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War and the Peace Bridge 

Slowing to a Crawl

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This week, our ‘ever ready with a sound bite’ Senator Charles E. Schumer is back, flogging one of his pet issues: wait time on the Peace Bridge.  Add to that dire predictions of Apocalyptic traffic when the Public Bridge Authority finally begins a major rehab
of the bridge in 2015 and the lack of any substantive progress on a pre-clearance program to expedite passage on the bridge, and you have the makings of a new frontier of frustration at our favorite border crossing.

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Not only that, for comic relief, we had the embarrassing spectacle of binational business leaders cavorting openly with disgraced Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at a Buffalo Bills game.  Fortunately, no one fell out of their private box at the game; at least not literally.

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1203wklydutyfreeNow, the good news: Peace Bridge Duty Free, the gold standard for Duty Free stores, swept the annual Duty Free Academy Awards.

One last thing: the Prospect Hill neighborhood, host to all of this, received a boost in its quest for Historic District designation.  Once this honor is secured, will this largely ignored neighborhood finally attain some measure of respectability?1203wklyprospecthill_______________

Schumer to Call for More Peace Bridge Agents

Calling for Reinforcements

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Citing unnamed but “reliable sources”, Senator Charles E. Schumer, exposed a security leak at our busy border crossing in a recent press conference held in the shadow of the Peace Bridge and demanded that U.S. Customs and Border Protection restore cutbacks to agents at the Bridge.  Although wait times for autos here historically averages only seven minutes, Schumer claims the loss of agents has caused a sudden, drastic increase in wait times, and he wants them back, pronto.  It matters not to him that wait times at our southern borders are five times longer–that’s not his district.

According to Schumer, “every border agent provides a $2 Million boost to a local economy and 33 new jobs.”  If that’s true, Walmart  could increase their sales by adding more greeters.

As if that weren’t enough, Schumer “apparently confused Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy with the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto” during the press conference, according to this blog entry.

Read all about it in this Buffalo News article, this Business First report, this WBFO radio reportthis one from the Canadian Press, as well as this article which adds support from U.S. and Canadian business leaders (more on them later).  And watch him in action on these WGRZ and WKBW video reports.  Not one to be left out of a Peace Bridge matter, the Buffalo News piles on with this editorial.

Schumer also wants more agents for the Beyond a Border initiative, designed to speed up commercial processing at the bridge. And how successful has this pilot program been?  So far, “there’s still no sign of a comprehensive pre-clearance and pre-inspection agreement for passengers and cargo, nor an expansion of benefits for trusted traders,” according to this report from Toronto City News.

No matter how many agents staff the booths, nothing will prevent the ‘Trafficalypse’ predicted for 2015 (in this Fort Erie Times article) when the Bridge Authority begins a year of upgrades that will require continual lane closures.

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Local Business Leaders ‘Say Cheese’ With Embattled Toronto Mayor

Business Behaving Badly or Indiscretion by Association 

1203wklydemlerWe don’t know if Toronto Mayor Rob Ford shared any of his ‘refreshments’  with business leaders from Buffalo and Toronto at their “Cross-Border Huddle” in Rogers Stadium during the Bills game last Sunday, but whatever it was that caused respected individuals like Buffalo Niagara Partnership President Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, news anchor Mary Alice Demler, and others to tweet photos and praise for Mr. Ford, we want some.

Read the mind-numbing account in this Buffalo News blog entry and this News article.

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And the winner is….

Peace Bridge Duty Free sweeps FDFA’s Gold Standard Awards 2013

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Hearty congratulations to the best tax-evading Duty Free there is, and it’s right in our own backyard–literally.

For the details, read this Moodie Report post.

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Buffalo Nonprofits Win Preserve NY Grants

A Neighborhood Acknowledged

In this announcement from the Preservation League of New York State:

The League made a grant of $10,000 to Preservation Buffalo Niagara to support the cost of completing the documentation to secure local as well as State and National Register designation for the Prospect Hill Historic District. The Prospect Hill/Columbus Park neighborhood, comprised of homes built from the 1890s to the 1960s, was placed on the League’s Seven to Save list of endangered places in 2008 and included in the National Trust’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Although politicians and officials not only deny the historic significance of this neighborhood adjacent to the Peace Bridge but also the grave health hazard imposed on it by toxic emissions from the bridge plaza, others have not.  For that were are grateful.

Will recognition as a National Historic District change their opinion of us?  It can’t make it worse.  Or could it?

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