On the surface, it may appear that the application for a grant to turn a building on Main Street in Niagara Falls into a wellness center by Niagara Falls Democratic Party Chairman Michael Lewis and his wife would create a conflict of interest for the city council. After all, the entire body is Democratic, and the man who they need to sway at endorsement time is the same man whose application they need to prove.
But that should not be the case. If Lewis and his wife have met all of the criteria of the application process, should they be excluded from eligibility simply because of his affiliation with the party? Absolutely not.
Several Council members are already running for cover because they're concerned it would be a conflict for elected officials who seek endorsements from the Democratic Party and benefit from its fundraising efforts to vote on the proposal. That's a cop-out. Do your due diligence and there won't be a problem.
The city is crying out for economic development. We're going to go out on a limb and suggest that Lewis is likely investing some of his own money on top of the grant. In addition, Niagara Falls isn't exactly a beacon of healthy living.
If someone, such as Lewis, wants to invest in the community while providing a service that will likely improve the quality of life of residents, give him the opportunity.
Given the city's history of political corruption, it's not surprising that the Council would be hesitant to immediately act on such a proposal. That being said, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater - the city cannot afford to be chasing out investors.