March 1, 2010

Dyster Puts Vanity Ahead of City

This weekend’s Niagara USA Chamber Honors was the place to be for the business and political sets in the Niagara Frontier. The annual dinner brought in nearly 500 top local and state government leaders, the upper crust of business leadership, top financiers, and top economic development officials for the business community’s networking event of the year.
Actually, the Chamber Honors is one of the year’s top business networking events for all of Western New York.
So, it came as no surprise to us to hear that the local political stars in attendance included the entire upper tier of the County Legislature—Legislature Chairman Bill Ross, Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, and Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, along with several of their colleagues—as well Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte and Senator George Maziarz. Various other local leaders, from recently-departed Lewiston Mayor Dick Soluri to Lockport’s workaholic chief executive, Mike Tucker, were present. So was a candidate for governor and a representative of the man who is departing that post.
One name was noticeably absent, however: Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. Heck, it’s not like he had to drive that far to get there.
Why in God’s name would the chief executive of what can best be described as a quasi-Third World economy miss out on the opportunity to network with FIVE HUNDRED business leaders, political brass, and economic development officials?
Well, we’re glad you asked. Sources tell us that Dyster originally planned to go. However, Dyster thought his presence at the event was such a high point for everyone else, that his aides called and demanded Chamber officials make him the keynote speaker. When the Chamber explained they had the only declared candidate for governor to fill that role, Dyster pulled the plug on his own attendance and sent City Administrator Donna Owens. (Incidentally, we’re also told that Owens “kept to herself” and departed shortly after the main program was over. Way to work the room, Donna.)
Had any of the other local elected leaders been invited to the podium to speak, Dyster might have had a point. (Well, not really, but hey, we’re trying to be big about it.) But no one—not even Senator Maziarz, arguably the most powerful figure in the room absent gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio—had a turn at the podium. It was a short, tightly-scripted program. And still, Dyster felt like he deserved, more than anyone, to be the star.
Now think about that. Most of the bright lights in Niagara County are gathered in one room—the men and women who control the direction of local economic development policy and dollars, all breaking bread together in one place. They even came right to Niagara Falls. And Dyster couldn’t be bothered to show up. But hey, it's not like Niagara Falls needs economic development or anything.
You stay classy, Niagara Falls.


James T. Kirk said...

Hobbes, you make an excellent point. A friend of mine, a local elected leader, confirmed to me that Dyster wasn't in attendance. But more shockingly, apparently Greg Edwards, the county exec for Chautauqua County, was.

So, Dyster missed an opportunity to represent his community to investors from the business world while the county exec from Chautauqua - one of the few counties that seems to be weathering the state financial crisis well - drove all the way from Jamestown to be there. (And never mind that, if Mr. Edwards knows of some Southern Tier company looking to expand into the Niagara Region, it's Mike Tucker's business card that will be in his rolodex.)

No wonder Niagara Falls is dying a particularly ugly death.

Deanna Alterio Brennen said...

The article regarding the Niagara USa Chamber Honors was a very good description of our annual prestigious event that celebrates the top echelon of business leaders and organizations in our community. I would like to make one correction. Mayor Dyster did not have his aides call the Chamber office and demand that he be the keynote speaker for the event. The article was correct in reflecting the elected officials who were in attendance and Donna Owens, City Administrator was there representing Mayor Dyster, as was Janique Curry representing Governor Paterson and Michael Johnson representing NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The Avenger said...

Thank you for clarifying, Ms. Brennen, but that doesn't change the fact that Dyster couldn't be bothered to attend a dinner in his own backyard with 500 muckety mucks in Niagara County. The city will be best served when Dyster's gone.