Niagara Gazette — As Americans became increasingly frustrated with the congressional negotiations that had pushed our economy ever so close to a plunge over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” those of us living in Niagara Falls could only reflect on how often we have witnessed this type of political theater played out both literally and figuratively in our own community.
At the center of such performances are those lawmakers who have been elected and re-elected expressing the belief that they possess the magic formula for economic revitalization. In reality, it is their addiction to short-term fixes that only worsens the economic problems facing the nation as well as Niagara Falls.
Ten years ago, our state and local elected officials told us that the revenues from Seneca Niagara Casino would become the magic formula curing the financial problems plaguing our community. Now we know this budgetary dependency on casino revenues has only led to a postponement of the structural reforms that are necessary to rebuild the local economy.
What we all should realize is that we have continued to support and elect lawmakers who pander to the American preference for lower taxes and increased government services. Just like drunks begging their favorite bartender for just one more drink, our public officials believed that these annual shots of casino revenues would provide the economic stimulus Niagara Falls had desperately needed. Now that the drunk has been cut off from this magic elixir, he continues to search for just one more quick fix to all of his problems.
So what have the lawmakers at city hall given us for fiscal year 2013? Actually, it is nothing more than the same political sleight of hand we’ve been accepting since we began anticipating that first taste of casino revenues 10 years ago. Our political leaders have offered us another round of our favorite cocktail of no tax increases with a sustained level of basic city services. What they haven’t offered us is their willingness to tackle the underlying weaknesses that have produced the economic stagnation we’ve come to take for granted in Niagara Falls.