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Owens Looking for Love on Match.com

By Mike Hudson

If good looks were the sole criteria for pay scale in Niagara Falls, then Donna D. Owens would be among the highest paid. But, lamentably,
other factors were weighed in the council decision to slash her pay from $110,000 to $75,000.

She’s a divorced, 56-year old African American woman with a full zest for the good life, looking for a man, comfortable in his own skin and embracing life with zest and vigor! She wants no games or drama, and promises “good times and companionship” in return.

She’s Donna Owens, and her ad on the popular Match.com Internet dating site reveals much about what makes the often enigmatic Niagara Falls city administrator tick.

She enjoys coffee and conversation, for example, and likes to cook, while at the same time loves dining out. An apparent outdoors woman, she’s into camping, fishing and hunting, but is also sophisticated enough to enjoy museums and art, music and concerts, nightclubs and dancing.

Gardening and landscaping are pursuits she probably doesn’t get to do as much of as she’d like since she lives in rented rooms at the Jefferson Apartments, but there’s still time for hobbies and crafts, watching movies and videos, playing cards, and pursuing her political interests.

And she’s a spiritual gal who reads the Bible when she’s not out shopping for antiques, watching sports, attending wine tastings, or playing video games.

She likes cats, dogs, fish and horses, as well as Toronto, Buffalo, Lewiston and Niagara on the Lake. Curiously, she fails to mention Niagara Falls as a “Favorite Hotspot,” despite the fact that the city’s taxpayers bear the burden of supporting her lavish lifestyle.

She lists her salary as “$75,001 to $100,000” though action by the council last week ensured it would remain at the lower end of that spectrum.

Originally hired at $110,000 a year by Mayor Paul Dyster, Owens has failed to impress many during her six-year tenure and, last year, the council voted to cut her pay by a whopping $40,000, to $70,000.

Dyster proposed restoring her salary to $110,000 in his 2014 city budget, but the council rejected the idea and voted to give her $75,000. Undaunted, Dyster vetoed the rebuff, but two of his strongest supporters, Council members Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker voted with Councilmen Sam Fruscione and Glenn Choolokian to override the veto.

Dyster said he couldn’t understand it.

“I think she’s doing a really good job,” the mayor said. “It’s why I was willing to go out and try to fight to get the salary restored.”

Walker, who votes with the mayor more than 90 percent of the time, saw things differently.

“I based my decision upon the performance,” Walker said. “What has she done that says this salary is worthy?”

A lack of communication at the highest levels of city government has resulted in more than a few gaffes, he added.

“Those are the kind of things we have to look at and are suppose to determine whether this city administrator should be paid $110,000 or $75,000,” Walker said.

Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti also said “clear communication” has been lacking between department heads and the administrator, which has led some department heads to seek help in other places, including from the council.

Owens got up quickly and exited the council chambers as soon as the vote was taken.

Maybe she had a date.




Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Dec 17, 2013