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Bob Anderson, Much Decorated Veteran, Has Earned Right to Ask Questions About Deal

By Frank Parlato

On July 8, Councilmember Robert Anderson thought the Hamister hotel proposal needed study.

He was one of three council members who voted to table the proposal, a 10-page, 3,000 word resolution forwarded to the council by Mayor Paul Dyster that includes selling a parcel of land appraised at $1.53 million to developer Mark Hamister for $100,000.

Now that Anderson and the other two councilmen that form the Niagara Falls council majority have studied, they are about to make some suggested changes to the proposal.

You would think - to read the press - and a small legion on Facebook - that these men had done something obscene in tabling a proposal for a hotel partially subsidized by taxpayers.

Much of the press centers around the oft-claimed untruth that the council knew the terms of the proposal since early 2012.

This is, according to Anderson, untrue.

The council only authorized a negotiation process.

"Seventeen months without giving us any details, the number of rooms, the amount of tax breaks, the scope and scale - were unknown. Then they wanted me to rubber stamp it," said Anderson, a retired master sergeant in the US Air Force. "I've never rubber stamped anything in my life.

"I'm not against Hamister. I know he failed at the Sabres hockey deal. But we just asked them to answer a few questions. All of a sudden we are not allowed to ask questions?"

But Anderson thinks it is his duty, even if it slows down the project that sat for 17 months then suddenly emerged with a hurry-up or else momentum.

The media repeatedly has treated the public to a variety of stories wherein is quoted one or more of a cadre of elected officials (who almost to a man have gotten contributions from Hamister) or one of the choir of Hamister cheerleaders who say the Hamister deal must be approved as proposed; that Anderson and the council majority are risking the loss of a sterling developer like Hamister, and that if Hamister leaves no other developer will set foot in Niagara Falls again.

Implicit in this is the unspoken suggestion that Anderson should leave negotiations to experts like Mayor Paul Dyster and USA Niagara President Chris Schoepflin.

So what are Anderson's credentials?

Skipping the first dozen jobs he held to help support his mother from the age of 12, Robert Anderson Jr., born June 5 1942, spent much of his adult life in the US military. In 1960, he joined the US Air Force. He was 18.

For 16 years he was a contracting supervisor, and a supervisor of inventory management.

Anderson was stationed in Italy, Greece, Germany, Spain, and the Philippines. And in Lowry, Colo., and at the base in Niagara Falls. He also taught procurement contracts at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia: How to get the best deal with government funds and how to craft a contract so tight that contractors and businessmen can't wiggle out of them or deliver less than they promise.

He was also a recruiter for four years. He helped many a young man choose the path of their life, one much like his.

For his part, Anderson was awarded the US Air Force Meritorious Service medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, The Air Force Good Conduct Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, the Air Force Longevity Service Award ribbon with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

He won the US Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksmanship ribbon. He played on the US Air Force South All Star basketball team against the Marines; his height on the all star roster is listed at 6 feet 4. He won the US Air Force G. A. Sanford Award for athletics.

According to the citation that accompanies his Air Force Meritorious Service medal, earned when he was assigned to the 35th Air Defense Missile Squadron, Niagara Falls International Airport, " ... Sergeant Anderson's outstanding professional skill, knowledge and leadership added immensely in identifying problem areas in the field of Inventory Management and developing positive corrective actions. The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Anderson reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."

The area where he identified problems and made corrections: The Nuclear Ordinance Commodity Management Supply account in Niagara Falls, of which he was in charge.

According to the citation that accompanies Anderson's Commendation Medal, Staff Sergeant Anderson, the Procurement Supervisor, 3415th Resource Management Group, Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado, earned it for his work from Nov. 1, 1976 to April 29, 1977, when he "aided immeasurably in the successful accomplishment of the Air Training Command Logistics Civil Engineering Support test, resulting in the development of supply procedures to be used throughout the Air Forceā€¦ the energetic application of his job knowledge, technical skill and an incomparable devotion to duty, contributed significantly to the success of the mission of the Lowry Technical Training Center."

After Anderson retired from the military, he worked in business. He developed the Bradford House restaurants for W.T Grant Stores. By the time he was done, he had 130 waiters and waitresses working under him.

He was also a devoted family man. Married to Marie, who died last year, he has a son, Robert Anderson, III, and had a stepdaughter.

In 1991, Anderson's stepdaughter Bernadette was beaten into a coma by her husband Patrick Guiteau. Anderson and his wife built an addition to their modest home in LaSalle and kept their daughter at home and nursed her for 21 years until she died last year. Anderson took in her three small children, Erin, Alexandria and Patrick, and raised them as his own.

In 2003, he ran and won election to the council. He was the top vote getter in the city that year. He ran for re-election two more times, and was the top vote getter both times.

The Niagara Falls Reporter has reviewed records that show that Anderson has donated $74,000 of his own money to various charities that serve the poor, which, by the way, is more than 60 percent of his entire council salary.

Today, Anderson walks a little slower and one arm is rendered a little immobile, the results of a stroke suffered 13 years ago.

But his voice should not be discounted.

What Robert Anderson says about the Hamister proposal should be weighed carefully. After all, perhaps more than anyone involved in this deal, he has the credentials.



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

AUG 20, 2013