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SQUABBLING SIBLINGS
WE'VE ALL MATURED BEYOND THESE SILLY WAYS OF DEALING WITH EACH OTHER. RIGHT?

The PEACE BRIDGE

The Issue:

How to enlarge the storied border crossing that lands in Buffalo to accommodate the increased truck traffic. Needs binational cooperation.

What the Little People Thought the Powerful Were Thinking:

We need a new bridge and we need it fast so all those beautiful trucks can roar through. Think of the money we can make taking the huge construction contracts for ourselves and our pals! Who cares what the damned thing looks like? This city is sinking fast, and we've got to make money on whatever's left here to build, because there's not much left.

What's that hissing sound we hear? Old people in a church home? Tree-hugging park people? Naive young e-mailers who think they know how to plan a multimillion-dollar project? Dopey, noodle-soft politicians we thought we had in our pockets? Don't they see there's money here to make? And isn't that what it's all about?

What the Powerful Thought the Little People Were Thinking:

We're going to make a wondrous monument to our own involvement, no matter the cost. It's going to be the most beautiful structure ever built and will change the face of Buffalo. Generations of people will look at our bridge with ecstasy and pride and know that the zillions of dollars and years of delay were worth it. They'll thank us for stopping the evil bureaucrats. The sheer beauty of it will bring renewal and revival to the city our parents and grandparents foolishly ruined. Damn the legalities. If we want it, we'll get it, and they have to pay for it. We know they have the money or can get the money, they just don't want to part with it.

And what's that hissing sound we hear? Canadians? Who are they? They don't have anything whatsoever to do with this! Can't they go back to their igloos and tea parties? After all, they've got the falls.

The PROPOSED NEW CONVENTION CENTER

The Issue:

A bigger convention center was needed to replace the smaller old one. One study recommended building at the so-called Mohawk site, which would require razing several city blocks.

What the Little People Thought the Powerful Were Thinking:

We need a new convention center and we need it fast, so all those tourists can spend their dollars here. Think of the money we can make taking the construction contracts for ourselves and our pals! How can we possibly compete with Cincinnati and Indianapolis for the booming zillion-dollar convention and tourism business without a brand-spanking new facility that would employ people just to build and maintain it? We could name it after ourselves and have all our press conferences there to show the trusting public what we've done for them lately on a regular basis! And when the downtown casino finally arrives, WOW! We'll be booming like Atlantic City, Vegas and Fort Erie!

There's that hissing sound again. Who are these preservation people and what are they talking about? Architecture? What architecture? All I ever see is a half-empty parking ramp! Everyone knows downtown is dead! May as well knock it all down and start over. Do these people have any idea how much money it takes to renovate these old buildings? And then what do you have? Old buildings!

What the Powerful Thought the Little People Were Thinking:

What? Tear down these jewels? These masterpieces of American architecture? And build what? A monument to small-minded bureaucrats? We have a convention center, and it's hideous. Besides, who's going to come to Buffalo for a convention? This is just an excuse to spend tax dollars on another pointless project, and we know better. The administration is corrupt, the studies are wrong, the paid consultants are on the take. They say this is for downtown retailers and restaurateurs. We say, what downtown retailers and restaurateurs? We don't want anyone else messing with our city, and if that means it's old, empty and rotting, well, better than being new, empty and rotting. When it comes to huge amounts of state and federal aid dollars, we trust no one. Let 'em spend it on Elmira. We'd rather have hot bands playing for 15 people in the old Mohawk Pub and keep our genuine flavor than thousands of conventioneers in little hats here playing the slots and going to Arby's.

The ERIE CANAL TERMINUS

The Issue:

After numerous dead-end plans, the state and city have finally agreed on how to develop Buffalo's Inner Harbor, and have obtained the many millions of dollars to do it.

What the Little People Thought the Powerful Were Thinking:

We need a new Inner Harbor and we need it fast, so all those zillions of state and federal dollars can be spent here. Think of the money we can make taking the huge construction contracts for ourselves and our pals! We're going to make this happen where so many before us have failed. Boy, will that do us some good on Election Day!

The hissing noise? Preservationists? Canal fanatics? What kind of people are canal fanatics? And you want us to what? Preserve the old street patterns and foundations? What are you, nuts? Have you ever driven on cobblestones? You know what it does to your shocks? And we don't know if you've noticed, but you know what those foundations are? Basements! What possible historical value can basements have? Oh, and that big ditch over there you so sentimentally call the Commercial Slip? It's nothing special. Our incredibly well-paid friends, er, we mean experts, say it'll crumble anyway, and besides, don't you worry, we're going to make one just like it a few feet away. That way we won't have to go to the expense of moving that dumb old drainage pipe.

What the Powerful Thought the Little People Were Thinking:

Hey, you corrupt, stupid, bureaucratic, insensitive politicians! Leave our street grid alone! We want our history, and we want it now, even if it's just a collection of old timbers and rocks. And we'll sue you to get it. We'll butter up that judge, we'll make you look like the dunces we know you are, since we know you just want to do the ugliest, most sterile thing possible. We know you have all the cement and construction deals already parceled out. Can't you see how important those cobblestones are? That's our heritage! Our ancestors drank and caroused here! We don't care if the region loses millions of dollars in state aid for our local economy if we lose what's left of the street pattern in the process!

The BUFFALO ZOO

The Issue:

The Buffalo Zoo had to upgrade its facility to keep its accreditation. Zoo officials proposed moving the zoo out of Delaware Park to a much larger site in the Old First Ward. Cost: $160 million.

What the Little People Thought the Powerful Were Thinking:

We need a new zoo, and we need it fast, so all those beautiful families from miles around can spend their entertainment budgets here year-round. Think of the money we can raise by dedicating new buildings to the richest people in town! How celebrated we will be when we save those poor leopards from pacing in their horrible cages! We'll have more fun in the winter with our fantastic domed exhibits than the polar bears do! Who cares about the cost? The county and state will come up with that, and frankly, this horrendous, outdated, inhumane facility we now call home is simply not our responsibility. We merely rent it from the city. Let them figure out what to do with it next. The plumbing leaks, and the buildings are old. Never mind that we have one of the best breeding programs in the nation for certain endangered species -- imagine what we'll do when we are ensconced in our fabulous new home with a view of the lake!

Is that more hissing we hear? Neighborhood people, objecting to the move? Aren't these the same folks who complain about the smell of manure and traffic snarls? And how about those First Ward people, what are they complaining about? There's nothing worth saving down there. They should be thrilled to have giraffes for neighbors! What are all those little signs? Improve? Aren't you people listening? Have you seen the leopards pacing? Don't you know we could lose our accreditation and the zoo police will cart away all the animals? Can't you see we're doing this for the animals?

What the Powerful Thought the Little People Were Thinking:

Animals, schmanimals! This isn't about the animals. This is about making a big splash, a monument to your own marketing skills. A way to ruin our neighborhood and destroy yet another classic Buffalo landmark. All we wanted was for you to run the place better, not to leave! Why not have fewer animals? How 'bout a couple coats of paint? Those bears look plenty happy to me, and we thought you said the price tag was $60 million, not $160 million! We don't care that it's small, we want to be able to see the same exhibits we saw as kids. Come to think of it, where are those sea lions?! What have you done with the sea lion exhibit?

-- Natalie Green Tessier

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