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SEP 29 - OCT 06, 2015

Notes From Around Town

By Anna Howard

SEP 29, 2015

John Accardo
Paul Dyster

Former Republican Niagara Falls mayor primary candidate, James “Jim” Szwedo took a fair amount of flack from Internet TV host Sal Paonessa during a recent appearance on Paonessa's Sal and Rose show seen on the Niagara Broadcast Network.

Szwedo surprised many political observers when he endorsed incumbent Mayor Paul A. Dyster, a Democrat, in an editorial in the Niagara Falls Reporter, about a week after losing the Republican primary to John Accardo; the surprise coming from the fact that much of Szwedo’s campaign targeted what Szwedo said were failures in the Dyster administration.

So Paonessa targeted Szwedo while his guest was live on the air by repeatedly playing the infectious and silly 1963 hit song, "Two Faces have I" with Lou Christie’s outrageous falsetto repeatedly blurting out "Two faces have I

One to laugh and one to cry" the result of which was to create a fair degree of mirth in the studio.

So much so that cohost and former Szwedo campaign manager – Paul Colangelo - who had said he was shocked to read Szwedo’;s endorsement of Dyster in the Reporter -  had to turn his face from the camera during the repetitive playing of the song - since he apparently was about to expose to the audience that his face was laughing.

Co-host Rose Marie Mariglia was less willing to turn away from the camera and repeatedly chided Szwedo about his flip flopping to Dyster but Paonessa’s repeated playing of Lou Christie’s falsetto caused Rose to show at least one face. It was that of laughter.

It was unclear if Dyster was watching and laughing.

As for Szwedo, he sat stonily and it was unclear if he was leaning toward laughter or tears but he took the ribbing good naturedly and that is politics.

If anything is.


Accardo - Dyster speculation 

Speaking of the Mayor’s race, which is between John Accardo and Paul Dyster, it appears  Dyster will stick with his city administrator of nearly eight years, Donna Owens, who Dyster brought here from Atlanta in the early days of his administration as part of his  “best and brightest” national search for top city hall department heads.

Owens has weathered criticism from various quarters including this publication for her garbage plan which was supposed to save $500,000 per year by reducing the amount of garbage residents can throw out while hopefully increasing the recycling for the city with the region's lowest recycling rates, but actually wound up costing the city $500,000 more per year than when residents could throw out as much trash as they wished.

But now people are wondering who Accardo will choose for the number two city hall position and the person who by job description is supposed to handle the day to day affairs of the city.

Two names have emerged from sources and through the usual rumor mill that percolates steadily in Niagara Falls and each name in their own way is intriguing.

Glenn Choolokian who lost to Dyster in the Democratic primary by a mere 64 votes has been mentioned as a natural for a politically savvy Accardo since Choolokian carries a cadre of supporters in what may be  a close election.

Choolokian’s camp has been toying with a quixotic write in campaign for Choolokian for mayor which will almost certainly aid Dyster in splitting the anti-incumbent vote if they actually push for such a campaign.

Sources say Accardo will not likely select Choolokian for his city administrator, but the two men are expected to talk in the near future.

And Choolokian's strong knowledge of the budget, city streets and the people of the city - their needs and desires - might make him a qualified fit.

The other name – and it is a name to conjure with in this city – who has been mentioned as a possible selection by Accardo for city administrator is former Niagara Falls Schools Superintendent Carmen Granto.

Granto has considerable managerial experience and being one of the highest paid pensioners in New York State – thanks to a heap of unused sick and vacation time put at the end of his tenure adding up to  a generous six figure annual allotment – it might be that Granto can return the favor and work for the city at a considerable discount as some pensioners have been known to do.

A refined and well educated man, Granto would bring an interesting mix of business and governmental experience to the job, not to mention a life long familiarity with the city and its people.

All of this however is just so much speculation since Accardo, when asked by the Reporter, declined to name any names and suggested that he won’t name his department heads until after he is elected mayor and in fact may not have even made a selection.

Perhaps he will conduct a search with an interview process..

Curiously – and perhaps this is a sign that Dyster knows this will be a close race - Sam Hoyt, the regional president of Empire State Development, was spotted going door-to –door campaigning for Dyster in the Deveaux section of the city.

Meantime the city’s corporation counsel, Craig Johnson was spotted going door to door on 77th St in LaSalle. Whether Johnson was campaigning for his boss or talking with residents about their ongoing water problems or both is a matter for the reader to consider.

A recent poll conducted by local Republicans showed Dyster and Accardo in a dead heat – within the margin of error of the poll.

Like the Choolokian Dyster primary, the Accardo- Dyster contest may be close.

Very close.






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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
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