Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, grandmasters of the idiotic Seneca Niagara casino agreement that gifted the tribe with a 20-year extension on their compact deal while forgetting to include any provision for the state or the city to receive any revenue whatsoever, are taking their lumps thanks to an eloquent critique posted to Youtube courtesy of respected Native American radio talk show host John Kane.
Mr. Kane offered up a scathing indictment of the ineptitude that reigns both at Niagara Falls City Hall and the Executive Chambers in Albany. As is usual for him, he called a spade a spade.
“What the hell are you guys thinking?” he said. “Paul Dyster’s abuse and misappropriation of revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino has left him and the city of Niagara Falls not only critically dependent but delusional in their insatiable craving for a Seneca gaming fix,” Mr. Kane said.
“After blowing a quarter of a billion dollars on poor city budgets… Mr. Dyster now looks desperate and confused,” he added.
Former State Sen. George Maziarz remembers the 2002 signing of the Seneca compact well. At the time he included provisions that would ensure that the money could only be used for “brick and mortar” projects that would result in the creation of decent jobs in the city.
All that went south though, with Paul Dyster’s election in 2007. Not a single private sector job has been created.
He spent money like a drunken sailor. Hole in the budget? Use casino money. Want to host mediocre rock concerts? Use casino money. Want to stage a winter festival that everyone knew would be a flop from the get-go? Use casino money.
A quarter of a billion dollars. Gone.
And neither Mayor Dyster nor Governor Cuomo had the brains in their heads to make sure that, in gifting the Seneca with a 20-year extension of the compact, the payments to the city and the state would continue as well.
“The gaming compact was not supposed to fill potholes, support city salaries or make the mayor look like a champion of the people by avoiding a much needed property tax hike,” Mr. Kane said. “It was supposed to create revenue, promote economic development and rebuild the tourism industry that Niagara Falls, New York, lost to Niagara Falls, Ontario.”
The result has been clear, Mr. Kane said. No meaningful investment has been made, despite a quarter of a billion dollars of what was essentially “free money” coming across the transom. And that not only hurt the city, it hurt the Seneca as well.
“Mr. Dyster now pins all his hopes on the governor,” he added. “He campaigns for sympathy on his dependency with a ‘they owe me’ platform.”
Mr. Kane drew a parallel between how the Seneca managed gaming revenue to the mismanagement that took place in the Falls.
“Neither the state nor the city of Niagara Falls reinvested any of this money back into the tourism industry or in any way supported the Seneca gaming market,” he said. “The Seneca, on the other hand, built out their gaming business, added gaming floors, built new facilities, renovated, added hotel rooms and generally improved their product, which both the state and Niagara Falls benefited from.”
The straw that broke the camel’s back, according to Mr. Kane, was Cuomo’s decision to allow slot machines to be installed at failing horse racing tracks all across the 15-county territory the Seneca were promised “exclusivity” to in the original compact. That is what the tribe was paying for and, bluntly, Mr. Kane called it “a sham.”
“It’s pretty clear that the folks from Albany and Niagara Falls knew the language of the compact included the payments running through only 14 years, but chose not to raise this issue,” he said. “Were they hoping the Seneca wouldn’t notice and just keep paying? Who knows?”
In any event, he added, the state’s power to regulate gaming “ends at the Seneca property line,” he said.
Mr. Kane likened Mayor Dyster’s dependency on Seneca casino cash to that of a junkie looking for his next fix of heroin.
“Mayor Dyster is just going to have to suffer through his gaming dollar withdrawal,” he said. “Do some budget rehab and live a more honest and virtuous life. Addiction is a disease, but treatment provides hope.”