Niagara Gazette

April 28, 2013

GLYNN: Border fee is doomed

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — How about adding a special fee for Canadians with season tickets to Buffalo Sabres’ games? Maybe the state parks could impose a $50 day pass on all visitors from India, China, Japan, Europe and South America entering Prospect Park or Goat Island.

One of the most idiotic ideas to ever emerge from Washington, D.C. is a provision in the president’s budget for fiscal year 2014 calling for a study that could result in a new border-crossing fee for Canadians. Obviously this could only be shaped by bureaucrats or politicians with little or no link to the real world. In this case, surprisingly, it was conceived by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

At any rate, you shouldn’t be too upset by the suggestion because, as U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said Friday, “The border fee will be dead on arrival in the Senate.”

How could any clear-thinking individual ask our government to charge Canadians entering the U.S. on foot, in their vehicles or on a passenger train? As Schumer notes, Canadians spent $4.1 billion along the northern and southern borders in 2011. According to the federal Department of Commerce, more Canadians visited the Empire State in 2011 that any other state in the nation. We don’t need lawmakers on Capitol Hill to convince us of that impact. Just take a glance any day in the week at stores and restaurants along Military Road or the steady lines of car and truck traffic at the international bridges. 

Schumer’s concerns are shared by a number of colleagues. U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, whose district includes Niagara Falls, questioned DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano during a congressional hearing last week. “Putting up economic barriers to regional commerce is the absolute last thing we should be doing to grow the Western New York economy,” Higgins said. 

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IN THE PARK: During the prime tourist season you’ll probably notice an increased presence of security in Prospect Park and around Goat Island. Mark Thomas, director of the regional state parks commission, said the part-time public safety rangers were called back early this year to assist the park police.

Meanwhile, Major David Page, who heads the park force, said he still is awaiting word whether recent graduates of the Basic School of the New York State Police Academy, Albany, will be assigned to the western district that includes the Niagara Falls State Park. Due to budget cuts, the academy had been shut down from June 2009 until last fall.

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STRIKING OUT: The Huffington Post in Canada reports that the Toronto Blue Jays fans are the worst in Major League Baseball. That’s a jolt to countless people in Western New York and southwestern Ontario who always look forward to those excursions every summer to the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Jays’ front office better take firm control of the situation or they’ll be struggling with a lot of empty seats this year.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, former Jays catcher Greg Zaun said the “team’s fans have definitely gotten worse.” Zaun added: “They’re getting drunker, and drunker and drunker and it’s because the fans are getting younger and younger.”  

One thing for sure, the fans must be getting wealthier and wealthier if they can afford $9 draft beers.

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ON THE HOUSE: As you sort out the impressive events that Artpark is offering to celebrate its 40th anniversary, mark the calendar too for July 29. That’s when the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston will sponsor its sixth annual “Free Family Movie Night” at 8 p.m. at the outdoor amphitheater. The feature this year on the giant Jumbotron screen will be Disney Pixar’s “Brave.”

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MATH PROBLEM: Overheard a coffee group at McDonald’s in the City Market: “Why are you guys always challenging me? You know I’m right 98 percent of the time. Okay, so I mess up on the other three percent.”

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.