By Ken Cosentino
Mayor Restaino’s Fragile Ego
The Niagara Falls City School District defines bullying as “a variety of negative acts carried out repeatedly over time. It involves a real or perceived imbalance of power, with a more powerful child or group attacking those who are less powerful.”
Mayor Robert Restaino fits this definition of a bully. Just ask former Niagara Falls City Councilmember Bill Kennedy, an active member of the Democratic Committee. Recently, Kennedy put a campaign sign for Glen Choolokian on his front lawn. It wasn’t long before a member of the Committee confronted him about the sign.
Says Kennedy, “The mayor’s ego is so fragile that he’s concerned about me, and concerned about the sign I put on my lawn. Restaino reached out to a member of the Democratic Committee to see if I was still a committee member, and he told that person the Committee should ‘get their committee members in check’ because I didn’t have his sign on my lawn.”
Accused of Violating School District’s Anti-Bullying Policies
Continues Kennedy, “Someone took a picture of Choolokian’s sign on my lawn and sent it to the mayor. He forwarded it to the Committee and asked questions about me. He’s worried about my one vote – it just shows you how egotistical he really is.”
Robert Restaino, who once held the position of President of the Board of Education in the City of Niagara Falls, should be familiar with the school district’s policies on bullying.
According to the school district’s policy #7552, “Bullying: Peer Abuse In Schools,” bullying can take three forms: Physical (including, but not limited to, hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing, taking personal belongings); b) Verbal (including, but not limited to, taunting, malicious teasing, name calling, making threats); and c) Psychological (including, but not limited to, spreading rumors; manipulating social relationships; or engaging in social exclusion, extortion, or intimidation).
Regarding alleged verbal abuse by Mayor Restaino, Kennedy says, “He’s talked down to numerous people in front of me at city hall during my time as a City Councilman. He tried doing the same thing to me, but I wasn’t having that. We got into a big argument in the mayor’s office with my colleagues there. The guy is not in touch with reality.”
Candidate Demetreus Nix: Restaino’s Psychological Abuse; Misuse of Law Enforcement
As for psychological abuse, mayoral candidate Demetreus Nix spoke out about his ongoing feud with Restaino. Last week, a group of 30 police officers, DEC agents, DPW, and other city employees showed up at Nix’s Black Wallstreet property on Hyde Park Boulevard.
Nix was told the group was there to check his property for asbestos. Nix recently purchased the property, which came littered with junk piles. He has been cleaning it in his spare time.
Nix says the group opened his garage doors and rifled through his belongings without a warrant. He captured the incident on video and posted it on social media.
They quickly began exiting when he informed the officers and agents that they had no right to be on his property.
Says Nix, “I know the mayor’s office called them, the Gazette confirmed it. When I arrived, there were a large group of cops, DPW, DEC and city workers on my property at Black Wall Street. DPW had no business being there, but they were running the whole show. The last words that the DEC agent said before leaving was ‘well, then we’ll just get a warrant and do it the right way,’ and they came back on Tuesday. My property was completely clean by Tuesday.”
Nix says his voting base felt intimidated by the mayor’s law enforcement use.
Says Nix, “Every older black community leader that signed my petition for the Independent Party told me the mayor said something about going against him. I’ve talked to city workers. They’re all scared he’s keeping a list of their names. If you don’t agree with him, he’s coming for you. It doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong – you’re either with him or against him, and he’s the one in power.”
Nix continued, “One black elder came to me and said ‘let me see the petition I signed, let me see it.’ I gave it to him and he said ‘I gotta get my name off there right now!’ That’s how I found out. It’s an abuse of power.”
Nix alleges the mayor psychologically abuses the black community.
Says Nix, “One of my friends who owns a smoke shop, he supported me and he’s had my back. He just called me and said he doesn’t know if he wants to support me, because he’s afraid the mayor will use the cops to intimidate him and his business. The mayor is scaring my people.”
Accusations of Choking Incidents
Former City Councilmember Bill Kennedy says, “The mayor is absolutely a bully. He whines and complains until he gets what he wants. He uses intimidation tactics and ultimatums to push along his agenda and feed his ego.”
The third form of bullying described by the city school district involves physical abuse. Kennedy and others (who wish to remain anonymous) have come forward regarding rumors and allegations that Mayor Robert Restaino allegedly choked someone at a bowling alley and allegedly choked someone else at a baseball game.
