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Glynn the competitor hopes to scare competition away

Niagara Falls Repoerter

February 02, 2010

By Frank Parlato Jr.

James Glynn of the Maid of the Mist boat tours is probably batting under .200 just now. And he's not being a good sport about it, either.

For 39 years, Glynn held an exclusive lease on public land, never having to face competition for the right to operate boat tours at the base of the Falls.

Last year, the Ontario Minister of Tourism ordered that the boat tour concession be let out for competitive bidding.

It has been estimated that the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) of Ontario stands to gain more than $100 million more in revenues during the 25-year term of a future lease by improved rent percentage and improved services.

Since the NPC has posted losses in recent years of $4 million annually, the increase in rent could singlehandedly eliminate the NPC's budget deficit.

One would hope -- if Glynn can't provide the best boat tour with the best terms for the public in an open and fair competition, then he would realize he doesn't deserve to have it.

But it is becoming apparent that the Lewiston businessman who has kept his Maid of the Mist deal secret -- by hook and quite possibly slightly more by crook -- will do anything to keep his lucrative boat tour concession in the Niagara Falls Ontario park regardless of whether he can provide the best services or not.

Jimmy GLynn

If he loses his boat tour bid, Jim Glynn threatens to destroy buildings and fixtures at the bottom of the gorge.

While boat tour companies from all over the northern hemisphere anxiously await the Niagara Park Commission's Request for Proposals (RFP), Glynn's has launched a campaign calculated to discourage bidders and scare the public.

Whether Glynn's campaign can really scare away big-time bidders such as Ripley Entertainment, Alcatraz Media, CamPark Resorts, Xanterra Resorts, Entertainment Cruises, Hornblower Cruises, Disney or the Seneca Gaming Corp. is anybody's guess.

Glynn's campaign consists of two basic concepts.

  • 1. That no one else will be able to provide boat tours at the base of the falls for years since Glynn built the equipment and buildings on the public land where the boats are launched.

Glynn said he plans to destroy it all if he loses the bid.

  • 2. Glynn claims he owns the historic name "Maid of the Mist" and a new company not being able to use "his" name will cause loss of brand recognition.

Glynn claims tourists will not take the boat ride if it is not named Maid of the Mist. Additionally, since Glynn can use the name Maid of the Mist on his New York-based boat tours, tourists in Canada will cross the border to take Glynn's N.Y. Maid of the Mist rather than take a boat tour provided by -- say Disney, or Ripley Entertainment -- that is named something else.

Now, as for the first scary concept: Over the last 30 years, Glynn has built simple rails and shuttles to move boats out of the water, a three-story administration building and a marine workshop.

Glynn said he will demolish, dismantle or scrap these rather than let a newcomer use them for the public good.

His son, Chris Glynn, told the press, "It could take years, we believe, to replicate what we have down here."

The concept of destroying buildings and equipment says more about Glynn than it does about the reality of a new operator really needing them. The infrastructure needed by another operator could probably be assembled fairly quickly. A new operator would have about a year to complete the work because a new operator will not start until 2011.

Boats are the main thing and these can be lowered by crane.

Besides, when someone leases land, it usually includes an agreement that addresses what happens to "improvements" such as buildings and other "fixtures" built on the land when the tenant leaves.

Naturally, Glynn never thought he would leave. His buildings and fixtures are permanent.

Glynn will not be legally able to destroy these. His lease says in Para 5.06: "That the Tenant (Glynn) shall deliver the Demised Premises, building and equipment located thereon, to the Landlord at the expiration of this Lease in a state of repair equivalent to that required to be maintained by it during the term."

Bill Windsor of Atlanta, who plans to bid on the boat tours, had this reaction when presented with the possibility that Glynn might destroy the buildings: "If the Glynns are allowed to remove the leasehold improvements they [have] made, we will simply replace what we need."

The other half of Glynn's scare tactic campaign involves a deceit that borders on fraud. A treasonous concept fostered by Glynn and supported by NPC Commissioners Archie Katzman and Vince Kerrio is that the American Glynn has the right to steal the public domain name "Maid of the Mist" from Canada.

