Officials Await Dyster to Go Public on His Future as Word Circulates He’s Not Running

Please click the link below to subscribe to a FREE PDF version of each print edition of the Niagara Reporter



Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster



By: Tony Farina

I wrote back in June of 2013 after the four-year gaming stalemate between the state and the Seneca Nation was settled that Mayor Paul Dyster played a smart hand in backing Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the bitter fight that saw Niagara Falls fall behind more than $60 million in casino revenue payments dating to 2009.

Dyster had held firm against what appeared to be long odds for a favorable settlement, putting his trust in Cuomo on being able to negotiate a deal, which he did.

Here’s a quote from my story from 2013 on Dyster after the stalemate was settled and Niagara Falls was set to receive $89 million in back payments:

“Dyster said he feels ‘vindicated’ by the outcome that he made the right political judgment in backing Cuomo and now the city is in a position to move forward, building on the strong relationships he believes are in place with the state and the Senecas.”

That was then, and before a second gaming impasse that put Dyster’s city on the brink again before a recent gaming arbitration ruling in favor of the state appears to have settled things although the Senecas are reportedly still mulling their options as of this writing about paying the state the money the panel ruled they owe from 2016.

Dyster was hopeful back in 2013 that there was an opportunity to build on the settlement with the Senecas going forward but there is no sign his administration was able to develop any strong bonds with the Seneca Nation preceding the latest gaming war.

In fact, the Senecas said the compact provided no further language for payments beyond 2016 and abruptly stopped the payments leading to the arbitration in December.

So while Dyster was loyal to Cuomo in both gaming wars , it has been a very tough road for the city trying to hold things together without the casino cash which Dyster had used to balance budgets against the advice of the state comptroller.

Now, as he enters the final year of his third four-year term, Dyster is still waiting for casino cash, again, and has not committed to running for a fourth term even as the June primary petition nears.

What will he do, this learned man who backed Cuomo through the gaming wars and the much-delayed, state-backed Hamister Hotel project?

We attempted to reach him for comment on whether he will run in a primary that will likely include one of his top aides, Seth Picirillo, and School Board President Robert Restaino.  All three are Democrats.  Dyster did not respond to our requests for an interview for this story, so there is no comment from him.

While Dyster has remained publicly mum about his future, City Hall sources say he has confided to close confidants that he is not running.  As Frank Parlato pointed out in a story last week, he is still too young to collect his state pension, so if he doesn’t run, what will he do?

If anyone deserves a reward for loyalty to the governor, who is known to value loyalty from his underlings, it is Dyster.  A plush state patronage appointment would appear appropriate for him, given his unquestioned support of the governor.  But so far it hasn’t happened and perhaps the governor is just waiting for the Senecas to write the state a check stemming from the arbitration ruling.

So how will history judge Dyster’s years as mayor?  Well, only time will tell.  Republican Councilman Chris Voccio, who has only served as a lawmaker for 13 months, says this of Dyster he knows:  “I like him.  He is a smart man and well intentioned.”  But Voccio added he has had very little personal contact with the mayor and they have different visions for the role of government, especially in these current times.

“I see a future with smaller government, a greater private sector role, and more welcoming economic development initiatives,” said Voccio in a telephone interview for this story.   

Voccio said the city needs smaller budgets that look out for taxpayers and take care of city employees “as best we can afford.”

Council President Andrew Touma has continually taken the position that with or without the casino cash now or beyond 2023, the next renewal period for the gaming compact, the city must find a way to bring budgets into structural balance, a difficult task given the high labor costs and reluctance to make tough decisions to increase revenue.

So where is Dyster on this and his future?  We couldn’t reach him but maybe we’ll be hearing from the mayor in the very near future as word is that the gaming arbitration panel will be meeting with the state and the Senecas this week to come to some kind of agreement on the recent 2 to 1 ruling in favor of the state.

A final determination, at least for the short term, could free up Dyster to come out publicly about what he will do this year and beyond.  Maybe his friend Andrew Cuomo will recognize the mayor for his unwavering loyalty and let him ride off into the sunset in a cushy state job.  It is my view that he has earned it.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
.wpzoom (color:black;}