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It's campaign time, and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster each moment is looking more like our fifth consecutive one-term mayor.

His fortunes are falling faster than crime is rising, or than potholes are ruining cars here. I get a lot of Dyster jokes from comedic readers, most of them too filthy to print, but some clean ones deserve the light of day.

Q: What do you call 100 dead Dyster consultants on the floor of the ocean?

A: A good start.

Here's a riddle for the mayor: How many studies do you have to make before you actually do something?

Dyster: Good question. Let me get a Buffalo consulting group who donated to my campaign to do a study on that.

State Sen. George Maziarz, on Tom Darro's popular WJJL radio show: "You'll see a city tax increase after the election due to the way Dyster has been spending casino money he doesn't have. ... You heard it here first, and I have no doubt about saying it. You will see a tax increase!"

The mayor's wife, Rebecca Dyster, is trying to become a member of the Cristoforo Colombo Society. Her father was part Italian, her mother was French. She is suddenly interested in her roots and associating with "fellow" Italians during this election season.

At press time, we were unable to learn whether the membership will allow this obviously self-serving ploy to pass muster and award Mrs. Dyster membership in this august ethnic club. Will the Dysters be permitted to use the club for political purposes? Dyster perhaps appreciates his wife's sudden interest in her Italian heritage. Perhaps he can even appreciate the fact that as a member his wife can access the mailing lists of other members.

Picture Dyster rolling out his new Pine Avenue lights at a press conference right before the primary: "Dyster loves Pine Avenue and Niagara Falls Italians -- his wife is even a member of Cristoforo Colombo!"

John Percy, president of the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp. (NTCC) is clearly concerned that the financial health of the NTCC is at risk because the Seneca stopped paying Albany their agreed-upon 25 percent of slot revenue two years ago.

Albany has not paid Niagara Falls its share, and in turn Niagara Falls has not paid the NTCC. NTCC officials are frustrated with Dyster's lack of leadership. They are owed about $1.8 million and will have to make deep cuts if the money doesn't show up.

There are many besides Percy who wonder why Dyster isn't more vocal about the lack of casino cash, since the city budget and city projects are closely tied to casino money.

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Dyster is running for re-election?

While Percy and others lament that Dyster lacks the guts to do anything about Seneca not paying what amounts to about $20 million per year, I see this is as a grand stroke of luck for the people of Niagara Falls.

If Dyster had gotten the city share of casino money last two years -- he has discretionary use of about half of it -- he would have already squandered it much as did with the first two years of Seneca money, with nothing to show but wasteful studies and Santa Claus grants to campaign contributors, most of them from Buffalo.

All the past Seneca money under Dyster's control vanished without a trace.

Still, you have to marvel. What other mayor would let Seneca get away with paying nothing to the host city for two years?

Forty million dollars has been withheld, and not a peep from timid little Dyster.

The much-reviled Vince Anello was ready to barricade roads. Seneca surrendered right quick, and that was over a lot less money.

Back in 2007, Dyster was elected mayor of Niagara Falls, in spite of his absolutely bizarre promise that he would fill his top positions at City Hall with the "brightest and best" from out of town.

He promised to get people who never lived in Niagara Falls to run our city. The dumb locals would work under these new out-of-town hires.

Under this crazed plan, the salaries at Dyster's City Hall have escalated amazingly. Meanwhile his appointees have been marvels of stupidity, and one rarely sees such a revolving door: One hired, one fired.

The salaries of this do-nothing crew are far higher than comparable jobs in cities of this size and income anywhere in the country.

You'd almost think Dyster grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and does not understand what it is to work hard for a living and pay taxes.

Three weeks ago, Dyster arranged for a new 6 percent pay raise for most of his top aides. The raise almost slipped under the radar, and to my knowledge has not been reported by other media.

More significant than the 6 percent raise, perhaps, is the fact that they were grossly overpaid to begin with.

The city engineer (though the job is now vacant, while Dyster slips last-minute engineering work to campaign contributors from Buffalo) jumped from $68,000 pre-Dyster to (with the new pay raise) $96,000. The corporation counsel leapt from $68,000 to $99,000.

The economic development chief (with a new job title) went from $57,000 to $100,000. The Code Enforcement Department chief went from $65,000 to $103,000. The controller went from $68,000 to $85,000.

And the city administrator went from $60,000 before Dyster to $110,000.

Even the Department of Public Works head -- the lowest-paid department head -- with the new 6 percent raise will collect more than $70,000.

Before Dyster, the highest-paid department head made under $70,000.

Dyster has raised property taxes by more than 4 percent to help pay for it.

Thankfully, you have a chance to decide whether you believe out-of-town people should get $100,000 per year at City Hall.

John Accardo -- who is running against Dyster for mayor in the Democratic Primary -- has promised to cut salaries and hire local people to run our city.

Or you can vote for Dyster, who thinks we are too stupid to run our own city.

The primary is Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 26, 2011