Most noteworthy is the fact that the recently expired Maid of the Mist lease, which Glynn signed in 1989, states in paragraph 6.03: "Tenant (Glynn) acknowledges that it does not claim any interest in or rights in the words 'Maid of the Mist' and NPC is free to use 'Maid of the Mist' in identification of its structures, retail or promotional material."

But Glynn claims he snatched the name away from Canada. Here's how: "We have both United States and Canadian trademark registrations for Maid of the Mist," said Tim Ruddy, Glynn's marketing vice president.

But the trademarks were obtained under false pretenses.

On May 21, 1993, four years after he signed the Canadian lease saying he "does not claim any interest in or rights in the words 'Maid of the Mist,' " Glynn secretly made a claim for the U.S. rights while the Canadian lease was still in effect.

He registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for trademark for the words "Maid of the Mist." Glynn swore, "Applicant (is) the owner of the mark sought to be registered; that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, no other person, firm, corporation, association or other juristic entity has the right to use the mark in commerce."

Glynn made this sworn statement in 1993, knowing that in 1989 he signed a lease acknowledging that "NPC is free to use 'Maid of the Mist.' "

After Glynn falsely obtained the U.S. trademark, he went to the Registrar of Trademarks in Ottawa, Canada. Swearing falsely that he had lawfully obtained the U.S. trademark for the words "Maid of the Mist," he failed to inform the Canadian government about his 1989 lease where he acknowledged he did not have "rights in the words 'Maid of the Mist.' "

The NPC has used the name for 125 years, almost 100 years before Glynn came to use it. Still, if it is somehow conceded that Glynn can steal the historic name from Canada, if he loses the bid, Glynn hopes that friendly commissioner such as Katzman and Kerrio will give points or weight in the RFP to Glynn for owning the name.

In any event, last week, as part of the scare campaign, Glynn hired telephone callers to conduct a push poll.

A push poll, as readers know, is a deceptive telephone calling technique in which someone pretends to be conducting a poll to gather information but instead attempts, by the questions they ask, to alter the view of the people being called. It is a form of propaganda or rumor mongering masquerading as a poll.

Here are some of the questions in the telephone "poll" now being conducted by Glynn:

-- If the Maid of the Mist stopped operating in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and there was no replacement boat tour, would you say the impact this would have on tourism in Niagara Falls Ontario during that time would be ... very negative?

-- If the Maid of the Mist boat tour was replaced by a new boat tour with a different operator and name, would you say the impact this would have on tourism in Niagara Falls, Ontario, would be very negative?

-- If the Maid of the Mist began operating only from the U.S. side of Niagara Falls, and a new boat service with a new name operated on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, would you say the impact this would have on tourism in Niagara Falls, Ontario, would be very negative?

-- To what extent do you support or not support the idea of a new boat tour with a new operator and new name replacing the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, Ontario, if this meant there would be an extended service interruption of boat tour service?

Windsor, a Glynn competitor for the tour operation, provided the Reporter with alternative questions:

-- If the existing boat operator at Niagara Falls (Glynn) causes a disruption in the service in an effort to hinder the efforts of competitors to win the rights to offer the service through competitive bidding, would you find the existing operators' efforts to be ... very negative?

-- If the government of Ontario allowed a private company to claim rights to the words "Maid of the Mist" when there is a contract between the government and the private company that states the private company does not own any rights to the words, would you find that to be very negative?

-- If the existing boat operator in Niagara Falls is replaced by a new boat operator who pays $100 million more for the rights to offer the service and gets The Niagara Parks Commission out of debt, would you find this to be ... very positive?

-- To what extent do you support a new boat tour operator at Niagara Falls if it generates a better service, more tourism in Ontario, pays an additional $100 million to the government and the operator was chosen in competitive bidding rather than a secret backroom deal?

In 1941, baseball player Ted Williams entered the last day of the season with a batting average of .400, making him the first man to hit .400 since 1930. Williams had the option of sitting it out but opted to play in the last day's doubleheader although he risked falling short of the elusive 400. He explained that, "If I can't hit .400 all the way, I don't deserve it."

Williams went 6 for 8 that day, boosting his final average to .406.

No player has hit .400 in a season since Williams.

As for Glynn, his batting average is heading lower every day.




  Copyright © 2008 Frank Parlato Jr.