The State of the City speech delivered by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster is now online at www.niagarafallsusa.org.
As a public service, we have tried to condense the poetical, rambling, meandering, 12-page, single -spaced speech into a concise message: Dyster wants credit for every project happening in this city.
State Sen. George Maziarz, appearing on the Tom Darro radio show, busted the mayor's dream world of "everything is fine and getting better."
Maziarz spoke of the city's 11 percent unemployment, along with other topics: "A $22 million court house they paid $50 million for;" "A train station that isn't needed;" "An administration that refuses to talk to developers;" "An administration that never supported the airport and is now taking credit for it."
The mayor's State of the City event was opened by City Administrator, Donna Owens, who visibly pained the audience when she mistakenly told them that Dyster's speech was going to be two hours long.
Quickly easing listeners' angst, Dyster assured them his speech would be significantly shorter.
He went straight to the Arizona shooting card, talking about how tough he and Gabby Giffords, the congresswoman who was shot in the head, have it.
"Government isn't easy," he said, "especially these days."
He spoke of his own Mayor's Night In, where the public is invited to City Hall after business hours to meet the mayor.
"In spite of the tragic events in Tucson, I will continue those gatherings this year," he said.
He took credit for the arrest of Dr. Pravin Mehta, which occurred on the day of his speech.
He likened the fixing of steps at City Hall to his own Herculean fixing of an entire city.
"Just as we've fixed City Hall (steps) on the outside, we've been working to fix it on the inside. Our government is now scandal-free," he claimed.
Dyster added that "2010 will forever be remembered as the year when we broke the logjam on projects that once seemed to be 'bridges to nowhere.'"
Will it really "forever be remembered" -- like, say, Gettysburg?
He repeatedly used his mantra -- "We get things done in Niagara Falls" -- made somewhat nauseating by his use of the word "we," when much of it he had nothing to do with.
He took credit for the airport expansion, which in fact he did not support.
"Our airport is truly taking off, with new flights being added all the time. Did you ever think you'd see the day? We get things done in Niagara Falls," Dyster crowed.
He took credit for the culinary institute -- the brainchild of Niagara County Community College and county leaders far removed from the mayor.
He took credit for the Hyde Park Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial.
"This project," he said, "which we've supported with a $500,000 investment, will honor the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom and safety."
It's great, by the way, to bestow honor with cheap words and public money, but when it came time to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on Memorial Day, the mayor scrammed to hobnob with the Japanese ambassador, as veterans -- some of them World War II vets who had been stationed in the South Pacific -- dedicated the grounds without the mayor's presence.
Dyster spoke of the $40 million taxpayer funded train station that likely will be a bridge to nowhere, since train travel is now almost obsolete.
"Believe it or not, we're building that beautiful new train station, and it's going to open by 2013," he said gleefully. "Did you ever think you'd see the day? We get things done in Niagara Falls."
Dyster spoke about gifting a half-million to the billion-dollar Hard Rock Cafe, so they could profit by putting on outdoor concerts and selling concessions. According to our toe-tappin' mayor, these taxpayer-funded concerts are "giving our city a whole new feel."
Dyster said, "Our Third Street entertainment district is buzzing."
Actually, there are more empty buildings on Third Street now than before the streetscape renovation. Other than grants the mayor gave to campaign contributors like Craig Avery to open a nightclub that has not yet opened, where precisely is the buzz?
Dyster waxed beatnik describing the buzz of "new businesses springing up to join the hip places already there," man. Fingersnaps, please.
Dyster assured that "we're racing to the head of the line to create the jobs of the future."
He cited three companies that created a total of 200 jobs, but failed to mention three other companies that closed, moved or cut jobs, resulting in 650 jobs lost during his administration, plus jobs lost by the closing of numerous small businesses.
He lauded his hands-on role in promoting energy efficiency.
"I even got to drive the new electric Zamboni machine!" he burbled.
Dyster awarded himself credit for everything a city normally does. He took credit for the fire department. He took credit for public safety.
"Yes, we're taking back our neighborhoods," he said.
He took a big, sloppy share of credit for the Hope VI project, which will import welfare recipients from New York City to live on public assistance here.
"It's not often that we get to reinvent an entire neighborhood," he said. Not a neighborhood he would think of living in, of course.
He took credit for improvements in hospital services made without his help.
He even took credit for raising taxes!
"Our city is turning the corner, and that process costs money," he cautioned. "We can't rest on our laurels. We've made a lot of progress on economic development, neighborhood improvement and public safety, but there's still more to do."
To the average observer, very little has been done on any of these fronts.
He compared his administration to 24-year-old football player James Starks, who went to the Super Bowl.
Starks "aimed for the stars," Dyster said. "He put his heart and soul into being the best he could be. And he just keeps driving toward that end zone."
Referring to his own metaphorically touchdown-laden mayoral record, Dyster added, "We've made it to the end zone a few times in the past three years."
Dyster did glimpse the president when he and more than 200 other mayors met last month in Washington, D.C., for a mayor's conference.
Dyster embellished, "I had the honor of visiting once again with President Obama. He told us, 'We do big things.' It's the same for Niagara Falls."
Toward the blessed end of his stem-winder of a speech, Dyster declared, misty-eyed, "There are new chapters in our history yet to be written. There are moments of future greatness as yet unimagined, and dreams of the present that the future will fulfill."
Huh? What? Are we in Narnia? Oz?
Dyster ended with a stupefying metaphor of Niagara Falls as a garden, he the master gardener.
"It may be late January," he said with rare insight, "and it seems like winter has been going on forever, but we know that spring eventually will come. One day not too far in the future we'll walk out our front door and notice the crocuses popping up in the garden. You can feel the change in the air here now -- not the weather, unfortunately -- but out there in the community there is a sense that positive change is finally coming."
Is that how the community really feels?
"Make no mistake," he continued. "There is nothing inevitable about the resurgence of our city. The crocuses only come up because someone bothered to plant them in the first place. God built a natural wonder in our backyard."
At least he did not take credit for that.
"The least we can do is to invest our full faith and energy into making the most of what we've been given. I hope that, as my administration enters its fourth year, each of you has been blessed, as I have, with at least a little glimpse of the crocuses peeking out from under the snow.
Because the wind of change is starting to blow across the land."
One is tempted to say that wind of change is a bit of a blowhard.
"And it's time to get to work in the garden. Are you ready?"
Yes, we're ready. And to use his own imagery, the mayor already has abundantly spread the manure.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||Feb. 8, 2011|