Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 20, 2013

GLYNN: Niagara still divided over its tourist industry

Niagara Gazette — It seems like only yesterday that the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation was christened as the ultimate solution to the endless bickering over how the tourist industry should be operated.

The record is replete with the sharp debates between the Niagara County Tourism Department and the Niagara Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau, until both entities were eliminated by the NTCC created in 2002. 

Some readers may recall, a Florida tourism consultant was hired — the tab picked up by the state and Niagara University — and that in-depth study recommended that the CVB and the county tourism office be dissolved for a single entity to coordinate tourism promotion and convention sales. That move to consolidate was spearheaded by state Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, who viewed the transition as taking politics out of the entire process. A search committee then selected David Rosenwasser, who had headed a private company that operated a tourism promotion agency in Green Bay, Wisc. Rosenwasser took a hefty pay cut, from his $190,000 post in the Badger State to about $115,000 in the Cataract City.

John Percy, then serving in the No. 2 slot at NTCC, succeeded Rosenwasser when the latter accepted another tourism job in St. Charles, Mo. Percy’s tenure has been riddled with criticism — some of it unfair — about expense accounts, costs for trips abroad and a general reluctance to provide a more specific accounting for some expenditures. Now, some county lawmakers have sought to renew his contract for only a year. As legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda, explained, the short term is designed to derive “transparency, oversight and better supervision of expenses.”

What’s worrisome to some observers now is speculation that a Niagara Falls City Council member will attempt to influence the appointment of a close friend to the top NTCC post. Since that person apparently has no valid credentials for the position, it would make a mockery out of  Maziarz’s oft-repeated pledge to keep NTCC free of politics. 

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