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By Mike Hudson

The Niagara Falls Democratic Committee, now being run by Lewiston resident and former Albany hack Francine Del Monte, shot itself in the foot by refusing to endorse popular City Councilman Bob Anderson in the fall election. Del Monte was furious when he said he would not sign a pledge to work for the re-election of Mayor Paul Dyster.

Anderson is that rarest of birds, a black politician who does not depend exclusively on the black vote. During his two previous campaigns, he received as many if not more votes in LaSalle, Cayuga Island and DeVeaux as he did in the North End or near East Side neighborhoods.

He'll be running on the Republican, Democratic, Working Families and possibly the Independence tickets in the September primary, and will likely be the top vote-getter in the Council races. Along with former councilman Glenn Choolokian -- whom the Dems also refused to endorse -- Anderson will peel votes away from Dyster, much to the benefit of his primary opponent, John Accardo.

Dyster and Del Monte picked a pair of inexperienced nobodies to run on the Democratic ticket, a boy and a girl so lacking in name recognition that I'm not going to help them by printing their names here.

Neither will draw any significant numbers to the mayoral ticket, but the choices were in keeping with Dyster's disastrous personnel record, one in which he's installed any number of know-nothings as puppets to head up important city departments. This allows him, his campaign manager Craig Touma and failed city Planning Director Tom DeSantis to call the shots across the board.

Interestingly, back in 2008, Anderson led the City Council majority in an effort to fire DeSantis, based on the fact that he's worked in the Planning Department for 30 years to no perceivable result. The move was blocked by a Dyster veto.

If Dyster survives the primary, which at this point is a 50-50 proposition, he will go into the general election as the titular head of a badly fractured Democratic Party and face a formidable GOP candidate in Johnny Destino.

And it's nobody's fault but his.

Look for the administration to revive plans to pave over Jayne Park on Cayuga Island, perhaps as soon as this week's City Council meeting. The plan was dropped early in 2010 in the face of overwhelming opposition from Cayuga Island residents.

Since Dyster's plan -- which included a large parking lot, a basketball court, public lavatories and a boat launch ramp -- failed, the city's Department of Public Works has all but ignored the park, allowing the grass to grow a foot high and not picking up accumulated litter.

Jayne Park is a pastoral, 20-acre preserve where kids have played baseball and many species of migratory birds have found sanctuary since its dedication more than 70 years ago. It's located in the center of the Audubon Flyway, and the marsh there provides habitat for several rare species.

Patricia M. Eckel, a scientist with the prestigious Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, wrote of Jayne Park's environmental importance in a scholarly 2003 paper. She found "significant biocultural assets that deserve monitoring, invasive species removal and stewardship."

City Hall sources told the Niagara Falls Reporter that Councilman Sam Fruscione -- who opposed the plan originally -- may now go along with the Dyster proposal.

$110,000 will be given to the cops for overtime to fight crime on Pine Avenue. Fruscione set this up with Dyster and police Superintendent John Chella. The Pine Avenue Business Association, which represents the merchants in Fruscione's Little Italy base, has put considerable pressure on him to do something about the crime.

Is it possible that Fruscione had to sell a couple of votes to the mayor in order to get the funding?

Remember awhile back, when the 21-year-old daughter of a Republican North Tonawanda alderwoman was arrested on a drunk-driving charge? You ought to -- it stayed in the headlines of the Niagara Gazette, Buffalo News and Tonawanda News for weeks.

After the case was plea bargained, county Legislator Dennis Virtuoso called for an investigation by the state Attorney General's office. He and other Democrats tried desperately and with no success whatsoever to link state Republican Sen. George Maziarz to the case.

The story made the rounds, Virtuoso appeared on television a couple of times, and then, after about a month of intense media coverage, the whole thing died down and was forgotten.

Which made me wonder why the drunk-driving arrest of John Tylec received no mention whatsoever in the media. Tylec is a former chairman of the county Legislature and now works as director of personnel for the North Tonawanda City School District. By any measure, he is far more of a public figure than the young daughter of a small-town alderwoman, yet there has been no mention of the case, not even a routine police report, in any of the above-named newspapers. The television stations also ignored the incident and, thus far, Virtuoso hasn't called for any sort of investigation.

Could the fact that the North Tonawanda alderwoman is a Republican while Tylec is a staunch Democrat have anything to do with it?

No, that couldn't be.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com May 31, 2011