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By Johnny G. Destino, Candidate for mayor of Niagara Falls

There has been much discussion of the proposed high-wire walk across Niagara Falls by Nik Wallenda. In fact, just the dialogue of the proposed walk has generated one of the most positive public relations stories to hit Niagara Falls in a long, long time.

In addition to the worldwide coverage that the Wallenda walk would bring to Niagara Falls, HBO's "Real Sports" already has filmed Nik in the Falls for a segment that will air on an upcoming show with Bryant Gumbel, and The Discovery Channel has committed to televising the walk worldwide.

This event will bring the type of publicity to Niagara Falls that we desperately need to revitalize our lagging tourism industry. Considering the fact that we are constantly bombarded with news about the lack of jobs and rising taxes, the positive news that the proposed walk has brought and will continue to bring to our city is a welcome change.

Sadly, our incumbent mayor, Paul Dyster, clearly is out of touch with the need to bolster our city. While the Wallenda walk has garnered a bevy of bipartisan support, Dyster has refused to offer any assistance or cooperation to the event, even refusing on multiple occasions to meet with Wallenda and his team to discuss the proposal.

Despite Dyster's unwillingness to support it, the walk passed the Republican Senate 62-0, passed the Democratic Assembly 149-1, and was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In addition, the walk has gained widespread community support, including support from the Niagara Falls City Council, the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp. and the Niagara Tourism Advisory Board. Still, Dyster sits on the sidelines while the world passes by.

In Niagara Falls, Ont., Mayor Jim Diodati, MPP Kim Craitor and the Canadian tourism industry are all in support of the Wallenda walk. In fact, Diodati recently stated, "We believe the impact will be enormous and the media coverage is miraculous. Anytime you can get this type of international media coverage, you've got to grab it."

Dyster is claiming that he has not been invited to participate in the process, yet his department heads were at the meeting at his direction. Then, when confronted with the inconsistencies in his recollection of events, Dyster backpedaled and stated that he had a scheduling conflict and could not attend. Which story are we to believe?

Given the current state of the economy in Niagara Falls, the mayor's waffling on this issue is even more disconcerting. We need a shot in the arm to bring people back to our city.

Dyster wants to use taxpayer funds to subsidize a concert series in Niagara Falls, but he opposes a private enterprise that is not asking for a cent in subsidies and is willing to reimburse the city for expenses incurred -- it doesn't make any sense.

Frankly, Dyster should be leading the charge on the Wallenda event for the betterment of our community. There is no gray area and there is no room for political posturing.

The reality is that Dyster has not supported the high wire walk because he believes it will give a boost to his political opponents. Now that Wallenda has an event, Dyster is trying to take credit. If he can't get it, he'll take his marbles and go home. It's unfortunate that he has put his political interests ahead of the betterment of this city. He should be the leading ambassador of this city for this world-renowned event.

The very future of our city is at stake.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Nov. 7, 2011