Taxpayer ripoff at the Hotel Niagara: “Buy high, sell low” new Cuomo motto

July 20, 2017 Mike Hudson 1

“Buy low, sell high.”

In the world of private investment, this time honored maxim – more than a century old and still used by brilliant business minds such as that of Warren Buffet – has been as good as gold.

But the brilliant business minds currently controlling both New York State and Niagara Falls, Mayor Paul Dyster and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seem to think Mr. Buffet and generations of business people before him have it backwards.

“Buy high and sell low,” they say. “And the future prosperity of the city will be assured.” read more

Let’s Get it Moving (We’re Talking Traffic Here)

July 20, 2017 Staff 0

tompkinss

By Councilman Kenny Tompkins

We have a traffic problem here in Niagara Falls near the Niagara Reservation Park. Guess what? This is a good thing. It means people are hearing about Niagara Falls. At the same time, we all know how frustrating it is to sit for hours in standstill traffic, like some visitors experienced on July 4 as they headed into our downtown from the I-190.

Gridlock does not leave a positive image of our city on people who have traveled sometimes hundreds of miles to enjoy the natural beauty of our cataracts. It hurts our chances of getting them to return in the future. Anyone in tourism can tell you repeat business and excellent word-of-mouth drive visitor numbers up faster than any ad can do. read more

Seneca gas prices competitive with white owned stations here

July 20, 2017 Mike Hudson 0

Seneca One Stop

While area gas station owners and politicians voiced concerns that the Seneca Nation of Indians would undercut gas prices at the recently opened gas station near the Seneca Niagara Casino, so far it hasn’t happened.

Stations owned by Native Americans and located on reservations don’t have to pay taxes, which can allow them to sell gasoline at substantially cheaper prices than white owned stations.

When they were granted 50 acres of prime downtown real estate and the city’s former convention center in which to open a casino in 2002, Seneca leaders said they had no plans to open a gas station / smoke shop on the property. read more

The Seneca Nation Gambled on the Future, and Won

July 20, 2017 Staff 0

roulette wheel

In 2002, at a time when New York State and its local communities were facing financial uncertainty, the many powers that be looked for relief wherever they could find it.  The one form that seemed feasible was entering into a compact with the Seneca Nation of Indians to allow Class III Gaming (a stylish term for casino gambling) in New York State. With the blessing of the federal government, this agreement would produce gaming proceeds that would be shared with the State, and then shared with the local communities that hosted such gaming facilities (Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca). read more

Grandinetti’s Buffalo fundraiser an insult to local city businesses

July 20, 2017 Mike Hudson 0
Kristen Grandinetti
                       Kristen Grandinetti

Why does Kristen Grandinetti even bother to live in Niagara Falls?

The cat hating, Facebook addicted, formerly Catholic city councilwoman – whose bed and breakfast operation on Memorial Parkway was found to be in violation of city codes – held a major fundraiser last week, but it wasn’t in Niagara Falls.

Instead of supporting a local business, she instead chose to host the July 13 event at Buffalo’s Coco Bar and Bistro, located at888 Main St. in the fashionable Allentown district, where you can get a $14 hamburger or a Caesar salad that costs the same. read more

Crowded field for three Council Seats

July 14, 2017 Mike Hudson 0

ess than two months until Voters decide

No fewer than nine contenders will vie for three open seats on the Niagara Falls City Council this autumn, making the September primaries an “anything can happen” affair in which the job status of the two incumbents seeking re-election is anything but secure. Council members Kristen Grandinetti and Andrew Touma – along with Charles Walker, who decided not to run amidst a flurry of ethics allegations — have been seen largely as a rubber stamp, approving the programs and policies of Mayor Paul Dyster, rarely questioning his decisions. This has led to fiascos such as the city’s overbuilt and underutilized new train station and the 72nd Street water main that left residents without water for two winters in a row.
Kristen Grandinetti
Kristen Grandinetti
council2
Andrew Touma
This will of course present a conundrum for the steadily diminishing number of Niagara Falls voters who swept Mr. Dyster into office in 2007 and put him back there twice when he ran for reelection. The candidates will be wearing out shoe leather and knocking on stranger’s doors between now and September and, with so many to choose from, how’s a person to make a decision? The newest entries in the race are Democratic newcomers Bill Kennedy, Amber S. Hill-Donhauser and Lakea Perry.

