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The Churlish Ron Rienas

Yesterday, Peace Bridge general manager Ron Rienas, in reaction to this article on the PBA’s intention to demolish some properties that the city ordered it to repair, sent the following email to me and 45 of his closest friends, including the mayor and members of the Common Council:

Geoff,

Back in February you e-mailed me and said : “…we are, in fact, a reputable newspaper in this community”

So perhaps you can you can answer the following questions related to your article “Demolition Derby” (below) in this week’s Artvoice:

1. Would a reputable newspaper write an article about demolition, and show in the accompanying picture, houses that are on a different street, will not be demolished, and are not even within the Peace Bridge project boundaries.

2. Would a reputable newspaper say; “Rienas did not respond to numerous requests for comment…” when you did not call or e-mail me even once?

3. Would a reputable newspaper deliberately exclude the fact there was a 2004 agreement with the then Mayor Masiello and Common Council whereby the City was to demolish the Busti Ave houses and that the reason for demolition had nothing to do with the capacity expansion project?

4. Would a reputable newspaper ignore the fact that the majority of residents in the neighborhood impacted by these houses and the Peace Bridge project are supportive of the demolition of these houses?

5. Would a reputable newspaper exclude information from a professional structural engineer’s report, agreed to by the City, that recommends the demolition of three of the six  (not seven) vacant  houses?

I could go on and on about the misrepresentations and inaccuracies contained in your article but I think you get my drift. One last point – a reputable newspaper would print an apology or at least a correction when made aware of errors or omissions. Will you??

Maybe you could actually call me (884-8636) or meet with me to get the facts.

Ron Rienas

Ron Rienas (Photo by Bruce Jackson)

Ron Rienas (Photo by Bruce Jackson)

The February email he refers to was part of an exchange in response to a nastily worded complaint Rienas sent regarding a blog post I had made the previous summer. The blog post was in fact just a link and a quote from somebody else’s blog, but Ron directed his belated ire at me rather than at the author herself.

In any case, I replied last night to Ron (alone, not to his entire list of friends) that I had in fact emailed him three times asking for comment, to the same address from which he had sent his whinge, and had received no reply.

This morning I forwarded him the emails (which I’ll paste after the jump) and this reply to his other complaints:

Hi Ron,

Please find below the three emails I sent from mu work computer asking for comment on this issue. I can’t imagine they were caught in a spam filter, as you and I have corresponded frequently in the past with no trouble at all, using these addresses.

As for your other complaints:

5. I specifically mentioned that three of the properties had “major roof issues” and that the city would consider agreeing to demolition of those properties. It’s in the article, Ron, what more do you want? Especially given that you did not respond to me and so forfeited the chance to share the details of the report—which I likely would have summarized in exactly the same way, anyway?

4. I’m unaware of any poll of West Side residents conducted on the issue of demolishing these houses. What independent body did the poll, Quinnipiac? Feel free to share the numbers and the sample parameters with me. (E.g. If it was a survey of residents “impacted…by the Peace Bridge project,” did it include the entire West Side or just property owners in the immediate vicinity? Which property owners?)

3. The 2004 agreement is immaterial to this article; that was five years and a mayoral administration ago. This article was about this mayoral administration’s current demand that the PBA address the houses’ code issues by May 1, and the PBA’s reaction to that demand. That is the crux of the article, and I note that in your email contains no corrections of my apprehension of the core issue.

2. See emails below.

1. I used that photo, which is the one used by the National Trust to illustrate the neighborhood’s profile on its Most Endangered list, because I thought it made sense to show the neighborhood that the opposition to plaza expansion thinks is in jeopardy. Perhaps that misled some readers to believe these were the houses that the PBA owns and wishes to demolish. I’ll print a clarification in next week’s paper.

In summary,  one of your complaints (#1) has some merit, two (#4 and #3) are senseless, and two (#5 and #2) are false. Please note that I replied to you alone, not to the entire list you compiled yesterday. That seemed to me the adult thing to do. It also seems to me that an adult would write back to that list today and apologize for being wrong and for wasting their time. Please let me know if you intend to do so as soon as possible.

