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By Mike Hudson

Will the man who vanquished the Wicked Witch of the West now attempt to rid our city of the phony "arms negotiator" now ensconced in City Hall?

Over the past week, Pine Avenue insurance broker John Accardo -- who singlehandedly destroyed the career of 10-year incumbent Francine Del Monte in last year's Democratic Primary for the state Assembly seat -- has been quietly putting out feelers about challenging Paul Dyster in the upcoming mayoral election.

It wouldn't be the first time Accardo sought the mayor's office. In 1999 he defeated incumbent Jim Galie on the Democratic ticket, only to lose to Republican Irene Elia in the general election. A lot of voters here ended up regretting their decision in that one.

Irene was a nice lady but a horrible mayor. With the aid of her lapdog -- then-councilman Dyster -- she succeeded in driving business away and playing her part in the dismal decade that saw the population of Niagara Falls plummet by nearly 10 percent.

Dyster's years as a councilman, and his years as mayor, have been characterized by indecision, ineptitude and attitude. An empty suit, he pretends to preside in much the same way he previously pretended to be other things.

Dyster, for some reason, remains popular. The ignorant among us think he does a good job. Certainly, he's not been arrested by the feds like his predecessor in office, Vince Anello.

People liked Vince too. And Irene. But the fellow they've elected now is worse and more poisonous than the two of them put together.

We need a man like John Accardo to put things right. Or at least get things back to normal.

Niagara County Legislator Gerald K. "Butch" Farnham, R-Lockport, announced he will retire from the Niagara County Legislature when his term ends on Dec. 31.

Farnham has represented the 7th Legislative District since 1998.

"It has truly been an honor and privilege serving the residents of the towns of Pendleton and Lockport as their voice in Niagara County's government," Farnham said on announcing his retirement plans.

"After much discussion with my wife, Elaine, over the past several weeks, I decided it was time to spend more time with my family, focus on my health and continue enjoying activities such as my farming and agricultural interests," Farnham, who is 66, said. "It was indeed a difficult decision, but I know it's the right one for us at this time."

Farnham added, "Most people are aware that I was involved with a construction accident not too long ago, and unfortunately the healing has not occurred as rapidly as I had hoped. When I do something, I put my whole heart and soul into it. And the rigors of another campaign, such as going door-to-door several times a week, were just not possible this time around."

Farnham, a retired deputy highway superintendent from the town of Pendleton, focused much of his efforts on the county Legislature in the areas of infrastructure, public works, agriculture and administration.

Farnham currently serves as deputy majority leader, chairman of the Niagara County Refuse Disposal District, vice chairman of the Public Works Committee, and as a member of the Administration Committee.

During his 13-year tenure, Farnham also served as minority leader and as chairman of the Administration, Public Works and Parks committees.

Farnham said he is most proud of his efforts to bring two highly qualified persons to lead Niagara County government as county manager. Farnham noted he had the honor of serving as a member of the first county manager screening committee that chose Gregory D. Lewis as Niagara County's first administrator in 2003, and last summer chaired the screening committee that chose Jeffrey M. Glatz to succeed Lewis.

"I have worked hard to bring real accountability to county government, to keep taxes and fees down, and to protect our agricultural lands and waterways," Farnham said. "I have no regrets whatsoever and I am truly humbled that I was given this extraordinary opportunity to serve."

Glenn Choolokian announced his candidacy for City Council this week, and we couldn't be happier.

"The future leadership of Niagara Falls must make a major commitment to rebuilding our city's streets and sidewalks, creating community anchors and improving the quality of life across our entire city," he said. "This commitment must be more than bricks and mortar. It must represent a commitment to improve all parts of our communities. It means improving the life of our children, it means improving the life of our families, but most important, this new leadership must continue to look for new ideas that will strengthen all our communities as a whole."

The streets of this city, and the sidewalks, as anyone but Paul Dyster will tell you, are horrific. Glenn, a longtime veteran of the Niagara Falls Water Department, lives here and knows what's what.

I'll be off on tour again this week, playing Providence, Boston, New York City, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Rebecca and Margaret will be holding down the fort at my house. They're both fine shots and neither of them has much taste for nonsense.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com March 29, 2011