Mayor’s Unpredictable Anger Strikes Again
By Ken Cosentino
Folks, we literally have a petty tyrant as our mayor.
While awaiting election results Tuesday night, Mayor Robert Restaino could no longer suppress the impotent rage that has become synonymous with his legacy. Once again, Restaino displayed his ugly and explosive temperament to the public.
In an embarrassing show of his infamous hair-trigger temper, Restaino lashed out at WGRZ-TV journalist Ben Read during an onscreen interview. Viewers quickly learned why major news outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC and The Guardian once reported that Restaino is a “petty tyrant” who is known to “snap” into “inexplicable madness” while under “personal stress.”
Ben Read asked Restaino a very simple and reasonable question: “How would you grade the city at this point?” Obviously bothered, Restaino responded, “How would I grade the city? The city that I’ve been running for four years? A!”
Restaino took Read’s question personally. He should have used the interview to his advantage, but instead his hot head took over and he couldn’t control himself.
Said Restaino, “I don’t even understand that question, quite frankly. Why would I grade the city any different? How would you grade the city?” Ben Read replied, “I don’t live here, I don’t know.”
Just before he lashed out, there was a moment in which Restaino’s facial expression transformed and his eyes seemed to widen. By his tone alone, Restaino clearly didn’t appreciate Read’s question.
Police sirens began to blare and Restaino is seen darting his eyes in the direction of the noise as it got louder and louder. He then says “I’m done” before pushing his hand into the camera lens and storming off. Police sirens are all too common in the City of Niagara Falls.
WGRZ’s video went viral, earning over 100,000 views online in less than 24 hours. That doesn’t include the thousands of viewers who watched it at home on their televisions.
On Wednesday, WGRZ caught up with Restaino and asked him why he reacted in such a strange manner to Ben Read’s simple question. Restaino blamed WGRZ, saying “It’s unfortunate that this channel decided to conduct themselves in that manner.”
Does Robert Restaino believe that news outlets are wrong to ask politicians for their opinion on economic conditions within their municipality? His follow up response led to more criticism of his character, and many residents have begun to question his mental fortitude.
“How would you grade the city at this point?” is a reasonable question, and for any other candidate it would be considered a hanging curve. Restaino could have easily said that there is plenty of room for improvement. Violent crime is at an all time high. Our streets are riddled with potholes. Poverty is rampant. Jobs with livable wages are scarce. These are just a few honest observations from someone who cares deeply about Niagara Falls.
To make claims to the contrary is a real slap in our faces. It shows that he’s dishonest, both outwardly and to himself. Nobody is buying that the City of Niagara Falls should be graded an “A.” Our bullshit detectors have determined that that is a lie.
It really was an easy question. For instance, Restaino could have said, “You know, I inherited a D. I’ve done my best to get it to an A+ but it’s just not there yet and we still have a lot more work to do. That’s why I’m running for re-election.”
Pretending that local conditions are near perfect only perpetuates and exacerbates our problems. Restaino’s continued denial of the crime rate actually creates more crime by ignoring reality instead of addressing it. The first step towards improvement is admitting that we have a problem.
Imagine a doctor who consciously ignores a fatal diagnosis for his patient because he is worried that addressing the illness will reflect poorly on his own reputation. What happens when the diseased patient receives a clean bill of health instead of proper treatment? Restaino’s reckless behavior is akin to malpractice. He’s made it more about himself and his image than the welfare of our community.
Unfortunately, our city’s problems are a direct reflection of Restaino’s poor leadership skills and lack of solutions. As such, it is unlikely that we will see any improvements while Restaino is in office. Since he cannot face his own shortcomings, Restaino experienced a meltdown on camera when asked to grade his own performance.
In fact, his explosive response is testament to the notion that Restaino actually knows the truth. He must know that the city is in bad condition, and deep down he might even suspect that some of it is his fault. Why else would he feel so personally attacked by Ben Read’s inquiry, and become so defensive?
Facing what he apparently perceived as personal criticism, Restaino became aggressive and even physical; further proving what we’ve learned from City Councilmember Donta Myles and former City Councilmember Bill Kennedy: Restaino can’t handle criticism at all.
