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By Mike Hudson

On Page 12 of this week's paper, you'll see a photo of the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate for the 5th District County Legislature seat, Jason Zona, in a bar somewhere drinking a beer and giving the finger to whomever it was who was taking his picture.

Under normal circumstances, the Niagara Falls Reporter wouldn't have run a picture like that. After all, Zona, a city firefighter, wasn't on the clock at the time the picture was taken, he wasn't on public property and he's never claimed to be in opposition to partying it up.

The reason we made the decision to publish the photo is because Zona showed some incredibly poor judgment by posting the picture on his own Facebook page.

Facebook's a great thing. They made a movie about it called "The Social Network" that was a big hit. I use it myself to promote this newspaper, my books, records and other activities. A large percentage of the people who turned out on the recent book tour I did with Bob Pfeifer, Cheetah Chrome and David Thomas did so because we all promoted our appearances heavily on Facebook.

I like it because it enables one to see how popular they are in relation to others. Right now, for example, I've got 2,497 Facebook "friends" compared to Mayor Paul Dyster's 1,911 and Francine Del Monte's 613.

The delusional Dem Monte still claims to be a member of the New York State Assembly on her Facebook page, which she otherwise updates on a regular basis. She, of course, was beat like a rug John Accardo in last September's Democratic primary, stayed in the race on a minor party line and singlehandedly turned her old seat over to Republican Jon Ceretto in the general election.

But back to young Jason Zona. If there's one thing we've got an abundance of here in Niagara Falls, it's elected and appointed officials using bad judgment.

Dyster's bad judgment has led to Lewiston Road being closed for two years with no sign of reopening any time soon; Del Monte's bad judgment cost the Democrats an Assembly seat they've held for most of the past 30 years; and godawful judgment on the part of former mayor Vince Anello earned him a trip to federal prison.

Zona's decision to post a picture of himself behaving badly on the Internet -- it's since been taken down -- shows an incredible lack of judgment that will only benefit his primary opponent, the plucky 18-year-old Brittany Catchpole.

There's an old episode from the original "Twilight Zone" series where the sun is getting closer to the earth, people are living in sweat-soaked misery, fighting each other over bottles of water, and dying of heatstroke.

But there's a twist ending. It was all just a dream! The woman who dreamed it wakes up, and the reality is that the sun is actually getting farther away from the earth, and outside there is a constant blizzard, it's dark all the time and people are freezing to death.

I've been in the Falls 13 years now and have come to feel like a character in that "Twilight Zone" episode every year.

Record snowfalls in the winter followed by record rainfall in the spring followed by record heat in the summer, and then back to record cold.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I've about had it.

They closed down the library again last week after the air-conditioning system, installed by the mayor's Department of Public Works, broke down. When temperatures inside the sweltering facility reached 92 degrees, the decision was made to close it.

The library has been closed in each of Dyster's four years in office. One would think they could fix it correctly. Despite the lip service he pays to education and the arts, he has presided over unprecedented cutbacks at the library, which for many here, is their only access to books, periodicals and the Internet.

Dyster's slash-and-burn library policies resulted in the resignation of former librarian Betty Babanoury, who told me that working with him was the most unpleasant experience of her 15-year career.

Prior to taking office, Dyster was a big supporter of libraries here. Shortly after his election in November 2007, he discussed the matter in an interview with the Buffalo News.

"Cities have responsibilities to fund libraries, and you can't foist that off on anyone else," he said. "It's one of the core missions of a city. It's why we have cities."

Since becoming mayor, however, Dyster has become less concerned about "core missions," as mega-projects like a $40 million train station, a $117 million experience center and the untold million-dollar reconfiguration of the Robert Moses Parkway have come to dominate his thinking.

None of the spectacular projects he's unveiled -- the experience center, the train station, the Underground Railroad museum or the Parkway project -- have come to fruition during his four years in office.

And the condition of the city's infrastructure -- the streets, water and sewer lines, and the library, among other things -- have all noticeably declined.

How long will we let this madness continue?

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 26, 2011