Says Kennedy, “I have heard about the mayor choking a person at the bowling alley. I’ve heard he’s been banned from numerous softball leagues because of his attitude. He was obviously stripped of being a judge because of his abuse of power. He has taken that mentality to the mayor position of the city of Niagara Falls, abusing things left and right.”
To reiterate, the definition of a bully, as stated by the city school district, is “a variety of negative acts carried out repeatedly over time. It involves a real or perceived imbalance of power, with a more powerful child or group attacking those less powerful.”
Councilmember Donta Myles and former Councilmember Kennedy have gone on the record, confirming hostile acts by the mayor during his reign, actions which involve real (or perceived) imbalances of power, with the mayor in the position of power allegedly attacking those (such as Nix) who are seemingly less powerful.
By definition, Mayor Robert Restaino is a bully.
Defrocked as Judge for Bullying
Mayor Restaino was formerly a judge
Restaino’s most infamous bullying incident happened in 2006 when he arrested an entire courtroom of 45 people after he thought he heard a cell phone ringing.
In their official determination disbarring Judge Robert Restaino, the Commission on Judicial Conduct for the State of New York said Restaino “became a petty tyrant, abusing judicial power and placing himself above the law he was sworn to administer.”
Restaino verbally and psychologically abused about four dozen people in his courtroom utilizing security to block the door so nobody could leave.
The commission found this was “an excessive response to the ringing phone, since it affected scores of people who had done nothing wrong.”
The Commission on Judicial Conduct found Restaino unfit to be a judge.
One after another, defendants begged Restaino not to put them in jail. One defendant claimed he would be fired from his new job and couldn’t afford $1,000 bail; another said they had to pick up their little girl from school.
Restaino showed a complete lack of empathy, choosing instead to be a bully.
Despite no wrongdoing, Judge Restaino forced 32 defendants to post bail; 14 others could not afford bail, so they were shackled, wrongfully, and taken to county jail.
This was not a spur-of-the-moment, knee-jerk decision; this incident lasted more than two hours.
The official determination states, “We reject the… argument that [Restaino’s] conduct was part of a… single episode of poor judgment. Rather, it was a painfully prolonged series of acts over several hours that transcended poor judgment.”
Based upon his own words and actions, Restaino has proven he should not be in any position of power, whether judge or mayor.
The commission found Restaino “violated the trust of the defendants and of the public at large.”
The commission also stated Restaino’s “conduct was injurious not only to the defendants themselves, but to the public.”
It also stated, “It is also ironic that in repeatedly berating the ‘selfish’ and ‘self-absorbed’ individual who ‘put their interests above everybody else’s’ and ‘[doesn’t] care what happens to anybody,’ respondent (Restaino) failed to recognize that he was describing himself.”
This is our mayor, ladies and gentlemen.
The official determination also reads, “it is undisputed that he took no steps to arrange for the defendants’ release until he learned that the press was inquiring into his actions.”
Moreover, the commission added, “he has never apologized to the individuals who were deprived so unjustly of their liberty.”
Ultimately, the Judicial Committee found that “such a ‘breach of the public trust’ warrants the sanction of removal” even though “removal is not normally to be imposed for poor judgment, even extremely poor judgment.”
For more info on Restaino’s disgraceful behavior as judge see:
Mayor’s Actions Go Unchecked
The mayor has also exhibited at least two of three forms of bullying (it only takes one to be considered a bully) as described by the school district, with allegations of the third form (physical abuse). So why don’t we tolerate bullying in our schools, yet it’s accepted at city hall? According to Kennedy, “Restaino does not set a good example. He is definitely not a good role model. He abuses his power and he’s done that for every level of things that he’s done. He abused his power as a judge, everybody knows that.”
The Niagara Falls City School District has a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying.
Shouldn’t the city uphold a similar approach? If so, the mayor would face immediate consequences for his bullying tactics. As a local middle school teacher, former City Councilmember Bill Kennedy is all too familiar with bullying.
Says Kennedy, “The city of Niagara Falls would be a better place without a mayor that’s a bully. Him being a bully is absolutely terrible. It’s not good for the city, it’s not good for the community, it’s not good for children to look up to him just because he has a title. What I see on a daily basis with 7th and 8th graders is constant pushing until something happens. That’s exactly what the mayor does. If he likes you, it’s because you’re either helping his agenda or you like his ideas. If you stand up to him or you vote against his ideas – then you become his enemy and he has no use for you. What I see in the school is very similar to what Bob Restaino does to the city of Niagara Falls.”