Donta Myles spoke to the Reporter after Restaino’s meltdown, saying, “He’s just showing us that we’re still dealing with the same temperamental judge that jailed 46 people in the courtroom for a phone going off. It also shows us that when he gets frustrated, he doesn’t think logically.”
Restaino has gone so far as to abuse his power of special meetings and ban the public from speaking, effectively silencing public criticism while exhibiting a total lack of empathy for input from local taxpayers.
This is not the first time Mayor Robert Restaino has publicly embarrassed our community in the news. Most Niagara Falls residents groan whenever we’re reminded of Restaino’s 2005 incident that made headlines around the world. There’s a reason why the State Commission on Judicial Conduct said that Restaino “snapped” and “engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness,” acting like a “petty tyrant.”
After that incident, in which Restaino unlawfully arrested 46 people in his courtroom and got himself disbarred; he blamed “personal stress in his life at the time.”
During his WGRZ interview Tuesday, Restaino was clearly stressed. Once again as he’s been known to do, he snapped. His pattern of rage is unbecoming of the leader of a famous city. How can we expect Restaino to positively represent our community and deal directly with important business partners such as the Seneca Nation of Indians, New York State and any number of powerful developers?
His inappropriate behavior was unjustified, proving again that he is truly a bully and a petty tyrant.
“Bob is a ticking time bomb,” says former City Councilmember Bill Kennedy. “He can and will explode at any given moment.” Kennedy watched the WGRZ interview after it was posted online. Says Kennedy, “In typical Bob fashion, on a day when he should be happy, he’s still condescending and confrontational. I saw a man deflecting and losing his cool as usual.”
Mayor Robert Restaino can no longer run from his own demons. Despite having won the Democratic primary by about 300 or so votes, Restaino showed his true colors in that WGRZ interview. His act of pushing the camera lens is reminiscent of entitled celebrity divas and egotistical politicians like Andrew Cuomo or Donald Trump. He overshadowed his win with his foolish antics.
Certainly, the position of mayor is a stressful job. Like his previous job as a disgraced judge, Restaino signed up to be our mayor willingly. Nobody forced him to run for office. If he can’t handle the heat, maybe he should stay out of the kitchen; resign and do us all a favor.
Restaino has proven that he is unable to conduct himself in a professional manner and keep his emotional outrage in check. He has learned nothing from his 2005 SNAFU, which directly hurt 46 people and their families; resulting in his termination and worldwide embarrassment.
Restaino’s disgraceful temperament has not changed. He is a slave to his anger. His inability to provide an honest answer to Ben Read’s simple question is only one of many examples of Restaino’s maniacal ego.
Only this time there is video evidence for all to see exactly who Robert Restaino truly is beneath the surface. Even the simplest of interview questions has the ability to tear through Restaino’s deteriorating facade and ultra-thin skin. At what point do we decide that we’ve had enough of this petty tyrant and his embarrassing shenanigans?
Even the mayor’s own brother, John Restaino, told the Niagara Gazette in 2019, “He will come across as a caring, an engaging person. Catch him on a ‘bad day’, then reality returns.” John also wrote, “In 2005, the entire Niagara Falls community and the world got to see a glimpse into another side of Robert Restaino. The incident in that courtroom on that day revealed everything I already knew.”
Says Kennedy, “I’ve witnessed [Restaino] yelling at corporation counsel multiple times before a council meeting. As soon as you don’t agree with him or do what he wants, he starts squirming and fidgeting.”
From allegations of allegedly choking someone at a local bowling alley, to his outburst during Tuesday’s WGRZ interview (and follow up response), voters should carefully consider whether or not Robert Restaino is fit to be mayor of Niagara Falls.
Do we want a petty tyrant who loses his cool at the drop of a hat? Or would we rather have a mayor who can compose themselves professionally and handle criticism in a healthy way? The mayor is supposed to be a public servant, not a ruthless dictator. We must hold Robert Restaino accountable for his own actions and words.