We Told You So: Dyster Administration Was Engineered to Fail From the Start

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The City had a fully qualified engineer, Jeffrey Skurka. Mayor Dyster fired him.
The City had a fully qualified engineer, Jeffrey Skurka. Mayor Dyster fired him.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s city hall now has its very own version of the hit http://southbuffalonews.com988 romantic comedy, Groundhog Day, that starred Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. Just as Bill Murray, in pursuit of Andie McDowell, was condemned to relive Groundhog Day until he could understand the errors of his ways, so too are the residents condemned to suffer from the errors of Paul Dyster’s ways as he annually, and insincerely, places his want ad for a city engineer. The latest incarnation of the mayor’s scheme had him placing his call for a city engineer in local papers and on monster.com last week.

This newspaper first reported in 2009 on what we saw as a three part Dyster city engineer agenda.

First, the mayor fired city engineer, Bob Curtis, immediately upon becoming mayor. Second, the mayor began hiring outside engineer consultants. Third, His Honor papered over the costly problems caused by the lack of an engineer by claiming that he couldn’t find anyone to assume the engineer position because it called for city residency and paid an allegedly paltry $96,000.

The Reporter detailed in 2009 how the hiring of an engineer consultant cost the taxpayers $http://southbuffalonews.com4,500 (minimum) per month for http://southbuffalonews.com8 (minimum) months as the courthouse was constructed. Mayor Dyster, after the courthouse was finished, then rehired the same outside consultant to oversee the repairs to the courthouse that had to be made post-completion…repairs that shouldn’t have been necessary had the city and consultant been doing their respective jobs to begin with.

But, this bad management hasn’t seemed to bother Dyster as the lack of an engineer has caused the city to bumble from one major project snafu to another: courthouse, Lewiston Road rebuild, ice pavilion, Tenth Street rebuild, Underground Railroad Interpretive Center, and 72nd Street rebuild.

The Reporter has written at length as to how the Dyster administration, from day one, was “engineered to fail”.

As for the mayor’s claim that he can’t fill the engineer position due to the city residency requirement, well, let’s take a look at the facts of the matter. The mayor’s first top-hire, Donna Owens, traveled all the way from Atlanta to work for Dyster. The former economic development chief, Peter Kay, drove in from Toledo, Ohio. The corporation counsel, Craig Johnson, moved to the city from Tonawanda. City engineer Ali Marzban arrived from Los Angeles and city engineer Jeffrey Skurka accepted the position while living on the southern tier. Skurka, who knew his job, was eventually fired for doing his job…that’s two good engineers fired by Dyster – Curtis and Skurka – in case you’re keeping score.

As to Dyster administration claims that low pay is scaring away engineer candidates, the mayor is all wet. The engineer salary at $96,000 is right in the wheelhouse of his other department head hot shots.

What are we saying? We’re repeating what we first wrote more than six years ago when we saw the firing of Bob Curtis, an eminently qualified engineer, for what it was: the removing of the taxpayers’ watchdog in preference to the hiring of friendly outside engineer consultants.

The consequences of the “no city engineer” plan have been monumental as one major city project after another has gone over budget, fallen behind schedule, and or, resulted in legal action against the city.

The simple fact of the matter isn’t that the Dyster administration can’t find an engineer to hire, the fact is the Dyster administration has cynically refused to hire an engineer.

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