Niagara Gazette

Opinion

February 21, 2013

EDITORIAL: Niagara Falls City Council majority's 'new direction' same as the old

Niagara Gazette — Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said this week that the city of Niagara Falls is moving in a “new direction.”

He’s wrong.

It’s apparent from his actions, and those of his fellow members of the council majority, including Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson Jr., that the city — destitute now for decades — is falling back into its old, bad habits.

The Oishei Foundation, arguably the most prestigious private philanthropic organization in Western New York, offered the city a chance to receive up to $15,000 to support the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.

Foundation President Robert Gioia personally attended Tuesday’s council meeting to plea for sanity from what has become the incredibly unreasonable trio currently representing the council’s leadership. 

Choolokian and company passed on Gioia’s offer, suggesting the city can’t afford to pay for much of anything anymore, including — possibly — several substantial upcoming debt service payments. 

While we understand the need to be fiscally prudent and conservative, cutting $45,000 to $30,000 of which is bed tax money which cannot be used for debt service payments — doesn’t equate to a savings anywhere near large enough to stave off a potentially devastating debt problem. 

All it really does is make the community know who holds the hammer, which guys are in charge and which council members they’ll need to see first if they want to get anything done in this town.

In other words, it’s the usual modus operandi for elected leaders in a city known best for its waterfall but tagged for its history of political infighting, selfish attitudes and wrong-headed thinking. 

We know what’s really going on here. 

The NACC and the two other cultural groups hit by the council’s recent cuts, including the Niagara Falls Block Club and Niagara Beautification Commission, have long been supported by Mayor Paul Dyster and members of his family.

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