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Fri., Aug. 28
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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A fair agreement undermined


To The Editor:

I normally don’t find much humor in the Courier Observer but then I read that “MCS Signs Petition About NYPA Deal.” They want all of us to sign a petition urging the governor to help us change the bad contract that their predecessors all agreed to.

As I recall, and correct me if I’m wrong, there was a group of citizens called the Advocacy Group that pleaded with the task force not to remove the clause that would have enabled the communities to renegotiate the contract if Niagara got a deal like the one that they did get. Despite their pleas the task force labeled the group an annoyance and agreed to change the language to what NYPA wanted.

At the Nov. 7, 2001 Massena Town board meeting the settlement agreement was approved but there was to be some minor changes in the language they said. In the Dec. 26, 2001 minutes of the Massena Town Board meeting the supervisor explained that the agreement was just faxed to him (32 pages) and that he did not have time to look it over.

He also explained that the attorneys in Washington reviewed the agreement. The first attorneys in Washington didn’t like it but NYPA refused to deal with them, they were too good, so the task force agreed to get another attorney.

The language that was to be changed was the wording “most favored nation status.” That was the reopener clause. It was removed and changed to “shall conduct a review.” Local officials said the new language was better (for whom) and they believed it more clearly defined the reopener as reported on Jan. 4, 2002. That’s what they are whining about now.

He then explained that he would talk to Don Brining and as long as there was no problem he would sign. A councilman couldn’t get his hand up fast enough and offered to make a resolution regarding the language change. Wisely the supervisor wanted to wait to check over the agreement but then they signed it.

I’m not just picking on Massena because they all signed. They ignored the advice of well respected professionals and knowledgeable citizens who desperately tried to help. They ignored the advice of their advisors in Washington and accepted $2 million instead of the $7-$15 million recommended.

I also warned that NYPA was going to raise rates to pay for these very settlement payments but that same councilman assured me that it wasn’t a done deal. It’s not a done deal because rates are still increasing.

Regional politicians and local labor leaders undermined a fair agreement for the communities. They even named a building after one of them.

The notion that the governor is going to help us is naive. The notion that a petition is going to change the contract is naive. Hundreds of millions of dollars go into the governor’s coffers from NYPA and whether anyone votes for him up here or not doesn’t matter.

The best thing we can do is to prepare for the next relicensing and hope we have people smarter than the ones we had back when the agreement was signed.

Charlie McGrath


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