(Editor’s note: Lou Ricciuti has spent decades studying and evaluating the history of the nuclear industry in Niagara Falls in the mid 20th century and its lingering aftereffects. Dubbed “Nuclear Lou” by admirers and critics alike, Ricciuti has been a voice in the wilderness for years. His warnings recently have been heeded with greater concern as long sealed evidence continues to emerge about the massive refining of radioactive material that occurred in this city has come to light.)
Island Without Fear Part 3 of 4:
by Nate McMurray
Freedom from the fear of others
Diversity is not just an empty motto. It’s an ideal we strive for because diversity brings strength. Even on a basic level, genetic diversity helps us survive and adapt. And cultural diversity (meaning drawing upon the ideas and skills of those with different backgrounds and perspectives) can help us find solutions to new challenges.
To put it in silly terms, would the Avengers be better off with 10 Captain Americas or would it help to throw in a Hulk, a Thor, a Spider-man, and an Ironman? When different people with different backgrounds and talents come together, the result is strength.
“The citizens of Niagara Falls would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for a seat on the City Court bench than Alan Roscetti,” says longtime pharmacist Robert Kendzia when asked about the young man’s plans to run for an expected open seat next year on City Court.
We caught up with Kendzia and several other folks at the Bowl-O-Drome on Pine Ave. this week to ask them about Alan J. Roscetti, who is announcing his candidacy for City Court in 2017 to fill the seat of Robert Merino, who will reach the mandatory retirement age for judges.
“They don’t come much better [than Alan],” said Angelo Tecchio, a retired airline manager. “He’s a fine young man, hails from a terrific family, and would certainly be an asset to the citizens of Niagara Falls as a judge. I would support him wholeheartedly.”
Roscetti, 37, has worked in the Niagara County Public Defender’s Office for nearly 13 years where he has handled every type of case imaginable including murders, arsons, large-scale grand larceny, and fraud. When we interviewed him for this story on Wednesday, he had just won a jury trial for a defendant who he argued had been wrongly accused of menacing a police officer and criminal possession of a weapon as well as obstructing governmental administration. The jury agreed with Roscetti after only 10 minutes of deliberation and returned a not-guilty verdict on all counts.
“I believe in what I do, and as a public defender and an attorney in my family’s law firm, I am living my boyhood dream,” said Roscetti. He remembers when he was a fifth grader at Sacred Heart Villa in Lewiston and someone took a picture of him holding a law book. It was an early sign that this young man was headed for the legal career that now sees him setting his sights on a City Court judgeship.
“In many of the cases I handle as a public defender, there are mental health issues involved,” said Roscetti, “and in many cases the problems can be diagnosed and the issues resolved in a fair and just way. You have to be able to adjust to the situation and act accordingly. As a judge, it would require the same ability to handle each case firmly but fairly and apply the right legal standards for all involved. That’s what I would do.”
Roscetti says he feels he has the “right temperament, right experience, and right energy to serve the citizens of Niagara Falls” as a judge, and run a fair, honest, punctual court that would best serve all citizens.
While he was raised by his parents in Lewiston, he has lived on 28th St. in Niagara Falls in the home his grandfather built 60 years ago since graduating from the University of Buffalo Law School 13 years ago. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Duke University (economics, sociology), just the opposite collegiate path of his father, James, who was graduated from the University of Buffalo before earning his law degree at Duke. Like father, like son, almost.
James Roscetti is a partner in the Roscetti & DeCastro law firm and has been chairman of the board of the Memorial Medical Center since 2009. He will be honored next month at Memorial’s annual Premier dinner gala when he will receive the Nancy Gara Spirit Award presented in memory of a Western New York banking executive and former medical center board member who was renowned for her positive attitude and personal commitment to serving the community. Roscetti is also a former Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority commissioner and has held and currently holds numerous other positions in the community.
“I’m so grateful to my father for what he has accomplished and how he’s helped make me the kind of lawyer that I can be proud of,” said Alan. “I’ve learned so much from him, and perhaps most important of all, kindness.”
“He (Alan) lives here in Niagara Falls and the family has a great history of commitment to the community,” said Niagara Falls Republican City Chairman Bill Carroll. Carroll said his committee would meet with all candidates expressing an interest in the expected City Court vacancy–Alan makes three–and would probably not make an endorsement until after next year’s primary.
Michael Gawel, vice chairman of the GOP city committee, said, “I think Alan would make a great candidate and a great judge. I am behind him 100 percent. The Roscetti family has a long history of service to Niagara Falls and Alan has the experience and the temperament to serve on the bench.”
Nick Vilardo, a member of the Niagara Falls City School Board and a retired fire fighter, echoed the sentiments of many folks we talked to about Alan Roscetti’s bid for City Court:
“He’s a wonderful young man, comes from one of the best families in this community, and has the right mix of youth and experience to do the job and serve our citizens firmly but fairly. I wish him all the success in the world. If he wins, we all win.”
