Dyster’s Hand-Picked Successor: Seth Piccirillo Represents the Dyster Ideals

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Mayor Paul Dyster and current Mayoral Candidate Seth Piccirillo during Dyster’s most recent re-election campaign


Dyster’s Hand-Picked Successor: Seth Piccirillo Represents the Dyster Ideals

Frivolous – Extravagant – Harebrained

By: Frank Parlato

Seth Piccirillo is the handpicked successor of Mayor Paul Dyster.

Dyster chose him as a director of community development and later as acting director of code enforcement. Dyster brought him to City Hall.

Voters who think Dyster has been good for the city, will want to vote for Seth Piccirillo.

There are some who think Dyster hasn’t done a good job. 

In making this assessment, perhaps the most persuasive thing was that Dyster had more than $200 million paid to the city by the Seneca Nation of Indians as part of their Casino Compact.

He had discretion on how casino money was spent. Nearly a quarter billion dollars was put into his hands to develop and build the city, about $20 million per year.

Certainly no mayor of such a small city as Niagara Falls is ever had this kind of cash infusion to spend at his discretion. Where did it go?

Huge Deficit

Keep in mind the city has a deficit now of $12 million per year. By deficit, I mean, the taxes the city takes in is $12 million less than what it takes to run city government.

During the administration of Mayor Vince Anello there was a surplus; more money on hand than what it took to run the government. During Dyster’s administration, spending went up, even adjusting for inflation. Dyster was generous with taxpayers’ money – and, as he spent $200 million in casino money on various projects and boondoggles, he was spending taxpayers money in the general budget – raising salaries, giving handouts to developers, and friends, campaign supporters and not-for-profits with board members who vote. [He was elected three times].


Mayor Paul Dyster has hand-picked Piccirillo as his successor dating back to the time he was hired.


Maybe it was well intended – but what was the result? Niagara Falls has a $12 million a year deficit, and $200 million of casino cash is gone. 

Dyster took spending to new levels. In one of the poorest cities in America – people who work at city hall started getting $100,000 per year salaries  He wanted the best and brightest. Did we get the best?  Not judging from the results.

Spendthrift Mayor

He is a spendthrift mayor – who spent taxpayers’ money fast and loose – without regard to how hard it is to make money to pay taxes, that taxes come from the toil of people – not from thin air. The more money Dyster spent, the poorer the city became.

Faced with the day of reckoning – a budget $12 million more in expenses than income, Dyster never made cuts in spending. 

I suppose Dyster knows that if the city goes bankrupt, a control board will be imposed by the state and decisions about spending will be up to the control board. They’ll force the city to do what Dyster did not, something that must be done: cut expenses.

When you think about this $12 million deficit Dyster brought to the city, it may help you decide whether you want Piccirillo as your next mayor. You might opt for something different; his opponent, Robert Restaino.  For Democrats, the choice will be made on June 25. That’s the date the primary occurs. It used to be in September. Now it’s June. If you want to choose Piccirillo or Restaino, you need to go to the polls on Tuesday, June 25.

Dyster Fumbles on Seneca Renewal

One of the remarkable things Dyster failed to do  – an extraordinary blunder – was he failed to oversee negotiations with the Senecas when it came time to renew their compact.

When the compact expired on their tax-free 50 acres in downtown Niagara Falls – where they can operate based on the notion that one race should have preference over others – and they were given the right to operate a tax free casino where they pay no state, county or city taxes on any businesses they chose to operate – restaurants, gas stations, stores – in direct competition with US owned taxpaying businesses in Niagara Falls – Dyster failed to make sure the Senecas paid something for this advantage.

He blew his own $20 million per year casino money by failing to pay attention.

The Senecas had been paying a percentage of slot machine revenue to the state and out of what they paid the state, Niagara Falls got about $20 million a year.

whether it was corruption or stupidity – when the governor renewed the Seneca compact – he forgot to put in any payments from the Senecas to the state or Niagara Falls.

The governor made the blunder. Dyster, who is in charge of the city, did not bother to ensure that his city got their share of casino money. The Senecas got their 50 acres rent and tax free.

In any other world – where people are held accountable – Cuomo and Dyster would have been fired.  But nobody here cares or understood the incompetence – which is why a world-famous city with a world-famous waterfalls and the greatest natural hydropower in the world is broke.

Dyster let $20 million a year go out the window. We have a $12 million a year deficit and no one has answers.

Piccirillo Has a Notion

Our erstwhile mayor, Seth Piccirillo says he has answers. He wants to reassess every property in Niagara Falls. He says it will reduce taxes for people paying too much and raise taxes on those paying too little.

His reassessment plan is hazy. Nobody knows, including him, how his tax reassessment is going to work.   In general terms, he says he is going to tax land at a higher rate and structures on the land [houses, buildings, etc.] at a lower rate. This will create disparities;  some of the most expensive properties are on comparatively smaller lots and therefore will pay lower taxes – for land will be taxed more than buildings.

