Commentary from Gerald Skrlin

[Niagara Hub is pleased to have created a format for presentation, discussion, promotion and at times, challenge of items pertaining to our community. Gerald Skirlin, proprietor of the Lavinia Porter House is a colorful personality who has on many occasions challenged the status quo. His recent submittal to Niagara hub is printed unedited here below. NiagaraHub neither endorses nor denounces the content. The views presented are not necessarily those of Niagara Hub and we trust our readership enjoys the items presented.]

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Niagara Falls City Council Chairman Andrew Toouma stated in his article in the Niagara Gazette,

“A reassessment in the Falls makes it fair for all property owners.”
Jun 22, 2016

Toumba earns $110,000 + dollars per year.
Is it fair a person who benefits so from taxpayer dollars who for the most part would be little affected by his tax payments rising, who gets full health benefits for his numerous family through the Board of Education, plus the Opt Out payments for health insurance from the council benefits to claim “Fairness” ?

A Zero Sum Game is not as he stated it to be:
a zero sum, sums all adjustments to reflect no additional gains are summed up in the total.

So is it an honest statement to claim “fairness” seeing his statement reflects a reassessment will not bring in further tax enrichments for the city?

Zero Sum Game: definition interpretation
If you have three and I have one,
you loose one I gain one,
or I loose one you gain one, = 0

the sum of the total always equals zero.
Since I lost my one, I LOOSE and you gain, but the justification is that since there were only four units of measurement in the game, in the end there are still four units, that is gains summed are zero because no other sums were added to the game, and no one can claim more than what was originally bargained with.

Stating the reassessment would create a “fairness” in the distribution of assessment equity, does not ease the tax burden on persons in lower wage earnings brackets, who may take pride in their properties, and have them assessed higher to ease the burden on Touma, Dyster, Grandennetti, and others who have little worry about their incomes diminishing.

A Zero Sum Game is
In the latter case, I loose my one unit, you end up with four units, and since no other units were added to the sum, therefore a zero sums to the total of all wealth considered in the equation.

The sums possessed at the begining of the game are redistributed, shifted around to apply to winners or loosers

A Zero Sum Game demands someone has to gain some has to loose, or that all remain the same as before.

Is it fair for the “poor” to loose what little they have in lesser property assessments to support those who for the most part are prejudiced against the underclass as Touma, Dyster and others have demonstrated?

Seeing the City Council works so diligently to keep the underclass from from expressing their opinions about how they are treated and prosecuted maliciously by department heads ( code enforcement ) and beaucratic policies, ( NFC ) exclusion zones in prime realestate zones ( Buffalo Ave. Heritage Zone) it is no wonder why opposition is expressed.

But Touma has come out with his ” ( Personal Attacks )” spiel, which CHILLS POLITICAL SPEECH and imposes fear upon political participants. As stated in numerous Supreme Court Opinions, “the majority of free speech violations are by those upon city councils and local boards and committees who, because of their personal taste, cannot tolerate political opposition.”

Gerald Skrlin

Gerald Skrlin

Avery asks: “Ok, the goat is in the room, what happened to the elephant?”

Purely referring to the concept of not talking about the elephant in the room, how was Donna Owens’ role as creator of the recycling program demonstrated in the Totes McGoats coming out party the other night?  I was stuck in Charlotte, NC after spending a weekend in the losing Superbowl City’s epic-center, so I missed it, but I heard there were no words spoken by our city’s top paid executive.  I said before I would not make this my quest, but, damn, why hasn’t anyone else even written a letter to the editor about the absolute lack of participation in anything by our City Administrator?

They don’t let her talk (much) at council meetings, the Mayor speaks for her.  At the last meeting I attended, she introduced a website designer to explain his progress on the City website, then sat down.  She introduced Brooke D’Angelo to go over recycling numbers, then they asked the Modern representative to explain further.  She spoke down to all local business owners attending a meeting when she first “rolled out” her program, and that was the last we’ve heard from her.  Most people I have spoken to about this (actually all) shake their heads in disbelief at the amount of money being spent on a salary for a person who has yet to convince anyone I know that she has accomplished anything.  They cut her salary and she stayed. When the Mayor announced he is reviewing managerial positions at City Hall, most thought this was his chance.  Nada.

Can someone back me up, or just tell me I’m imagining this and shut up?  We are paying top dollar for a person who alienates herself from every opportunity set in front of her.  The rest of City hall personnel have to step up and do her job, speak for her, and protect her.  Not only is her salary a waste of City money, but look at the opportunities we are missing with not having the right person in her place.  We need someone who can run a city, not decorate City Hall.  We need someone with relationships, someone developers would be anxious to meet and work with.  We need someone to be proud of.

Please comment  for the good of our City or just to shut me up.

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Respectfully, Mr. Choolokian is Not the Right Choice [By Seth Piccirillo]

My family lives and works in the City of Niagara Falls because we are invested and committed to our hometown. I wrote this letter for the same reason. Glenn Choolokian is not the right choice for mayor of our city. This statement is based on my observation of his performance as City Councilman, not on emotion. These also are not personal attacks, but rather a summary of facts. I attend every city council meeting. I have reached out to him to be part of community conversations. I believe firmly that Mr. Choolokian’s slogans do not match up with his actions as an elected official.

