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Dyster shows ethical and competency lapses

Niagara Falls Repoerter

September 12, 2011

From the publisher Frank Parlato Jr.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Niagara Falls Democrats will cast votes in their primary for the present mayor, Paul Dyster, or any of three other candidates -- John Accardo, Carnell Burch or Norton Douglas -- a referendum in effect on whether Democrats want incumbent Dyster or a fresh face to face the rising star of local Republicans, Johnny Destino, in the general election.

For the benefit of Democrats still uncertain of how to vote, let us review with bullet points some of Dyster's nearly four years of self-serving Niagara Falls. Perhaps none of the below-mentioned points is reason enough for Democrats to abandon an incumbent -- but in their entirety, an ugly picture of a man unfit to lead honest and good people emerges. If Niagara Falls is to rise again, self-serving selfish politicians like Dyster must be replaced.

  • Dyster used $13,500 of taxpayer money to make his own street a historic district.
  • Dyster said he came to change politics as usual, then appointed his campaign manager's wife city court judge.
  • Dyster left veterans at their Memorial Monument groundbreaking ceremony to cavort with the Japanese ambassador.
  • Dyster's wife, Rebecca, decided to reconnect with her Italian roots and joined the Cristoforo Colombo society just before the primary. Does her sudden interest in Italia have anything to do with the fact that Dyster's main primary opponent is an Italian -- John Accardo?
  • Dyster says he was an arms negotiator in 1989. "I was one of those guys in the dark suits sitting across from the Soviets negotiating nuclear arms," he said on Tom Darro's WJJL radio show. Actually, he was a Bureau officer -- a worker in the State Department commissary.
  • Dyster says he's a member of Mensa, a club where you pay for a certificate that says you are smarter than 98 percent of the rest of us. He thinks he's smarter than us, but his tenure as mayor informs us otherwise.
  • Dyster, the genius, decided to pay City Hall department heads $100,000 and upwards in one of the poorest cities in America. Formerly they made $60,000. He told people in Niagara Falls they were not bright or honest enough to serve in top positions in his administration. He would get smarter people from out of town. Niagara Falls perhaps is the only city that would elect a politician who tells them they are unfit to govern themselves.
  • He created a fund, Building a Better Niagara, where wealthy men from Buffalo were to pay part of the new, higher salaries at City Hall. 
    He claimed he did not know who the people were who pledged a million dollars to pay for these out-of-town hires. 
    The council became suspicious. Why would rich people from Buffalo want to pay salaries for Niagara Falls? How could Dyster not know who they were? The council voted to cancel the secret fund. The higher salaries stayed. And Dyster raised taxes 4 percent to help pay for it.
  • Dyster hired a genius Los Angeles engineer, then fired him for not having an engineering license, something he forgot to check while vetting him; a genius economic development director who failed to create a single private-sector job; an unemployed genius from Florida for fire chief, fired for making racial slurs; a genius lawyer from Buffalo who doesn't practice law, but subs out all legal work to Buffalo lawyers; and a garbage collection bureaucrat who knows nothing about this city, Donna Owens of Atlanta, as city administrator.
  • Owens and Dyster hijacked the story of comedian Dan Aykroyd, who came to town to honor the owner of Supermarket Liquors and Wines, whose store sold the most bottles of Aykroyd's new brand of vodka. Dyster rushed to the liquor store and pushed his way to the front to read a proclamation and give Aykroyd a key to the city. 
    Owens usually does not attend events with Dyster unless celebrities are involved. According to witnesses, when she and Dyster walked into Supermarket Liquors, the Niagara Gazette had a photographer shooting photos of Aykroyd and owner Chris Castellani. Owens walked into the shot, telling Castellani -- apparently she had no idea who he was -- to step away from the camera. One of most successful small businessmen in the city was getting well-deserved publicity, and Dyster and Owens hijacked his story (otherwise marvelous press for a liquor store) and turned the headlines into "The great Mayor Dyster gives Aykroyd the key to the city," as if Dyster had brought Aykroyd here.
  • One of Dyster's campaign contributors, James Glynn, bought an 80-foot-tall hotel, the Comfort Inn. Dyster then pushed for a midget downtown with 80-foot maximum heights for all new downtown buildings. It was stupid, since neighboring Seneca can build at any height.
  • Before the public was aware that Glynn purchased a strip mall of stores on Old Falls Street, Dyster pushed the council to agree to a $350,000 buy-out of a lease of a competitor, without revealing Glynn purchased the plaza.
  • Almost everyone who does business with the city donates to Dyster's campaign. This is a matter of public record. There are more donors from Buffalo than Niagara Falls. That too is a matter of public record.
  • A city engineer watches projects and designs new ones. Dyster declined to hire an engineer for most of his tenure. Wendel, Foit-Albert, Urban and especially LiRo Engineering of Buffalo (campaign donors to Dyster) got millions because the city happened not to have an engineer.
  • Dyster botched the Lewiston Road job because there was no licensed city engineer. The contractor, David Pfieffer of Man O Trees, accused Dyster of ordering an illegal coverup of radiation problems, prompting some to suggest Dyster risked residents' safety simply because it's election time.
  • Dyster fired city engineer Bob Curtis, after Curtis promised to monitor the new courthouse construction. The developers were campaign contributors Ciminelli/Largo. After months without supervision, the council questioned why the developers were monitoring their own work. Dyster hired LiRo Engineers, whose top engineers are Dyster campaign contributors. 
    Campaign contributors built the courthouse. Campaign contributors monitored construction. Together they approved millions in price increases. LiRo got more than $350,000 to monitor courthouse construction. The developer got more than $3 million in extras for the job. Dyster got campaign contributions from them before and after the courthouse was completed.
