Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 10, 2013

LETTER: Legislator defends his position

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — In a recent editorial, this newspaper questioned my refusal to support a resolution brought by Niagara County Legislator Jason Zona (D-Niagara Falls) to relocate the Buffalo Bills to Niagara Falls.

I have been an avid Bills fan since my father took me to my first game in 1976, and the loss of the team would be devastating to this community. The team has a significant economic impact, generating millions of dollars in revenue for our region and thousands of direct and indirect jobs for the people of Western New York.

It was disconcerting to me that the resolution’s sponsor, Mr. Zona, was unable to answer the most basic of questions regarding his resolution. I asked Mr. Zona about the status of the current Bills lease agreement with Erie County. He did not know. It also became very evident that Mr. Zona had failed to discuss his resolution with any members of the Bills organization or the Erie County Legislature, parties to the current agreement.

Furthermore, Mr. Zona did not reach out to any members of our state delegation to discuss possible financial support, and most importantly, was unable to offer any information whatsoever regarding potential impact to the county taxpayer. Considering that other recent stadium deals have cost the taxpayers of their respective municipalities (the Florida Marlins’ new stadium put taxpayers on the hook for $1.2 billion) astronomical amounts of money, I would have thought that the sponsor would have been prepared with an answer to this critically important aspect of the discussion.

The editorial went on to refer to Mr. Zona’s resolution as a “feel good” resolution. I take every resolution seriously, and am reluctant to sign on to resolutions which have serious unanswered questions. Because of a lack of information presented by the resolution’s sponsor, I would have been unable to answer very basic questions from my constituents about this resolution. I therefore chose not to sign on. It is certainly not a reflection of my support for the Buffalo Bills, but rather a reflection on my approach to the job I believe legislators are charged with performing.

Rick Updegrove Niagara County Legislator