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Peace Bridge’s sole “authority” debate…continues

Ask ourselves this:
Why isn’t our precious community’s mainstream media asking the PBA’s Ron Rienas more deeply probing questions about this PBA west side takeover matter? We’ve got many more Questions for Mr. Rienas and the PB AUTHORITY… some of these questions were briefly reviewed and discussed on our interview…many warrant more time and attention than the mere 30 minutes we talked. But let’s hack away at a few concernable more. Loads of questions the community hasn’t even been alerted to– but do command our attention.
* Mr.Ron Rienas, let me ask you, why of the 59 options the PBA claims to have studied – only one option was presented as viable? (let’s forget about the 3 shared border management plans as you knew going into the Oct 11th presentation that was not an option). Hard to believe that all options were seriously considered and this was the only one viable – more like this is the only one the PBA wanted to pursue.
* PBA blindsided the community by presenting the worst possible plan – one that builds ramps through a waterfront community, crossing Rhode Island down to Vermont and to add insult to injury, not a single option was presented that included any of the public workshop input from the neighborhood residents – why?
* And what, really, of your slums the PBA owns on Busti Ave – they have been decaying for several years.You can’t expect the city residents to believe you are improving the neighborhood.
* If it was determined that the Peace Bridge has seen its day and we’d do it “better, faster, cheaper” by knocking it down and just building a new bridge, what would happen to the PBA? (sources say if the Peace Bridge goes, the PBA goes too). Why do you process monthly hate mail about a Detroit concern wishing to pay taxes you only cough a nickel toward –what’s wrong with healthy co-contributive bridges– one meant for trucks in a commercial-industrial neighborhood venue?
* What happens when the PBA no longer owes money for construction and maintenance on the Peace Bridge? Who pays for PBA “hazmat” services… how does PBA compensate Buffalo Fire Department services?
…and then there’s the mighty quizzical PBAuthority issues on:
“International Compact Entity vs. Public Trust”
1. First of all: What is the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority? Officially?
2. Why are you and your team of lawyers fighting ( currently ) a federal law suit based on the assertion that you are not a NYS Authority?
3. What is an “international compact entity” and why should the public give it tax dollars? Who benefits? Where is the trust there?
4.. Why should the public put their trust and public tax dollars into a entity that states in federal court that they are not subject to any laws in NYS?
5. Why is the PBA in court in the first place? Why did they get sued again after the Fahey ruling in 1999? Why insist that no laws apply to you?
6. NYS Supreme court Judge Eugene Fahey ordered the PBA to do an EIS on the bridge and both the US and Canadian plaza’s environmental impacts – but yet the PBA has ignored that ruling and proceeded with plaza construction on both sides of the border, why? Is that something we should call being trustworthy?
7. Has the PBA done an EA (an EIS in CA.) in Canada? if no, why not?
8. Given the current court case and Judge Fahey rulings being ignored, why should anyone TRUST what you say?
9.. What is the basis for the PBA not subjecting itself to FOIA laws or open meeting laws and what does that say to the public who’s money you are so pleased to take? Is that trust building Canadian style?
10. Why did the PBA sue a private citizen in Canada for exercising freedom of speech? And does that lend to the trust factor or detract from it? Can we publish the details of that suit and not expect to get sued on the US side? Do you believe in the right to free speech?
11. Why did you recently attend a (Nick Bonafacio) Bi-National Bridge Task Force mtg and basically read a 3 page tirade of counter-charges and threats against US citizens who exercised their right to free speech and spoke out against the PBA plan to demolish more than 90-120 homes on the West side? Why should anyone trust you after reading the way YOU act when being criticized? (Which we are going to post on BRO, btw)
11 Why should we be so trusting and restrained in our criticism when you are either self-proclaimed “above” any criticism itself or so-thinned skinned upon hearing any that you rant, rave and otherwise threaten all self-respecting citizens or residents that dare speak out? Where is the trust there?
12. What is the true condition of the Peace bridge? Why won’t the PBA provide to the public the true condition and cost of maintaining the bridge? Why would anyone trust what you say about the bridge when you also say the PBA in not subject to public scrutiny?
13. 1994, the PBA told the public that the public bridge was in serious disrepair and that it would require redecking and other rehab or its deck would literally fall into the Niagara River? It is 2007, and not a further word or dollar spent on the deck repair? Was the PBA lying about that to get the public fears aroused and thus a new twin span quickly approved? What was the “trust us” part of that strategy? Why believe anything the PBA says now?
14. Given the PBA’s poor reputation in dealing with its neighbors in the US and CA and your poor public record of telling the truth to the public over the last 10 years – Why should the public TRUST the PBA?
15. Why is a Canadian citizen such as yourself in charge of condemning 90-120 homes in the USA? Would Canadians subject themselves to the opposite?
16. Do any current or past PBA commissioners benefit financially, profit in any way, or get paid from the PBA or ANY affiliated companies?
17. Are all the PBA commissioners politically appointed and how do you hold your post? Were you appointed? For how long? Why were you hired?
18. Do you privately profit in any way other that your salary and pension from the PBA? If so, how?
19. Why did Jake Lamb get fired by the PBA? Was it because he advocated for expansion in the IRR corridor? If he was not fired, what does he do now?
20. Why did the PBA fire Steve Mayer and 2 other US employees when you also came on board? Did they receive any payment not to talk about how they got fired ?
21. How much US fed tax dollars have been spent on the DEIS? And why US tax dollars only? Why is it so one sided — US loses neighborhoods and homes and parks and FtE loses nothing? Would you or the PBA allow it to happen in reverse? Why not?
22. Why does the PBA expect the GSA and US taxpayers to pay for the bridge and plaza when the Canadian government pays NO RENT to the PBA at all and the PBA floated new bonds to pay for all the new construction on the Ca. side?
22. How does GSA feel about paying for improvements that will benefit Canadians?
23. You recently stated the DHS was to “blame” for all the condemnation requirements, not the PBA, why? and why use the word blame? Does DHS know they are being “blamed” by the PBA for destroying a historic neighborhood?
24. What is the ultimate cost of this project and how much will be paid by US/NYS taxpayers vs. Canadian taxpayers?
25. Who is your boss? Who is the PBA’s overall boss? Is there a boss? Who is the PBA board’s boss?
If our 30 munite interview seemed like a gattling gun, sorry– but the NEWS is not covering this story, not engaging the PBA to answer these questions.
I take my hat off to Mr. Rienas sincerely for his openly engaging in debate. Our first encounter may have seemed hurried, but we each promised a second conversation, with research prepared for both concerns….may the above provide fodder for some of Mr. Rienas’s research. We’ll be talking again soon, here on BRO– the media that does engage all sides for a community.
May we now prepare for our next conversation Mr. Rienas.

Written by Bill Zimmermann

Bill Zimmermann

Bill runs Seven Seas Sailing school, and is a staunch waterfront activist. He is also heavily involved with preserving, maintaining, and promoting the South Buffalo Lighthouse. When Bill first started writing for Buffalo Rising, he wrote an article a day for 365 days - each article coincided with a significant historic event that happened in Buffalo on that same day.

View All Articles by Bill Zimmermann
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