If you vote for Seth, and he is elected, you won’t know what your taxes are going to be in the future. It’s going to be reassessed but not based on market value.  He is not proposing lowering taxes, just changing the amount everyone is assessed at. Some will pay more, some will pay less.  A vote for Seth means you won’t know what your taxes are going to be in the future.

I doubt Piccirillo’s reassessment plan will work. It’s frivolous, and, if you will pardon the expression, rather Dysteresque.


The first house Seth Piccirillo renovated fell down. Fortunately no one was in the home at the time.


More Hare Brained Notions

As Seth talks about changing the way property taxes are assessed, but can’t give exact figures, one might care to consider he’s the same guy who painted fire hydrants into leprechauns and dalmatians and never realized the fire department paint hydrants yellow or red for a reason.

He painted broken down, vacant, windowless houses with rainbow colors. He thought it would make a dilapidated city look cheerful instead of drawing attention to the blight.

He had a notion he would pay people to live in the city. In most cities people pay to get there. But Seth came up with a taxpayer-funded scheme – to be the only city in America to pay people to live here.  He wanted to give them $350 a month if they came and lived in certain neighborhoods and were college grads. It got media attention all over the world. It sounded great. What a novel idea. One side effect was that in every media report they added that Niagara Falls was such a broken down, rundown city that nobody wanted to live here – unless they were paid.



The media showed more pictures of rundown properties than they showed of Seth himself. He got Niagara Falls a million dollars worth of bad publicity. 

And after the great press Seth got, there was no follow up [except in the Reporter] to report that the plan never worked. Nobody – even for $350 a month – wanted to come live here.

But hundreds of people moved out of Niagara Falls.   When Dyster got here, it was estimated there was about 51,000 people. Now it is about 47,000 people or less.

Fire Station Should Have Been Torn Down

Seth wanted to fix an old fire station on College Street, an old brick building not worth fixing. Everyone knew it; building inspectors told Seth it will cost more to fix than it would take to tear it down and build a brand new building three times the size.

Seth wanted to do it. It’s not clear why. He got $500,000 and tried to fix the roof, only to find the walls were collapsing. The building is still vacant after years, and far more than $500,000 was spent.

It’s not the end of the world for a city to waste money on a roof of a building that should have been demolished. It just shows the way they do things, Dyster and Piccirillo. 

Dyster spent $200 million of casino money on all kinds of notions from Hard Rock concerts [that he emceed] to a Holiday Market no one attended. It isn’t the $500,000 for the Holiday Market or $700,000 for Hard Rock concerts or $500,000 for a roof on a building that was falling down. It’s the way they do things. 

A House Collapses 

Seth spent a lot of money on his Isaiah 61 project which was so dishonest that it is matter for another story.  On one house he was trying to fix, he took the beams out in the attic. Thankfully when the house collapsed it did not fall on anyone inside.

Project after project have been failures. Some reek of possible integrity issues such as how 424 Memorial Parkway was supposed to go to the city but wound up in the hands of a supporter. 

Maybe it was just self-serving incompetence.

Seth now wants a brand new kind of tax reassessment where nobody actually knows what’s going to happen with their taxes.   It’s another notion.

It doesn’t matter for no one will hold him accountable anyway.

For all his adult life, Seth has had no accountability. He lives off taxpayer money. He’s never worked in the private sector. He worked for Assembly member Francine Delmonte and NFTA. Then he got appointed by Dyster to a $100,000 plus job [counting benefits] in a city where the average income is about $25,000 per year.

I doubt he could earn much in the private sector.

Dyster’s Legacy

Never was there a greater disparity between the governed and government. Those who govern make more money by far than those governed. It’s unique, because in most places, government workers are public servants. They’re not supposed to make the highest salaries, [They often have the best pensions, and the shortest hours] but they usually do not make far more than the average worker in the private sector and they did not until Dyster raised city hall salaries.

Niagara Falls has one of the most expensive governments of any city its size in America.

It helps Seth. Everyone who votes for higher pay at City Hall – and their families – want him elected to make sure [at least until the control board comes and fires half of them] that there are no cuts in salaries, only raises. Seth can be depended on not to cut expenses, even if there is a $12 million deficit.

People who might benefit by a change from incompetence and frivolity and special interests  – to common sense and practical government [which Restaino, in my opinion, represents] may not vote on June 25.

So Piccirillo has an advantage. His voters – though in the minority – know to vote.  The majority won’t; only 10 percent of registered voters are expected to vote in the June 25 primary.

Moving Away from Dyster-Piccirillo

Should you want something different, something to change from where we’ve been to where we might be – a city that could be prosperous and ought to be prosperous, considering it has tourism and hydropower but is not prosperous – you might want to think about voting June 25.

I can assure you the Dyster people will be rushing to the polls to vote for Seth Piccirillo.


**attorney advertising**

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