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SEP 16- SEP 24, 2014

Dyster Fire Hall Rehab Burns up $500K in Casino Cash

By Anna M. Howard

September 16, 2014

The Seneca Nation got a casino. Mayor Paul Dyster got the casino cash. What did the residents get?

The Dyster administration wants to gift the Isaiah 61 housing rehabilitation program with $500,000 in casino cash to rehabilitate the old, smallish and decrepit Highland Avenue fire hall for use as Isaiah 61 headquarters. [Editor’s Note: the measure was passed by the council Monday night 3 to 1]

While the $500,000 request represents an unconscionable use of city casino funds, the startling request couldn’t occur at a more appropriate moment in the Dyster administration history.

Last week the Reporter wrote a story detailing the fact that the city and the Dyster administration have no casino cash-spending program in place. This recent demand for half a million in casino cash proves the Reporter both correct and prescient.

We stated in our article that, unless a spending plan was put in place, the misuse of casino cash would continue.

Now we have this request by Mayor Dyster for support of Isaiah 61 for a half-million in casino dollars.

This request on behalf of Isaiah 61 is not less, and perhaps more troubling, than many of the Dyster administration casino fund expenditures to date.

When the mayor gave Community Missions $150,000 earlier this year, he said it was for the feeding of the hungry and the sheltering of the homeless. He never said it was also to keep the IRS from the door of the mission due to its failure to pay federal employee withholdings.

Now, as Dyster worked to convince the council that they should support his Isaiah 61 scheme, he claimed that this casino cash award is “for the youth who will receive building trades training” through Isaiah 61.

Casino cash for the hungry.

Casino cash for youth training.

This administration always couches its largest casino cash demands in the name of social justice or education or youth.

Such linkage is nothing short of cynical since the business of the city government is not to appropriate casino funds for not-for-profit corporate social programs or education or youth. City government is to be in the business of providing for the public safety and taking care of the city’s infrastructure and parks.

Without a casino-cash plan in place, this waste of casino funds will continue. Clearly Dyster is refusing to develop such a plan because as long as there is no plan there is no accountability demanded of him.

If there are no rules then there are no rules to be broken.

Dyster’s behavior is an affront to the people of this city, people who were divested of 52 prime downtown acres of land so the Seneca Nation could build a casino. The residents are now being forced to stand by while their casino funds are used by the Dyster administration as a private bank account.

A not for profit corporation, Isaiah 61, will get this building (for free?) after the city invests $500,000 of casino cash fixing it up for them.

As for the one page “agreement” between the Dyster administration and Isaiah 61 Inc., it offers to sell (later amended to lease) the (eventual) rehabilitated fire hall to Isaiah 61, but never states the selling/lease price.

Will it be $1? After it is sold or leased, what demands will the city place on the building? Can Isaiah 61 rent it out, sublet it or sell it in order to realize a profit? Can they sit on it and leave it closed if they so choose?

Where are the details or the transparency? What exactly are contracted “help to the youth” benchmarks required to get this $500,000.

Just Isaiah 61’s say so.

Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo claims Isaiah 61 has graduated 100 trained workers and placed 70 of them in jobs to date. But he provides no proof of placement, no evidence of pay grades. Not even an explanation of what “graduation” means from an accreditation standpoint.

How will Isaiah 61 be held to account?.

After all that should have been clear before the council voted to approve half a million.

Mere anecdotal information or “trust me, these are good people and do a great job,” passes for information.

There is no plan to hold Isaiah 61 to account. That makes sense since the mayor has no casino cash spending plan anyway. He gives public money without any accounting for himself and those he chooses to give money to, as he burns through millions in casino funds.

But, dear reader, consider this: Paul Dyster DOES have a casino cash spending plan and how you see him spending those casino funds is exactly as he has planned all along, spending without transparency and without the input of the residents of this city.





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Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
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