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By Mike Hudson

You can take him off the school board, but you can't stop him from being a creep.

Our old playmate, the odious Ed Lilly, reached deep down into his bag of tricks last week and came up with one he's used many times in the past: anonymously distributing hateful flyers to Lewiston residents.

Kevin Jaruszewski, head of Lew-Port United Teachers, filed a report with Lewiston police Monday night alleging that he saw Lilly driving a car placing copies of the hate-filled fliers in mailboxes on Swann Road. It was the second time in the past 15 months that Lilly has been reported to police for this sort of gutless activity.

Back in December 2009, Lilly was identified by a Chicora Road woman as the driver of a car involved in the distribution of a phony newspaper that engaged in wholesale libel and slander, always anonymously. Lilly and other backers of the rag ceased publication after one of the paper's targets -- county Industrial Development Agency Chairman Henry Sloma -- hired a former FBI agent to gather evidence against them in preparation for a lawsuit.

The lily-livered Lilly's most recent act of cowardice came after he was thrown off the school board by Lew-Port voters who had had enough of his nonsense. During his 12 years as a board member, Lilly cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees through a series of largely scurrilous lawsuits.

Our old friend, veteran Niagara Falls Police Lt. Sal Paonessa, is quietly exploring the possibility of launching a Democratic primary challenge to Mayor Paul Dyster. He may be one of several Dems to oppose Dyster in the September contest.

Dyster's term in office has been a disaster. The hirings of former city engineer Ali Marzban, who recently applied to live in Section 8 housing down in Buffalo, former fire chief Roger Melchior, who racked up expenses in excess of $15,000 despite showing up for work fewer than 10 times, and former economic development director Peter Kay, who failed to create a single private sector job in the two years he was here, speak volumes about Dyster's people skills.

His two signature projects -- the Underground Railroad Museum/train station and the Niagara County Community College Culinary Center -- will cost taxpayers here millions without creating any permanent private sector jobs either.

Dyster's inability to create jobs and his open hostility to development here are troubling. He is, after all, the chief executive officer in a city with the highest unemployment in New York state.

But I suspect Paonessa's possible candidacy may have more to do with Dyster's mishandling of, and utter contempt for, the city's police department. The mayor, whose idea of a good time is drinking shots backstage with members of washed-up rock bands like Sugar Ray, doesn't like cops, and has taken the side of those who claim to have been the victims of mistreatment by the police every time such a case has come up since he was elected.

The West Coast reading tour was fabulous, three nights each in San Francisco and L.A., and stops in Seattle and Portland. With one lone exception, we filled the rooms we read at, everything from punk rock clubs to museums, and the people were incredibly gracious.

Cheetah Chrome is one of the greatest guitar players ever, and his name always shows up on those "100 Best of All Time" lists that magazines like Guitar Player and Musician put out. He's written songs for Guns N' Roses, the Beastie Boys and Pearl Jam, and is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir "A Dead Boy's Tale."

Bob Pfeifer is the former president of Disney's Hollywood Records, where he signed acts like Alice Cooper and Ornette Coleman, and is the author of "University of Strangers," an experimental novel published by our own Power City Press. He rocked the punk boat early on with indie pioneers Human Switchboard.

Thirty-five years ago, the three of us were at the heart of Cleveland's punk rock scene, which was the gimmick behind the tour. We all flew into Seattle and spent the next two weeks in a bus, driving 1,000 miles down the Pacific Coast to L.A., pausing to read and sign autographs along the way.

It was great seeing those guys again. We'll be headed to the East Coast for the second leg of the tour in April, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

The funniest thing, though, was that, after each night's appearance, my e-mail inbox and Facebook message box would have five or six items from people who had been to the show. Fan mail, really, about how good the reading was or how they were glad to have met me or the impact that listening to my band's records had on their life.

At the same time, each day I was out, I also received mail from Niagara Falls. Actually, it wasn't just mail, it was hate mail.

One guy was going to sue me, he said. Another sent an article from the Buffalo News to illustrate how responsible journalists -- unlike me -- handled the Dr. Pravin Mehta story. Still others bitched generally about the paper, my music, me personally, or my friend and colleague Frank Parlato.

It made me think once again how different Niagara Falls is from the rest of the country.

And not in a good way.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com March 8, 2011