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It just doesn't add up. Why would someone with a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, who claims to have been an "arms negotiator" with the U.S. State Department and a "professor" at American University, return to Niagara Falls to open a beer-making supply store?

Was it an altruistic desire to come home and pitch in to make life better for residents in his hometown? Or did it have more to do with financial difficulties that only a close proximity to his well-to-do family could alleviate?

When Mayor Paul Dyster first took office more than three years ago, he immediately had access to more than $1 million put up by an anonymous group of backers that would allow him to hire the "best and the brightest" department heads available anywhere in the country to assist him in running the city.

Even today, he maintains the fiction that he has no idea who wanted to give him a million dollars. In any event, the City Council, still reeling from a four-year fiduciary scandal that brought the FBI to City Hall and ended only when Dyster's predecessor, former mayor Vince Anello, went to prison a few weeks ago, nixed the plan.

City taxpayers were left to pick up the inflated salaries. Currently, absentee City Administrator Donna Owens makes more than Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, longtime state Sen. George Maziarz or Erie County Executive Chris Collins.

To date, no one has questioned Dyster's resume, taking at face value the things he's said about his educational and professional background. Beyond his word, we have no way of knowing whether he was an arms negotiator or a professor or anything else.

In the coming weeks and months, the Niagara Falls Reporter will launch a full investigation of Dyster's claims. We will travel to American University in Washington, D.C., to find out whether he was a professor or a teaching assistant or simply drove by the place one afternoon.

We have already submitted federal Freedom of Information Act requests to determine whether he actually was an arms negotiator or was the kid who got coffee for the arms negotiators.

We will attempt to find out why, if what he claims about his background is true, he returned to Niagara Falls to try and eke out a living selling hops and barley.

Because, quite frankly, we don't believe a word he says.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com March 8, 2011