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Bob Anderson No Stranger to Tough Fights

By Tony Farina

"The Young Hero" an artist's
depiction of Anderson, the Air Force Veteran.

Bob Anderson is no shrinking violet, and the Niagara Falls city lawmaker is anything but reticent to share his opinion on the state of his surroundings or the political climate in which he has lived for the last 10 years as a member of the council.
But the 22-year Air Force veteran, who has accumulated a list of awards and honors that could stretch from his home on 73rd Street to City Hall, is a little upset at some of the criticism he has taken lately for painful budget cuts he has supported in the face of the city’s declining financial state, and particularly some barbs over the tradition of eating dinner on the taxpayers’ dime twice a month when the council is in session.

“It has been a council tradition [council dinners] for as long as anyone can remember,” Anderson told me recently during a visit to his home. “I have spent my entire life serving this country and my fellow citizens, and I have given back more than I ever hope to receive. I have donated my salary and given up more than $57,000 owed to me by my campaign committee so I could give to others, groups including charities, churches, and businesses. That’s why it is a little troublesome that people would criticize me over a dinner.”

But Anderson, 69, who was disabled by a stroke more than 10 years ago and who has lost his wife and daughter in recent years, is not one to give up or feel sorry for himself in the heat of political battle and he vows to push on in his service to the city he loves, just as he did as a member of the Air Force and as the first African American president of the CSEA representing Niagara Falls Board of Education employees. This is not a man who runs away when the going gets tough, and there’s no doubt the going is tough these days in the Cataract City.

As for the flap over the council dinners, Anderson told me that he and fellow lawmakers Glenn Choolokian and Sam Fruscione, who have been wielding the budget axe to avoid tax increases as the city’s fortunes decline, will cut out the free dinners going forward (see related story) and will also tighten spending throughout the city until there’s a resolution of pending financial issues or until Mayor Dyster provides a plan to deal with the looming crisis over outstanding debt that is heavily tied to the ongoing fight between the state and the Senecas over gaming rights.

“We have to prepare for the future, and that’s difficult because there is no certainty about receiving [gaming] money to deal with the bond debt and other issues,” Anderson said. “We have to be prudent and play it on the safe side because the people in this city cannot afford a tax increase on top of everything else that has gone on. We have to guard against that happening. We did it in this year’s budget and we’ll continue to do it to protect the taxpayers.”

Bob Anderson, a lawmaker with an unmistakable flair and a military service record that is breathtaking to behold, was also the first African American to serve as chairman of the council. This man from the Bronx has done pretty well in his life, and he is held in high regard by his fellow council members and received more votes than any other council candidate for three elections in a row by the public in general, who recognize his commitment to public service and his constituents. He also showed great courage in caring for a daughter for more than 20 years who had been left in a coma following a vicious attack.



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

Feb 26 , 2013