By Ken Cosentino
Recently I had a conversation with a close friend of mine who is a lifelong resident and successful business owner in Niagara Falls, and he said something that stuck with me.
What my friend said is this: “As major shareholders, developers in this city deserve special treatment.”
My friend was right. The city of Niagara Falls should make every effort to accommodate developers, businesses and other major shareholders, and let them know that they are welcome here. After all, these individuals and entities are responsible for creating jobs which boost our local economy, resulting in a population increase and a higher tax base.
Still, and I feel strongly about this, there was something that I had to remind my friend… something that I feel the people of our community may have forgotten (as have the politicians who are entrusted with the privilege of running this city).
As a single, but collective, entity, the largest shareholder in the city of Niagara Falls is “the taxpayer.” We pay our taxes and own property. This is why our mayor, city council, judges, police officers, etc., are all deemed “public servants.” These individuals are paid by our tax dollars, and their only focus should be to serve our community, not their political futures.
Mayor Robert Restaino has failed the city and done a terrible job of making developers feel welcome here, and he’s done an even poorer job as a public servant serving the taxpayer, first and foremost by keeping us safe and providing basic services.
This journalist canvassed residents from different areas of Niagara Falls to get their opinions on how the mayor is performing. Nobody had anything good to say about Mayor Restaino.
One resident, who has lived on Cayuga Island for several decades, told the Reporter, “Our streets were recently paved and it’s the shittiest job this city has ever done. Go look at it. It was torn up all summer but they walked away from it and they just finally returned.”
Another resident, living in the Deveaux area, told the Reporter, “It’s a shame that we spend so much of our taxes paying for nothing. Instead of fixing the infrastructure, that money is used to play the Mayor’s political games and hold contracts over people’s heads, to get them to vote. It’s disgusting. This city would be great if it weren’t for that.”
Then there was James Ventry, a local author who is also a lifelong resident of Niagara Falls. Ventry told the Reporter, “As a taxpayer who owns a home in downtown Niagara Falls, I would like to see our tax dollars used to repair roads that have to be some of the worst in the country. We all pay too much in taxes and you would think with the amount we pay we should have a cleaner city with better roads and services.”
Ventry’s words are echoed by countless locals who are also fed up with paying exorbitant fees while getting very little in return.
For example: This writer just paid a $180 “garbage fee” which we all know is bullshit. Our taxes already pay for our garbage services but now we have this extra fee. On top of that, I just paid a $300 water bill which included a $150 “sewer charge,” while neighboring municipalities pay as low as $50 or $75.
Ventry continued, “While paying these high taxes I also had an unpleasant experience with our current mayor. I paid my taxes on one of those obscure holidays where only government employees and banks have off, and as I walked into city hall I was greeted by our mayor yelling at me asking what I was doing there. I informed Mayor Restaino I was there to pay my taxes and instead of politely thanking me and informing me they were closed, he yelled loudly at me, ‘We’re closed!’ Crazy to think a mayor would speak to one of his constituents in that manner.”
Mayor Restaino has already proven himself to be less of a public servant and more of a dictator. He can’t handle criticism and he won’t even address the tremendous spike in violent crimes and murders which have occurred since he’s been in office. It is quite possible that Restaino will go down in history as the worst mayor the city of Niagara Falls has ever had… yes, worse even than E. Dent Lackey.