bill

Bill Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy, an actor and producer best known for his remake of the cult classic horror film “Attack of the Killer Shrews,” (2016) is also a vocal opponent of commercial development in Niagara Falls State Park and the Niagara River gorge. Mr. Kennedy recently spoke at a city Council meeting regarding park and gorge development. “Many Niagarans stood up against the idea of a lodge on Goat Island and we won that fight by using our voices and passion, along with the love for our city and the beauty that surrounds it,” he said. “New York State will soon start taking bids for a proposal to set up zip-lining, rappelling and possibly other tourist-aimed recreations in the Niagara Gorge. The Niagara Gorge needs to be preserved, not commercialized.”
Amber Hill-Donheuser
Amber Hill-Donhauser
Ms. Hill-Donhauser may be the first Native American, and is certainly the first Native American woman, ever to seek election to the City Council in Niagara Falls. She is the President of The Hill Financial Group and volunteers throughout the community in her capacity as a financial advisor by teaching financial literacy seminars at the Niagara Falls Public Library and hosting open hours at the Doris Jones Resource Center to empower the residents in the local communities. Ms. Hill-Donhauser also coaches youth lacrosse, and continues to volunteer at the Local 9 Union hall,  teaching  financial literacy classes to incoming apprentices. She is also a four time Federation of International Lacrosse Captain for the Haudenosaunee Nationals.
Lakea Perry
Lakea Perry

Lakea Perry, a mother of six, worked for 15 years at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center as an operations supervisor. She is a graduate of Leadership Niagara and has served on the Board of Directors of the Legend’s Park Board. She also serves as executive secretary for the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope (NOAH), where she worked with Rev. Joanne Scott on city issues concerning workforce development and employment equality, especially in minority communities. read more

State Parks neglects DeVeaux Carriage Barn

July 14, 2017 James Hufnagel 2

Historic building may soon be razed

Even though the local State Parks office reaps $20 million annually from its operations in Niagara Falls State Park and $3 million a year from Niagara Greenway, it seems they can’t spare a few dollars for a new roof on the historic DeVeaux Woods Carriage Barn, and insiders say the distinguished and celebrated structure is again, as it was a few years ago, under threat of being flattened by their wrecking ball.

Formerly the location of a private school attended and fondly remembered by hundreds of local residents, the grounds of DeVeaux Woods State Park feature several buildings, the oldest of which is the Carriage Barn, a brick structure built in 1863, the same year President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. read more

Lonesome train on a lonesome track

July 14, 2017 Mike Hudson 0

train station3

Dyster’s folly cost taxpayers millions

What is there left to say about Mayor Paul Dyster’s new train station? That it was the biggest misuse of taxpayer money here in the last half century? Mayor Dyster and his cohort, governmental gadfly Tom DeSantis, dropped nearly $43 million into the project, which very well might be obsolete as early as next year (See related story). They also desecrated the old Customs House, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places by, among other “improvements,” cutting a large picture window – of the type found on any cheap suburban dwelling – into the proud, river stone wall of the structure, originally built in 1863. Mayor Dyster and Mr. DeSantis told the gullible that the station would also house a museum dedicated to the history of the Underground Railroad in the city. The problem was that there is no Underground Railroad history in the city, but around $3 million went into that as well. Upscale shops and restaurants would fill out the massive 22,000-square-foot space, Dyster and DeSantis assured the ignorant. Dyster had been talking about the new train station since 2010, and ground was broken more than three years ago. And in all that time, the city’s crack community development and economic development teams have been unable to attract a single tenant to the white elephant sitting at 2245 Whirlpool Street. Except for Amtrak, of course. The taxpayer-funded, money losing railroad had Dyster twisting in the wind, refusing to sign a contract to occupy the station even after it had officially opened. Finally, a settlement was reached, although fuzzy math prevents an accurate assessment of how much of the station’s operating costs will be covered. One thing is certain, however. The Niagara Falls station is more than 10 times larger than what Amtrak specifications call for, given the number of passengers arriving or departing here daily, fewer than 100. “It feels really good. It’s a relief,” said DeSantis, who reacted to the belated opening. “This is the thing everyone has been waiting for — service to start at the station. We all wished it would have happened a little sooner, but sometimes these things just take a little longer to happen.” DeSantis declined to specify who “everyone” was. Dyster himself made excuses. “We are a tourist city and we are fortunate to be located on the rail line between two of the great metropolises in North America – Toronto and New York City,” said Dyster. “It’s also a great responsibility because we have to have a custom facility, which made this a more complicated project.” At 22,000 square feet, the new Niagara Falls train station is one of the largest in the state despite the fact the Niagara Falls has one of the lowest ridership numbers in the state (Amtrak posts all its ridership numbers on its website, and we have republished this information for several years as we correctly predicted this debacle in dozens of stories). Dyster, of course, doesn’t call it a “train station” at all, but an “intermodal transportation center.” train station2 Since the dictionary defines “intermodal” as involving two or more different modes of transportation, one might suppose he is referring to the taxicabs that pick up and drop off passengers in that particularly desolate section of the city’s forbidding North End. Not given to straight talk, and allegedly the holder of an advanced degree from some college back east, he is often forgiven for using ten-dollar words when a twenty-center would do just as well. In the beginning, it was all about high speed rail. President Barack Obama had committed to funding the concept, with New York State alone to receive $151 million to promote the concept. Dyster used the publicity to justify spending $44 million on a new train station here, and the suckers bought right in. It wasn’t long before the plan died in Congress. The now abandoned Empire Corridor proposal — a designated route between Buffalo and Albany — did not call for an extension of high-speed rail service from Buffalo to Niagara Falls to begin with, but Dyster argued that should not be viewed as an indication the city is being left out of the region’s overall rail improvement plans. “More, better and faster train service can be an engine for economic growth throughout New York State,” he said. And that wasn’t all. “The line between Buffalo and Niagara Falls is relatively low on the high-speed agenda,” Dyster admitted after attending an Albany meeting on fast-rail service during the height of the 2010 hysteria. “Transportation planners are thinking about the eventual possibility of re-establishing railroad commuter service between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and we could see expanded use of the ‘Maple Leaf’ train to Canada if the downstate portion of its route is upgraded for faster service.” Who these “transportation planners” were or whether the actually existed anywhere other than the mayor’s mind was never determined. “Perhaps most exciting of all, it gives us an opportunity to play a leading role in development of a high-speed rail system that is going to connect New York City to Toronto, one of the most exciting developments in transportation in all of North America over the next decade,” Dyster said in 2010. So he went out and spent $43 million of other people’s money. For nothing. Even as a boy, Dyster was fascinated with trains. A former employee of a drugstore near Dyster’s boyhood home told the Reporter that Dyster “used to come in every week with a roll, two rolls of film to be developed. He’d go down by the old train station, the rail yards, and take pictures of the locomotives, the men working on them. … He must have taken a thousand pictures.” Now he’s presiding over a largely empty train station that must now be regarded as a public safety hazard, according to one former law enforcement official who visited the facility last week. “There wasn’t ten people in there,” he told the Reporter. “This massive space, no security, staircases… It’s a disaster waiting to happen.” train station2

