In what some might call a surprising development, Niagara Falls Reporter founder Mike Hudson posted a comment on the Niagara Community Forum Facebook page saying that former Mayor Vince Anello was the best mayor this city had since Hudson first came to Niagara Falls in the 1990s.
That in itself was a surprise.
Then Forum moderator Ken Hamilton took the post down - saying his forum does not permit political endorsements.
What Hudson originally wrote is no longer available.
But Hudson explained, "In a public post, I'd written that, of the Niagara Falls mayors I'd covered as a newsman – Palillo, Galie, Elia, Anello and Dyster – Anello was the hands down best, except for the scandal that ultimately cost him his job and sent him to prison. I said that I wouldn't have any problem at all backing him in a future candidacy, and I wouldn't.
"We all live and learn, and I believe that Vince was truly humbled by his ordeal, emerging as a better man. And what is America, traditionally, if not the land of second chances?"
Following the posting and the taking down of the post, Anello and Hudson started communicating for the first time in years when Anello sent him a private message on Hudson's Facebook account.
The correspondence that led to their subsequent interview is as follows:
Your (Facebook) endorsement lasted less than 24 hours (Before it was taken down from.)
Ha! I'll say the exact same thing in the paper Vince. Gimme a call, if you feel like.
I have the grandkids. I have to put some thoughts together and send them to you. The main theme is redemption. I'll get it together in the next few days.
Come on Vince … You know I'm on deadline. Let's talk like old times and I swear on my Mother I won't hurt you. If you've given running a thought, this Irishman is behind you 100 percent! ….
… I'll call you tonight when everyone goes to bed. It will still be early there.
Deal. I will be here. While I was never sorry for what went on between you and I, I was sorry for your family and apologize to them. I honestly do think you were the best mayor circa 1996-2014, and would honestly and wholeheartedly endorse your candidacy.
We are placed on the road to redemption with our Creator the day we are born. As we head down that road we are faced with obstacles, detours, sudden stops and mishaps. Some problems caused by our own doing and some caused by our interaction with others. These distractions should not keep us from continuing on the road of redemption with our Creator. On the way we may have to redeem ourselves with wrongs we have committed to our friends, family, coworkers and in some cases our community. Life is a continuing effort to redeem ourselves. Unfortunately the world is full of people that want to make somebody else's journey of redemption more difficult than it has to be. Then there are others who understand their own journey and are eager to help.
I do the radio program because I love this community. I don't just spout out opinions. I tried to teach the inner workings of government, I try to explain what happens behind the scenes and I bring in numerous guests. I do this to satisfy my desire for public service. One day hasn't gone by to where I am compelled to do something that would help to redeem myself with my community.
Mike, if this community does not believe that the justice system is about rehabilitation and not punishment we have a lot more to be concerned about. We have people who believe that those charges imposed on me, regarding my pension, should be a life sentence….
People need to clearly understand that the public corruption charges were dropped. I pled guilty to the union charges because, to carry on any further, would've caused my family to be out on the street. I could not afford a good defense.
Mr. Mayor, you and I are two of the most controversial guys in the history of Niagara Falls, and we happened to be there at the same time. I considered you a great friend. You wrote for the paper, and I supported your positions as a Councilman. When you ran for Mayor, we threw the full weight of the Niagara Falls Reporter behind your campaign. We had a falling out, but that didn't really have anything to do with subsequent events, save for the fact that -- if we had been speaking by that point -- you could have gotten your story out front from the get go. But we weren't and what's done is done. Again, I am truly sorry for the role I played in causing your family any suffering. I've told Mark Congi the same thing. As far as you & I and Mark and any of dozens of others we can both name, we're big boys and take it as it comes. But the women and children, especially, are the ones who end up paying. That said, if old Nonno Vincenzo finds himself in a house swarming with children who love him, he's a lucky man. Look forward to actually speaking with you.
Vince Anello called as he said he would and Hudson interviewed him.
Mike Hudson, the news reporter that broke a story that sparked the long road of suffering for Anello, his former friend and ally, spoke again with him and came to write that he would endorse him for mayor, the role he in effect helped to end.
That too is - some might say- strange as a twist as it may be - part of the long road to redemption that some, perhaps all of us must make.