Boys will be boys. That’s one way of looking at it.
Or it’s doggone lucky he’s not a Republican. That’s another way.
As predicted on these pages more than a month ago, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster hired political operative Nick Melson as his confidential City Hall secretary, a gambit that gives the mayor the luxury of having city taxpayers subsidize the cost of his sub rosa campaign manager.
The mayor announced his new hire on Friday, May 29, the same day he went out and ran the rainbow colored Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender flag up the pole out in front of City Hall.
Dyster, known for his beer drinking, animal hunting ways, often enjoys presenting himself as a progressive liberal to the world at large.
So does Nick Melson,
Albany insider, former aide to Francine Del Monte, unsuccessful county Legislature candidate and Democratic Party firebrand, Melson’s public image is one of a sensitive, all inclusive, liberal individual. Which is why we were shocked when a series of more than 30 Twitter tweets posted by Melson and a couple of his frat boy friends found their way to our offices over the weekend.
A photograph of a pornographic magazine sitting on a table next to a cocktail and bearing the caption “Titty Tuesday” was taken down, but others -- referring to homosexuals as “hippie queers,” foisting sexist japes at the cheerleaders for the Wichita State Shockers basketball team, lighthearted banter about drugs and alcohol and the repeated use of foul language unsuitable for publication in a family newspaper – remained online as of press time.
Just last week, the Niagara Falls Reporter covered the case of Willie Price, an endorsed Republican candidate for City Council, who had his endorsement stripped by the City Republican committee because of a couple of Facebook posts that in no way approached Melson’s Twitter tweets in terms of sheer offensiveness.
And Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti’s ongoing battle with Facebook oversharing is a story we’ve reported on numerous occasions. Variously, Grandinetti renounced the Catholic Church she’d been raised in a week after being successfully reelected to the Council, posted a “cute” video depicting little girls as young as 5 uttering the f-word over and over again and, most recently, accusing her employer – the Niagara Falls City School District – of “borderline criminal” behavior for not teaching the specific sexual education curriculum she would prefer.
During Dyster’s first term, his handpicked choice as city fire chief, Roger Melchior, was fired after it was discovered he had made disparaging remarks about Arabs on a website for firefighters.
It is highly unlikely that Melson will suffer the same fate, despite the coarseness and vulgarity exhibited in his posts.
“Go back to Jamaica you hippy queer,” he writes to someone named Michael Krull.
“I hope that dog shits all over the blanket,” Melson tweeted someone who had posted a picture of their new puppy.
Other tweets are completely incomprehensible though nonetheless distasteful.
“About to rip clap bombs while drunk on the u16 girls show them what 50 in 07 is all about. F-ck it. Whatever.”
Melson always ends with the notice that he is “Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Niagara Falls” and a disclaimer that states “Unless stated, Tweets reflect my own opinion and not that of my office.”
Clearly, the frat boy innuendo, over reliance on drinking and sex as subjects for humor and foul language also reflect our mayor’s judgment, or lack thereof, when hiring candidates to important positions in city government.
It’s 2015, after all, and employers in the private sector have long run online checks of potential employees, red flagging exactly the sort of sexist, homophobic and offensive content Melson seems to revel in.
Melson is one of a group of recent hires that also includes Republican turned Democrat Johnny Destino, Ryan Undercoffer and Brooke D’Angelo, all brought on board by Dyster based on past political experience rather than any particular job qualifications.
Their reward for loyalty and service to the mayor is a taxpayer funded paycheck and, in some cases, what amounts to a job for life. While Niagara Falls has long lacked the services of a city engineer and a director of economic development, meaningless patronage jobs are filled with alacrity in this election year.
Undercoffer and D’Angelo masterminded the effort to unseat popular incumbent councilman Sam Fruscione in 2013 over a completely invented crisis having to do with the still in the planning stages Hamister hotel project here. Although the project was nowhere near ready for construction, gullible voters were convinced that it was, and Fruscione was blamed for holding things up by asking questions.
After his Democratic conversion following a primary loss to George Maziarz for the 62nd District State Senate seat, Destino became Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nick Forster’s right hand man, specializing in strategy for a number of local races.
Dyster wants another four years in office and is convinced that you, the taxpayer, should pick up the tab for his campaign staff. No one has challenged him on this, and thus far, other contenders for the office – Democratic Councilman Glenn Choolokian and Republicans Accardo and James Szwedo – have remained silent.
With former mayoral secretary Bridgette Myles now serving as secretary to the city Council, Dyster can keep an eye on Choolokian’s comings and goings while Melson, Destino, Undercoffer and D’Angelo organize the Dyster campaign.
No mayor in the city’s history has so blatantly used the office to advance his or her personal agenda.
And if his Twitter tweets are any indication, Nick Melson will be providing readers of this newspaper with unintentional entertainment for years to come.