Is Restaino’s Centennial Park Raising Cain in the Polls?

 With Crime So High, What Do We Have to Lose?

By Ken Hamilton

Niagara Falls, NY. What an unusual city we live in, especially when it comes to the dynamics surrounding its minority population.

Mayor Robert Restaino, a Democrat currently facing re-election in just 10 days, has accomplished something that the city hasn’t been seen in years – he has mobilized the city’s black population.

However, it’s not in the way he had hoped.

Mayor Robert Restaino has done something no Democrat has done in years.

The traditionally Democratic Black community is now moving away from supporting the Democratic Party and towards Republicans, particularly a Republican candidate who is like themselves and black.

Republican Mayoral Candidate Carl Cain will put tackling crime ahead of building event centers.

With crime rates soaring, it’s no wonder voters prioritize the party and the candidate they believe can effectively tackle this issue.

Truth be told, poor white people vote the same as poor black people. As a result, Restaino’s perfectly coiffed hair should turn white with worry.


With crime out of control, Mayor Restaino’s re-election campaign focuses on promises of building an event’s center, he calls Centennial Park.

He could lose his reelection bid as quickly as, well, mass incarceration over a ringing cell phone in court can put more than 40 innocent people in a cell.

Who would have thunk?

Restaino, a former judge, got so mad at the poor people in his courtroom after a cell phone went off, that he locked 40 innocent people up. For this, he got kicked off the bench, and then the people of Niagara Falls elected him as mayor.

While black preachers have long held sway over the black vote, Restaino’s problem is that he can’t count on them to marshal the black votes.

Unless there’s a high-profile shooting in the inner city on a Saturday night, church attendance on Sunday mornings is disappointingly low.

And even though, in Restaino’s Niagara Falls, there are plenty of shootings on Saturday nights (and every other night), there’s not that much church attendance going on anyway by those whom national surveys have declared the most religious group in all of America – black folks!

Restaino’s decision to divert HUD Community Block Grant Money to fund the Centennial Park Entertainment Center has sparked controversy.

One of the most significant political minds in the city told me long ago that Niagara Falls was one of the most Democratic cities in the state, but he didn’t stop there. He pointed out that Niagara County was at that time one of the most Democratic counties in the state. And if that wasn’t enough, he pointed out that the downtown Niagara Falls Black community is the most Democratic section of the city. That last part remains true. And yet today, only one in five councilpersons is a Democrat – a vocal but criticized one, one whom the Democratic Mayor Restaino can’t stand.

But as political parties run equally on special interest money and special yet-to-be-broken promises that will eventually break the populace, the question about a flip-flopping Restaino still stands: ‘Is he is, or is he ain’t’ going to take their HUD Community Block Grant Money to fund an unfunded and misnamed Centennial Park Entertainment Center, one which both poor whites and poor blacks will have to pay full price to attend, and both marginal black and white homeowners will have to subsidize with tax money.

“I have a dream,” Restaino says. “Centennial Park.”

Everyday citizens of every color and creed simply don’t trust what the mayor says. Those going to the polls are just as likely to vote for the black retired deputy police chief, Carl Cain, as for Restaino.

After all, in a city that has lost virtually everything, what is it that the voter has to lose?

Cartoon by Gerald Skrlin

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