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Fruscione Tells it Like it is on Hamister

In the interest of government transparency, I want to take this opportunity to update our residents on the status of the hotel proposal for our downtown.

The city council majority tabled the mayor’s proposal at the July 8 council meeting. We received the hotel development resolution from the mayor on July 3, 2013 a few hours after the deadline had expired for submission of agenda items for the July 8 meeting. While the council did, in February 2012, okay the mayor to move forward on the proposal, we received zero information from the Dyster administration or USA Niagara from February,2012, until the afternoon of July 3, 2013.

At the April 15, 2013 city council meeting, Mayor Dyster - in response to a question from a council member seeking information - said that he was nearing completion on the Hamister deal and that he would have something within a month for the council to consider. The mayor’s month became nearly three months with no communication from him or USA Niagara in between.

I have to correct the perception that the council “has had the contract in their hands since February of 2012 and failed to do their homework” as the supporters of the deal are claiming. It’s been said that for a lie to succeed, the only thing required is constant repetition. Unfortunately, and strangely, an all too cooperative media is working overtime to see that this development deal is forced upon the city residents at all costs and with virtually no comprehensive analysis as to its makeup.

I want to give credit to the Niagara Falls Reporter for digging beneath the surface of the document and searching out the facts. It’s reassuring to see a local newspaper carrying on in the time honored tradition of investigative journalism rather than practicing the all too common advocacy journalism of today.

The reality is that from February of 2012 until July 3, 2013 the council was given nothing in writing in any way, shape or form. Please read that carefully: NOTHING. There was no proposed contract until July 3. On July 3 we received the document that you can view on the city’s website. You are able to study this document because the council posted it in the interest of transparency on the city website: www.niagara.usa.org. You will find the document on the upper left hand side of the homepage.

The council never issued a blank check to the mayor in February 2012, we never authorized the mayor to go ahead and simply “call us when you have your deal and we’ll rubber stamp it.” To rubber stamp it would be dereliction of duty as elected officials. And it would also be unethical and possibly illegal.

How did it get to this point, a point of hard feelings, accusations and media circus? It arrived here along a route of closed-door meetings, little information sharing, and zero transparency. If something is planned in the dark, should we be surprised to find it objectionable when examined in the light of day?

Because the mayor hasn’t approached the council, I approached the mayor through the corporation counsel two weeks ago. At that meeting I explained the council majority’s concerns regarding several clauses in the agreement. Principal among those concerns is the “reverter clause” that could easily end up costing the city taxpayers millions of dollars. As I write this column I have yet to receive a response from the Dyster administration regarding the reverter clause, or any of our other concerns as outlined in my meeting.

For those - including the media - who claim the “council is changing their tune,” the fact is that we have played the same tune since July 3, 2013. The tune goes like this: represent the city residents responsibly, protect the taxpayer interests, and practice transparency for good government at all times.

We continue to wait for a positive sign from the Dyster administration. Negotiation only works when the two sides are talking, just as a game of catch only works when the other person tosses the ball back. The council wants to stay in the game but it isn’t going to let the rules be written in a way that makes the city a loser.



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

AUG 13, 2013