand, borders on the pathological. His crusade against One Niagara -- the most successful private business downtown -- has been well documented. He opposed the county Industrial Development Agency when it helped fund the Merani family's acquisition of two Buffalo Avenue hotels, only to claim credit when the old Inn on the River was successfully reopened earlier this year.

And his antipathy toward the city's largest property owner, Niagara Falls Redevelopment, is something he brags about on his Facebook page.

Given the deplorable condition of the city's streets, the fact that the police department is undermanned to the point where our neighborhoods have become shooting galleries even during the daytime hours, and the forever-increasing number of vacant, vandalized buildings in every neighborhood in the city, our leaders should be spending their time and our money on actual problems.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 19, 2011