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APR 21 - APR 28, 2015

Albany Controlled Water Board to Sue City Using Buffalo-Based Lawyers City to retaliate by using own Buffalo lawyers to fight back!

By Mike Hudson

April 21, 2015

The Niagara Falls Water Board Treatment plant

Maybe if the city let the Water Board treat frack water and discharge it in the Niagara River this problem wouldn't have happened.
Executive Director Paul Drof tells a state senate committee on Dec 12, 2011:
"The Water Board wholeheartedly supports... the safe treatment of flowback (frack) water"
The Niagara Falls Reporter found evidence of frack water being stored at the Water Board Treatment Plant were tests were being done to deter mine whether the plant could meet the safety standards of the DEC for treating frack water at the plant then discharging it into the Niagara River.

The Niagara Falls Water Board has been the center of considerable controversy since its creation 13 years ago. The agency, which was sold as a means of eliminating politics from the vital task of providing running water and sewage disposal services to city residents and businesses, has become little more than a political football itself, one controlled not by those who use it, but by Albany power brokers and a Williamsville resident who's managed to turn "working for the city" into an incredibly lucrative cash cow.

The illegal storage of fracking wastewater at the plant that provides our drinking water, water main "improvements" that have resulted in homeowners being without running water for days and weeks on end, spiraling costs and frequent increases to the already high rates, the hiring of friends and family to key positions, threats of litigation, and cover-ups worthy of Richard Nixon have been the order of the day.

The situation has gotten so bad that the city Council, led by a suddenly fiery Charles Walker, has proposed dissolving the agency entirely and returning water and sewer services to the status of a city department.

"It bothers me to have to sit here and have people come to me and say they have no water and we can't do anything about it," said Walker, who supported the spinoff of water and sewer services from the city back in 2002. "Hopefully by the next meeting we can have a serious discussion about whether or not this is the way to go."

While Mayor Paul Dyster has yet to weigh in on the proposed dissolution, he was the one who spearheaded the idea of creating the Water Board in the first place. The bleak financial condition of the city led former mayor Irene Elia to raise taxes and look for ways of eliminating expenses. Dyster, then a city councilman and Elia's most enthusiastic cheerleader, saw taking water and sewer services off the books as a means of creating the illusion that the city was in better fiscal shape than it actually was.

The board would exist as a "quasi-governmental agency," in effect buying the water and sewer infrastructure from the city in return for an annual $700,000 "in lieu of taxes" payment.

Creation of the Water Board still needed Albany's approval, and in return for fast tracking the poorly thought out proposal, Dyster and Elia gave away the store, allowing for three appointments to the five-member board to be made by the state Assembly, Senate and Governor's office. Locally, the mayor gets to approve one member and the city Council another, effectively giving Albany the perpetual majority vote in matters relating to the city's water and sewer services.

Dyster's haste back in 2002 has now come full circle, turning around to bite the former councilman turned mayor from behind.

One day after Walker and other Council members discussed the board's dissolution, the Water Board retaliated by filing papers in state Supreme Court, asking that the requirement for the $700,000 annual payment be declared null and void.

The board issued a brief statement regarding the legal action, saying it "is not in a financial position to continue making this payment and believes it is not legally obligated to do so as a tax-exempt public benefit corporation under New York State Law."

Furthermore, the board produced a letter to Dyster, written by its chairman, Ted Janese, last September. The letter proposed a "sit down to discuss this matter to hopefully come to a resolution."

Barring that, Janese warned, "we may be forced to consider our legal options."

Dyster, the man who oversaw the creation of the board, was caught with his pants down. He refused to comment publicly about the board's filing, instead issuing a written statement.

"While I generally do not comment on pending litigation, in this case I can say the legislation and agreements creating the Niagara Falls Water Board clearly provide for the PILOT," the statement read. "This litigation will be vigorously defended by the city. I have attempted to encourage a spirit of cooperation between the city and the water board and I'm disappointed the board chose this tactic."

The "vigorous defense" will undoubtedly be handled at great expense to the Niagara Falls taxpayer by one of the Buffalo law firms that contribute to Dyster's campaign war chest. He hasn't used the city law department for anything other than window dressing in years.

Hilariously, the water board attorneys are also high priced Buffalo imports, Matthew O. Miller and John J. Ottaviano of the Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf, Cunningham law firm. The only sure bet in this particular water fight is that the Niagara Falls taxpayer is in for yet another soaking.

But the irony is delicious. Dyster, the man who sought to evade fiscal responsibility by employing a bookkeeping sleight of hand to what are, after all, essential city services, must now swallow the bitter pill of his own reckless actions without a glass of water to wash it down.

And laughing all the way to the bank is Paul Drof, the mayor's handpicked executive director of water and sewer services, who has parlayed his retirement benefits from the city of North Tonawanda with his $110,000 Niagara Falls Water Board salary into a McMansion in Williamsville, frequent vacations and a lifestyle normally enjoyed only by those captains of industry and gifted entrepreneurs whose hard work and resourcefulness in the private sector has resulted in wealth.

To call Drof a civil servant, or any sort of servant at all, is to imagine a world in which the major domo at Buckingham Palace makes more money than the Queen.


Summer is coming, and soon the stench from the city's wastewater treatment plant will be wafting over the downtown tourist district in an annual rite as traditional in Niagara Falls as the swallows are to Capistrano.

The locals will pretend not to notice it, particularly those already committed to Dyster's re-election in November. On Facebook pages run by those who have left the city for greener pastures and where criticism of the mayor is strictly verboten, the stench will be dismissed with some flippant remark about how a lot of things smell in Niagara Falls.

And they do.





Albany Controlled Water Board to Sue City Using Buffalo-Based Lawyers City to retaliate by using own Buffalo lawyers to fight back!
The Nightmare on 72nd Street: Dyster, Drof, Janese to Blame?
Dyster's Frankenstein Creation Rises Up Against Him in Supreme Court!
Brochey Narrows His Options, But Still May Decide to Not Run
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Phone: (716) 284-5595

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