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JAN 06 - JAN 14, 2015

Grandinetti Makes Case for Caso to Replace Kinney as DPW Head

January 06, 2015

John Caso and Dave Kinney

Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti weighed in recently on city personnel matters by inviting fellow council members to sign on to her letter to Mayor Paul Dyster recommending that Deputy Public Works Director John Caso replace Public Works Director Dave Kinney, upon Kinney's retirement.

Grandinetti's letter to Dyster reads in part, "The City Council of the City of Niagara Falls wishes to express support for the appointment of Mr. John Caso… following the anticipated 2015 retirement of current director, David Kinney… Mr. Caso has a wealth of experience in the administration of our city's Department of Public Works. He has shown himself to be qualified for the Director position, and we ask that he receive your full consideration."

Whether she knew it or not, Grandinetti was entering an area that is, technically, not the council's business: personnel matters. She was violating the separation of governmental powers in going to bat for her friend, Caso.

Of course council members make recommendations for positions and promotions. That's politics. What is unusual is that she put this in writing, memorialized her intentions to influence the hiring of a director of a city department and attempted to persuade fellow council members as "co-lobbyists."

The Public Works Department is the largest city department. It has been praised for record number of streets and sidewalks paved and trees planted, and its eagerness to aid residents in need. It has also been criticized for the overall condition of the streets; potholes; a troubled trash program; and at times snow removal program.

Kinney was the first person hired by Dyster after he assumed office in January 2008. A local man, he was the exception to the original Dyster plan of hiring out of town department heads at record- breaking salaries. Should Kinney retire, the mayor, not Grandinetti or fellow council members, has to replace him. But for her letter falling into the hands of the Reporter, we would have no idea of her intention to recommend the filling of this position in the Dyster administration.

Would John Caso be a good director? Quite likely, yes. He is a hometown man and has been, as Grandinetti points out, in the department for years. He would be preferable to an out of town "best and brightest" hire. And it always builds morale to promote from within, since it proves the industry and hard work is rewarding - not passed over.

Caso is the right man. However, Caso should not be used as a stalking horse to encourage Kinney to retire.





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