It was the best of days, it was the worst of days.
For Mayor Paul Dyster, Saturday, July 2, was likely one of the most memorable of his soon-to-end political career. It started off with the man he appointed to head up the controversial landlord-licensing program, Randy Ubriaco, muscling his way past a city parking lot attendant, and ended with an estimated 1,200 people rioting and shooting up North Main Street, the revitalization of which has been the centerpiece of Dyster's first term in office.
Ubriaco -- who once sent the Niagara Falls Reporter an e-mail that said if anything happened to him we should launch an investigation into former city councilman and one-time mayoral candidate Babe Rotella -- thinks he's a big shot. Dyster appointed him for reasons God only knows to the $11-an-hour position of landlord-licensing clerk back in April.
That Saturday night, Ubriaco and some drinking buddies showed up at the municipal lot across from the ramp on Third Street in order to attend a Dyster-sponsored performance by an obscure Canadian rock act from the early 1990s called Our Lady Peace at the Hard Rock Cafe. When the attendant tried to do his job and collect the $10 parking fee, Ubriaco laughed in his face.
"Don't you know who I am?" he said.
We would have answered, yes, you are some sorry-ass loser who makes $11 an hour based on your scary political connections.
In any event, Ubriaco brushed by the attendant, in order to show his big-shottedness to his pals.
The concert began grimly. According to numerous witnesses, Dyster was booed off the stage while attempting to introduce the group. But what's past is prologue, as the Bard once said.
Because, after the Hard Rock show had ended, the real show began. At the Rapids Theatre on North Main Street, a private party hosted by city Councilman Charles Walker's son, Charles Walker Jr., degenerated into a melee that required city police to call in the state police, the sheriff's department and, oddly, the cops from the Batavia police department to quell.
Soon, people were going to the hospital for treatment of knife wounds and such, and terrified residents cowered in their homes as celebratory gunfire erupted.
Mayor Dyster, who has all but taken complete responsibility for the reopening of the Rapids, was presumably at home, in bed.
So you've got a city official who thinks he doesn't have to pay the fee all the rest of us have to at a municipal parking lot, the mayor being greeted by boos and catcalls at a public event, and a wild shootout in a Fort Apache neighborhood that Dyster has hailed as being revitalized, whatever the hell that means, all in one night.
Yes. It was the best of days, it was the worst of days.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||July 12, 2011|