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FEB 17 - FEB 24, 2015

Council Curiously Un-curious About Everything they Should Want to Know

By Anna M. Howard

February 17, 2015

The Niagara Falls City Council seems strangely reticent about asking Mayor Paul Dyster the kind of pertinent questions that even mildly engaged elected officials would want to know.


"Don't ask don't tell" was the unofficial policy of the United States military regarding the handling of gay and lesbian matters until all of that changed under the Obama administration.

While that change regarding sexual orientation was a long time coming and a long time overdue for the military we have a totally different, but possibly none the less disturbing city hall policy of "don't ask don't tell" when it comes to the mayor, the city council and Niagara Falls government.

It's a matter of fact that Mayor Paul Dyster is stubbornly anti-transparent and the council is consistently lax - lazy even - in performing it's due diligence.

Whether this is a rehearsed and cynical good cop-bad cop routine riding along on the back of a clever "ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies" charade is up for debate but the facts are that the taxpayers are getting the short end of the stick...again.

At this moment the mayor is preparing to launch a number of initiatives, projects and or expenditures and while we get dribs and drabs as to the back-story of each we remain essentially in the dark. And we will remain in the dark because the council, for reasons known only to themselves, refuses to ask the mayor what he's doing.

The Dyster administration is completing its $45 million train station and has yet to explain how it will pay to keep the doors open and the lights on in the building.

The Underground Railroad Interpretive Center which is part of the project remains shuttered and mired in a lawsuit.

The mayor is planning to open an animal shelter and as you read this he has already hired a designer, trained a city police officer to be the dog warden and has bought an animal control vehicle. He has even earmarked over $3 million in casino funds to build the animal shelter...and the council has yet to ask one question.

Council chairman Andrew Touma recently told the Reporter that he supported the Hamister deal and yet at the same time said that the Dyster administration has kept the council largely in the dark as to project details. Whose fault is that, the mayor or the chairman? After all, if the council doesn't ask, the mayor isn't going to tell.

Forty parking meter heads are going to spring up any day now in the downtown. We understand the consultant fee for making those forty meters come alive will be at least $95,000. Do we know any other details as to total cost, projected revenue, administrative costs and whether the mayor is going to create a parking "team" the way he created a SWEET team to handle his new trash plan? Why isn't the council the least bit curious?

The ice pavilion project has put millions of dollars on ice for the taxpayers and not a single public presentation or update has been called for by the council. How can that be in light of the fact that the council chair is sponsoring a resolution to bond $3.1 million dollars at the February 17 council meeting for ice rink work?

Requests for proposals to operate Sal Maglie stadium were to have been received and opened two weeks ago and yet not a word as to the outcome of that.

Let's not forget about how the trash and recycling program was dropped on a surprisingly disinterested council at the eleventh hour, resulting in confusion over the entire program that remains to this day, ten months later.

Does anyone have a clue as to why the council hasn't demanded a casino revenue spending plan as they routinely approve the mayor's casino cash expenditures time and again?

Who should we blame, mayor or council?

It doesn't matter because in this climate of "don't ask don't tell" there's more than enough blame for both.


Mayor Paul Dyster has discovered that if offers no information, the council will not bother to find out.






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