Best

Geoff Kelly
Editor, Artvoice
office: 716.881.6604
mobile: 716.480.0723
www.artvoice.com

Forgive the typos. I wrote quickly.

I have not heard back from him, so I guess he’s not going to apologize for calling me a liar, as I suggested he ought to. Thus, I’m posting his email and mine and welcoming Ron into the company of churls who fail to respond to Artvoice’s request for comment and then whine publicly that we never tried to talk to them. That company includes Brian Davis, the check-bouncing councilman; Steve Casey, the bullying deputy mayor; and even Mayor Byron Brown, who has not once spoken to this reporter in three and a half years, despite many invitations to comment on numerous subjects, many of which represented opportunities to cast the administration in  a positive light.

Welcome, Ron. I’ll send you more questions regarding the proposed demolitions this weekend. I expect you’ll ignore them.

After the jump are the three emails I sent soliciting comment from Rienas.

Subject:     Fwd: May 1 deadline for PBA properties
From:     geoff@artvoice.com
Date:     May 13, 2009 12:23:04 PM EDT
To:     rr@peacebridge.com

I suppose of I don’t hear from you in the next hour, I’ll consider this a “no comment.”

Best,

Geoff

Geoff Kelly
Editor, Artvoice
office: 716.881.6604
mobile: 716.480.0723
www.artvoice.com

Begin forwarded message:

From: Geoff Kelly <geoff@artvoice.com>
Date: May 12, 2009 3:52:06 PM EDT
To: Ron Rienas <rr@peacebridge.com>
Subject: Fwd: May 1 deadline for PBA properties

Any response to this?

Best,

Geoff

Geoff Kelly
Editor, Artvoice
office: 716.881.6604
mobile: 716.480.0723
www.artvoice.com

Begin forwarded message:

From: Geoff Kelly <geoff@artvoice.com>
Date: May 12, 2009 8:40:24 AM EDT
To: Ron Rienas <rr@peacebridge.com>
Subject: May 1 deadline for PBA properties

Hi Ron,

Can you summarize for me the PBA’s response to the city’s May 1 deadline to perform repairs on its properties cited last fall?

Is the PBA currently bidding out demolitions? If so, which addresses, and what’s the timetable? And can I see the bid documents?

Thanks,

Geoff

Geoff Kelly
Editor, Artvoice
office: 716.881.6604
mobile: 716.480.0723
www.artvoice.com


  • blightme

    Geoff, you bring out the very best quality in Ron Rienas; his arrogance. I’m always amused at how wounded Ron reacts whenever he feels ‘misunderstood’. This is a man who actually enjoys weilding a heavy stick and takes no prisoners. He boasts about his abuse of power whenever the opportunity arises.

    Don’t be surprised if you get slapped with a lawsuit. That’s another weapon Rienas uses to silence a perceived enemy—ask the Fort Erie folks who dared to stand up to him.

    Let’s keep things in perspective; there have been other GM’s working for the PBA. Steve Mayer was from the Southtowns, a resident of WNY and a US citizen. Mayer was tough but knew where to draw the line. He respected the law.

    The plan to expand the plaza into 45 acres of urban territory in Buffalo is known in the transportation circle as the “Rienas” plan. As GM Rienas has steamrolled over federal regulations, thumbed his nose at historical preservation, blighted a vibrant community and robbed good people of what little peace of mind they have left. How many years has he been boasting about ‘We are coming to take your home’?

    The only other voice the public heard from was the PBA Chairman, the late Paul Koessler who passed away a year ago. The dirty work, the controversy, the media spin, the ugliness has all been driven by Ron Rienas. My goodness, the guy is everywhere!

    One wonders how much time he spends at his home in Port Colborne, Ontario where he resides very comfortably with his wife and two children (far from the peace bridge congestion).

    Maybe the reason Ron takes such liberty with our laws is precisely because he is Canadian and therefore holds little regard for Buffalo and it’s west side neighborhoods.

