|Rev. Raymond Allen contacted
the Reporter to set the record
The Niagara Falls Reporter recently got a call from Reverend Raymond H. Allen who called to tell us something we wrote was in error, concerning him.
The story was about the Niagara County Board of Elections, where his wife, Lora Allen, serves as the Democratic Election Commissioner.
The Reporter wrote that commissioners meet in secret – and that – as an example of how that could work against the best interest of the people – Mrs. Allen, who is appointed by the party boss, might be loath to rule against party interests- so therefore open meetings are more appropriate.
“Complicating matters,” we wrote, “is that Commissioner Allen’s husband, Rev Ray Allen, was recently appointed by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster to the $50,000 a year position as the city’s police liaison officer, a patronage position created by the mayor.”
The Reporter made the inference that, since “Dyster’s nominating petitions were also challenged and the commissioners met in secret and ruled…. that his petitions were valid,” that the secret meetings were something that should come to an end since how could the public know if there was partisanship in the decision making process if the meetings are closed to the public?
In making this point – we brought Rev. Allen into the debate and Rev. Allen – during his call to the Reporter - said that, contrary to what we wrote – he does not earn $50,000 per year and his is not a political hire.
So we asked him some questions:
NFR: What is the official title of the job you have?
Rev. Allen: My official job title is Community Policing Aide. I work along with two part time liaisons, Owen Steed, and Ashley Boone (white female). Allen Booker is the only full time liaison that works at the Main Street location.
NFR: Was the job posted?
Rev: Yes, the job was posted on both the City of Niagara Falls website, and the Niagara Falls Police Department of Community Relations website. I submitted an application along with three personal/professional references by the application deadline date.
NFR: Does the job automatically have to go to a black person?
Rev: No, as stated above, the liaisons consist of three African American males, and one white female.
NFR: Were there other applicants?
Rev: Yes, there were several applicants.
NFR: Did the appointment and hiring go through city Human Resources?
Rev: The job is not an appointment, but a hiring process through the city of Niagara Falls Human Resources. In addition to filling out an application, I took the diversity training class at city hall.
NFR: Does the "white" community have a community liaison...native Americans, Hispanics and Asians etc.?
Rev: Because Niagara Falls has become a diverse community, I don't know how you would classify "white" or "black" community. The NFPD had three Police Substations that were located in racially diverse communities, but recently closed two within the past two years, 19th Street and 18th St. There are currently two substations; one on Highland Ave, and one in the LaSalle area.
NFR: Do you have access to a city or city police car or equipment or expense account or mileage reimbursement?
Rev: No, I do not have access to any equipment, or motor vehicles. I do not have an expense account, and I do not get reimbursed for mileage.
NFR: Who hired and who interviewed you?
Rev: I was hired by NFPD retired chief John Chella. I was interviewed by two city employees, who no longer work for the city.
NFR: What is the total pay and from what source or sources does it proceed from...state, Feds, city?
Who do you report to? Who gives you your check?
What is the nature of your job in relation to the job (Niagara County legislator) Owen Steed has with the city police?
Who keeps your hours and do you have a time sheet?
Mayor Dyster characterized your duties on the Tom Darro show...Dyster said in part "Rev. Allen works to gather information that can help solve crimes in the community."
Rev: I will refer you to my immediate supervisor Lt. Thomas Licata for the remaining questions. I do not have access to some of the information you requested, and I am not allowed to discuss the specifics of salaries. He is in charge of Community Relations, and ….. I report directly to him.
NFR: Would you agree that your hiring combined with your wife's appointment make it appear that you are a well-connected and powerful duo in the city and county Democratic Party?
Rev: No, I am not in agreement with your last statement/question. I am not a member of the City of Niagara Falls or Niagara County Democratic Committee, and have no influence with these groups. I do, however, work in partnership with Shirley Hamilton, local president of the NAACP, and Rev. Joanne Scott, current president of (NOAH) Niagara Organizing Alliance of Hope.
In addition to the Q & A Rev Allen wrote to the Reporter as follows: I relocated from Bainbridge Ga. to Niagara Falls in 1977 to be with my mom, three sisters, and one brother. I was reared primarily by my grandmother until I relocated. I am a graduate of NF High School (1978). I dropped out of college in 1979, and worked in a local factory until I was laid off in 1985. I recently returned to college in 2010, and completed my BS in Business Management from Houghton College in 2011. I went on to complete my Master of Divinity Degree from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and graduated in May this year. I have worked part time as pastor of Bethany Baptist Church since 2006 due to the small size of the congregation….. Although there are many opportunities to pastor full time in other parts of the country, I have chosen to remain here in Niagara Falls. I am working diligently to grow my local congregation, and working with other groups and organizations to make Niagara Falls a better place to live.
The Niagara Falls Reporter believes in clarifying points and correcting errors if we make them and more importantly - when the facts are not so clear - we always allow those who are involved to state their case - so that the reader can decide.
Rev. Allen to his credit chose to avail himself of this opportunity.
It is open to all.