Mayor Restaino’s Disturbing Behavior and Political Pandering


Mayor Restaino has been handing out “candy,” but it’s not Halloween yet. It’s election season, and that candy is actually grant money.

This past week, Mayor Restaino announced that he was awarding $100,000 to Christ Redemption Tabernacle Church, located at 339 22nd Street.

While I have no personal quarrel with the church accepting our tax dollars to repair their roof, I do sincerely hope that Bishop Kevin Dobbs and his parish know that they’ve shaken hands with the devil. These types of Faustian agreements are all too common this time of year.

Mayor Restaino is running against two Black candidates, Carl Cain (Republican) and Demetreus Nix (WAWG). It’s no secret why Restaino has chosen to target the predominantly Black Christ Redemption Tabernacle Church.


While the so-called “Black Vote” is a misnomer (not all Black people vote alike), the reality is that Black voters do collectively hold the power in this mayoral election. In 2019, one very nice, elderly Black church goer once told me, “We like Restaino because he gives money to our church.” When I asked her if he ever attended their church prior to his first mayoral campaign, she shook her head and said “no, he hasn’t.”

Las Vegas headliner, comedian and Niagara Falls Native “Black” Ernie told the Reporter, “Niagara Falls is so small but the Black vote is powerful. The powerful Black vote is the deciding factor in local elections, I’ve noticed that for years. That’s why I was brought in to be a part of the mayor’s campaign in 2019, and in that election the Black vote determined who won.”

Black Ernie went on to say “I helped put Restaino office. I regret it big time, I wish I would have never helped him. It’s the worst vote I’ve ever cast… Robert Restaino doesn’t care about Black people. He doesn’t care about the North End. The only time he’s been visible on the North End was when Jesse Richardson passed. Now he’s only emerging because it’s election time.”

As Demetreus Nix has so acutely pointed out in the past, Robert Restaino is a former judge who was accustomed to putting Black people in jail. It’s possible that Restaino’s perspective was warped during all of his years of service. In fact, if his perspective was warped it would explain why he was disbenched by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct for abusing his power.


Bishop Kevin Dobbs and his associates did what they had to do to keep their mission alive. They’ve done nothing wrong by struggling for survival in the depths of a crime-ridden and impoverished city.

Yet I sincerely hope that they understand how their $100,000 award came from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a HUD program. Their roof repair is an example of CDBG funds being used for their intended purpose.

If this were Burger King and Mayor Robert Restaino could have it his way, CDBG funds will be diverted towards borrowing against a loan for Restaino’s legacy pursuit of Centennial Park. This action would effectively redirect money from lower income neighborhoods, which are predominantly Black, and towards a goal which may never be realized (since it’s not currently funded by the federal government or New York State).

Mayor Restaino’s proposal to use CDBG funds to borrow against a federal loan has been called unethical and has been scrutinized by hundreds of locals (most of whom are Black). If Restaino gets his way, his actions will harm marginalized groups the most. If these funds were taken from a demographic with more power and influence in our community, the idea wouldn’t even be considered. It’s easy to oppress the oppressed. Imagine if Restaino proposed using funds intended for the Niagara Falls Country Club to fund Centennial Park.

Since taking office, Mayor Restaino has suppressed the marginalized people’s voices time and time again. So consider his actions when you vote in this election. Restaino is a bully and his misuse of special meetings have effectively stopped the public from speaking on the record about important issues. Muting their voices has allowed Restaino to create an echo chamber for his proposals.

Former Restaino ally and comedian Black Ernie told the Reporter, “The Black community is so aware of Restaino’s antics as a former judge. They’re also aware of his dirty political tactics using special meetings. For Mayor Restaino, the Black vote is going to be very low this election. He feels threatened that Demetreus Nix is going to draw votes from him, but Nix is a real part of our community. He’s not just showing up to take photos with Black babies. Same goes for Cain and Choolokian. Nobody ever sees Restaino in the community unless there’s a ribbon to be cut or a news camera he can smile at.”

Regarding CDBG funds, Councilman Donta Myles previously told the Reporter, “Mayor Restaino is so disconnected from the public. He’s not listening to what the people want. At the last hearing, most public speakers spoke out against using Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] funds. I’ve told the administration that it’s a mistake to even put the CDBG funds on the table to purchase land for something that’s just an idea. That’s all Centennial Park is: an idea.”

Councilman Myles is one of two city council members whom Mayor Restaino has consistently blamed and belittled; the second council member being Councilman Vincent Cauley. Both Myles and Cauley are the only two Black council members in the city of Niagara Falls.


An excellent opportunity for Mayor Restaino to pose for the cameras.

Both Myles and Cauley have actively protested Restaino’s abuse of power via his misuse of special meetings. Myles told WGRZ, “If it didn’t have any time sensitivity and if it didn’t have a sense of urgency I chose not to come and that’s because we weren’t allowing the voice of the people to be heard on agenda items that we were voting on that were going to affect them.”

Ever the bully, Restaino fired back at both council members, saying that their actions were a “shame” and a “disgrace.”

Records show that Robert Restaino made similar statements during the hours he spent belittling 46 innocent people before he wrongfully imprisoned all of them. Restaino reportedly said to one of his victims, “It’s a shame, everybody being penalized” before proceeding to unjustly penalize everybody all because he thought he heard a cell phone ring.

In a condescending way, Restaino was actually shifting the blame from his own actions from himself to his victims.

