Edwin A. Cogan, the leader of the investment group planning a $130 million redevelopment of the downtown area, Thursday defended his group's gifts of tickets to high-ranking city officials as vital to the development plan.
A half-dozen city officials, including Mayor James C. Galie and some top members of his administration, and City Council Chairman Vince V. Anello, accepted tickets to last week's Rolling Stones concert. None of them believed they had violated state law nor the city's Code of Ethics, even though most of them said they accepted two or more of the $60 tickets. The law prohibits officials or employees from accepting gifts having a value of $75 or more.
Cogan's representatives said about 70 tickets were distributed to various community leaders. Cogan said it was vital that the entire community support a project of the magnitude that he is planning. Some City Council members, however, were not given concert tickets.
Cogan, who attended a community meeting on the Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp.'s plan Thursday, said he gave city officials the tickets so they could meet Michael Kohl, the executive producer of the Stones World Tour. Cogan said Kohl is an adviser to his consortium, who, he hopes, will bring world-class entertainment events to the Convention & Civic Center here.
Similarly, he said, he gave city officials tickets to the "World's Fastest Man" race at the Toronto SkyDome in June, so they could meet American runner Michael Johnson. He said he has had many talks with Johnson about "getting involved in Niagara Falls on inner city concerns."