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By Mike Hudson

Every week, here at the Reporter and at newspapers around the country, editors are called upon to decide what and what not to publish. That, in fact, is the primary responsibility of an editor.

Does a given story serve the greater public good? Is the information contained in the story relevant, entertaining or important for people to know?

Sovereign Immunity
Racial Discrimination
Fran Scarfone
District Swinging
Hanchette: Mt. Views
Staba: Citycide
Bradberry: Menagerie

Awhile back, a top city official -- and one who has often been criticized in these pages -- lost his house in a foreclosure action. People came out of the woodwork to tell us about it, and the pertinent documents were slipped under our door.

Later, when we didn't publish anything about it, our informants wanted to know why. Had we sold out? Had someone gotten to us? The answer was much more prosaic. We didn't run the story because we figured it wasn't anybody's business.

State Supreme Court Justice Amy Fricano returned quietly to work last week following an extended family leave. Full disclosure -- the judge and her husband, Bob Graff, are friends of mine, and I'm aware of the circumstances surrounding the leave.

I can tell you that the family has endured a series of tragic events that began last Christmas, when Fricano was seriously injured in an automobile accident. When she returned to work last week, she did so wearing a brace to shore up three cracked vertebrae and wearing a walking cast on a broken foot that didn't heal correctly.

I can also tell you that the family's tribulations in recent months were in no way eased by the intrusion of stenographers employed by the local daily, who apparently had nothing better to do than to try and find out why the judge had taken the leave. After pestering colleagues, associates, friends and even Fricano herself, they were unable to do so, and vented their frustration in not one but two large stories detailing their failures.

So here's a tip for the would-be Woodward and Bernsteins over at the Gazette. While Fricano is a public figure, members of her family are not. The judge took a family leave, to which she was entitled. Beyond that, it's none of your business.

Worried city Democrats are already talking about finding a candidate to oppose Mayor Vince Anello in the 2007 primary. While the names of school Superintendent Carmen Granto and Councilman Lewis "Babe" Rotella have been bandied about since before Anello took office, I heard one name this week I hadn't heard before -- City Council Chairman Charles Walker.

Walker, the city's first black Council Chair, would make an excellent candidate, particularly in a three-way race such as we had in 1999, when Democrat John Accardo faced Republican Irene Elia and incumbent Mayor James Galie played the spoiler on some minor party lines.

In last year's Democratic Primary, Anello squeaked out a 300-vote win over former Councilman Paul Dyster, thanks largely to support in the African-American community rallied by Walker, current Councilman Bob Anderson and county Legislator Renae Kimble.

Aside from giving Kimble a City Hall job, Anello has seemingly gone out of his way to alienate his former supporters, and a run by Walker would eliminate that support altogether.

Speaking of the mayor, Anello's dire forecast of the city's fiscal future reached a fever pitch last week, which would be funny were it not so pathetic. It's as if he hadn't bothered looking at the books for the first nine months he was in office.

Not coincidentally, he's also spearheading a drive to give the city -- meaning himself -- complete control over the local share of the Seneca Niagara Casino revenue, which amounted to $9.5 million this year.

I'd like to see the mayor get up and tell the people of Niagara Falls exactly what happened to the $3.4 million the city did directly receive from this year's revenue.

Has a project been undertaken that I'm unaware of?

Or did the money go to pay for a "parking coordinator," a "grants writer," an "events coordinator," an "assistant events coordinator," and the rest of the positions Anello created under his friends-and-family hiring program? Did it go toward the hiring of outside consultants and attorneys paid to do the work that Anello's appointments are incapable of?

Or did it go to underwrite sweetheart deals like the golf course giveaway?

Blaming the previous administration for every problem the city experiences has been a popular pastime for first-year mayors here for 30 years. I wonder what Anello's excuse will be next year?


Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Sept. 14 2004