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AUGUST 05 - AUGUST 13, 2014

He's Baaack! Fruscione Weighs in on Issues! Former Council Chair astounded by waste and protocol lapses

By Sam Fruscione

August 05, 2014

It has been seven months since I left office as a city councilman.

It was an honor to serve the residents of Niagara Falls for eight years, four of those years as council chairman. All four of those years saw a balanced city budget with no tax increase.

Unfortunately it does appear that the current council chairman and council majority are operating more in their own interests rather than the best interests of our city.

Straight out of the 2014 gate Chairman Walker along with council members Kristen Grandinetti and Andrew Touma improperly fired council secretary Kevin Ormsby and replaced him with political operative Ryan Undercoffer. The proof of their improper behavior was recently proven as the New York State Division of Human Rights ruled that the city did indeed discriminate against Ormsby.

Despite the fact that Mayor Paul Dyster hired Ruby Pulliam as his EEO expert three years ago to guard against this sort of prejudicial behavior.

Residents should be aware that this official finding of discrimination by the city and council was cross-filed with the federal government.

For the past few months the council majority and mayor have put the city through unnecessary drama and expense by launching a trash and recycling program that was conceived in a backroom and brought into the light at the expense and inconvenience of our residents.

There are genuinely troubling questions and concerns with how Mayor Dyster initiated this trash program. The plan was hatched in the dark and sprung on the city with an attitude of "drop the bomb now, we'll clean up the mess later."

The writing of the new trash ordinance should have been – as a matter of government protocol– written with the oversight of the council chairman. Instead it was drafted by Mayor Dyster and his law department then handed to the council for a vote. Our residents, and the media, should grasp the fact that this is backwards: why didn't the chairman speak out as the mayor usurped the powers of the council?

The garbage plan and contract were secretly drafted and the garbage totes (city seal and serial numbers with computer chip embedded) were manufactured and delivered so fast that one almost suspects the order was placed before the contract was shared with the public.

By the way, the new city trash ordinance has yet to be passed into law and yet the Dyster administration trash contract has already gone into effect. The contract and the ordinance are out of synch due to the inept and secretive Dyster administration.

The Hamister hotel development deal, you say?

I don't want to say I told you so, but yes, I told you so. The Hamister deal was sold to voters as a critical game changer that was going to be built as soon as the council approved the package. Now, we see that this "deal" was a misrepresentation. The land was given to the developer for pennies on the dollar and remains nothing more than a gravel parking lot, and the game changing, luxury hotel it was promised to be is now going to a midscale, business hotel, if it is ever built. The groundbreaking date has been moved back by a year and could be moved back yet again.

The recent refusal of Chairman Walker to allow the One Niagara back taxes to be settled at the last council meeting was a move that may have tickled Walker's ego but cost the city $1.6 million in cash. That's money much needed by the city in spite of the casino cash windfall that the administration continues to blaze through.

As for casino cash, the city council should demand a spending plan from the administration. That spending plan should have been in place by January 1, 2014 and should have contained a listing of what the administration intended to put money towards and a rationale as to what is and is not acceptable for casino funds.

Finally, my business partners and I recently opened an ice cream store on Old Falls Street. We specialize in Hershey ice cream and I cordially invite everyone to stop in and say hello. By the way, we opened our business with no city loans or grants and located in an area of Niagara Falls that continues to struggle despite the fact that it's in the heart of the largely undeveloped downtown tourism corridor.





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