From the scandal plagued “Buffalo Billion” program to the outrageous expenditure of $43 million tax dollars on a new train station that might be obsolete in less than a year, and from the abrupt shutdown of the Moreland Ethics Commission to the hiring of a “city engineer” unlicensed to practice engineering anywhere in the United States, the leaders of Niagara Falls and New York State – Mayor Paul Dyster and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respectively – have shown themselves to be incompetent if not downright corrupt.
It’s time for both of them to do the right thing and resign.
Both Dyster and Cuomo have shown the same troubling propensity for handing out contracts to large campaign donors. This was made clear in the strange case of Mark Hamister, a whale of a contributor, who is now essentially being paid by the state and the city to build a hotel that he alone will profit from.
In the Buffalo Billion case, two top Cuomo aides, Joseph Percoco and Todd Howe, were indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s office on bribery charges. Contractor Louis Ciminelli, a major contributor to both Cuomo and Dyster, was also charged, as were Ciminelli executives Michael Laipple and Kevin Schuler.
Schuler had strong ties to Niagara Falls and Dyster in particular, having served variously on the boards of Niagara County Community College, the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. and the Niagara USA Chamber.
In the case of Cuomo’s Moreland Commission shutdown, the headline in the Jan. 11, 2016, edition of the New York
Times said it all.
“Cuomo Won’t Face Federal Charges Over Moreland Ethics Panel,” it read.
He wouldn’t face state charges either, as his hand picked water boy – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – appears to be interested only in the prosecution of Cuomo’s political foes like state Sen. Rob Ortt and former state Sen. George Maziarz. The charges against Ortt were dropped by an Albany judge last month and lawyers for Maziarz are seeking a similar dismissal.
The pattern is as disturbing as it is familiar. Pay to play contracts for construction firms, outside consultants and high priced law firms, and brutal persecution of those who would dare to speak up.
And all the while, the city of Niagara Falls gets raped, both literally and figuratively. It remains the most dangerous and highly taxed city in New York, if not the nation. Hard working, educated people continue to flee in droves, destined for locales that are both safer and cheaper.
The city has become a mecca for registered sex offenders and violent parolees of every stripe, and the only growth industry involves social workers, law enforcement and others directly involved in the care and feeding of these and other welfare recipients.
It’s time for Cuomo and Dyster to face up to the fact that they are directly responsible for this mess and do the right thing by resigning.
Niagara Falls couldn’t be in any worse shape without them.