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It seems whenever Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster appears on the Tom Darro WJJL radio show, nothing of substance is addressed.

During the mayor's appearance last week, Darro never asked him about any of the controversial issues that haunt the administration as it plummets through its last dark months of inept existence before the voters get a chance to elect a competent mayor.

The perception, for instance, that there has been an awful rise in crime; the Attorney General's consent order requiring Niagara Falls police to be monitored for racism; Nik Wallenda's proposed wirewalk across the gorge, which only the mayor and a few cohorts oppose; the city's questionable finances; the fact that the Seneca Gaming Corp. has not paid a dime in casino slot revenue in two years, while Dyster remains silent, effectively castrated; the horrid condition of city streets; the poor man who died on 17th Street when he fell into an uncovered catch basin; or the melee at Main Street's Rapids Theatre over the Fourth of July weekend -- none of these was brought up by interviewer Darro.

Instead, Dyster talked about a group called Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, hired by the taxpayers of this city, for the profit of the Hard Rock Cafe, to perform at one of the mayor's outdoor vanity concerts.

Dyster helps select acts for the Hard Rock shows and gets backstage privileges, in return for taxpayers pumping in about $200,000 a year.

For my part, as long as taxes are taken by force from the sweat and toil of hardworking people, I am against government using the money for circuses and concerts.

If you must tax by force, then we want less government. Government should take care of streets, provide police protection.

It is interesting that the Wallenda tightrope walk is to be funded entirely by the promoters. They offered to reimburse the city for incidental costs, like extra police or cleanup, associated with drawing perhaps a half-million people to Niagara Falls to see the first daredevil in years to cross the gorge.

Dyster is said to be against it because it is sponsored and supported by some of his political opponents. And of course, it is good old-fashioned private enterprise.

Listeners said they were sure they heard Darro say he would ask Dyster about why he refuses to support the wirewalking event that is sure to draw far larger crowds than Dyster's taxpayer-funded Hard Rock Cafe concert series.

By the way, the Hard Rock is a billion-dollar corporation owned by the Seminole Nation of Indians of Florida. They can afford to put on their own concerts and pay for them. Instead you pay for them, while the Hard Rock reaps the entire concession profits and free publicity for being showmen. Taxpayers pay for the act and the stage costs. Dyster spends some glorious summer nights in the Hard Rock VIP tent pretending to be Don Kirschner. He often goes backstage or onstage to introduce the acts. At one concert, he was booed.

Dyster, drink in hand and slovenly in dungarees, usually looks well-blitzed by the time the music gets underway. The most frequent comment overheard by onlookers -- always asked with the same genuine surprise -- is "That's the mayor?"

Once, the lead singer of a band named Sugar Ray came onstage and told the small audience, "Hey, it's great to be in Niagara Falls. Where else can you go where the mayor of the city comes backstage and does shots with you?"

The concerts cost about $40,000 each and attract fewer than 1,000 people.

On Darro's show last week, Dyster spoke -- I kid you not -- for 10 minutes describing Sharon Jones' singing voice, her song set and her personal history in the entertainment business.

In contrast, City Council Chairman Sam Fruscione appeared on Darro July 12, and Darro asked him pretty much about everything. Fruscione addressed real issues.

The Emperor Nero, it is said, occupied himself fiddling while Rome burned.

For Dyster, it's Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 19, 2011