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SEP 01 - SEP 08, 2015

Finger Pointing all Around as Welfare Rent Program Becomes Silly Season Fare

By Mike Hudson

SEP 01, 2015

Blame it on Jason Zona?


Silly season, former mayor Jake Palillo called it. That time between the summer of an election year and its inevitable end around when the snow begins to fly. Palillo was a master of it. Ask anybody. But he’s got nothing on members of both parties in the Niagara County Legislature who are pointing fingers at each other over the fact that a program to pay housing money directly to landlords has now resulted in one landlord, who may soon be a criminal defendant, benefitting from the program.

Niagara Falls property speculator Ralph Pescrillo is currently in a lot of trouble. The Niagara Falls Reporter began shining a spotlight on Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s next door neighbor last year, when he began importing registered sex offenders into the city to live in his ramshackle buildings.

According to an investigative story in the Buffalo News last month, Pescrillo is up to his eyeballs in debt, owing the city, school district and Water Board a whopping $1.4 million. In a bankruptcy filing he did last year, he claimed to owe more than $3.2 million.

But still he collects around $313,000 a year from the state for welfare housing subsidies.

This is because legislation sponsored by Democrats Jason Zona and Dennis Virtuoso and supported by all but one of their lone Democratic colleagues in the county Legislature called for landlords to be paid housing subsidies directly.

Republican Legislator Randy Brandt blamed Zona and Virtuoso directly to the failure. Zona and Virtuoso disagreed.

 “Once again, Randy Bradt is proving he’s nothing more than a yes-man for the GOP. He also shows he has no clue about the issues or the law, Zona said. “This is very disturbing as an elected official that one of my colleagues would try to hurt welfare reform and cleaning up of neighborhoods at the behest of his political boss.  Politics is politics but we have a responsibility to the county taxpayers to do what’s best for our neighborhoods and clearly Randy Bradt doesn't get that.”

Virtuoso couldn’t have agreed more.

"The Republicans voted with us on this one. Most landlords are responsible and pay their taxes. Speaking of paying taxes, Randy Brandt did not pay his sales taxes. So who is he to call the kettle black?  Second of all this law was unanimously supported by the Republicans, they voted unanimously for this. The only one who voted against it was [Democrat] Owen Steed."






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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