Niagara Falls City Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti found herself embroiled in another Facebook related controversy last week. After taking a hiatus from Facebook posting through the election season, presumably at the request of Mayor Paul Dyster who was running for reelection, she came back at full throttle, posting about abortion rights, lesbians and the fact that largely nude women walking down the street aren’t really “asking for it.”
While the Reporter cannot say that we agree with many of Ms. Grandinetti-as-women’s-rights-activist’s opinions, we admire her gutsy attitude of saying what she believes regardless of its popularity or political correctness. In many ways she is the most authentic of all local political officials.
This time, however, Grandinetti fired a shot directly across the bow of this newspaper. Last week, Niagara Falls Reporter writer Anna Howard questioned whether a Grandinetti-sponsored resolution honoring outgoing Buffalo Planned Parenthood director Karen Nelson was the best way for the Council to be spending its time in a city teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
She was saddened, she said.
“I’m saddened by the fact that this publication feels I can only focus on one thing at once,” Ms. Grandinetti wrote. “I’m saddened by the fact that because I want to honor someone who I’ve known for many years and who served my community and provided health care for my students and their families when no one else would that I am once again being called out on the carpet but it’s OK part of why I’m here is to stand up for the women and children of this community so I’ll take another hit.”
Ms. Grandinetti teaches kindergarten in the Niagara Falls City School District. How any of her students have had need of Planned Parenthood’s services is unknown. But granting her the benefit of the doubt, let us acknowledge that Planned Parenthood may have provided services to many of her students of the past and present and their families.
The bold council woman continued, referring to the Reporter: “Oh and PS I’ll save you the trouble of writing next week’s story. I pulled the proclamation myself because my colleagues just like this newspaper are unable to separate abortion with the 98 percent of the other things that Planned Parenthood does and I did not want to dishonor Ms. Nelson’s good name.”
Former state assemblyman and current regional president of Empire State Development, Sam Hoyt jumped to Grandinetti’s defense.
“Are you serious? who objected?” Hoyt asked. “You should have let them vote it down. Let those ignorant enough to think that Planned Parenthood is only about abortion explain their position on the record at the meeting. I suspect many of their constituents, women and men, have benefited from the health services provided by PP.”
Without naming names, except ours, Grandinetti explained her reasoning.
“Sam Hoyt, I didn’t want to embarrass Karen,” she wrote. “Thanks for your support. I guess people are cool with all the teenage pregnancies STDs and violent relationships that our kids are getting involved in because we want to spread false words about Planned Parenthood and refuse to educate our beautiful children and help them out of this cycle.”
The Reporter is prepared to agree with Grandinetti that Planned Parenthood does more than provide abortions. And while some of the services they provide may be of inestimable value to young people, some of it is not likely to win our approval in the near future. Planned Parenthood’s recent publication about how people with HIV should not be required to tell their sex partners about their contagious disease is one we find puzzling, for example.
Planned Parenthood’s publication, “Healthy, Happy and Hot” explains, “Some countries have laws that say people living with HIV must tell their sexual partner(s) about their status before having sex, even if they use condoms or only engage in sexual activity with a low risk of giving HIV to someone else. These laws violate the rights of people living with HIV by forcing them to disclose or face the possibility of criminal charges.”
However, Anna Howard’s article had nothing to do with abortion rights or the rights of people with contagious diseases to not tell people they might communicate those disease to about the fact that they have a contagious disease.
It was simply a matter of priorities.
“Ms. Grandinetti’s slim piece of lawmaking will recognize Karen Nelson, the outgoing CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central and WNY, at the February 8 council meeting as Ms. Nelson moves to the Maryland Planned Parenthood office,” Ms. Howard wrote.
“Surely Ms. Grandinetti is aware that that the administration has spent more than $100 million of taxpayer casino cash. A $44 million train station is coming on line soon that will be up the street from the Dyster administration’s $50 million courthouse. This paper has cataloged the many ways the administration has wasted the taxpayer casino funds: out of control public projects, high city hall salaries, outrageous overtime, consultants for every possible reason, lawyer fees through the proverbial roof, repeat loans and grants to favored businesses, trash totes at $2.3 million and – purchased for what was supposed to be decreased trash costs for city residents which instead increased costs and so on.
“Not a peep from the councilwoman on any of this,” Ms. Howard concluded.
Ms. Grandinetti’s Facebook page goes on to talk about the “War on Women,” America’s “Rape Culture” and numerous other sexual identity issues that have nothing to do with the dismal socio-economic conditions in the ever shrinking small city she was elected to lead.
While we applaud and support her sincere and outspoken efforts to right national and worldwide wrongs as she sees them, to question her priorities to us seems less an attack on civil rights than a simple inquiry that deserves a straight answer.
Why doesn’t Ms. Grandinetti focus the same zeal and energy she has for national and international women’s issues on local issues?
If she did, we might really see some progress around here.
Lastly, this publication, while it has criticized Ms. Grandinetti in the past, endorsed her for council chairman this year. We endorsed her not because she is a woman – and the men deprived her of it – but because we believe she is is the most authentic, most honest and least likely to perpetrate a deception on the people for the sake of politics. In short she is the least political of the three veteran council members up for the chairman’s position.
That’s our opinion and we stand by it. She should have been council chairwoman and she should not be crafting resolutions to honor relocating executive directors [even if it is of controversial and/or worthy organization] while the city is burning.