Alan James Roscetti Receives Endorsement from Niagara County Republican Party

July 14, 2017 Staff 0
Alan Roscetti, Esq.
                        Alan Roscetti, Esq.
The Niagara County Republican Party chairman Scott Kiedrowski announced the endorsement of local Niagara Falls Attorney, Alan James Roscetti’s bid for the Niagara Falls City Court Judge race.   Roscetti, R-Niagara Falls, a well-respected attorney with nearly 20 years of experience with Roscetti & DeCastro, P.C. on Main Street, was thrilled to hear about the Republican party support.


“Alan James Roscetti was the clear choice for us for Niagara Falls City Court Judge.  His knowledge from working as a Public Defender for over a decade has given him a clear understanding of what is needed for not only the future of our youth, but of our entire community.  The choice was unanimous.” Kiedrowski said.  Bill Carroll, Chairman of the City of Niagara Falls Republican Committee added, “He is straight forward, has the ability to get along with people from all walks of life, and is a family man at heart who genuinely cares about our children and their futures.” read more

Dyster repays Seneca treachery by repaving their driveway for free!

July 10, 2017 Darryl 4

By Mike Hudson

Back in March, when the Seneca Nation of Indians announced that they would end the casino revenue sharing agreement with the state, Niagara Falls and the other local municipalities where the casinos are located, it was like plunging a scalping knife into the heart of those communities that had agreed to host the smoky gambling dens in the first place.

The cost of police and fire protection, infrastructure improvements, snow plowing and other relatively big ticket items were to have been offset by the annual payments of casino revenues, a portion of the slot machine take that — in the case of Niagara Falls — ran between $16 million and $21 million a year. read more

The cold case of Russell Mort; Child abduction remains unsolved

July 10, 2017 Darryl 0

By Mike Hudson

It remains one of the darkest and most disturbing cold cases in the files of the Niagara Falls Police Dept.

But despite national media exposure that has included television programs such as “Unsolved Mysteries,” The Forensic Files” and “America’s Most Wanted,” and despite herculean efforts by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Dept. and the FBI, the 1982 disappearance of 2-year-old Russell Mort remains an enigma.

By all accounts, May 5, 1982, was a beautiful sunny spring day in Wheatfield. Russell was out in the fenced back yard at the Lynch Park mobile home park with his mother, Ruth Mort, playing with a toy guitar. When he complained that something was wrong with the guitar, his mother took it into the residence, putting Russell into the sandbox his father, Ron Mort, had built for the boy. read more

Lavish new Lockport YMCA a slap in the face to city of Niagara Falls

July 10, 2017 Staff 1

By Mike Hudson

A plan to build a $17 million YMCA in the Town of Lockport took a step forward last week with a Niagara County Industrial Development Agency vote.

The IDA gave final approval for tax-exempt bonding authority for the YMCA Buffalo Niagara, which will enable the organization to borrow much of the construction cost.

The bonds will be a debt of the YMCA, not the county or the IDA, but they will enable the YMCA to borrow money on terms attractive to the investors who buy the bonds, because the interest will be exempt from income taxes. read more