Gerald Skrlin, renowned local cartoonist and frequent contributor to the Reporter, is not backing down over a sign he recently hung on the front of his Niagara Falls home at Buffalo Avenue.
In what is more a sign of the desperate times of the Dyster administration rather than a sign that's violating any city law, the city police were sent to the cartoonist's home no less than four times last week in order to address complaints someone had filed on Skrlin and his sign.
We have no doubt that the police would rather be fighting crime on the city's rough streets instead of being used as Dyster's private police force ordered out to harass an "enemy of city hall."
The sign (actually it's more of a cartoon than a conventional sign, but whether it's sign or cartoon it's undoubtedly protected free speech) addresses the troubling issues of financial mismanagement as shockingly revealed by a squad of state auditors working out of Buffalo under the direction of the New York State Comptroller in 2012.
That state audit was conducted inside city hall for most of 2012 with the audit results being announced in May 2013. While that disturbing, scathing audit of city finances sank like a stone in the local media the mismanagement catalogued in the audit remains no less disturbing to this day, and that is where Skrlin's sign enters the picture.
What the sign addresses in particular are the shocking facts found on page 12 of the state audit.
On page 12 it was revealed that the city controller, Maria Brown, had not returned unused funds from special projects to their proper budget lines upon respective individual project completion. The money instead was placed elsewhere in the budget where they remained out of reach, and unknown, for the mayor and council.
Exactly where the moneys were secreted inside the budget was never revealed by the state Comptroller and so it remains a mystery as how this could have actually occurred.
What was mentioned is that while millions of such secreted dollars were discovered inside the budget and then returned to their proper place, the state auditors, at the close of the audit, estimated that $1 to $1.4 million dollars - conservatively estimated as to amount - remained unaccounted for. That means that more than a half dozen state auditors working daily for several months were unable to locate those taxpayer dollars.
Skrlin's sign/banner/cartoon poses the question: Where is the unaccounted for money?
And for asking this question he is being harassed by Dyster's city hall... harassed for asking the very same question that was first raised by the Comptroller of New York State more than two years ago: Why was money misdirected within the budget and where are the unaccounted for funds?