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APR 28 - MAY 05, 2015

Itís Official: Dyster Picks New Secretary for City Council

By Mike Hudson

April 28, 2015

Mayor Dyster says goodbye to Bridgette Myles. She has been sent over to the council.
Nick Melson is rumored to be a talent Dyster would like to hire.
Myles added class to the Mayor’s office, but insiders say she wasn’t enough of a political animal to work side by side with the mayor.
Insdiers say Myles has a life outside city hall and could not work for Dyster by day and campaign for him by night- as is required.

On Monday, the Niagara Falls City Council approved hiring Mayor Paul Dyster’s current secretary, Bridgette Myles, as its new secretary.

She will be the third council secretary to fill the position in the last 17 months.

Right up until the end of 2012, the position of secretary to the City Council had been a secure one. That was when Geri Mondi retired after nearly 11 years in the position. And prior to Mondi’s appointment, Muriel White had been the gatekeeper of the Council Chambers for almost as long as anyone could remember.

Replacing Mondi in 2012 was Kevin Ormsby, the city’s former director of tourism. At 61, Ormsby expected to stay in the $46,800 a year position until he was ready for retirement at age 65.

After the 2013 election loss of Councilman Sam Fruscione, and gaining a council majority expected to be friendly to him in 2014, Mayor Dyster decided to involve himself in the process.

A favorite among council members, Ormsby was fired December 31, 2013, as the new council majority of 2014, Andrew Touma, Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker were set to hand Dyster de-facto control of the council.

Ormsby filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the city after Walker and Grandinetti were quoted in local media reports saying Ormsby was replaced not because he wasn't a Dyster ally, but because they wanted a younger person on the job.

Grandinetti told the Buffalo News that the council needs a “young fresh face.”

Walker told the Niagara Gazette that the council needed someone “young.”

Ormsby was replaced by 24-year-old Ryan Undercoffer, the vice chairman of the City Democratic Committee.

Undercoffer secured the position without a formal interview, job posting or disclosure of his resume, all the things that Ormsby had to undergo before being named council secretary a year earlier.

Undercoffer took the job in January 2014 and left a couple of weeks ago to take a job in the Department of Community Development.

With his political background, Undercoffer was viewed as being of more value to Dyster's reelection efforts working outside of Council Chambers, where Glenn Choolokian, Dyster’s opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary, could keep an eye on him.

Likewise, Dyster’s transferring Myles to the Council not only gives him a set of eyes to watch Choolokian but more importantly makes room for him to hire a new secretary for himself who will have close ties to the city Democratic Committee.

The weakness of the current Council is apparent in their hiring of the mayor's secretary.

Such mechanizations on the part of any previous mayor in memory would have been unimaginable. Council members such as Barb Geracitano, Vince Anello, John Accardo and Tony Quaranto would have automatically disqualified a candidate for the position who had previously served as the mayor’s private secretary.

Among the candidates that the council interviewed last Friday for the position of council secretary before acquiescing  to Dyster's desire for the council to hire his secretary, were former city Democratic Party Committee chairman David Houghton, Tourism Advisory board member and city employee Lisa Vitello, Cory Ann Hess, and Rhonda Grose, who, readers will recall, led LaSalle residents in protesting the City, the Mayor and Covanta Niagara over the infestation of rats near the Covanta Niagara plant on 57th St.  Grose also sought a city job and soon got one at the Niagara Falls Water Board. She was also the first resident in the city to receive garbage totes - delivered to her personally by Touma as part of a press event heralding the official implementation of Mayor Dyster's new trash plan.

The interview process for council secretary may have been done more for optics than as a sincere effort to find the most qualified person for the job.

Before the interview process the following occurred.

Grandinetti wanted the mayor to persuade Walker and Touma to support Vitello.

But the Mayor wanted Myles moved out of his office.

Walker decided to support Myles.

Grandinetti lined up to support Myles.

The mayor needed Touma's vote.

Touma declined to say who he would support until after the interview process was complete.  

After the interview process Touma said he wanted Grose, and lined up council member Robert Anderson.

Council member Glenn Choolokian decided to abstain from voting for a secretary since he said he is running for mayor this year, and will not be on the council next year, and did not want to cast the deciding vote on who the council would have as its next secretary.

"I expect to be mayor next year and I respect the separation of the legislative and executive branches of government," Choolokian said. "I told Touma that he and the other council members should work it out themselves."

Touma, failing to secure Choolokian's vote, shifted to Myles, telling the Reporter that "we can't table this. The council needs a secretary now. It can’t wait a month."

"I smell a Pepé Le Pew here," said Anderson. "Your mayor moved Undercoffer to community development, moves Bridgette out of his office to the council and the end game is he will hire a secretary for his office who will also - surprise -  be someone who is experienced - not as a secretary - but in election campaigns."

The Reporter has heard from sources on both sides of the political aisle that former Francine DelMonte aide and unsuccessful candidate for the Niagara County legislature, Nick Melson, may be on the short list for Dyster's new secretary.   





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