After the City Council in San Antonio, Texas effectively barred Chick-fil-A from opening a franchise at the airport, we noted that this was an egregious assault on the free market based entirely on the municipal government’s supposed ability to punish a private sector business for its owner’s speech or religious beliefs. Clearly, not everyone took that constructive criticism to heart because we’re now seeing the same thing on the other end of the country. Up in Buffalo, New York, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport has been planning the construction of a new restaurant area for travelers. On Thursday, the contractors working on the project made the mistake of publicly talking about their “excitement” at having a Chick-fil-A franchise there.
That caught the attention of one Democratic state assemblyman who immediately launched a public attack on the decision. In almost record time, a new announcement came out saying that the plans had changed and the flying public would not be able to pick up any of the delicious meals from Chick-fil-A after all. (WNBF Radio)
A New York State assemblyman says a Chick-fil-A restaurant that had been planned as part of an airport renovation project won’t be opening after all.
The operators of Buffalo Niagara International Airport Thursday expressed excitement about a new restaurant area at the facility that would include a Chick-fil-A unit.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan was not happy with the news…
Ryan wrote: “Chick-fil-A has a long history of supporting and funding anti-LGBTQ organizations.” He urged airport operators to reverse the decision.
After making it clear that the state government was watching, Assemblyman Sean Ryan was quickly contacted by the responsible authorities. It seems they heard his complaints and told him that Chick-fil-A was being dropped from the plans. This sent him back to social media for a victory lap.
Update: I applaud the decision that has been made to remove Chick-fil-A from plans for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Thank you to everyone who reached out to share their opinion. pic.twitter.com/HA5t1CjwkV
— Senator Sean Ryan (@SenSeanRyan) March 29, 2019
This is slightly different from the San Antonio case, but not by much. In Texas, the City Council voted directly to ban Chick-Fil-A based on nothing more than the CEO’s religious beliefs and speech. In New York, things work a bit differently. The handling of contracts for such work at airports (which can and does include taxpayer-funded grant money and assured loans) isn’t directly controlled by the state government. In the case of this region, all of that work goes through an entity known as the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
The NFTA isn’t exactly a government agency. It’s a New York State public benefit corporation, which means that it operates as a quasi-private corporation. But it’s 12-member Board of Commissioners are almost all appointed only after having been nominated by the Governor. (The county legislature gets to nominate two of them.) They control a lot of taxpayer money and earn some nice salaries, so when someone in the majority party speaks, they listen. The NFTA is in charge of all decisions regarding contractors doing work for them at the two airports in the region, including the details of the new restaurant area. In fact, in Assemblyman Ryan’s victory tweet, you’ll note that he even sent out a not very subtle message to the NFTA.
“We hope in the future the NFTA will make every effort to contract with businesses that adhere to anti-discriminatory policies and we’re confident another vendor who better represents the values of the Western New York community will replace Chick-fil-A as part of this project in the near future.”
The message here is very clear. The state government is watching you, NFTA, and you owe your jobs to us. So do business with “the right sort of people” or it will spell trouble for you.
Nobody has even suggested that Chick-fil-A doesn’t meet standards for food safety, sanitary conditions, hiring practices or anything else. Their only complaint is based on the opinions and religious beliefs of the company’s CEO. And for that, they are being strongarmed out of the marketplace. All of this is happening in plain view, but thus far there seems to be nothing to be done about it.