|Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was one of many prominent figures who gave interviews to Radio Free Europe and Radio
Liberty. But, at Radio Free Darro, a
controversial figure like King might not be allowed on the air by Darro’s landlord, the NACC's Kathie Kudela. When Kudela, who lives in Lewiston, spoke before the Niagara Falls Council, she gave her address as Niagara Falls.
Tom Darro, the deep-voiced, long-time local radio personality that works out of a small office in the NACC, has apparently been drawn into the funding controversy between the Niagara Falls City Council and the NACC.
We have reports that many of the NACC tenants were encouraged – pressured might be more accurate – to take the side of the NACC, and lend their voice in opposition to the council’s $30,000 funding cut that took place at the Feb. 4 council meeting.
At that meeting, more than 30 public speakers took to the podium and railed at the council majority members Robert Anderson, Glenn Choolokian and Sam Fruscione.
While the block clubs were reduced in their cash allotment, along with the Niagara Beautification Commission, almost all of the heat delivered from the speakers came from the NACC supporters.
Darro never appeared nor spoke at the council session, but he did eventually jump into the mix several days later by repeating, over and over on WJJL air, the Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster canard that “none of these dollars are taxpayer dollars; if all of this money was awarded to these agencies as promised during the budget process, your taxes would not be affected one cent. These are not taxpayer dollars!”
Mr. Darro, it seems, is drinking the Dyster Kool-Aid.
Dyster is the politician, remember, who preached that “casino dollars are not taxpayers’ dollars,” and so those casino dollars were blown. And the mayor has said time and again of the $50 million courthouse, that “much of the cost has been absorbed by the court system,” as if none of it was real, and he’d been playing with Monopoly money all along. Let’s see the mayor tell the lenders that hold the courthouse debt that the $2.8 million annual bond debt for the next 30 years isn’t real.
Maybe they’ll let him pay it with his funny money, instead of our tax dollars.
While we understand that Darro may have been pressed into service at the hands of the NACC - since he has a studio there - the situation has taken a nasty turn over the past couple of days.
The golden-throated Darro - we have learned - is now refraining from using his voice talent on political ads. The inference being, if he wants to keep his cubbyhole in the NACC building, he must not be involved in voicing political radio spots.
Among others, Darro has been the voice for radio advertisements for Sam Fruscione, the council leader who, along with fellow council members Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson, stopped an eight percent property tax increase for every home in the city. If your property tax bill in Niagara Falls is $2,000, it would have been $2,160. Fruscione and company put $160 in your pocket, instead of city hall to go to special interests. For this, he has been vilified by every special interest that lost one penny.
As for the preposterous assumption by Darro and Dyster that bed tax money isn't real tax money, consider that there are crossover expenditures that can be paid by either bed tax money or property taxes. What is saved anywhere is a savings for everyone.
Has Darro - as one of the "artists" at the NACC - been given orders?
If true, so much for the arts and freedom of expression and the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech. Not to mention free enterprise. After all, hasn’t the NACC boasted as to how it grows the arts and develops new business?
Tom, has Big Brother, or in this case, Big Sister Kathie Kudela, spoken, and have you been put on notice: tow the line?
The NACC has clearly crossed the line as a not-for-profit. It has embroiled itself in the political infighting and intrigue of city government, and it now is pulling out all the stops to strike back at those who dare oppose its public funding. Is this another example?
We’ll be watching to see how this all plays out. We’ll be watching – and listening – to see if the NACC has really banned Darro from doing all political ads, or has simply ordered him to stay away from certain political candidates.
In the meantime, we have to question just exactly what is going on at the NACC, a not-for-profit supported to a great extent with grants and assorted government dollars. From this vantage point, the NACC now looks like a heavy handed institution opposing free speech, while working under the guise of an organization dedicated to education and the arts.
We suggest the NACC administrators take a step back and reassess their current position because they are heading down a bad road, a road that could lead to a complete loss of credibility, if not their eventual closure.
Tom Darro did not return a call seeking comment for this story.