PARLATO: Whatever Happened to Piccirillo’s Plan to Pay People to Live Here?

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By: Frank Parlato

Mayor Paul Dyster, who led the city to financial ruin through extravagant spending, if his wife gives him permission to not run for reelection, will endorse a successor: The young man’s name is Seth Piccirillo, currently head of community development.

The Reporter first became acquainted with Piccirillo, in 2012, when the 29-year-old proposed a plan to pay college graduates with an associate degree or better, $7,000 – if they moved to designated areas in the city and stayed two years.

“Creative, young professionals make decisions on where they are going to live. We have to build neighborhoods that attract them here,” said Piccirillo.

When the plan was announced – with a price tag of $200,000 – the idea was so novel that it got international press – exposing to the world that Niagara Falls was desperate enough to pay people to live there. Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, New York City, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Portland weren’t paying people. In fact, people are saving to move to those places and get away from Niagara Falls.

Still the liberal media sang the praise of Piccirillo, calling his plan “bold,” “broad” and “dramatic”.  ABC News compared Piccirillo to Nik Wallenda:  “In Niagara Falls, N.Y., a man shortly will attempt a daring feat…” the correspondent reported breathlessly.
Yet, as they praised the big-government lad’s idea of using taxpayers’ money to socially engineer the type of people a city wants, they had to explain why it was necessary in the first place.

The Associated Press, CBS, Huffington Post, Good Morning America, ABC, the San Francisco Chronicle, and every other news outlet reported on our “rapidly dwindling city”.

The UK’s Telegraph wrote, “the city appears almost to be a shell. The streets are lined with boarded-up shops and derelict houses. Bars and restaurants are few and far between. Some neighbourhoods are nearly empty….Almost 18 per cent of families in the city today survive on “sub-poverty” levels of income; 4,000 students qualify for free school lunches; nearly 20 per cent of residents receive food stamps; 5,000 of the city’s 28,000 homes are vacant, while more than 800 are unsafe to occupy.”

 

While it may sound silly to pay tall people to live in Niagara Falls, is it any less stupid or wasteful to pay college grads? Neither plan can work. And the idea that a city is so desperate that it has to pay people to live here, just cheapens the image of the city. How about making the city a place where people will want to pay to live instead of vice versa.

 

The Associated Press reported our condition was so bad we needed to “Try anything”.  Niagara Falls got millions of dollars’ worth of bad publicity.

Despite the Piccirillo plan – and a similar Dyster scheme to prop up population by importing registered sex offenders and violent parolees – it did not succeed in reversing the exodus that began more than a half century ago.  The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the population of Niagara Falls is 48,460, down from 49,677 when the Piccirillo plan took effect.

Since the initial buzz of publicity, little has been heard of the plan. And there turns out to be a good reason for that. During the first 24 months, just seven individuals moved to Niagara Falls despite the promise of the $7,000 stipend.

“The program is going well,” Piccirillo told the Reporter at the time.  “We see it as a part of an overall marketing strategy for the city, just another piece of the puzzle.”

During the next four years, another eight people took the free money. Three seem to have remained.  One reportedly moved to Buffalo.

Now that Piccirillo is planning to run for mayor, some say the idea should be enhanced and the amount paid to college grads increased. Others say that to increase population, we have to pay other classes of people to come here. One suggestion was to pay tall people since “tall young professionals make decisions on where they are going to live. We have to build neighborhoods that attract them here.”

The best suggestion we heard is to pay people a stipend to move here if they will vote for Piccirillo.  They would only have to live here until election day next year.

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