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War and Peace Bridge

Canadian-American Mexican Standoff

There has been little movement this week in the border war that has cast doubt on the future of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority in particular and Peace Bridge expansion in general.  Following is the latest in news and opinion on the subject.  All we can know at this point is that the future remains cloudy.

Squabbling on Peace Bridge Authority is interfering with vital work on plaza

The Buffalo News editorial board, whose long-held allegiance to both the bridge authority and plaza expansion has spawned countless reason-challenged editorials, lays another one here, invoking the ghost of Henry Kissinger to negotiate a truce in this childish conflict between two once-proud nations; and manages only to add to this low comedy, lamenting the delay to destroy a neighborhood and poison its residents while calling on all parties to forget their perceived differences and return to the sham of progress they had previously embraced.

Cuomo says nothing has been done to resolve Peace Bridge impasse

The tension mounts in this week’s cameo appearance from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who confirms the feud is not only personal but intractable:

i. e., each side blames the other and neither appears willing to discuss the issues.  One marvels the governor can even breathe let alone speak with his head lodged in such a confined space.

In fact, the U. S. and Canadian factions are two sides of the same coin: inseparable; and now an entity at war with itself.

The following plain-spoken insightful response to the governor from Peace Bridge neighborhood resident and “Obstructionist” Heroine Kathleen Mecca is found in the comments section of this article:

So Governor Cuomo doesn’t care that what he wants to build on the U.S. side of the bridge on Buffalo’s West Side will do more harm than good to thousands of innocent people? His comment to ‘accelerate and expedite’ a hazardous environmental project cons the public into believing the problem with the Peace Bridge is the organization itself when in fact it has always been the inability to sustain the wrong project in the wrong place. When our own Governor offensively dismisses the environmental review process as if it were a pesky nuisance instead of the law of the land, he makes the average dictator look like Tinker Bell. Governor Cuomo; West Side residents maybe sick but were not stupid and you sir are not above the law.

We interrupt this program to bring you the following announcement

Preservation Award Winner: Kathleen Mecca

Congratulations to Columbus Park Association President Kathleen Mecca, recognized as one of this year’s outstanding preservationists by Preservation Buffalo Niagara.  Read a profile of Mrs. Mecca and details of the award here, and purchase tickets to the awards luncheon here to join us in celebrating this honor.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

In Peace Bridge dispute, Cuomo’s style of diplomacy faces international test

In what has fast become custom, the Buffalo News presents another of its front page summaries of the week’s events.

It seems Governor Cuomo’s abrasive style of “grenade diplomacy” works less effectively on sovereign nations (to wit: the Seneca Nation and now Canada) than it does on his own subjects; many of whom, in an effort to stop the bleeding, have rallied to his defense by calling for the dissolution of the bridge authority and blaming Canada for the impasse.  The governor hurls rebukes and threats at the enemy, a nation which happens to be this state’s largest trading partner.  If his approach to this situation is any indication, it’s obvious he lacks the sensitivity and understanding it takes to succeed in international diplomacy, something he’ll sorely need if he expects to migrate beyond Albany to Washington D. C.

The two clear symbols of this binational discord are U. S. Bridge Authority vice-chair Sam Hoyt and authority GM, Canadian Ron Reinas.  Each side wants the other gone, and so far, there has been no movement at all by either side toward compromise.

There are elemental differences in perception between the warring parties.  This is an international stare-down, and who will blink first is anybody’s guess.

In a patently insincere effort to make nice, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy claims he’s “…confident this situation is going to get back on track.”  Just where that track will lead remains to be seen.

The last word

It’s Already Built

Forget the Peace Bridge, leave the Skyway, and focus on tough chores

In this Artvoice article by Bruce Fisher, director of the the Center for Economic and Policy Studies at Buffalo State College and this region’s premier economic analyst, tells us all we need to know about the future of the Peace Bridge (and the Skyway, as well).

We’ll forgo our usual commentary and excerpt directly from Mr. Fisher’s analysis:

Here’s a synthesis of Ed Glaeser, John Norquist, Jane Jacobs, Kathy Mecca, and every 20-something who comes around the family dining room table with the experience of seeing how other places work: When we think about public policy in Buffalo, we should focus on people, on making the place cleaner, greener, and smarter, and more about the next thing than about the last thing.

…there’s another organizational fix we need, and soon—the one that Assemblymember Sean Ryan and a couple of his State Senate colleagues just proposed.

Sean Ryan, Mark Grisanti, and George Maziarz are correct: The 10-member Public Bridge Authority of Buffalo and Fort Erie should go out of existence and leave the Peace Bridge to be managed by the transportation people in Ontario and New York. Why should Ryan, Grisanti, and Maziarz prevail? Here’s the answer, an answer that should be repeated as many times as possible to correct the misimpression of two decades or more of relentless propaganda: We don’t need a new Peace Bridge. We need a truck-free Peace Bridge.

As Kathy Mecca and the beleaguered residents of Busti Avenue, Columbus Parkway, and the rest of Prospect Hill know, the fume-belching diesel trucks that poison their air are in dwindling supply. Wall Street knows this, too: Were traffic on the Peace Bridge growing rather than shrinking, the number-crunchers who advise the tax-exempt bond market would advise the investment community to buy Peace Bridge Authority bonds so that that entity could build a grand new bridge and pay the bonds off with all the new revenue from all the new users. Wall Street won’t do so for the simple reason that traffic is shrinking, not growing. Ryan and Grisanti say that the Peace Bridge Authority is focused on building what it wants to build in a way that has little to do with the Western New York economy anyway. We do not need an unresponsive, secretive, monument-focused, run-amok Authority to squirrel away more funds, in addition to the $100 billion it already has on hand, and to expand the tax-exempt Duty Free business at the expense of the Olmsted neighborhood, in order to build a bridge that is not needed.

…The international visitor should see green glades and a handsome neighborhood rather than a Duty Free store and an asthma-inducing truck plaza. In each case, the thinking is about people as well as this unique place, and not just about an abstract notion of commerce, or growth, or success, that has no context.

And that’s all you need to know.

Parting shot

What should be done about the Peace Bridge?

This seemingly innocent Buffalo Business First survey purports to solicit opinion on what should be done at the Peace Bridge, but the limited choices are designed to manufacture opinion, not discern it.  That’s why we urge you to access the survey (here), not to answer it but to comment on it:

Dissolve the Bridge Authority,

Move the Trucks,

Restore the Neighborhood.

Only then will we have Peace in our time…