Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 6, 2014

Criticism dumped on Falls city administrator

Niagara Gazette — Craig Avery is fed up.

The local businessman, who has invested considerable dollars — both his own money and grants from the city, state and federal governments — in rental properties along Third Street, recently took to his website, Niagara Hub, to vent his frustrations. 

He directed the bulk of his criticism at City Administrator Donna Owens, questioning her handling of the city’s controversial new refuse and recycling program, going as far as to suggest that Mayor Paul Dyster should relieve her of her duties. 

“It is not the program we should be concerned with; all proposals meet with discussion, and rise or fall accordingly,” Avery wrote in the post. “It is her presentation and communication skills, or lack thereof, and her professional demeanor that leave us to question her ability.” 

It’s not the first time Dyster has heard questions about Owens. During her tenure, some residents and block club members have been critical of her demeanor and her performance. In recent years, groups of city lawmakers have either attempted or been successful in cutting her salary, with supporters of those moves suggesting she wasn’t living up to her six-figure salary. 

Criticism surrounding her handling of the new refuse contract and the rollout of the new refuse program hasn’t endeared her to her critics. 

While Avery said he feels the city is moving in the right direction in many ways, he believes it also needs the right leadership in place to successfully capitalize on opportunities that are starting to spring up. He’s not convinced Owens has what it takes. 

“This isn’t my quest to get rid of (Owens),” Avery said. “It’s my quest to find the right people for the right job.”

Dyster has consistently defended Owens and her performance both inside and outside city hall. In wake of the criticism about the refuse program, the mayor has continued to stand by his second in command. 

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