  • Dyster secured $150,000 for LiRo to draw design plans for vendor booths on Old Falls Street. They could have been built for less than what will be spent to study and design them. The booths are unlikely ever to be built.
  • Dyster got LiRo $19,200 just to study how a roof could be installed (not to do the work) at the fire department administration building.
  • LiRo got $30,000 to design a simple outdoor basketball court on 10th Street. You could build an outdoor basketball court for $30,000.
  • Dyster cleverly approved a $10,000 grant for James Ventry -- who was convicted of jury tampering after being accused of a home invasion -- for an amateur violent movie Ventry was making. Sixty-five locals who volunteered on the movie were grateful to Dyster for helping to make them stars.
  • Dyster tried to sneak an ugly plan through (without telling Cayuga Island residents) to pave portions of Jayne Park and turn it into a regional park. He will, if re-elected, push the plan again. In his campaign mailers, he says it wasn't his plan but that of some previous mayor, which is a lie.
  • Dyster wants to give $450,000 to so-called successful Idaho developer Mark Rivers to develop a Holiday Market. The Market, according to Rivers, will make millions. Dyster says this is proof that big things happen in Niagara Falls. If the project is lucrative, why doesn't super-developer Rivers pay for his own Holiday Market?
  • Dyster got Hard Rock Cafe $600,000 in public money to put on a series of poorly attended concerts by mainly has-been artists. Hard Rock is a billion-dollar corporation owned by the Seminole Nation of Indians. They keep the profits from concessions. Dyster picks the acts and has appeared drunk on stage introducing the acts. Why can't Hard Rock pay for its own concerts?
  • In a recent newsletter, Dyster takes credit for the new Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart project goes back to former mayor Vince Anello. Dyster had nothing to do with it.
  • Dyster tells voters the airport literally took off during his administration. The $32 million capital infusion and efforts to develop the new terminal were the work of the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority and the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, headed by Henry Sloma and state Sen. George Maziarz.
  • Dyster fought the mainly Republican team that oversaw airport expansion and chose instead to concentrate on a train station project (that he controls) that will seat fewer travelers in a year than the airport will in a day.
  • Dyster took credit for 300 industrial jobs (about 90 per year) that were created during his tenure. He had nothing to do with most of them. He does not mention the city lost at least 10 times that many jobs, with local businesses failing during his tenure.
  • Dyster calls himself the "paving mayor," yet the streets here are worse than at any time in the city's history. They disgrace the very image of this city.
  • Crime is rampant in Niagara Falls, yet Dyster signed a consent order with the Attorney General that hamstrings police in dangerous split-second decision making. 
    The order Dyster quickly signed (without defending police) said our police force is racist and must be second-guessed, because allegedly they handled a couple dozen criminals (who would be glad to beat the daylights out of you some dark night) not gently enough.
  • Niagara Falls has the highest property taxes in proportion to the value of its real estate in America. Dyster raised taxes 4 percent. Another tax increase is expected this year.
  • The Seneca Casino money (about $40 million) has been withheld by the Seneca Nation for two years. They think they can operate tax-free without paying the host city. They can. For Dyster, who is supposed to be our watchdog, says nothing, not even a bleat, yet he is the guy who wants us to believe he stared down the Soviets.
  • Many residents in LaSalle will now pay $1,000 per year for flood insurance because Dyster failed to challenge FEMA's new aerial flood-plain elevation maps. Dyster did not have a licensed city engineer during FEMA's statutory right-to-challenge period. Sometimes a one half-inch inaccuracy puts a home in the 100-year flood plain. Responsible towns challenge FEMA. Most are successful in getting some residents' homes off FEMA flood plains. Former Wheatfield supervisor Tim Demler challenged, and saved many home owners the $1,000 per year in home owners insurance. 
    Residents stormed council chambers last week over the FEMA flood map deal. They were clearly frustrated with Dyster, but Dyster was not even at the 7 p.m. meeting to talk to them.
  • Dyster deprioritized federal money that would have paved Buffalo Avenue, and instead put the money into a train station project that, if completed, will perhaps seat 20 riders a day. Buffalo Avenue -- one of the main thoroughfares in the city -- is today a crater-laden danger zone that informed drivers go out of their way to avoid.
  • Dyster spent about $500,000 a year to study developing an Underground Railroad museum. He hired consultants for over a million bucks to try to prove there actually is some trace of Underground Railroad history in Niagara Falls. 
    Before you spend money for a museum, you would think you'd have your history in place first. It just seems like pandering for black votes.
  • Dyster spitefully opposed daredevil Nik Wallenda's wire walk across the gorge because the man who sponsored it, John Ceretto, defeated his campaign manager, Francine Del Monte, for state Assembly last year.
  • Betraying the Democratic Party, Dyster supported Del Monte's spoiler campaign on the Working Families line over Democratic primary winner John Accardo. Del Monte split the Democratic vote, and that handed the Assembly seat to Republican Ceretto. Ironically, Dyster is now facing Accardo in his own primary.

Accardo, a local man with a local business, has a put-first-things-first attitude -- like streets and crime over Underground Railroad museums, train stations and drunken hoe-downs at the Hard Rock Cafe. Accardo promises to hire local people for top jobs and pay them reasonable salaries, instead of the $100,000-plus salaries Dyster pays his out-of-town nincompoop geniuses.

More than a dozen mailers (paid for by Buffalo campaign donors) attacking Accardo have arrived in the mailboxes of city voters. Dyster sent one that claims he's being targeted by wealthy anonymous people who want to remove him from office. Ironically, wealthy interests from Buffalo paid for that mailer.



  Copyright © 2008 Frank Parlato Jr.