City Manager Jason Molino had a few words for the mall merchants in an article by Joanne Beck that appeared on the cover of the Daily News Saturday. Beck starts the article with a lengthy quote from Mitchell Chess, president of the Mall Merchants Association.
What Chess has to say can be boiled down to a single sentiment: "The situation needs to be resolved. Since we can't have those type of negotiations to resolve this amicably, we have to take the city to court." Chess has said this before: in news articles, in a letter to the editor, and here on The Batavian. In other words, this isn't really news.
What it is, instead, is a springboard, fashioned by Beck to allow Jason Molino a high dive into the foray—and that he does, with no lack of bravado.
But first a little background supplied by Beck: Following a somewhat productive meeting of the city and mall merchants in April, the relationship between the two sides quickly soured, and Molino blames it on the merchants, who in turn, blame the city.
Molino says the city was supposed to have six months to "gather information" related—I presume, as this "information" is never qualified outright—to a request by the merchants for repairs to the mall and replacement of the sign.
Not only has the merchants group not allowed the time necessary to do that, but it has fueled the matter by making negotiations public, he said.
It all became a "soap opera" that has done nothing to rectify the situation, he said. He stressed the importance for merchants to perhaps not to be so vocal.
"If you [the mall merchants?] continue with the unprofessionalism and badgering ... it's not going to move forward," [said Molino]. "We had identified the issues to be discussed, and we had a timeframe. This is very simple. If we want to resolve this issue, we can. If not, that's up to you. I will not engage in this public hysteria."
Fine bit of euphemism there: "the importance for merchants to perhaps not be so vocal." I like that. That's nice. A lot better than the more direct route: "Keep yer mouths shut!"
The saga continues tonight at 7:00pm at City Hall, when the Council will vote on whether to replace the mall sign, among other matters. I'll be there. Will you?