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Donors: One proud, others fearful

   The scorers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today mark against the name of one generous [or, more cynically, opportunistic] gift that stands to do a lot for Niagara Falls, and calls out a group that would have the names of its financial supporters kept secret.

A gift for the Falls - Buffalo News Editorial
   Maybe David S. Cordish is being uncommonly generous by giving his long-term lease on the Niagara Falls Rainbow Centre mall to Niagara County Community College. Maybe he is just ridding himself of a Rainbowcentre costly 4-acre white elephant.
   It doesn't really matter which it is. The surprise move still has great promise for the long-awaited redevelopment of that undeservedly forgotten city.
   [NCCC plan for mall stirs hope for city - Buffalo News, Oct. 19]
   There are, as they say, many more dots and crosses to be made before the deal to turn the derelict shopping center into the new home of the NCCC Culinary Arts Institute becomes a reality. And, even with that done, neither the city, nor even the whole mall, will be instantly reborn.
   The mall, smack in the middle of downtown Niagara Falls, has gathered dust for a decade, a physical barrier and a psychological drain on a community that, by all rights, should be drawing tourists from around the globe. All the while, the American side of the Falls has watched large, profitable -- if sometimes garish -- development take off on the Canadian end of the Rainbow Bridge. ...
   None of these loose ends should be allowed to detract from the significance of this news. Just the knowledge that the Rainbow Centre may become a lively place again is inspiring the owners of nearby properties to improve their properties as well.
   It will be up to NCCC, its foundation, Niagara Falls city and county government, the state and others to follow through on the opportunity.
   At least, now, the opportunity is real.

- Keep out of the closet - Buffalo News Editorial
   Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.
—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
   The first thing we should expect of an outside group that wishes to influence New York’s future laws is that it be willing to abide by New York’s existing laws.
   A group called the National Organization for Marriage — based in that bastion of family-friendly behavior called Washington, D.C. — has gone to court seeking the right to exempt itself from the New York law that demands that people who spend money to shape public policy tell us where that money came from.
   [Gay marriage foes sue to keep donor names secret - Buffalo News, Oct. 20]
   The group plans, as is its clear First Amendment right, to air radio and TV spots and send direct mail pieces opposing same-sex marriage. The ads [like this one] will also actively oppose candidates who support marriage equality, most notably Andrew M. Cuomo, attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor. And they will support candidates who agree with the group’s philosophy, most notably Carl P. Paladino, Buffalo businessman and Republican candidate for governor. ...
   The organization has the right to promote any system of values it holds dear. And if it can raise a lot of money to raise its voice loud enough for all to hear, more power to it.
   But, under New York law, and under the principles of democracy and open government, it has not earned the right to be treated differently from every other group that seeks your ear before you cast your ballot.
   Because those voters have the right — the need — to evaluate that argument with information that includes the names of those who paid for its megaphone.

   UPDATE, Oct. 26:
 - Suit by anti-gay-marriage group dismissed in federal court here - Dan Herbeck/The Buffalo News 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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