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"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." -- H.L. Mencken

On the heels of his squeaker re-election victory, Mayor Paul Dyster last week got down to the serious business of governing our fair city.

Did he take a bite out of crime?

No, at least not according to the 45-year-old man who was pistol-whipped and shot in the leg by two attackers on Niagara Avenue Thursday night. In fact, even the police aren't safe from the city's massive criminal element, as evidenced by the fact that two men were arraigned in court last week for twice burglarizing the home of one of the NFPD's finest and stealing all his guns.

Likewise, the mayor wasn't working on reducing the tax burden on the city's beleaguered homeowners, who pay the highest property taxes in relation to value of anyone in the entire country. Actually, the city council reduced Dyster's proposed tax increase, partly by cutting the salaries of City Administrator Donna Owens and Engineer Jeffrey Skurka by $20,000 apiece.

The mayor argued that Owens' $100,000 salary was completely in line with salaries of other top government officials in Western New York, despite the fact that Owens makes more than the mayor of Buffalo or the Erie County executive.

Unanimously, the city council disagreed, and cut Owens' salary by $20,000. They cut Skurka's $96,000 salary by the same amount, and Dyster's proposed tax increase was slightly reduced.

So if he wasn't working on fighting crime or reducing taxes, what exactly was it that captured the mayor's attention this past week? Promoting rock concerts, of course! Niagara Falls is the only place in the universe where the municipality pays to stage rock concerts. Everywhere else -- North Tonawanda and Lockport being just two examples -- a promoter pays the city for the privilege of putting on concerts.

The lucrative concessions for beer, soda pop, hot dogs and other supplies rake in more than enough to pay the city and the bands, leaving enough for the promoter to write himself a check.

Last week, Dyster, USA Niagara President Chris Schoepflin and project manager Paul Tronolone -- who collectively have never produced a single private sector job here or anyplace else -- spent a day with representatives of a company called Live Nation, which promotes large-scale concerts around the world.

Presumably, the Live Nation folks heard about a crazy mayor using tax money to pay promoters like the Hard Rock Cafe to do what they do for a living anyway and wanted a piece of the action.

"I had the impression that they were intrigued by what they saw happening," our rock and roll mayor said.

Everybody else had the impression he had rocks in his head.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Nov. 22, 2011