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FEB 03 - FEB 10, 2015

Politics Suspected as Caso Named 'Acting' DPW Director, as Dyster Claims to Seek Permanent DPW Chief

By Frank Parlato

February 03, 2015

Mayor Paul Dyster, who is running for reelection, says he will select a permanent DPW director. The Reporter doubts this will happen soon.

As the Reporter predicted last week, DPW Deputy Director John Caso has been named "acting" director of the DPW following the retirement of DPW Director David Kinney.

Mayor Paul Dyster told the Niagara Gazette he will conduct a search for a permanent director.

Caso, Kinney's deputy director, began with the DPW in the 1990's. Kinney was a Dyster appointee in 2008.

Last week sources told the Reporter that, because this is an election year, Dyster hopes to hire a permanent director based on race and consultants are seeking a black individual to assume the permanent position.

It may not be easy to find.

Qualified directors of a department as large as the DPW, with over 100 employees, whether black, brown or white, are typically employed and not usually seeking a $75,000 job that may last less than one year. If Dyster loses his reelection bid, the next mayor will appoint his own DPW director.

This gives Caso a fighting chance at staying in the "acting" director position until voters decide who the next mayor will be.

Caso increases his odds by supporting Dyster's election year plans - which is, we suspect, to pave the most streets where the most voters will notice - even if the asphalt is a little thin - as it was alleged to have been during the last election cycle - when Dyster paved a record number of streets.

No one can dispute that many streets the Dyster administration paved have cracked and heaved prematurely. An inspection by the Niagara Falls Reporter of some of these revealed they were improperly milled and the new asphalt was less than one inch in many places.

While Dyster told the Gazette that Caso will be eligible for the permanent position, we predict that, despite being well qualified, Caso will not be appointed to a permanent position any time soon.

Should Caso pave the most roads, plant the most trees and remove the most stumps in neighborhoods where Dyster needs the most votes, our prediction is Caso will remain as acting director until after the election.

The same is true of crew leader Bob Spacone, who will serve as "acting" deputy director, assuming Caso's old duties.

"At some point we're going to move forward and make a long-term decision with the director and deputy director positions," Dyster told the Gazette.

The Reporter believes that if Caso is bypassed because he white, he is unlikely to eagerly support a new director hired over him because of race. But, in our opinion, Caso knows the job, the 10,000 details of the DPW and has the institutional knowledge to make the department run smoothly as it transitions from Kinney's leadership.

Dyster may not be able to discriminate against Caso because he is white and still expect smooth election year-oriented paving.

Hiring a black for optics with voters has to be weighed against efficient election year paving - also done for optics.

The Reporter predicts Dyster takes the safe road - dangles the carrot of permanent director to Caso to incentivize him to use the DPW to Dyster's most advantageous election year efforts, and forgo the advantage of a black hire (including the "historic" press conference where he announces he hired the first black DPW director in Niagara Falls in 30 years etc.)

Dyster's term expires in 11 months. Should Dyster win reelection, we predict Dyster will appoint a permanent director based on campaign debts he wishes to repay. The next DPW director needn't be black after the election.

If he loses, the new mayor will appoint his own director - which may be - if merit is used to decide such things - Dyster's "acting" director, John Caso.


John Caso is named 'acting' director of the DPW. But will he get the permanent position?






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©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

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