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By Mike Hudson

Normally, I hate to see anybody lose his job. In the case of former Niagara Gazette Publisher Steve Braver though, I'll make an exception.

I hope he has to eat dirt. He's a supercilious, arrogant jerk who came to Niagara Falls four years ago and ran what was once a great newspaper, one with a 110-year tradition, right into the ground in the name of making a buck.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with making a buck. I try to do it every day. There is something wrong, though, with taking a trusted public institution and turning it into a cash cow, both for your own personal enrichment and that of a bunch of Alabama yahoos who think that New York State is where Satan lives.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that Steve Braver fired me. He didn't do it himself -- lacking in the guts department, so he is -- he had some flunkies do it for him. Of the three flunkies he had do it, Terry Shaw, Dan Bowerman and Dick Lucinski, only Shaw is still employed in the journalism racket here in Niagara County.

And his days are numbered.

After Braver's flunkies fired me, I was asked to sign a document that contained a non-compete clause and swore me to secrecy on the topics of the Gazette, Greater Niagara Newspapers and Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., the Alabama-based company that paid too much to play in Niagara County to begin with.

I told them I didn't sign stuff like that and they then used their own high-priced lawyers as well as attorneys from an anti-labor business organization to deny me the vacation pay, sick and personal days I had coming and even my unemployment. They got a ruling from some idiot New York State Labor Department official that said I was incapable of work and, thus, didn't qualify for unemployment.

But it all comes out in the wash, my brother Brian used to say. In the years since, Bruce Battaglia and I founded the Reporter, which has taken around a million advertising dollars away from the Gazette. We scooped them on stories ranging from Billy Shrubsall to Cintra to Rick Muto to Teresa Holland, Buffalo Children's Hospital and Laborers Local 91. Braver and company, meanwhile, spent their time waving the flag for Mayor Irene Elia, Senate wannabe Rick Lazio and City Councilwoman Candra Thomason.

I still keep that Labor Department ruling. In fact, I have it mounted in a frame. Those guys at the Gazette should be so incapable of work.

Braver eliminated all the printers and mailroom jobs in Niagara Falls and Lockport, slashed the newsrooms by 50 percent and cut the positions of a number of lifelong Gazette employees in the business and advertising departments.

Bowerman's now working for some podunk newspaper in rural Ohio, Braver's unemployed and Lucinski -- who I'll tell you I always liked and wish no ill -- was last heard of in Rochester, producing some 5 a.m. newscast on local television.

Steve Braver played the bigshot role to the hilt. Despite the fact he was killing the working man, he liked to keep up appearances. Chamber of Commerce president, Buffalo Niagara Partnership board member, houses in Youngstown and then Lewiston and a condo down in Florida. He became a fixture at the Niagara Falls Country Club.

A regular swell. In four short years, this nitwit nabob had the alleged movers and shakers of our community eating out of his hand.

In the end, of course, he was a phony. A fake and a short-timer. He had no more idea about how to run a newspaper than I have about how to build jet aircraft.

Now, like so many others in Niagara County, he's jobless. Let's just hope he's given the same amount of sympathy that his newspapers gave to the workers of Delphi-Harrison, Carborundum, Nabisco, Carbide Graphite and his own organization.

Which is to say, none.

With his high positions on various business councils, his newspaper columns, television appearances and participation in public events, Braver presumed to tell us poor, dumb Niagara Countians exactly how business should be conducted here.

Now he's been fired by his own bosses, because he couldn't even run his own business.

Four months ago, I reported that Braver was trying to sell his Youngstown home for $209,500 and predicted the sale might indicate he wouldn't be around much longer. Braver responded with a column of his own a couple of weeks later that claimed he was buying a new home in Lewiston and that, as publisher of the Gazette, he was in it for the long haul. So much for the believability of stuff you read in the Gazette.

So long, Steve, and good riddance.


Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com April 29 2003