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ANALYSIS By Mike Hudson

Mayor Paul Dyster's much-vaunted paving program has finally resulted in the death of one of his constituents.

Kevin Johnson, 44, of Niagara Falls, fell into an uncovered catch basin on Friday night. The hole consumed his bicycle, and his head hit the pavement on the way down.

First responders said the victim was unconscious when they picked him up at 17th Street between Pine and Elmwood. Neighbors said contractors were working on the hole, but didn't cover it up when they finished. Johnson was taken to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and pronounced dead a short time later.

For some reason, the Niagara Gazette failed to report the tragedy. Some here have questioned the relationship between the local daily and the Dyster administration, to the point where the paper has been accused of whitewashing Dyster's shortcomings on behalf of his re-election bid.

Witness Curtis Pugh told reporters, "When the officers got here, they just stood there shining lights on him. You know, just to get the officers here, we had to call numerous times, several times. Tell them it's a young man here dying."

Witnesses also told the Niagara Falls Reporter that the streetlight over the death pit was burned out, a significant factor in Johnson's death. Although Niagara Mohawk is responsible for maintaining the lights, the city is responsible for informing the utility company of such gaps.

Dyster has not commented on the man's death, even though his Department of Public Works seems largely responsible for it. A recent motorcycle tour around the city shows many other potential Dyster-created deathtraps around Niagara Falls.

A member of the Niagara Falls Police Department, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Reporter that Dyster's slipshod policies could result in more deaths in the future.

"All he really cares about are those shows at the Hard Rock Cafe," the seasoned cop said.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 12, 2011