<<Home Niagara Falls Reporter Archive>>

Oishei Pitch Seen as Political Theater

By Mike Hudson

The treatment that Oishei President Robert Gioia has seen fit to bestow upon the Niagara Falls Council Majority could be described as, at best, brusque. He has seen fit to challenge the council through press releases rather than speaking with them directly. It’s almost as if he sought to goad, embarass or bully the council into funding a charity that, by all accounts, is ripe for the Oishei Foundation to fund themselves.
John R. Oishei once struck a man with his automobile on a rainy day, as the story goes. It so upset Oishei that he founded the Trico Products Corp. and started making windshield wipers and hence made his fortune. This shows that out of adversity sometimes great success can be achieved. Perhaps, the NACC can take a page from the late Mr. Oishei and find success without burdening the taxpayers.

At the Feb. 19 council meeting, the Oishei Foundation chairman, Robert Gioia, offered the council a deal: he pledged to put up $15,000 for the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center (NACC) if the council would match his offer, thereby awarding the NACC the $30,000 that was cut at the Feb. 4 council meeting.

The Oishei Foundation is the area's largest private foundation with nearly $267 million in assets.

Why Gioia didn’t simply put up the $15,000 and privately recommend the council match it or perhaps even put up the entire $30,000 himself, he never explained.

And that caused many to suspect the Gioia offer was nothing more than political theater, intended to burnish Dyster’s image while damaging the council.

The facts show that Gioia never bothered to approach the council concerning the offer, and Mayor Dyster seemed to fake confusion at the meeting as to why the council had never received any of that information.

The offer was presented to the press before the decision-makers, the council, had a chance to consider it.

At the meeting, Gioia lectured the council on how Oishei had “put $10 million into this community,” publicly ticking off the philanthropic organization’s good deeds like a Hollywood celebrity boasting of the homes they own.

The council majority – Robert Anderson, Glenn Choolokian and Sam Fruscione – weren’t having any of the Gioia-Dyster duet and they plainly said so. It ended with Gioia walking away from the podium muttering about how, “we all have to live with the decisions we make.”

The dramatic walk-away line muttered by Gioia would have been more appropriate in another setting, like in a Godfather movie.

Exactly what the high-powered cheeseman from Buffalo was hinting at remains to be seen. From here, it clearly sounded like a threat.

The Oishei foundation makes grants for medical research, healthcare and education along with cultural and social needs in the Buffalo area. It was founded by John R. Oishei (1886-1968) in 1940. Oishei founded Trico Products Corp. in 1917 and made his fortune selling windshield wipers.

The foundation to date has made more than $200 million in grants.



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

Feb 26 , 2013