Alan has a three-year-old son, Alex, the pride and joy of his mother (Paula) and father, and a sister Maria (Scott) Hamilton who lives on Cayuga Island.
Alan has sent introductory letters to all local party leaders, major and minor, expressing his interest in meeting with them in person to discuss his candidacy. He is admitted to practice in all local, state, and federal courts in Western New York.
The entire family and a boatload of friends and supporters are expected to help formally launch his campaign on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion.
“I’m ready for the next step in my career and I’m prepared to work the neighborhoods to let people know that I want the honor of serving them on the City Court bench,” said Roscetti. “I know it will be difficult and there will be others seeking the same seat, but I am ready for the challenge and look forward to meeting and talking to people so they can judge me first-hand. Now is the time, and I’m ready.”
If the Festival of Lights were still held it would be in its 35th year. The first annual Festival of Lights was launched in 1981 as economic stimulant for the local economy. The event was used to draw visitors into the city during the winter, which many consider the off season for the tourist industry. A group of business and civic leaders from the Falls area traveled to Simcoe Ontario in Canada which held its own festival. The group was so impressed with what they saw in Simcoe and with the experience they had. They decided to stage their own Festival of Lights right here in Niagara Falls. Opening night offered plenty of family entertainment, a parade, fireworks, and weekend concerts at the Convention and Civic Center. The event was a huge success for the city. It was such a success that in 1982 Niagara Falls Ontario started their own Festival of Lights.
And, according to a study by Market Watch published in January, New York is the most highly taxed state in the nation. A study done last year by the Empire Center for Public Policy showed Niagara County to be the most highly taxed county in the state.
Before it was known as Delaware North, the global Buffalo-based concessioner called itself Emprise. A reporter at the time who relentlessly investigated the company and its business practices, Don Bolles, was murdered in a car bombing in 1976.
In 1972, the House Select Committee on Crime held hearings concerning Emprise’s connections with organized crime figures. Around this time, Emprise and six individuals were convicted of concealing ownership of the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As a result of the conviction, Emprise’s dog racing operations in Arizona were placed under the legal authority of a trustee appointed by the Arizona State Racing Commission.
As part of an ongoing effort to acquaint our readers with some of the more unsavory aspects of the business and personal dealings of Buffalo billionaire Jeremy Jacobs and his family-held multinational corporation Delaware North, which has the exclusive rights to operate food and beverage concessions in Niagara Falls State Park, we wrote three weeks ago about the disruptive turmoil that Jacobs and his clan stirred up at their swanky winter retreat of Wellington, Florida, a sleepy little equestrian-oriented paradise outside of Palm Beach.
One majority lawmaker whose star is on the rise is Lewiston’s Rebecca Wydysh.
The freshman Republican, who runs jury selection efforts at the county courthouse, has impressed her colleagues and party brass enough that she’s being given a portfolio heading the county’s opioid-addiction panel.
That effort, begun by Bradt himself and Wilson legislator David Godfrey, who heads up the legislature’s Community Security and Safety committee, won some favorable media coverage for the majority last year, including several community meetings to discuss the heroin and opioid epidemic and what a unified county policy for deploying naloxone, the potent antidote for heroin overdoses, might look like.
Sources close to the Republican caucus tell me that McNall, while the overwhelming choice of his colleagues and Republican Party leaders to continue in his post, was not the only legislator eyeing the job.
Entreaties were made on behalf of two other majority members, but party leaders are said to have shut them down.
“Of the 11 legislators in the majority caucus, Keith solidly had the votes of seven or eight, plus his own,” one party insider told me. “How do you argue with leading the first legislative majority to actually cut not just taxes, but spending too, in no-one-can-remember-how-many years?”
The unsurprising news broke late Tuesday night: the chairman of the Niagara County Legislature, Keith McNall, R-Lockport, would be keeping his job.
In the annals of Niagara County’s political news, this wasn’t exactly an earth-shattering announcement; after all, save for the on-again, off-again sacking of former chairmen Bill Ross, C-Wheatfield, and Clyde Burmaster, R-Porter, the governing GOP bloc in the county legislature hasn’t exactly made big, bold moves to dump its leadership.
Earlier this year the Niagara Gazette announced that a group of locals organized something called “Reclaim Niagara” – formed to “get Albany out of our pockets.”
To combat the “exploitation of our resources by public authorities and state entities” is its stated goal.
It is described as “a growing movement of citizens dedicated to exposing the injustices faced by Niagara Falls” and this injustice they have rightly divined is due to nothing more than the fact that Albany hijacks the wealth of this city – primarily to enrich the politicians who control the state – who are from New York City.