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Council Majority Fractured, Not Acting as Rubber Stamp for Dyster

Walker's Hidden Agenda Debated

For the second time in less than two weeks, someone from the so-called "Dyster Council Majority" voted against Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster's agenda.

Two weeks ago, newcomer Andrew Touma voted with the opposition, Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson, to settle long-standing tax litigation between the city and One Niagara, the downtown tourist operation founded by the publisher of this newspaper.

Touma's break from Dyster and Council Members Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker was seen as a mark of independence and prompted hope that the council can be what a council should be: an independent watchdog for taxpayers.

This week, it was Council Chairman Charles Walker who broke from Dyster. Walker, along with Choolokian and Anderson, opposed spending $95,000 for yet another parking study after already having spent $48,000 in 2013 for the same study by the same consultants.

One of the expenses Dyster wants the council to approve is $17,299 in travel costs for consultants, Desman and Associates of New York City.

And an additional $400 per hour is requested to pay for after-hour meetings between Desman staffers.

Choolokian, in explaining his vote, said, "We keep spending the taxpayers' money on the same kind of studies over and over again. We just spend more money for the same studies. We could fill a lot of potholes for $95,000."

Walker's independent vote suggests Dyster may not have the "rubber stamp" council majority he had hoped for.

Sources at City Hall tell us that Walker, who initially wanted to table the consulting proposal, is motivated not by concerns for the wastefulness of another, needless consulting agreement. Instead, he is holding back approval until Dyster consents to let him control a patronage hire.

While Walker and Dyster both declined to speak to the Reporter, the truth will likely become apparent if Walker waffles during the next meeting when this $95,000 consultant proposal is re-presented.



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

Mar 04, 2014