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DEC 16 - DEC 24, 2014

No Rhyme or Reason to Justify Dyster's Casino Cash Spending

By Anna M. Howard

December 16, 2014

While Mayor Paul Dyster may be able to explain to this second grade class what is good governance, discerning adults realize that his budget charade and his arbitrary definitions of “casino cash must be used for economic development” are self-serving.

Enough already.

Enough of the criticism leveled at Councilman Glenn Choolokian, taking him to task for recommending the use of casino funds to offset costs related to the regular city budget.

Former Mayor Vince Anello and former city controller Patrick Brown (who is one of the owners of Brown Accounting and husband of Acting City Controller Maria Brown - the latter who was awarded an annual $10,000 stipend last year for handling the casino cash) are all over social media and/or the airwaves taking Choolokian to task for wanting to offer relief to taxpayers by using casino funds.

Yet Dyster has a proven public record of abusing the casino cash for the past seven years.

The Reporter has reported on how the Dyster administration (Dyster, not the council, not the taxpayers, not the state) has refused to write, develop, make available or discuss any plan of any sort with regards to the expenditure of casino funds.

The Dyster administration, while telling council and taxpayers that casino money "according to state law 99-H" can only be used for matters of economic development," has repeatedly used casino funds in every conceivable manner unrelated to economic development.

Those casino expenditures can be viewed (thanks to George Maziarz, not the Dyster administration) on the city website. We have written at length as to how many, if not most, of those expenditures are not related in any way to economic development.

Unless of course you consider "rugs and drapes" purchased for the city planner's office to be economic development.

We have to note that the rugs and drapes were technically bought with "casino cash interest." That hair-splitting "interest account" earned by the casino fund remains hidden within the Dyster administration. Can you say "defiantly non-transparent"?

Dyster practices an almighty, king-like approach in deciding what is and what isn't casino cash eligible.

This has allowed (and we have written on this at length) Mayor Dyster to, in part, abuse the casino cash account thusly: $500,000 to Isaiah 61; $1.5 million to USA Niagara, a state agency; $100,000 for a parking study; $100,000 to remove tree stumps; $150,000 to Community Missions; $450,000 to repave the city hall parking lot; $190,000 for Code Enforcement vehicles; $2.3 million for trash totes; $350,000 to the police drug squad; $3 million annually for the courthouse debt; $350,000 to "re-bid" the train station; $25,000 for police overtime, $150,000 for the pothole killer, $450,000 top repave city hall's parking lot, and the list goes on and on for every possible expenditure Mayor Dyster can think of, including a yet to be approved, but requested $304,000 for golf cart paths and $3.2 million to create a city animal shelter.

Dyster, the masterful international nuclear arms negotiator, has been unable to come to terms with the SPCA and his newest move is to use casino funds to open and operate a city animal shelter. It's quite remarkable and yet un-remarked upon by those who criticize Choolokian for trying to balance the 2015 budget.

Train station, did you say? Why no word from the media and sideline commentators with regard to the totally unknown operating costs of the soon to open train station? Does anyone doubt that the costs to operate the train station are going to be subsidized with casino revenue by Dyster?

Animal shelters and train stations are ok, but using casino cash to lower taxes – the ultimate move in economic development – is a no-no.

That is simply foolish on the face of it. Deriding Choolokian for wanting to put casino cash to work to stabilize, if not lower, taxes for both homeowner and business owners is the new height of absurdity to which the city has descended.

Until the state weighs in as to exactly how casino cash can be used, until the state reviews Dyster's use of casino funds to date, and until the Dyster administration comes clean with how it intends to spend all future casino cash, the questions surrounding 99-H will remain unsettled.

But you see, we believe that this is exactly how Mayor Dyster prefers the casino cash issue to be: cloudy and completely in his control.





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Phone: (716) 284-5595

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