Council Hires New Secretary
By Frank Parlato
The Niagara Falls City Council voted 3-1, to hire Ryan J. Undercoffer as the council's secretary, replacing Kevin J. Ormsby.
Undercoffer, 24, a Falls native, a philosophy student, an advocate for socialism and a former aide to Rep. Louise Slaughter, served as the vice chair of the city's Democratic Committee in 2012 and vice chair for the county Democrats in 2013. He worked closely with party chairman Nick Forster.
The Niagara County Democratic Committee waged a vigorous campaign including mailers, radio and print advertisements on behalf of Charles Walker, Kristen Grandinetti and Andrew Touma during their fall campaigns.
These were the three who voted for Undercoffer.
Walker, who was elected as chairman of the council at the reorganization meeting Jan 1, told the Niagara Gazette that Undercoffer's nomination for the position has nothing to do with his political ties to the three council members.
He was nominated, Walker said, because he is young, qualified, and expressed interest in the position.
Undercoffer's salary is expected to be $46,180 that was established in the 2014 budget.
Last year, however, some Democrats, including Mayor Paul Dyster, criticized Ormsby for receiving the $46,180 salary, saying the 30-plus year veteran of government got $4,000 more than his predecessor, Gerri Mondi.
In a guest view column in the Niagara Gazette, Dyster said that Ormsby was also making $5,500 more than his own assistant, Bridget Miles, and the assistant of the city administrator, Cindy Ransom, both females, suggesting gender bias on the part of the council.
"The city council pays their assistant more, but he's a man, whereas the other two are women. Does that seem fair?" Dyster wrote.
Ransom got a raise from $36,605 to $40,540 this year and Miles got a $10,000 raise when she moved from the corporation counsel's office to the mayor's office and she, too, earns $40,540.
While Ormsby was not politically aligned with the mayor, Undercoffer clearly is. It remains to be seen if Dyster will still feel that it is unfair that Undercoffer, who, like Ormsby is also a man, will get $5,500 more than his assistant.
Undercoffer said he plans to stay on as vice chair for the county Democrats.
Ormsby, a former city Democratic Committee chairman, held the at-will position as council secretary for only a single year. From 2008-2012, Ormsby was an aide to the mayor and wrote the mayor's press releases, media quotes, proclamations and served as staff on the tourism board and worked on special events.
After Ormsby's job was eliminated in Dyster's 2013 "disaster" budget, he was hired by the council at the same rate of pay he was making as Dyster's press aide, $46,180 per year.
Grandinetti called Undercoffer "intelligent, organized and trustworthy." Choolokian voted against Undercoffer, saying Ormsby should have been retained. Councilman Robert A. Anderson Jr. abstained from the vote.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Jan 07, 2014