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May 27 - JUNE 03, 2014

Hornblower Appeal to be Heard Sept 3 Seeks to overturn Glynn no bid Maid of the Mist deal

By Mike Hudson

May 27, 2014

Long lines and long waits are the norm for Glynn's Maid of the mist

Past positions and legal defenses made by the New York Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are directly at odds with its current arguments, which seem designed solely to protect Jimmy Glynn's Maid of the Mist Corp. from competition.

So goes the thesis of a 26-page legal appeal of an April 2013 ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto filed by Glynn's chief competitor, Hornblower Yachts, and filed in state Appellate Court earlier this month.

Hornblower, like Glynn, is an American-owned company.

Panepinto stated that her decision was based on the arguments of State Parks officials who said that there should be no open bidding process on the sightseeing boat tour concession that operates in the Niagara Falls basin.

The officials, she wrote, knew more about the situation than she did and she would defer to them.

In its appeal, Hornblower details instance after instance when the most recent statements by State Parks officials are diametrically opposed to statements they made earlier, and shows how, in case after case, the conflicting rulings and arguments seemed to benefit the Glynn family business.

For more than a decade, for example, State Parks argued that, since Glynn had the Canadian concession to operate his Maid of the Mist operation, and since the boat docks were located on the Canadian side of the river, Glynn was a "sole source provider" of the tour boat business here and competitive bidding wasn't needed.

But after Glynn lost the Canadian contract in 2012 after it became the focus of a government investigation and a nationwide scandal in Canada, State Parks suddenly changed its tune.

The impossible suddenly became possible as officials who had once sworn as to the sheer unfeasibility of building new docks on the American side of the river swiftly came up with not only a plan but the real estate on which to do so. It didn't matter who had the Canadian concession they now said, and who were the Canadians to dictate what we did on the American side anyway?

Never mind that official New York state policy had been to allow the Canadians to dictate the terms of the American lease for decades.

Just as abruptly the name "Maid of the Mist" became a revered cultural icon, almost like the Statue of Liberty except Jimmy Glynn doesn't own that, and needed to be preserved at any cost.

The fact is that the Maid of the Mist name had been painted on the sterns of scores of boats operating around the falls for 150 years prior to Glynn's operation beginning in 1971.

New York taxpayers were robbed of nearly $300 million when Jimmy Glynn got the no-bid contract to continue operating his tour boat business here, and politicians from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on down to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster applauded it.

At the end of the day, Hornblower offered New York taxpayers $100 million more than Glynn and was shown the door in New York.

The appeal, filed by Hornblower Yachts, is a reasonable attempt to find out why.

For some unknown reason, politi- cians love to do Jim Glynn, owner of the Maid of the Mist, $100 million favors





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