Support for this assertion can be found in the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s official determination that disbenched the “Honorable Robert Restaino,” which states that it was “ironic that in repeatedly berating the ‘selfish’ and ‘self-absorbed’ individual who ‘put their interests above everybody else’s and ‘[doesn’t] care what happens to anybody,’ respondent [Restaino] failed to recognize that he was describing himself.”

The same determination notes that Restaino ignored the pleas of his victims and “instead, he continued to interrogate, chastise and commit the defendants while repeatedly blaming the ‘selfish’ individual who failed to take responsibility for the phone.” The report also states that “except for a chance encounter” with one his victims, Restaino “has never apologized to the individuals who were deprived so unjustly of their liberty.”

Donta Myles told the Niagara Express that Mayor Restaino had “no right to seemingly blame the city’s two black city councilmen, Republican Vincent Cauley and myself, a Democrat, for our absence, and for his failure.”

Similarly, the day after Restaino shoved a WGRZ journalist’s camera, that same news outlet asked him about his actions in a follow up interview. Instead of apologizing, Restaino blamed WGRZ for his own actions, saying “It’s just unfortunate that this channel decided to conduct themselves in that manner.” Is it possible that Restaino has some deep-seated issue with accepting blame for his own actions? Perhaps he disassociates when he’s done something wrong?


In January, approximately 40 local taxpayers attended a city council meeting. 17 of 40 residents signed up to speak. All but two of them spoke out against the use of CDBG funds for Centennial Park.

According to the Niagara Gazette, “At the end of the hearing, Scott distributed a survey, asking those in attendance to put down in writing whether they supported or opposed the idea of pursuing a federal loan to buy land for Centennial Park. At the time, Scott indicated that the survey results would be considered by city officials as part of the process of amending his department’s four-year spending plan, a necessary step in allowing the city to submit an application under the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Section 108 loan program.”

Mayor Restaino refused to release the results of that survey, instead blaming (then) Community Development Director Clifford Scott, Jr. for distributing the survey “without authorization.” Restaino told the Gazette “We never authorized any survey.” For the record, Clifford Scott, Jr. is Black.

Mark Scheer of the Niagara Gazette wrote, “During an interview this week with the Niagara Gazette, Restaino said Community Development Director Clifford Scott Jr. should not have distributed copies of the survey to individuals who attended the Dec. 22 hearing at city hall because he was not authorized to do so.” Scheer also wrote that “Scott refused to answer questions about the survey, its distribution and the results to the administration and instead referred all questions to Restaino’s office.”

According to the same article in the Niagara Gazette, “Restaino said it [the City] is not required to obtain resident input through any sort of written survey.”

From these events an obvious pattern of behavior begins to come into focus. Mayor Restaino has a history of blaming Black men for his own wrongdoings. Now people may argue that only a majority of Restaino’s 46 victims were Black, but there is no denying the Blackness of Myles, Cauley, and Scott.


Mayor Restaino has been personally delivering taxpayer-funded grants all year long, as if they were his own funds. He’s accused others of spreading money around for favors but that’s exactly what he seems to be doing. While the church received their money from CDBG, Restaino has dished out at least 13 Minority and Women Owned Business (MWOB) grants this year.

Each time he hands out the checks, he poses for a photo like he’s in a commercial for the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. These pandering photo ops are excellent advertisements for his campaign.

Perhaps this is what we should expect from the man who wore an AIRFORCE ONE jacket during his now infamous election night interview.

Handing out candy during election time is not a new practice. Previous mayors have done it to entice taxpayers into voting for them. However, even Mayor Dyster (who notoriously gave out grants), didn’t pose for photos with every check and recipient before sharing them on his social media platforms. Restaino is like those YouTube influencers who give money to poor people and film their “good deed” to boost their ratings and gain followers.

Any true churchgoer of Christian faith will be reminded of Matthew 6:1-4 which says “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Funding for MWOB comes from the American Rescue Plan Funds through NFC Development Corporation, which was rewarded to the city for pandemic economic relief. It would be imprecise to not reiterate that “MWOB” stands for “MINORITY and Women Owned Businesses.” Coincidence?

None of these business owners should be faulted for accepting financial assistance. Small businesses are the heart and soul of our city. Other than this year’s first recipients (whose establishments on Third Street are heavily patronized by Democratic politicians and the NFFD union) it is doubtful that any of these small business owners were aware of the politics involving NFC grants. Of course, it’s only natural that their friends and families will view Mayor Restaino as a knight in shining armor who rode in on his white horse to rescue them.

Archives Pub and The Gold Bar quickly became Democrat and pro-Restaino union hangouts immediately upon opening.


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Gerald Skrlin
6 months ago

Recently, NY State combined disabled USA Veterans to a classification equal to Minority and women’s Business grants.

Restaino has overlooked that!

Our city faces a long time entrenched association of close friends mostly of the same ethnic group of wealthy individual families. It is easy to follow the money trail that meanders among them.

Surprisingly, these families have grown out of theLittle Italy, and Italian North End neighbourhoods 6th district.

But it is only among the wealthy association of ‘friends’ with whom they share and associate.

But, how long can a person fight against the truth they know exists within their own mind to cover up the lies they convince themselves of? That causes mental, cognitive dissonance, meaning mental confusion; instability!

Robert Restaino may be able to power his way through opposition, but the end results of the majority of people subject to unnecessary economic suffering, like Dyster’s 7-year Lewiston Road paving project will demonstrate his true colour.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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