Dyster, DelMonte, Hoyt, Schoepflin: The Team To Lead Us To Prosperity?

by Mike Hudson

Together, they are responsible for the economic future of the $100 million dollar business that is the City of Niagara Falls. Three term Mayor Paul Dyster, USA Niagara Chair Francine DelMonte, Empire State Development Corporation Senior Vice President for Regional Economic Development Sam Hoyt and Empire State Development Corp. Regional Director Chris Schoepflin have held the economic future of the city in their hands for years.

What qualifies them to do so? Has any of them ever built a hotel, run a factory or opened a restaurant? You can judge for yourself the results of their efforts, but today we’ll try to find out exactly what Gov. Andrew Cuomo saw in each of these individuals to make him appoint them to their current positions or, in Dyster’s case, enthusiastically endorse his candidacy.

USA Niagara Chair Francine DelMonte served in the  Assembly of the highest taxed state in the USA, representing the highest taxed city in the state. Did this prepare her for a role in economic development for Niagara Falls.

USA Niagara Chair Francine DelMonte served in the Assembly of the highest taxed state in the USA, representing the highest taxed city in the state. Did this prepare her for a role in economic development for Niagara Falls.

PAUL DYSTER

Prior to being elected mayor of Niagara Falls in 2007, Dyster’s employment record might charitably be called “spotty.”

His resume shows an eight-month hitch at Johns Hopkins University in 1980-81, a year-long gig with the Council on Foreign Relations in 1987-88, an assistant professorship in political science at the Catholic University of America from 1989 to 1993, a job that ran concurrently with his overseeing the graduate program at the Pentagon.

All of those jobs were in Washington D.C. What he did for a living between 1994 and his election to city Council in Niagara Falls is unknown. Likewise, it is uncertain what he did prior to 1980, when he was 26.

Dyster is a certified beer judge, has written the occasional article for the Home Wine & Beer Trade Association’s (HWBTA) newspaper and owns Niagara Tradition, a small retail store in Tonawanda that sells home brewing supplies and employs his wife, Becky, and other family members.

He was endorsed wholeheartedly by Cuomo in last year’s election.

“Mayor Dyster has been a leader in transforming the downtown core, reconnecting the city with its waterfront and bringing new jobs to Niagara Falls,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “I am proud to call Paul Dyster my friend and offer my endorsement of his candidacy for another term as mayor of Niagara Falls.”

Empire State Development honcho Sam Hoyt was teary eyed a few years back after admitting to an “inappropriate” relationship with a young Albany intern. Now he’s all smiles since he convinced Gov. Andrew Cuomo he knows the first thing about business!

Empire State Development honcho Sam Hoyt was teary eyed a few years back after admitting to an “inappropriate” relationship with a young Albany intern. Now he’s all smiles since he convinced Gov. Andrew Cuomo he knows the first thing about business!

For the formerly underemployed Dyster, 62, being elected mayor of Niagara Falls was the career move of a lifetime.

FRANCINE DELMONTE

Like Dyster, DelMonte’s primary life experience has revolved around politics. She parlayed a brief stint as a reporter at the Niagara Gazette into a job as an assistant to former state Assemblyman Joseph Pillittere, getting him coffee and keeping his social calendar free of conflicts.

When Pillittere announced his retirement in 1998, DelMonte announced her candidacy. DelMonte lost the Democratic Party primary to then-Niagara County Legislator Renae Kimble and ultimately ran on a third-party line, where she and Kimble were defeated by Robert Daly, who ran on the Republican ticket. Two years later, DelMonte ran successfully as a Democrat, defeating the incumbent Daly.

She lost the Democratic primary to former Niagara Falls City Councilman John Accardo in September 2010, and was unemployed until 2014, when Cuomo gave her the USA Niagara job.

With the exception of the short tenure at the Gazette, there is no record of her working anywhere outside of state government.

SAM HOYT

Like DelMonte, Sam Hoyt worked briefly in the private sector – in the marketing department of the Buffalo Bisons minor league baseball team – prior to his election to the state Assembly.

Unlike DelMonte, Hoyt had the advantage of having had his father William B. Hoyt, occupy the Assembly seat before him. In fact, it was William B. Hoyt’s untimely death in 1992 that forced the special election won by his son Sam, who then won election after election for nearly 20 years.

Empire State Development second banana Chris Schoepflin managed to hold down a private sector job with the Buffalo Sabres for a decade and has a degree in business yet is not known to have ever developed anything in the private sector.

Empire State Development second banana Chris Schoepflin managed to hold down a private sector job with the Buffalo Sabres for a decade and has a degree in business yet is not known to have ever developed anything in the private sector.

They’d have probably never gotten him out of there except that Cuomo offered him the Empire State Development Corp. gig, which paid a lot more, and constituted the “offer he couldn’t refuse” for Hoyt, who has the governor’s full confidence.

“Sam Hoyt has dedicated his life to serving the people of New York,” Cuomo said. “During his almost 20 years in the New York State Assembly, Sam has proven to be a dedicated public servant who puts the needs of his constituents and community first. He has demonstrated the type of dedication and enthusiasm required for this new challenge.”

CHRIS SCHOEPFLIN

Less is known about Schoepflin. He never ran for public office. Now the number two man under Hoyt at the Western New York offices of the Empire State Development Corp. he formerly held a USA Niagara job since the inception of that agency in 2001.

He worked for the Buffalo Sabres for a decade prior to that, and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SUNY, which makes him the longest to hold a job in the private sector as well as the only one educated in something other than politics.

He is not known to have ever developed a single private sector project or a single job in the private sector.

“Chris Schoepflin is well qualified to lead the Western New York Regional Office and will provide a regional perspective on economic development,” said Empire State Development President Howard Zemsky. “With his experience leading the USA Niagara Development Corporation and familiarity with the regional council process and Buffalo Billion implementation, I am confident in Chris’ abilities to advance our goals of fostering private sector growth, creating jobs and strengthening the economy.”

Dyster, DelMonte, Hoyt and Schoepflin have all been working – tirelessly, they’d probably tell you – on economic development issues along the Niagara Frontier for the past 15 years, at least.

The results speak for themselves.

Each of them has the wholehearted endorsement of Cuomo, which can only make you wonder about the seriousness of the governor’s intentions in Western New York.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch used to enjoy walking the streets of that town he loved, greeting people with a broad grin and the question, “How we doing?” 

That’s something you’ll never see Dyster, DelMonte, Hoyt or Schoepflin do. Ever.

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