Mayor Dyster Talks For 90 Minutes Says Absolutely Nothing At All

Mayor Paul Dyster spent more than $700,000 of public money on a series of Hard Rock concerts. Happily, he got to emcee many of those concerts.

Mayor Paul Dyster spent more than $700,000 of public money on a series of Hard Rock concerts. Happily, he got to emcee many of those concerts.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster is a man of many unique abilities. Just this past Monday, for example, he spoke before the city Council for an hour and a half without saying anything at all.

“It really was astounding,” said one awestruck witness. “He just went on and on!”

Ostensibly, the mayor’s stem winding oratory was supposed to be a presentation of his 2016 casino spending plan, a strategy recommended by the city Council, city Comptroller Maria Brown and the Niagara Falls Financial Advisory Panel.

Last month, the Council formally asked Dyster to make the presentation in a measure that passed 5-0.

Dyster began with an interminable history of casino spending in the city. He failed to note that, after spending nearly $200 million in casino cash on what were supposed to represent “economic development” projects, not one well-paying private sector job has been created here, and apparently forgot to mention the insanely expensive Hard Rock Café concert series, the disastrous Holiday Market or the completely failed Isaiah 61 Project (See related story) as examples of his sound fiscal policies regarding the casino cash.

He did allude multiple times to the further need to approach New York’s executive branch to appeal for more local casino dollars, though when Republican state Sen. Rob Ortt proposed exactly that a few months ago, the mayor was mute on the matter.

After delivering his sanitized history of casino cash spending, Dyster made sure that the Council members understood that anything he said was non-binding, legally and administratively. Dyster characterized it as an unapproved “draft executive item,”

Rather than a list of future projects and dollar figures, as the Council the Financial Advisory Panel and the city Comptroller’s office had asked for, Dyster offered a vague set of “decision criteria” that he claimed would be used to evaluate the potential future uses of casino funds.

Councilman Charles Walker, normally a staunch supporter of the mayor, questioned Dyster on the complete lack of specifics. Dyster hemmed and hawed. He couldn’t tell the Council what he was going to do with the money, he said, because he didn’t even know how much money there was going to be.

He stopped just short of saying the dog ate his homework.

“We still don’t have a plan.” Walker said. Without itemized figures, “like we do in our regular city budget,” the presentation was meaningless, he added.

Dyster will never tell the Council or anyone else what he is going with the casino money in advance. It would cramp his style. If he set out a budget for the spending at the beginning of the year as the city does with the general budget, he couldn’t toss money at the Aquarium of Niagara for new penguin habitat or Community Missions because they got behind in their taxes.

He couldn’t play the big shot at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center’s Art of Beer festival or at the Niagara Blues Fest.

Because for Dyster, spending the casino cash seems largely to be about ego gratification, a topic that – to him – is not open to discussion.

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