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AUGUST 25 - SEP 01, 2015

Dyster Launches Attack Ads Against Rival Choolokian in Primary Race

By Mike Hudson

August 25, 2015

And where was Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster when he should have been solving the problem of the frozen water lines on 72nd Street that left entire families with no running water for two years in a row? He was getting down to the serious business of hosting rock concerts at the Hard Rock Café and downing shots with some of the worst C-list musicians ever to trod the boards.
By leaving the 72nd Street water main where it was, covering it with dirt and then paving over it, Dyster wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. Now, jackhammer wielding crews will have to go in and tear the new paving out, place the pipeline deeper than it was, rebury it and pave it over again... Nice work Mayor Dyster!

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s approach to the freezing water main problem on 72nd Street seems to be two pronged. First, he has to act like he just found out why the water mains are freezing, something he’s known since 2010 (See related story).

And second, he needs to blame the whole thing on city Councilman Glenn Choolokian, who is running an exceptionally strong challenge to unseat the mayor in the September 10 Democratic primary.

Both of these objectives are problematic, and whether Dyster can pull them off remains to be seen.

As a city Councilman, Dyster was instrumental in the creation of the water board back in 2002. The Council and Mayor Irene Elia were tired of being criticized every time water and sewage rates went up, and in order to escape the blame, they lobbied former state Sen. George Maziarz and former state Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte to have legislation passed in Albany allowing for the board’s creation.

Choolokian is an union worker at the water treatment plant, had nothing to do with the creation of the water board and certai9nly played no role in the debacle that has left as many as 186 homes on 72nd Street without running water for the past two winters.

But last week, on the heels of Dyster’s hastily called press conference to announce he’d finally found the money to address the problem, a series of robo calls and mailings attempting to link Choolokian to the mess inundated the city.

“Glenn Choolokian makes it seem like he’ll fix the water pipe problem,” an unidentified woman’s voice says in the robo call. “But he’s a highly paid employee of the water board and a city councilman, but he hasn’t offered a single solution or taken any responsibility.”

What exactly Choolokian should take responsibility for, the woman didn’t say.

“Rather than fix this problem, or any problem, Choolokian just throws blame around. It seems he’d rather let folks go another year with frozen water pipes so he can use the issue to score political points. Meanwhile, Mayor Dyster is doing everything he can to find solutions, even though the water board is completely separate from the city. We need a mayor who takes on tough fights instead of scoring political points. Let’s reelect Paul Dyster, the endorsed Democratic candidate. This message was paid for by the Niagara County Democratic Committee.”

The woman’s voice, which has many of the same tonal qualities as fingernails being dragged over a chalkboard, ends her diatribe there, but really it’s just the beginning of what is certain to be a nasty and negative campaign directed at Choolokian.

Dyster knew what the problem was on 72nd Street in 2010, when the contractor on the repaving project, Paul Marinaccio told him about it. He chose not to share the information with either the water board or the city Council. The mayor was again reminded about what caused problem was on 72nd Street in February 2014 when he read the Clark Patterson Lee report he’d commissioned. Again, the water board and the Council were kept in the dark

The mailing that followed Dyster’s press conference and robo call starts off as low comedy. It allegedly comes from Dyster himself.

“Yes or no? When you fill out your ballot for mayor on Thursday, September 10, that is the choice you will be making.

Dyster knows he’s in trouble, as his desperate news conference and negative campaigning indicate. He proceeds with a convoluted argument that ends with him saying ‘yes’ to the city’s future and Choolokian saying no.

Dyster has nothing to run on but his record, which is decidedly mixed. The un-needed and unwanted train station is far from completion, the signature Hamister hotel and Wonderfalls projects appear to be dead in the water and nearly $200 million in casino money has been squandered without creating a single decent, permanent job here.

Dyster city has the highest taxes of any municipality in the state, as well as the highest crime rate and the most registered sex offenders per capita. For Dyster, who’s been at City Hall as either a councilman or mayor for 12 of the past 15 years, the future is now.

Perhaps the voters of Niagara Falls will be fooled once again. His last minute ploy with the Hamister hotel bought him a city Council majority he enjoys to this day.

Maybe voters will overlook the fact that he doesn’t seem to know what day it is.

But fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.






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