Site icon The Niagara Reporter

Chris’s Corner: The Racket in Niagara Falls

Please click the link below to subscribe to a FREE PDF version of each print edition of the Niagara Reporter



By: Chris Voccio

Niagara Falls City Council Chairman

Some have asked what I mean when I refer to The Racket in Niagara Falls. Fortunately, the Empire Center, an Albany-based think tank, has a wonderful website,, where you can find lots of interesting information.

For instance, in the quaint old days of 2010 the highest compensated city government employee made $131,083. Ten years later, the highest compensated employee made a whopping $202,857.

In 2010, there were 10 city employees who made more than $100,000. Ten years later there were an incredible 64 city employees who made more than $100,000.

Please read the above two paragraphs again.

If Niagara Falls was a prosperous city during those ten years, if we had thousands of new families moving in, coming to fill thousands of high-paying private sector jobs that were in abundance, then perhaps this massive growth in highly compensated city employees might make sense. But that’s not what happened here between 2010 and 2020.

So what happened over that decade? Two things: We had a city administration and city councils that were willing to fund massive increases in compensation, and we had access to vast supplies of cash in the form of casino revenue, revenue that could have been used to rebuild the city.

If you’re wondering how this Racket came to be, it’s a simple matter of politics. The beneficiaries of The Racket are politically powerful, have their own political action committees (PACs), and spend a lot of money to elect “their” candidates, and destroy people who speak out against The Racket.

They get involved in local political committees, particularly of one party, and they exert an inordinate amount of force in local government. Some of the bosses of The Racket don’t even live in the city. But their hand-picked candidates approve municipal union contracts that solidify The Racket. It’s a not-so-virtuous cycle.

But times are changing. Their hand-picked candidates are no longer winning every election.

This is one of the reasons I self-funded my campaign. I am beholden to no one, especially not the politically powerful special interests. I can speak out against The Racket as I have nothing to lose.

Not everyone who works for the city is part of The Racket. There are many hard working city employees who strive to keep our streets safe and clean and many others who make the wheels of government turn, and they witness first-hand the destructive power of The Racket.

Many retirees from the city with modest pensions look at what’s happening today with disgust. The Racket is taking their tax dollars, lowering their standard of living, while a select few take and take and take.

And because The Racket siphons so much from taxpayers, that gives us less to invest in our city. It’s one of the reasons why Niagara Falls is in a state of disrepair.

Please remember that the crazy high amounts in compensation don’t even include the extravagant health insurance benefits and the bloated pensions that last for life. Also remember that these high compensation numbers, when taken near retirement, dramatically increase lifetime pension benefits.

If we could reduce the amount The Racket takes, we could hire more law enforcement officers, we could rebuild the city and we could even lessen the tax burden.

The Racket, with its powerful political action machine, will continue to attack me with misleading robocalls, mailers, and other forms of disinformation. But I’ll continue to fight for taxpayers. I’ll continue to fight for you.

Chris Voccio is a Niagara Falls City Councilman and can be reached at


Exit mobile version