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While crystal-ball gazing is considered esoteric, and by most hardnosed and practical people a largely useless bit of nonsense, there is one method that might be useful to predict the future of any person: a careful review of his past.

With Paul Dyster poised to return for another four years as mayor of Niagara Falls, some folks around here are wondering what a second Dyster term might look like.

Let's take a look at the last four years in order to conjure up some images of where the next four years are likely to take us.

Indeed, let's go out on a limb, take the bull crap by the horns and predict that a second Dyster term, coupled with a pro-Dyster council (if the pro-Dyster Alicia Liable is elected over the independent Glenn Choolokian), will deliver a steroid-fueled version of what we already have seen.

We will see more and more consulting contracts awarded to Dyster campaign supporters such as LiRo Engineering and Wendel Dushere. Look for either of these two Buffalo outfits to conduct a citywide "lighting study."

Look for LiRo to get a new contract to revamp and improve the Legends basketball complex. According to sources, LiRo fouled out on the design and installation of the Legends courts. They used the wrong court dimensions and installed dangerous basketball backboards with no clearance at the base. Children are hitting their heads on the posts. The mayor succeeded in keeping a lid on this tiny scandal and will give large dollars to LiRo in 2012 to fix what they broke the first time around.

With a 3-to-2 majority vote on the council, Dyster will fast-track the Jayne Park project and will forget his promise not to do any damage to the park. Dyster will give the Peter Smith consultants and his chief planner Tom DeSantis carte blanche. Dyster's good Canadian friend, Ken Sherman of LaSalle Pride, will be hired by Peter Smith as a consultant to the consultant, and Sherman perhaps will laugh behind the backs of Cayuga Island residents as he cashes his check in Hamilton, Ont.

With a city council in Dyster's pocket, the second-term mayor will run right back to the Buffalo Foundation and resurrect the Building a Better Niagara committee, with the slush fund total swelling into the possible millions. Informed sources tell us that the slush fund was never actually closed in 2009 when the city council demanded it. The rumor at City Hall is that the money was shifted to a different account and obscured by labeling it under a different name.

Sources in City Hall have suggested that fired Economic Development director Peter Kay ($100,000 per year) possibly walked off with a sizable severance payout from this secret slush fund.

Indeed, Dyster may have received a slice of the anonymous fund. While no proof has been forthcoming, it defies logic that Dyster would work so hard to get big paydays for Maria Brown, Craig Johnson, Donna Owens, Kevin Cottrell, Dennis Virtuoso and others, while he works for less money than they receive.

Dyster will expand the Underground Railroad Interpretive Center project, based as it is on bogus history, and move forward rapidly to finish his useless train station. He will then turn his sights on his Niagara Experience Center, which will create a virtual Niagara Falls -- 900 feet from the real one -- at a cost of over $120 million.

He will move heaven and earth to ensure the project is designed by campaign contributors and built by another campaign contributor -- the Ciminelli Company.

And if all goes as planned, the Experience Center will need a managing company once completed. Look for another campaign contributor, the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company (fresh off their loss of the tour boat concession on the Canadian side of the border) to be considered as the manager.

Hodgson and Russ -- another campaign contributor -- will land more and more legal consulting fees with the city. This law firm may move a satellite office right into the corporation counsel office area. You read it here first.

The preparation of the 2013 city budget will open a can of worms that the mayor will toss to the city council for solution, but not until he has done two things: proposed a significant tax increase and recommended the layoff and abolition of a number of city jobs. Dyster won't abolish any of his top appointments.

Please don't say I didn't give you a heads up, city employees. Perhaps you may have noticed that two months ago Dyster's controller publicly railed about the high cost of pensions, health care and negotiated raises. You might want to consider that you will be set up in a good cop/bad cop pincer.

The Hard Rock concerts will expand as the city continues to fund this Seminole-owned international chain. The city never will request Hard Rock records of expenditures and profits. Hard Rock is getting as much as $40,000 per act from the city. Most of the acts are in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. It is my contention that Hard Rock makes a profit right off the bat with public money -- before they even count their profits from concessions.

The Buffalo Avenue paving project finally will begin, with great fanfare. Immediately, an environmental crisis will appear, and the mayor will blame everyone else as the project grinds to a halt amid accusations of toxic waste and impossible construction conditions.

Not entirely dissimilar to Lewiston Road.

Fracking wastewater treatment will be approved in Niagara Falls and fracking wastewater will be released into our drinking water.

Dyster and DeSantis will continue to ramrod their Greenway and Blueway projects through the greater LaSalle neighborhood and Cayuga Island specifically. Keep an eye on Jayne Park, LaSalle Waterfront Park and Griffon Park, for starters.

Keep an eye on LaSalle Pride, Ken Sherman, Dyster, DeSantis and the Buffalo Riverkeeper organization. They call the shots.

The mayor's street, Orchard Parkway, will continue to develop as a historic district with additional tax breaks and development efforts that will boost the value of the mayor's home.

LiRo will continue to study and develop the downtown storefronts until they have pocketed at least $200,000 in study fees. Then, after the cow has been properly milked, the mayor will move to allow friendly business people to open those storefronts. It will have taken four years to open those small storefronts.

Look for Dyster to continue the cold war with both Niagara Falls Redevelopment and One Niagara.

Learn to love canoe launches, ever-increasing studies, out-of-town consultants and the mayor's denial of the crime that grips this city like a python grips its prey. Dilapidated housing will multiply faster than it can be knocked down and real estate values will continue to plummet.

Sure, the predictions are grim, but it's not as if you aren't used to it.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Oct. 25, 2011