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SEP 02- SEP 09, 2014

There But For the Grace of the Casino Goes Dyster

By Anna M. Howard

September 02, 2014

Mayor Paul Dyster can spend freely since he has $20 plus million of casino cash that Lock- port doesn't see.

For those of you who are paying attention to the financial soap opera known as Lockport city government you should be aware that there is only one thing separating Niagara Falls' financial future from the current desperate fiscal status of Lockport: casino cash.

The Office of the State Comptroller conducted an audit of Niagara Falls reaching back several years and delivered their findings in early June 2013. That report was a devastating indictment of Mayor Dyster and his handling of the city's finances and expenditure of casino cash.

That state audit painted a grim, critical and grave portrait of city finances.

But for the fortuitous counter announcement a mere two weeks later by Governor Cuomo that the casino stalemate had been ended, and that millions of dollars in casino cash was going to flow to the Dyster administration, a control board would now be sitting in Dyster's city hall. That is simply a fact.

While Lockport government engages in a he-said, he-said round of finger pointing with city treasurer Mike White blaming it all on former Mayor Mike Tucker the reality is Lockport will be approximately $4.6 million in debt by the end of 2014.

Because of the looming debt, Lockport put its Republican tail between its legs and decided to borrow $5 million from the governor to close the gap. That creates the very interesting situation where an extremely Republican city government will have to now kneel at the feet of an extremely Democratic state government from now until who knows when.

Well, bad things happen when you can't manage your money.

As for Dyster and Niagara Falls, the casino cash windfall has hidden a myriad of sins within his administration. Dyster not only has not fallen on his financial face he has prospered due to casino cash while his spendthrift ways become yet more so.

He built a $50 million courthouse, he is building a $45 million train station, he has handed out raises, stipends and overtime to his favorite employees with abandon, hired consultants to consult on everything imaginable including routine legal work repeatedly tossed to his campaign donors Hodgson Ross, he built an Underground Railroad Interpretive Center, paved countless streets in an inferior manner, spent $2.2 million for garbage totes and his spending ways show no sign of slowing.

The plain fact is that Dyster's out of control spending is made possible through an endless stream of casino cash. The reality is that without the casino cash Niagara Falls would be - due to Dyster's reliance on the funds for day-to-day business - in debt for millions of dollars and under the guidance of a control board.

Since the only thing standing between the fiscal collapse of the Dyster administration and the Drunken Sailor spending of the Dyster administration is the flow of casino cash from the Seneca Niagara casino the Reporter believes Dyster should pray that the endless line of gamblers at the casino does indeed remain endless.

In fact, we suggest a little prayer for the mayor to recite before he slips into bed each night: "Oh lord I thank you for allowing the State of New York to give away 52 prime acres of our downtown for the sole benefit of the Seneca Nation and addicted gamblers. And I thank you lord for making it possible for millions upon millions of dollars to be put under my control so I can reward my friends and punish my enemies by exercising tremendous financial clout while keeping my fiscally irresponsible administration's butt out of bankruptcy. Amen."

Now, turn out the light and get some sleep Mayor Dyster, tomorrow is another day.





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