Contrary to what critics of the Reporter may believe, it gives us no joy to say, "we told you so."
We said all along that the 2015 budget drama was a cynical farce that would end with budget passage and the quick return of the Dyster administration to its spendthrift ways.
It's mid January and here we are, saying "we told you so", as the mayor and his city hall enablers and benefactors are developing new ways to spend taxpayer dollars.
Three weeks ago we exposed a city hall email from Tom DeSantis to the council in which DeSantis criticized his fellow employees while promoting himself as the new "acting director of the economic development department."
In the email he called for a pay stipend but never mentioned a cash amount. The mayor never appeared to support the plan and DeSantis' email was directed to the council, not the mayor.
The council, by city charter, doesn't manage personnel and DeSantis should not have approached the council with his plan. None of that mattered because records show that a stipend for "Acting Economic Development Director" in the amount of $12,645 was approved at the December 15, 2014 council meeting for DeSantis. That means DeSantis' salary, overtime and stipends will push him into the $100,000 a year club.
"Wait minute," you say. "How can a management person, director of both planning and economic development get overtime?"
DeSantis is not director. He is "acting- director," and that means he can not only get overtime, but as the head of his own department he decides his own overtime.
DeSantis also works as an adjunct professor at the University of Buffalo, which he can do on city time because he is an acting director, not director.
How? DeSantis has, for years, traded his overtime - which he decides for himself - in return for comp time. In other words, he decides when he wants to work 50 hours one week, and then take 15 hours off the next week in compensation for the overtime he gave himself the week before.
Also, at the December 15 meeting, the city's "grant writer," a retired city employee, received a $5,000 pay increase, going from $30,000 to $35,000 annually for her part time position paid with casino funds. On top of that, the Urban Renewal Agency meets today. Item 10 on the agenda is: "Approval of stipend for URA Director/Business Development Officer."
The agenda doesn't identify the person; it doesn't say how large the stipend is, and it doesn't say where the money is coming from. Why?
Pretty soon almost everyone in the Dyster administration will earn $100,000 per year, in one of the poorest, overtaxed cities in America.
The Reporter alerted its readers, months ago, that Dyster was going to launch his parking plan in 2015. The mayor has now directed city employees to move to implement his parking plan. As we predicted, look for outside consulting fees to continue, inside city hall engineering consultant fees to continue, and for the implemented parking plan to consume most of the parking revenues.
More than six months ago we warned that the creation of the "temporary SWEET positions" would result in full-time positions for favored individuals outside civil service parameters.
Brook D'Angelo, the voice of the 2013 anti-Sam Fruscione radio ads, has the lead SWEET job and has never taken a civil service test. Look for her to keep her job and eventually be promoted to a better paying position in public works.
We told our readers that the mayor would refuse to provide an explanation for his holding the city budget for 37 days and violating the city charter. The mayor remains mum in this regard as you read this.
We wrote that the Jayne Park plan would be rammed through, with bulldozers showing up one day unexpectedly, with all of it being done without a publicly revealed plan. That has happened.
We explained that Dyster would return to extravagant casino cash spending immediately following passage of the 2015 budget with its tax increase for residents and businesses, and we were right. Dyster tossed $560,00 in fresh casino cash spending in front of the council on January 5 for a motley assortment of spending none of it even remotely connected to economic development. That request is currently tabled. Look for it to pass in select pieces in coming weeks.
We told you five months ago that at the end of the budget drama the Dyster administration would lay the evils of the mysteriously rising-falling deficit at the feet of union city employees, and that Dyster would do so while increasing pay, stipends and overtime for his favorite non union employees.
We called all those shots and we're here to tell you now that it's only going to get worse because this is an election year.
When does this profligate spending and non-transparent government rise to a level where residents step up and demand answers and accountability?