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Dyster Camp Has History of Playing Dirty Politics

By Mike Hudson

Dirty politics are a given in Niagara Falls and the team of Mayor Paul Dyster and his campaign manager, Craig Touma, are two of its most enthusiastic practitioners.

One of their favorite gambits is the cowardly anonymous flyer, mailed out in bulk to unsuspecting Niagara Falls voters, a tactic they honed in Dyster’s primary election battle against Lewis “Babe” Rotella back in 2007. In that race, a last-minute mailing depicted pigs feeding at a trough and alluded to Rotella’s childhood friendship with the late Benjamin “Sonny” Nicoletti.

This year, the Dyster camp has gone to the gutter early, with a mailing last week attacking City Councilman Sam Fruscione and attempting to bolster the candidacies of Kristen Grandinetti, Charles Walker and Andy Touma, Craig’s cousin in the upcoming Democratic four-way primary for three seats.

Fruscione, according to the mailer, has made the mistake of attempting to do business in Niagara Falls. He owns a small souvenir shop that sells all the usual pennants, ashtrays, decorative wall plaques, pen and pencil sets and other items generally associated with Niagara Falls tourism but also offers a line of T-shirts depicting the image of the city’s most famous former resident, Stefano Magaddino.

Magaddino, who died of natural causes nearly 40 years ago, was never convicted of any crime or even brought to trial but, according to a slew of books on the subject, was a powerful Mafia chieftain. In reality, having his picture on a T- shirt sold as a souvenir in Niagara Falls is no different than a T-shirt bearing Jesse James’ likeness being sold in St. Joseph, Missouri, where the James Gang rode their way into history and popular culture.

For his part, Fruscione told the Niagara Falls Reporter that the Magaddino T-shirts are meant as a tribute to his close personal friend George Karalus, a retired state trooper who was instrumental in helping to break up the Magaddino organization at the famous Apalachin meeting of 1957.

"We're going to continue to promote George's story because what George did was heroic," he said.

Fruscione pointed out that other cities like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, have opened museums dedicated to mob history.

"Only in Niagara Falls do we make a big deal out of this," he said.

But Fruscione is targeted in the flyer for having “mob items” in his store. He is further targeted for having the temerity to question a Dyster-backed proposal to give government handout specialist Mark Hamister a city-owned downtown property valued at up to $1.5 million in one professional appraisal for a paltry sum of $100,000.

Hamister has proposed building a hotel on the site with even more taxpayer money funneled through various government “development” agencies.

If the sale of T-shirts and exercising the due diligence one would expect from any public official on a deal as dodgy as the Hamister proposal are the worst that the Dyster mudslingers can come up with, Fruscione should sail to re-election by a comfortable margin.

Negative campaigning, such as is currently being directed against Fruscione, is a sign of desperation. Dyster and his henchmen have been in power for more than five years and, prior to that, Dyster’s four-year term as an influential city lawmaker himself means that - for most of the current century - his policies and programs have prevailed.

Would anyone say Niagara Falls is better off today than it was prior to Dyster’s involvement in city government? Crime, poverty, joblessness and abandoned housing have all increased dramatically, even as the mayor parties with washed up rock bands at taxpayer-funded concerts.

Do-nothings like Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker think that’s just peachy, and it appears Andy Touma is being presented as a shill for Dyster.

With that kind of record, it’s little wonder that the desperate Dyster camp is going on the attack early in this election cycle.

If you find it impossible to say something good about yourself, say something bad about the other guy.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

AUG 13, 2013