By Ken Cosentino
After the video of Mayor Restaino’s meltdown was posted to Twitter, over 100,000 people viewed it online within 24 hours.
Among those commenting on Twitter was Daniel Telvock, who said, “File assault charges. He cannot touch Ben or his equipment. Bizarre is putting that lightly. Still waiting on my FOIL, my Mayor. And a new one is coming, to find out how much spent on following a police officer around with narcotic detectives removed from their normal duties.”
Daniel Telvock is an investigative producer with WIVB-Channel 4 news.
Telvock’s FOIL request is one that has been the topic of discussion for many voters as well as city council members Myles, Cauley and Zajac.
It is a known fact that Mayor Robert Restaino has assigned himself a member or member(s) of the Niagara Falls Police Department as his own personal bodyguards. They attend campaign events alongside Restaino, and they go everywhere he goes. One was seen accompanying Restaino in the Memorial Day parade, an unheard of expense for a poor and downtrodden city.It is well known that these officers are receiving overtime pay of time-and-a-half to be Mayor Restaino’s personal bodyguards. It appears as though our ego-driven mayor is utilizing emergency services as his own personal army. It’s not a secret, but the exact payroll details are unknown until the City Council’s inquiry receives a response or Telvock’s FOIL request bears fruit, whichever comes first.
Many locals have speculated that Restaino’s paranoia is the result of his clash with mayoral candidate Demetreus Nix. Restaino doesn’t know how to handle Nix, and Nix isn’t afraid of Restaino – nor is he afraid to question the mayor’s agenda.
After Nix spoke out at a city council meeting months ago, several police officers began standing guard at council meetings (while being paid OT).
This past March, City Councilman Donta Myles told the Reporter, “We have had a ridiculous amount of police officers at city council meetings as of late, called in by our mayor and his administration. It’s overkill, and it just so happened to start right after Nix spoke out at a city council meeting. I hope we are not calling in this amount of overtime for 3 to 6 officers, taking them off the streets and asking them to come in as a personal safeguard.”
Robert Restaino’s paranoia took center stage during his (now viral) outburst against WGRZ’s Ben Read last Tuesday. Clearly, Restaino felt attacked by Read’s simple question. The mayor then continued to blame WGRZ the next day, instead of taking responsibility for his own threatening misbehavior.
WGRZ news anchor Scott Levin is calling for an apology from Mayor Restaino. Levin stated on Twitter, “I have a real problem with this… our photographer did absolutely nothing wrong… and he deserves an apology from the Mayor.”
To understand the situation, we have to understand Robert Restaino. Everyone knows that he unlawfully arrested 46 people while he was a judge. He has been the target of many allegations about how he’s treated the Black community. Demetreus Nix is a member of the Black community who served time for a murder that he committed when he was 14.
Despite Nix’s comeback and community advocacy, it isn’t difficult to see how a former disgraced White judge would feel paranoid when challenged by a Black community advocate who was once convicted of murder. Restaino appears uncomfortable when it comes to real race related issues.
Nix has figured out that Restaino has co-opted local Black ministers to do his bidding, and it is a house built on quicksand.
The war of words between Nix and Restaino will be recounted for many years to come. The entire ordeal may mark a possible turning point in achieving a political edge for the Black community by exposing Restaino’s alleged racial biases. Nix has gone through Hell and he swears that most of it is the result of dirty politics. The Reporter and the Niagara Gazette have published a series of articles chronicling that story.
In an op-ed published by the Niagara Gazette, Donta Myles spoke about Mayor Restaino’s onscreen outburst, saying “Though Ben Read has a very American sounding name, he is not only an American, he is a very fine newsman and an Asian-American. There were so many things that were wrong with what had happened, so much so that I am wondering if Restaino really has a problem with minorities questioning him on his judgment and decision-making, decisions that impact all of the people of the city.”
Myles continued, saying; “As a Black city councilman elected by an open-minded majority White population, who often questions some of the mayor’s decisions like other minorities in the city have done, I believe that I, too, have suffered under his wrath, though not to the point that he would physically push. But he has often crossed the line of simply being a bully. He went way too far this time, especially when news reports are often citing attacks on Asian-Americans in New York City and other places.”
What has yet to be publicly discussed is that Mayor Robert Restaino has hand-picked a police officer (or police officers) to serve as his private security detail, and the taxpayers are forced to foot the bill. Why should anyone besides Restaino be paying for his own personal protection? There are many private security companies that would provide Restaino with a bodyguard and no doubt, he can afford it.
Instead, we are witnessing yet another abuse of power by Mayor Restaino. It will be interesting to see the results of Daniel Telvock’s FOIL request, and to know exactly how much money Restaino’s personal bodyguard is costing the taxpayers.