December 6, 2010

Paul Dyster: Rebuilding Niagara Falls' Image

When a local municipality is featured prominently in a national publication with a large readership, you expect local media to pick up on it.

That’s why we were a bit surprised that local media seemed to be AWOL in reporting on BusinessWeek’s fantastic article about Niagara Falls and its mayor. The article, a brutal—and lengthy—exposé of life in Niagara County’s own Third World hellhole, read like an indictment. That the article's title was "The Fall of Niagara Falls" indicates just how bad a shellacking Dyster's Dystopia takes throughout.

We got a kick out of the article's first few paragraphs: Niagara Falls Reporter editor Mike Hudson—arguably the best journalist in Niagara County, and certainly among the most talented in all of Western New York—gave an unabashed analysis of life in the Falls, calling the Cataract City “a godforsaken place” and “a slum.”

Frankly, we didn’t think the article could get any better than that. Boy, were we wrong.

One of our favorite sentences in the entire article had to be this one:

"Precisely because the community was so excited by the promise of an enormous amount of development over a decade ago, I think today many people in our community feel let down by their inability to build something," said the city's mayor, Paul Dyster.

Let’s see, you’ve been mayor for three years…and you’re still blaming who for the failure of your city to move forward? Vince Anello? Irene Elia? Jim Galie???

But Dyster was just getting started:

"One of the things that I said that I would do as mayor would be to try and rebuild the city's image," Dyster said, "and to be a mayor that the people of the city wouldn't be ashamed of."

Let’s see by a show of hands how many people think he succeeded on either count. Dyster seems to think that by not currently being under investigation by the FBI, he's truly accomplished something. Meanwhile, only a lunatic, or Ric Marasco, would say that the image of Niagara Falls has improved in the last three years.

Of course, the article isn’t entirely snarky about Dyster; in fact, it devotes several paragraphs to extolling his background as a professor and the fact he has yet to be indicted. But, despite that, perhaps the best line in the entire story—aside from “godforsaken place”—is that uttered by indefatigable Hudson, poking a lethal hole in any efforts to inflate Dyster: "He's a wonk, for sure, but he hasn't produced any results."

Honestly, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves, so we won’t even bother to try.

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