While no one was surprised by the fact that nearly one out of every 10 Niagara Falls residents decided to flee the city over the past decade, the reaction by city officials to the U.S. Census Bureau's release of the official count was stupefying.
Upon hearing that the official count put the city's population at 50,193 -- down more than 70,000 from a 1960 high of 120,294 -- the city's Community Development Director Robert Antonucci made the sort of remark that indicates why community development has become an oxymoron in Niagara Falls.
"It's a very good thing for Niagara Falls," Antonucci said, referring to the 50,000-plus population figure. "Fifty thousand is the first benchmark that they look at. To fall below it would potentially jeopardize our entitlement status."
Thank goodness, in other words, for those 126 registered sex offenders former state Rep. Francine Del Monte and Mayor Paul Dyster helped bring to our fair city. And three cheers for the Housing Authority, which has lured hundreds of generational welfare recipients from the Bronx and elsewhere with the promise of free $200,000 condos in the HOPE VI housing project!
Actually, anyone working at City Hall and calling themselves the director of any sort of development ought to be arrested and charged with fraud. Only the most revolting of developments have occurred here under Antonucci's watch over the past decade, as thousands of jobs have disappeared, nearly 10 percent of the population has fled, and a majority of those who remain do so only because they are too poor to go elsewhere.
Ask officials at the Niagara Falls City School District, where nearly 70 percent of enrolled students come from households subsisting below the federal poverty level, or the good folks who run Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, where the vast majority of emergency room admissions are similarly destitute.
And while you're at it, ask the mayor. Paul Dyster is smart enough to realize that the declining city he "leads" is impoverished, so he does not even bother trying to raise money here anymore, but heads straight to Buffalo, where his masters contribute lavishly to make sure their boy remains in office here.
Buffalo attorneys Dan Oliverio and Robert Kresse have given thousands, as has Largo Capitol President Gary Coscia, financier of the city's Main Street courthouse project. We've written at length about the hospitality and greenbacks the Buffalo law firm of Phillips, Lytle has showered on Dyster, and another Buffalo firm, Cantor, Lukasic, Dolce & Panepinto, has been generous as well. Influence peddling in Niagara Falls? Say it ain't so, Paul.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||March 29, 2011|