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Maid of Mist Ends Canadian Rides, In Part Due to Stories by This Newspaper

By Tony Farina

Last ride on Canadian side....

We here at the Niagara Falls Reporter would like to take a moment to publicly reflect on the final weekend of Maid of the Mist boat tours operating from Canadian docks after 41 years under the flag of the Glynn family.

The Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) thanked the Glynn family for their years of service but it appears the Glynn family didn’t take too kindly to the low-key sendoff from NPC.

A spokesman for the Glynn family said “this great history (boat tours) cannot be reduced to 41 years of ownership or by simply being referred to as simply privately held tour boats.”

Maybe the Glynn family is still peeved that NPC, after an exhaustive and lengthy probe by this put the boat ride franchise out to competitive bid and Glynn lost.

California-based Hornblower Yachts will take over on the Canadian side next year after winning the competition and agreeing to pay the Ontario government $500 million over the next 30 years, some $300 million more than the Glynn family was projecting to pay.

The Canadian government is probably celebrating its windfall, achieved in great measure after public pressure--much of it driven by a series of stories in the Niagara Falls Reporter by Publisher Frank Parlato-- resulted in Glynn’s Canadian lease being voided after an investigation by the Ontario Parks Commission concluded that the procurement process was “significantly impacted by politics [and] external influences.”

So, while the NPC did the publicly correct thing in thanking the Glynn family for their years of service, they are certainly aware that Glynn’s departure is good news on the financial side, and the boat rides will now bring in bigger bucks for the Ontario government with Hornblower at the controls. On the other hand, the Glynn family’s response is understandable given the windfall in profits they lost by losing out in the bid process.

The Glynn family might have been beached on the American side, too, if the franchise had gone out to competitive bid as this newspaper had urged. It could have resulted in a big windfall for New York State from the boat tours, but Gov. Cuomo, citing “special circumstances,” did not bid out the franchise and made a backroom deal with Jimmy Glynn’s Maid of the Mist that keeps his boats in the water.

Under the “special” deal, Glynn agreed to pay an estimated $32 million to build docks on the American side and will pay $100 million to the state over the next 30 years, about three times more than his old rent.

Hornblower had indicated the firm would be willing to pay New York $100 million more than Glynn to operate the franchise on the U. S. side for the next 30 years, but Cuomo handed it to Glynn despite the big windfall for the state that competitive bidding led by Hornblower, the new Canadian operator, might have brought.

Cuomo’s decision remains puzzling, but he refused to elaborate beyond “special circumstances,” and that kept Glynn afloat, much to the pleasure of those who praised the governor for “saving the Maid of the Mist,” and they probably didn’t mean from a competitor who was willing to pay more to take tourists for a ride.

When all is said and done, the Ontario government wouldn’t be getting a much bigger fee from the boat operator, and New York State wouldn’t be receiving three times the old rent from Glynn if this weekly newspaper hadn’t pulled aside the veil of secrecy that had cloaked the boat ride operations all these many years and revealed that all was not as it seemed.



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

OCT 29, 2013