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By Mike Hudson

Have you talked to anyone who went to the Yes concert last week at the Conference Center Niagara Falls? Frankly, I couldn't stand Yes even when they were popular -- some 30 years ago -- but to each his own, I always say,and the fans I talked to said the band did about as well as could be expected.

Under the circumstances.

City Council Candidates
Hanchette: Mt. Views
Staba: Citycide

For a public project, the conference center was built on the cheap. The state spent just $17 million of your tax dollars to convert the crumbling and long-abandoned Falls Street Faire into what spokesmen from Niagara USA Development called a state-of-the-art facility.

Like a scene out of the movie "This Is Spinal Tap," the band found that the venue was far too small to allow them to bring in their touring stage. The audience, mainly 50-somethings who'd gotten free tickets at the Seneca Niagara Casino, likewise found that the chairs -- little folding wooden ones similar to those used in down-and-out funeral homes -- were too small as well.

The venue's floor is flat, meaning that those in the back saw little of what was taking place onstage and, as a consequence, large numbers of attendees simply milled about, opting to stretch their legs rather than punish their derrieres.

And then there were the acoustics, which some thought might compare favorably to those found in your average elementary school cafeteria.

The conference center was a dodge foisted on the city by Gov. George Pataki, who all of a sudden realized he'd destroyed the convention business here about a year after he handed the former convention center over to the Seneca Nation of Indians for use as a casino.

It was, in other words, a multi-million dollar solution to a problem he created.

Need more proof that Pataki could screw up a two-car funeral?

Take a ride down to Youngstown on the Robert Moses Parkway. More than three years after two lanes of the roadway were closed, it still looks like a construction project waiting to happen.

Emergency vehicles still can't pass slower-moving traffic, because there's no place to pull off in either direction. Pedestrians crossing over to the Devil's Hole state park represent a constant hazard, and it's a wonder more of them haven't been killed. The roadway is deteriorating at an alarming pace, the result of increased traffic on the two remaining lanes and the fact that no maintenance can be done without shutting the thing down altogether.

The two closed lanes are in such poor condition that a complete re-pavement would be needed to make them usable again. And if anyone thinks the state can afford that, they'd do well to try and sit through three hours of Yes on an undersized folding wooden chair at the Conference Center Niagara Falls.

Neither fish nor fowl, the Robert Moses Parkway is currently an unsightly, unsafe mess in the middle of our community. With all due respect to my many friends in Lewiston and Youngstown, the time has come to pull the trigger on this debacle.

And since the state seems to lack both the political fortitude and the money to restore the parkway to its former condition, maybe it's time to try something else and rip the damn thing out for once and for all.

Finally, I'd like to send a shout-out to my boy, Rick Pfeiffer.

Maybe one of the reasons he was such a miserable failure in television news is that he lacks the testosterone to confront the people he's doing stories about.

A week ago Monday, a story on our move to the Niagara Business Center appeared on the Reporter Web site. Pfeiffer got around to writing about it for the Niagara Gazette the following Wednesday, managing to devote a number of paragraphs to us without actually mentioning the Reporter by name.

To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, every word he wrote was a lie, including "and" and "the."

But I think he's slipping a little bit. Usually, when we have a big story posted on the Web Monday afternoon, Pfeiffer has it retyped and in the Gazette by Tuesday morning. Not having any Falls sources himself, the Grand Island resident relies on our paper and the Buffalo News for most of his "exclusives."

Unethical, lazy and cowardly, I can take. Bad reporting, however, is another matter.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Sept. 7 2004