Guess what, suckers? You’re getting suckered again. Oh, you’re watching “American Idol?” I’m sorry, but they said it was $57 million and really it was only...Yes I can be quiet...but the waterfront, I can’t believe that person thinks they can sing, yeah, a total that Simon is a problem? what problem? Oh, Bass Pro? No, nothing, it’s not important. Just business as usual.

What can you believe when you can’t believe anything? You can believe that I.F. Stone wasn’t lying when he said “governments lie.” By extension you can believe that businesses lie and newspapers lie. Except The BEAST, of course.

In addition to the constant barrage of bullshit on the national stage, there are two big lies floating around Buffalo these days. The first is that Bass Pro is going to invest $57 million of their own money into renovating the Aud. The second is that the waterfront redevelopment is going to be locally controlled.

Thanks to Jim Ostrowski, local libertarian attorney, author of “Political Class Dismissed” (decent book, stupid cover) and leader of a citizens group called Free Buffalo, we can once again confirm that I.F. Stone is correct and our local politicians, business community and media are all full of shit. The truth about the Bass Pro deal, which Ostrowski had pointed out from the very beginning, is that Bass Pro is committing to spending $22 million and not the $57 million that every politician, media outlet and business booster in the area claimed they were doing. 

The exact quote from the Memorandum of Understanding governing the Bass Pro deal is, “Bass Pro agrees to invest not less than $57 million dollars inclusive of any enabling funding received from the parties as outlined herein to redevelop Memorial Auditorium.” In a May 11, 2005 News Alert published on, Ostrowski said of this language in the proposed deal, “Does this mean that this figure “includes” the $21 million from the state and $14 million from the locals? Doesn’t that mean Bass Pro is really investing $22 million?”

When something is written this way by people that have got degrees and experience in this sort of thing, the only rational explanation for it not being clear is that it wasn’t meant to be clear. They wanted us to think that Bass Pro was a better deal for us than it really was. That’s all there is to it. It’s not a secret, it’s just a lie and the local assholes that are still pushing this deal are not coming clean. Hey Byron, it’s on you now. Time to show that you’re not just another asshole politician.

So where would Byron go if he wanted to find out what was really going on? Or where would any of our well paid journalists and spokespeople go to find out the truth? They might try what Ostroswski did: ask a few questions. In particular, he asked the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). You’ll remember them as the state organization that last month dropped the ball when a German company wanted to relocate to Niagara Falls, bringing scores of good jobs here. The ESDC is the George Pataki run operation that has a cronyism lock on all state development projects. So you’d think Pataki would know what the deal was. Guess not. In the Pataki press conference announcing the Bass Pro deal, he claimed that Bass Pro was spending over $50 million on the project. Thankfully, Ostrowski wasn’t as easily duped as our gullible leadership and after months of pressing the ESDC for answers, Ostrowski got the following email from spokesbot Deborah Wetzel:

Subject: answers to your questions

In response to the inquiry, the MOU signed for the project indicates that Bass Pro would spend a minimum of $22.0 million of its funds, with $35 million committed from the State, County & City towards the conversion of the AUD to a 250,000 sq. ft. retail store. The total renovation costs are estimated at $57.0 million.

The seven voting members were initially recommended by the Governor, and the ESDC Board appointed them when it created the subsidiary corporation as authorized by statute governing the ESDC. The ECHDC has tow ex-officio non-voting members (Mayor of Buffalo & Erie County Executive), and one other non-voting member (Melinda Rich).

They knew the deal all along. The second paragraph of the above email refers to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation being a subsidiary of Pataki’s ESDC. This is another affront to the public that requires an explanation from Congressman Brian Higgins about waterfront redevelopment. In particular, his beloved outer harbor project where the impression he gave us and continues to give us is that the deal was going to be done locally for local benefit. In fact, Higgins had previously complained that the “failure of the Pataki administration to make a firm commitment for infrastructure improvements at our Outer Harbor is unacceptable.” What Higgins has promoted is the ECHDC mentioned above which stands for the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. As the email makes clear, it is anything but a local organization. It’s a subsidiary of Pataki’s patronage and cronyism machine. So that means anything that gets done here is going to have Albany and New York City getting their cut. Why is it so hard to get the truth from anyone around here?

We keep writing about these things, and the gap between what our leaders tell us (and the media obediently repeat) and the truth grows ever wider. We go to war, we outsource our economy, we can’t afford health care, we appoint fools to FEMA, cut taxes for the very wealthy and the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and it’s all based on lies. It’s not a mistake; it’s a business model. It runs all through our current system and those that pay the price are the same miserable “American Idol” watchers taking it all on faith and not giving a shit. Why do we even bother?

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