November 17, 2011

Falls Legislator's Hefty Paydaze

This story about the lavish benefit packages offered to City of Niagara Falls employees is a must read. It highlights the "opt out" agreement the city has with its unions, allowing city employees who don't take the city's health insurance to take a cash payment of over $9,000. That would be $9,000 in taxpayers dollars. For not taking health insurance. For taxpayers in Niagara Falls, the opt out option will cost over $420,000 this year. No wonder the city is the highest taxed municipality in the state.

Paul Dyster, for all his rhetoric, has had four years to get this raping of taxpayers under control, and he's failed. The only downside to the article is that they waited until after the election to reveal their findings, or the revelations may have cost Dyster his narrow victory.

It's also amazingly hypocritical that Dennis Virtuoso, Minority Leader of the County Legislature, has never said a word about this problem during his 20 years in the legislature. In fact, when Virtuoso's buddy Jason Cafarella sat with him in the legislature, Virtuoso sat silent.

Cafarella's manipulation of the system could not have been more egregious. A Niagara Falls firefighter, Cafarella took the county health insurance. This allowed him to get the $9,000 cash payment from the city. But it didn't end there; Cafarella's wife is a teacher. Because hubby was on the county's health insurance, wifey also pocketed $9,000 in cash, courtesy of the taxpayers. That's a cool $18,000 for the Cafarellas for not taking health insurance. And we never heard a word from Virtuoso or any of the other supposed concerned taxpayers who speak at the meetings. Could it be because Virtuoso, a city building inspector (you can see the fruits of his labor on any street in the city) benefited from the city's opt out throughout his 20 years in the legislature? Maybe a that's a question worth asking.

It will also be very interesting to see if recently elected Jason Zona, a Niagara Falls firefighter who ran his campaign on the issue of high taxes, takes the county's health insurance, thus receiving the $9,000 opt out from the city.

Either way, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the city. Taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize these outlandish benefit packages, especially in a city like Niagara Falls that is losing population by the tens of thousands. Of course, since Dyster is more concerned with a train station than actually making the city a better place to live, we won't hold our breath waiting for him to eradicate this outrageous expense.

November 9, 2011

GOP Once Again Sweeps Niagara County

The more things change, the more they stay the same. In what many thought would be a successful night for the Niagara County Democrats, the county GOP once again showed that they are one of the best political organizations in the state. Dan Rivera, Chairman of the county Dems, proved once again that he is utterly incompetent and incapable of playing with the big boys.

Across the county, the GOP was victorious. The GOP didn't lose a single seat that they thought might be in danger, while the Dems lost a slew of races that they thought they had in the bag. Briglio. Laible. Chapman. McCormick. Murphy. Rich. Zehr. Frazier. Pillot. D'Avolio. Czarnecki. Wallace. Schnitizer. All of them ran as Democrats, and all of them lost. And the list goes on.

Two of the more interesting outcomes are Murphy and Laible. Pat Murphy, running for County Clerk against Wayne Jagow, tried to capitalize on the Murphy name. It didn't work, as Murphy pulled just 37% of the countywide vote. The interesting take on this race is that Murphy took just one of 19 election districts in the City of Lockport, the supposed base of the Murphy political organization. The Murphy name clearly no longer carries any political weight whatsoever. Good ol' Matt's gotta be rolling over in his grave at that outcome.

The other one worth noting is Alicia Laible. The hand-picked candidate for Niagara Falls City Council by Mayor Paul Dyster, Laible lost to Glenn Choolokian. Make no mistake about it - that is a huge blow to Dyster. Dyster may have won his re-election, but losing Laible will significantly hurt Dyster. He already made enemies with Bob Anderson and Sam Fruscione, now he loses his majority on the Council. In addition, Dyster's 700 vote win is hardly a ringing endorsement of his tenure over the past four years.

In the end, the GOP is left with a 12-3 super majority in the county legislature and the county Democrats are once again rendered irrelevant. The GOP turned what was expected to be a good night into a phenomenal night. Dan Rivera is the gift that keeps on giving and should be recognized at the next GOP banquet as the "Republican of the Year".