Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Code Enforcement Department Director Dennis Virtuoso spent much of the past week flapping their jaws and telling every person they could find with access to a notebook and a pen or a television camera about how they were going to sue the Niagara Falls Reporter.
Their media blitz was so intense that any number of Reporter readers wrote in to say they wished the two men devoted such energy to cleaning up the city's blighted neighborhoods, creating jobs and making the streets safe for the honest citizenry.
Like a couple of clowns sent to amuse us, they denied charges they said were made in the paper but in fact were not. Nowhere, in any article, did anyone say Dyster and Virtuoso themselves were the subject of any sort of investigation.
Their motives are strictly political. Clearly, they are looking to cripple the Reporter early on in the runup to the November election. Dyster is running against a strong field in the September primary, and the winner of that contest will face school board member Johnny Destino in the general election. Virtuoso is hoping to retain his seat in the county Legislature.
Did a company called Regional Environmental Demolition (RED) get eight out of 10 emergency demolition contracts between August 2010 and March of this year? Was one of the company's owners named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal racketeering investigation? Was the company's other owner the target of four city police arrest warrants as recently as two weeks ago? Was Virtuoso in charge of the bidding process and did his son once work for RED?
The answer to all those questions is yes.
Dyster's crucifixion of former building commissioner Guy Bax is telling. The mayor needed to get rid of the sometimes prickly Bax in order to elevate Virtuoso as head of the Code Enforcement Department. He did this by cooking up a phony "investigation," and Bax -- who had never been arrested or even suspected of anything during the more than 30 years he worked for the city -- was suspended from his job.
To date, no charges have been filed in the case.
At the time, Dyster claimed he was eliminating corruption at City Hall. He would not stand for even the vaguest whiff of impropriety as long as he was on the job, he said.
Now he defends the inordinate amount of business being handed to Regional Environmental Demolition, a company headed by two individuals who make Bax look like an altar boy -- which, incidentally, he was.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||May 17, 2011|