  • Harvey

    In response to Ron’s assertion that the vast majority of the neighbors want the properties demoed we (the West Side Community Collaborative) have in fact had several polls. We have voted several times against the current project and against demoing all the properties – each vote was unanimous (no one is against a new bridge – just the current plans for the plaza). The WSCC is made up of several dozen organizations including almost every block club in the middle West Side (the area from West Ferry to Porter and Richmond to the River).

    There are, in fact, neighbors that support the current plaza expansion project – they are almost exclusively owners, many of them absentee landlords, who own property that would be purchased by the PBA if the project were to go forward. So Ron would like the people who are planning to leave the area, and profit from the project, to decide the fate of the rest of the West Side and he likes to portray them as representing the whole neighborhood. They deserve to be heard, they have a say in this, but they don’t represent the vast majority of neighbors who would be effected by this project.

    This guy just makes things up as he goes along. The schools surrounding this plaza have the highest asthma rates in the City and Ron likes to tell everyone that the new plaza will fix everything – yet he never manages to produce any scientific evidence that it’s true. In the mean time I would never send my kids to one of those schools or let them play in that park – with the current plaza or the proposed one. The EPA recommended moving the plaza during the environmental review for this project yet Ron defends the project by suggesting that it went through a review process without fully communicating the results.

    We are in the process of reconsidering shared border management – any demo considerations should wait until that process has had a chance. In the mean time a little more honesty from the PBA’s main spokesperson would go a long ways towards building better relationships between the PBA and the neighborhood. The divide and conquer strategy is not productive.

    Harvey

  • blightme

    Harvey has the last word when it comes to having his finger on the pulse of the west side of Buffalo. Rienas and chronies should take a few lessons from Harvey, Armstrong, Bartley and Tielman; It’s good old fashion sweat equity that makes a difference not running on at the mouth. Just think what these guys to do with $1.2 million dollars. Do ya think they would spend it on light bulbs or rotting houses?

  • bflofirst

    Ron has been a liar since day one. Anyone who has ever been in a room with him can see what he is. He couldn’t survive in the private sector. He has been taken care of by Ft Erie political cronies for a good long time – at the PBA and in his previous job. He always chooses a fight. During his time at the PBA he has had many chances to settle with the citizens and do a project that might work – might provide some benefit to the USA as opposed to all harm. He always chooses court and lies and fights as hard as he can to save face for the PBA – he wants the same thing HIggins wants – that fastest project that can be built regardless of whether it is a good project. Those 2-year election cycles are a killer. If you can change the minds of the trade unions, HIggins will change his mind and then Ron will have no choice. BUT, our elected officials at all levels are bought and paid for by the unions so fat chance. Robert Moses is back!

  • Luis Clay

    The comment by bflofirst about heinous Reinas comes as no surprise but what an interesting addition regarding Higgins and the unions.

    So why aren’t the trade unions clammering for an integrated transport crossing that would mix rail, road and air and create tens of thousands of jobs. Is it just that they lack foresight? Like politicians?

    I mean after the brilliant job that the unions did on GM don’t you think they’d want to build wind turbines or railroads or something that would last longer than Higgins tenure?

  • the peace bridge is & should be called that..it is as designed..a stone throw from us to canada a skipping of stones. it is a beautiful design….historical name…plz..leave it that way….as for the expantion….everyone…stop…think….would it not be nice…to have front park a park..for..families..& couples smouching & talking about the futire in bflo. with no blight..nice sculptures..bike paths…cafes..root beer floats..trees..for visitors from canada driving over the bridge..to say..wow..what an awsom city..to follow thru on niagara street w incredible culture…a melting pot..of beautiful people….the pb expantion…is a move forward…oh im sorry..i must be dreaming….i guess..we will be in the dark ages for another 20 yrs. or so….and i was so dreaming of looking at the pb w a root bear float..and beautiful colorful lights…and people laughing & grooving…and saying wow…finally….a beautiful …waterfront i can be proud of…..am i a dreamer..am i the 0nly 0ne