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MAR 24 - MAR 31, 2015

Dyster's Disastrous Plan Costs More,
Leaves Falls Buried in Winter's Garbage

By Mike Hudson

March 24, 2015

(Click on the images below for a larger image)

For a generation at least, Easter has marked a special time here in Niagara Falls. As the mountains of snow began to melt, area residents – often whole families –could be seen in their yards raking up the fast food wrappers, drug paraphernalia and spent cartridge cases long hidden by winter. Depending upon the neighborhood,even a small city lot could produce several garbage bags of debit age, and some households made a sort of game of the cleanup, with extra points being given forhypodermic needles or other exotic finds.

This year though, the melting snow has yielded a veritable bonanza. The city is literally covered in garbage, tons of it, all thanks to Mayor Paul Dyster's garbagerecycling plan.

Every picture tells a story, they say, and those accompanying this article spill the beans on a woeful tale of mismanagement on a massive level that reaches to the topechelon of city government. Alleys are jammed with bagged refuse, used Christmas trees abound and there is seemingly enough furniture, albeit somewhat water damaged,to fill each and every one of the 700 vacant and abandoned houses the Dyster Administration has ignored for most of the past eight years.

It really is impressive. Garbage piled higher than a tall man stands sits right next to the undersized totes the mayor foisted on an unsuspecting populace. Why doesn'tModern, the city's garbage contractor, pick it up? Because, under the contract agreement that was arrived at in secret by the Dyster administration nearly one yearago, they simply don't have to.

Dyster trotted out his seldom seen but highly paid city administrator, Donna Owens of Fulton County, Ga., to announce what was then billed as an expansion of garbageservices, the centerpiece of which was a beefed up recycling program aimed at citizens who held the honor of being the worst recyclers in all of Western New York. Manysmall businesses were eliminated entirely from the program, forcing them to go out on their own and pay for private pickup.

When her spiel ended and questioning began by city Council members, businesspeople and residents alike, it quickly became apparent that Owens didn't know the firstthing about the plan Dyster credited her with conceiving. Many called for her immediate resignation.

But Dyster was adamant. More recycling was the right and "green" thing to do, he argued, and the new plan would save city taxpayers $500,000 a year. The Dysterfriendly, "new look" city Council threw caution to the wind and approved the plan, which went into effect last August.

While most municipalities use a 96-gallon tote for residential garbage collection, the ones Dyster spent $2.3 million of your tax dollars on were good for only 64 gallons, while the recycling totes - almost invariably smaller than the garbage totes in every other community - were actually larger - at 96 gallons - than the garbage totes which - in this crazed plan - were only 64 gallons.

That's right - the trash totes are smaller than the recycling totes. And only one per family. When the 64 gallon trash tote is full - you're out of luck. Unless of course you can throw your trash out elsewhere - say an alley or a vacant lot.

Never before in the history of the city - has there been a plan to pick up so little garbage -by some creepy design to try to force(and not persaude or educate) people to recycle.

Surreally, each tote came equipped with a microchip implant, presumably so Dyster could track down any stolen totes Dick Tracy style, using a two way wrist radio or some other device. But in reality - although not openly disclosed - they were designed to be used - and have been used in some other communities that have them - to keep track of who is not using their recycling totes enough and in contemplation of trash inspectors examining if residents may be violating the trash law by throwing out recyclables in the regular trash.

City Councilman Glenn Choolokian, who is running against Dyster in this year's mayoral primary, remains outraged.

"The Dyster administration told everybody what they wanted to get this thing through," he said. "Typical Dyster. Whatever they do, it always costs us more money andnever benefits the taxpayer. We are the only city that can't do garbage right. A service that has been done for centuries. We can't get it right here."

Small businesses faced increased costs and residents faced fines and other sanctions for not complying with the program, but at least one Niagara Falls resident has benefitted mightily.

Her name is Brooke D'Angelo, and she's a Democratic committeewoman and virulent Dyster supporter. Back in 2013, she helped orchestrate the smear campaign that drove formerly popular Niagara Falls City Councilman Sam Fruscione from office, based on his questioning of Dyster's sweetheart deal with do nothing Buffalo developer Mark Hamister to build a hotel downtown, largely with taxpayer money.

For the record, the hotel has not yet materialized and many doubt that it ever will. The only news stories to come out of the project since Fruscione left office more than 17 months ago have dealt with Hamister's repeated downsizing of what it will actually consist of as he trolls government agencies looking for handouts.

D'Angelo came out smelling like a rose however, appointed under Dyster's friends and family program as the city's garbage enforcement czar. In what was supposed to be a temporary job - when Dyster first announced it, it was made permanent. She's currently costing city taxpayers $48,000 a year in wages and benefits, and is charged with writing people tickets for violation of the new law even as Niagara Falls becomes increasingly buried beneath a mountain of garbage.

This week dozens of letters of violation went out to residents who can't possibly get rid of thier weekly trash in one small 64 gallon tote - and have used what people were allowed to use for decaes - garbage bags - with the promise of fines if they do not correct their now illegal manner of throwing out garbage.

Before the Dyster plan went into effect, the people of this city could dispose of any amount of trash they needed. Garbage bags, garbage cans were permitted. They could easily get rid of bulk items. And bizarrely, the cost was less.

Now the cost continue to escalate.

As head of Dyster's Sanitation Waste Education Enforcement Team (SWEET), which currently consists of D'Angelo alone but will soon be very likely bolstered with three allegedly part time, seasonal employees who may or may not be made into full time, permanent employees based entirely on the mayor's whim and their willingnessto work, like D'Angelo herself, for his reelection in November.

And the $500,000 Dyster said the city would save under his ingenious garbage recycling program?

That was either a deliberate lie on the mayor's part or he's stupider than he looks. The reality is that we will be paying at least $500,000 more this year for the drastically reduced service we are receiving.

This newspaper sided with the many, on all sides of the political spectrum, who predicted the Dyster plan would be another disaster in a city that has gotten so used to disaster it would take an earthquake of major magnitude to get anyone to notice.

And the winter's garbage, currently covering vacant lots and clogging alleys throughout the city? You can bet whatever you've got that it will be hauled away, by Modern Disposal or some other contractor, under a separate "one time" contract that will raise the 2015 bill for waste disposal here even more.

Dyster remains the odds on favorite in the November election, for reasons we cannot begin to fathom.





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