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NOV 12 - NOV 19, 2015

Threes a Harm

Anna Howard

NOV 12, 2015

Paul Dyster

Well that didn’t take long. Less than five days to be exact.

The mayor was returned for a third term on Election Day November 3 and on Sunday November 8 the Niagara Gazette reported - “Niagara officials deal with drop in casino cash” - that the council chairman, and Dyster confidante, Andrew Touma wants to reassess all property in the city in order to raise taxpayer dollars to close the growing casino revenue shortfall.

The story reads, in part, “Touma said he would like to see assessment values brought to 100 percent citywide. To do so would raise property taxes in the city…‘We’re not where we need to be,’ he said. ‘That’s revenue that the city is losing out on.’”

Raise your hand if you find the placement of this news story on the paper’s front page just a few days after the election to be more than a bit suspicious. Why it looks as if it was being held until after Mr. Dyster was safely bunkered in his first floor city hall office for another four years.

We may be suspicious but we aren’t stupid and we know that this is just the first shoe to drop in a cascade of shoes that will rock this city over the coming four years. In fact, several weeks ago we listed the key things to look for in a Dyster third term. We suggest you go back and tack that column to your refrigerator because you’ll be able to keep score as you check the items off as they impact city residents.

Imagine a city reassessment conducted to close a casino revenue shortfall that was seen coming years ago. A revenue shortfall that, with its slightly shrinking numbers, still presents an annual windfall of casino revenue that any city would surely die for. Only in Niagara Falls would a rubber stamp city council take its duties as a rubber stamp so seriously as to increase property taxes on the struggling population in order to bail out an administration that spends like there’s no tomorrow.

This rubber stamp council, led by chairman Touma, is nothing if not the bureaucratic enabler of a mayor who is literally spending the city’s future away every day that he’s in office. To this mayor, and council, spending is equated with progress. Spending is seen as a necessary pay back of political favors that keeps the wheels of city politics greased and reelection coffers filled. And it all comes at direct cost to the property owners. The needs of the property and business owners are lost in the political shuffle as they are used as beasts of burden to pull Paul Dyster’s political plow.

That Gazette article also reported that Dyster and Touma are going to pull the trigger on their “downtown-parking plan.” That’s the plan they tried to put over on the populace earlier this year but put the brakes on it when the Reporter pulled back the curtain on the scheme. It’s the parking-plan that will privatize the city’s streets and turn over all paid parking rights to a company in exchange for a payment. Several weeks ago we noted that the parking-plan was going to come on the heels of Dyster’s reelection…and here it is. When those parking meters make their way across all small city parking lots that are now free, and down Main Street and along Pine Avenue, don’t say you weren’t warned…warned several times in fact. The mayor has said that he won’t put meters on Pine Avenue. He’s right. He isn’t going to put the meters there, the private company with the parking rights is going to phase it in over time.

January 1, 2016 is around the corner and the third term of the mayor looms ahead so you’re going to see a number of favors paid back by His Honor to those who pledged their support during the election. Watch the pay raises, stipends, overtime, consulting contracts, work change orders on current and new projects, awards of casino cash to outside agencies, the parking plan, the train station operation contract, and work on 72nd Street to name but a few things. And we’ll be searching intently to unveil the new hires in and around city government.

We write all of this knowing that with a third mayoral term locked in and an embarrassingly pliable city council in place there’s virtually no way of stopping any of this anticipated governmental mismanagement…nothing, save, a level of higher government taking an interest in the potential impropriety of it all.






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Contact Info

©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