Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 18, 2013

Council majority worries over 'influence' of Buffalo philanthropic groups, refuses to accept funds

Niagara Gazette — A pair of city council members accused Mayor Paul Dyster of peddling influence to Buffalo philanthropic groups during the committee of the whole portion of Monday's city council meeting.

Chairman Glenn Choolokian and Councilman Sam Fruscione both accused Dyster of allowing his administration to be manipulated by Buffalo philanthropic organizations like the John R. Oishei Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo in exchange for grants. The accusations came while the council members were questioning the mayor on an agenda item that needed to pass in order for the city to accept a grant from the foundation. The city applied for the $4,000 award to pay the city's membership fees to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative — a bi-national coalition of mayors and other city officials dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water system.

"I'm very uncomfortable with this," Choolokian said. "Is it time to get the FBI in city hall? I don't understand this."

Choolokian said he was alarmed with the amount of involvement that Buffalo philanthropic groups have shown in Niagara Falls during Dyster's administration.

"I've been in the system for 27 years and I never seen Buffalo get involved in Niagara Falls like it has since you became mayor," Choolokian said.

Fruscione said that he did not understand how being part of the a group that is dedicated to saving the Great Lakes would benefit the residents of Niagara Falls.

"They're picking up $4,000 so you can join a club," Fruscione said. "What about the taxpayers and residents? It's not benefitting them at all. First of all we're on a river, we're not on the Great Lakes. We're not a St. Lawrence city"

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