December 21, 2010

Niagara Fails, New York

With the race for Mayor of Niagara Falls already begun, we're going to hear all the buzzwords for the next 11 1/2 months: taxes, economic development, jobs, responsibility, accountability, leadership, experience, etc, etc, etc.

Everyone focuses on the how bad the economy is in the city, including us, but maybe there's a deeper problem. Maybe the absolute culture of corruption that has permeated every aspect of the city over the past 50 years lies at the heart of the city's inability to crawl out of its hole.

Anyone who has even an inkling of the city's history knows that it is filled with a vast array of problems. Strangely, it seems that officials in the city think that if they ignore their history, it will go away. Even current one-term mayor Paul Dyster, in his re-election announcement, condemned those who would look to the city's past and not its future. As the famous saying goes, "Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it". If people like Dyster refuse to acknowledge the city's past, how can they learn from it? Sadly, they can't.

Yesterday's sentencing of former mayor Vince Anello for filing false statements, though far from the worst offense in the city's crooked history, is just another black eye on a community that can never seem to get out of its own way.

What bothers me the most is that no one from within the city says a word about it. Where is Dyster? Where are the members of the City Council? Do they truly believe that this does not reflect on them? Granted, Anello skated on the more serious charges, but people must be reassured that corruption is being addressed and the city is taking steps to ensure that the highest of ethical standards will be demanded of all city officials.

Unfortunately, it appears that it's easier to talk about how great things are going; how the city is turning the corner; how now only 85% of Third Street is boarded up; how a train station is going to revitalize the city. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, boys.

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