Niagara Gazette

Columns

July 24, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Council chairman sounds off on Hamister hotel project

Niagara Gazette — The Dyster/USA Niagara/Hamister proposal has become one of the biggest development controversies in Niagara Falls history.

That’s unfortunate because it didn’t have to be this way.

While the city council agreed in good faith to allow the mayor to continue talking to USA Niagara and Hamister the council didn’t agree to be a rubber stamp for a development arrangement that’s not in the best interests of the taxpayers.

As chairman of the city council I make no apologies for asking questions regarding the structure and transparency of the deal. If we look back on the last forty years of Niagara Falls development hasn’t that been the problem? The right questions were never asked.

In short it looks like the council’s job was to simply sign off on the process, from selection to negotiation to construction. We weren’t supposed to “get in the way.” And when we have asked questions we’ve been called obstructionist and hounded by the mayor’s media machine.

Time and again I’ve taken phone calls from newspaper reporters who want to sell me on the merits of the Hamister arrangement. These reporters don’t simply ask questions they argue on behalf of Dyster and Buffalo interests. And they are doing it in clear violation of the ethics of journalism. 

Last week this Hamister issue was taken to a disturbing level as third parties delivered the message to me from “Buffalo people” who pledged “to end political careers in Niagara Falls if the deal doesn’t go their way.” Those are threats made to an elected official and they will be treated accordingly.

While Mayor Dyster has reporters working for him and has Facebook buddies posting childish insults about the city council I have the heartfelt comments of the city’s taxpayers to guide me.

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