Please consider the following examples:
-Mr. Choolokian’s primary slogan is “It’s about our families.” In the recent debate, he stated his opposition for tax breaks for economic development. As a councilman he voted in favor of a reassessment and tax reduction at the vacant “turtle” building for Niagara Falls Redevelopment as well as a tax settlement for the One Niagara Building. Those are do-nothing tax breaks, and Mr. Choolokian voted for them. They did not bring benefit to Niagara Falls families.

-Mr. Choolokian has sponsored campaign billboards that state “$200 Million in Casino Funds Gone.” I assume the purpose was to suggest that the current administration spent funds alone. Mr. Choolokian’s math and memory are incorrect. The city has received $189 million of casino funds since 2003. The current administration and city council have had oversight over approximately $106 of casino funds. Mr. Choolokian has voted in favor of a majority of those investments.

-Mr. Choolokian stated in the recent debate that Niagara Falls is “done” and opposes the economic development approach of the city. Again, he presents himself as a newcomer and not as the five year member of the City Council with “30 years in the system” with the city and the Niagara Falls Water Board that he is.

City Council members sit on the city’s economic development agency boards to help make decisions. Mr. Choolokian has not attended a NFC or Urban Renewal Agency Meeting in three years. This includes his time as Chairman of the “Council Majority” in 2013. Last year, he was the only city council person to not attend community development budget community meetings, yet the only one to vote against it. Mr. Choolokian has purposefully taken himself out of the decision making process in order to make general criticisms. City Councilman is not a volunteer position. These meetings are part of his paid responsibilities, yet he still does not attend.

-Mr. Choolokian has a lot to say about fiscal conservatism. For the 2015 city budget, he proposed budget amendments that forced the city to exceed the property tax cap limit. During his one opportunity to show a coherent fiscal strategy, Mr. Choolokian presented changes that were both illogical and have contributed to the city’s structural deficit issues. Ironically, he was also the lone vote against participation in the New York State Financial Restructuring Board in July 2015, stating, paradoxically, “We’ve got to start doing things different.”

Honesty matters. Facts are important. Leaders show up. I agree that government should be about our families. Personally, I believe that our families deserve better than Mr. Choolokian’s brand of decision making and politics.

(The content or opinion expressed within does not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of Readers are encouraged to submit articles and videos, but expresses the right to approve or disapprove each submission. Each submission will be posted as is.)

A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give – By Dennis Prager

[by Dennis Prager]

If every school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity — your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values — e pluribus unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America’s values.

This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self — while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school’s property — whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can’t speak without using the f-word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as “Nigger,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bitch,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky — to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

Where it SHOULD go [by Dan Davis]

We all know how casino payments to the city work, right? The casino pays the State of New York 25% of their slot machine revenues for exclusivity rights to a certain region of the State. The State then allots 25% of that amount to the Host Communities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca. In Niagara Falls, another 25% is deducted for certain mandated expenditures. The remaining 75% is then put in a Tribal Fund for such uses as, reimbursing the city for loss of tax revenue, extraordinary health & safety and infrastructure expenses, and Economic Development.

The contract for exclusivity is a contract that is mandated by federal law between the Seneca Nation and the State of New York. The law (99H) which distributes “Tribal Funds” is a State Law negotiated by our State Representatives. The Seneca Nation is not required to negotiate with a municipality because, for one thing−the municipality would not have the wherewithal to grant exclusivity. A change to 99H would have to take place in the New York State Legislature.

Whether we like it or not, those are the rules we have to play by. What we can change is the way we handle our share of the money, which−whatever you may or may not agree with−is pretty “Willy Nilly” at this point

First of all, let’s look at the loss of tax revenue. I am not sure exactly how this is computed, but it should be based upon the present value of the land. In other words, if the land is valued at $250,000,000 the amount going to the CITY BUDGET should be around $7,500,000. That is the amount the city would have received if this land was privately developed and… that is the amount the city should be using to maintain the city, including such things as: remodeling fire stations and Economic Development Department salaries–basically any expense that is connected to the overall operating expense of the city that is not directly connected to the cost of Casino operations.

The remainder of the casino funds should go towards incentives that “Create Wealth” and increase the city’s tax base so that we can improve our “Standard of Living” and meet the rising costs of city government without future tax increases.

Dan Davis
Niagara Community Forum

(The preceding article is a guest submission for The content or opinion expressed within does not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of Readers are encouraged to submit articles and videos, but expresses the right to approve or disapprove each submission. Each submission will be posted as is.)

All I want for Christmas is a new City Administrator

Yes Virginia, that headline is a real eyeball grabber, I know. Normally, I try to claim neutrality at all times here at the NiagaraHub, but after Friday afternoon’s abysmal special City Council meeting where the crowd in attendance was subjected (once again!) to more incoherent babbling and unanswered questions regarding the “roll out” of the new citywide garbage law by our trusted City Administrator, I couldn’t keep my fingertips from clacking away on the keyboard in order to express my disdain.

The debut of this new citywide process, being enacted to help clean up our streets and neighborhoods (while at the same time streamlining the entire waste collection process), could have been introduced to Joe & Jane Public in an elementary fashion – with plenty of hand holding and positive reinforcement so that even the youngest or oldest dogs could understand and learn the new tricks. Enacting a process that is a change to the community, a change having an effect on both residents and business owners, a change that is a complete overhaul of the decades old system, should have been guided and fostered with great care. Instead, this great concept was birthed unto our city like a dank old fart. In fact, I’ll go one better – this concept was left on our front porch like a flaming bag of shit.

The City Council on Friday had an important decision to make, each council member had a vote and their decisions together would either dismiss or enact this new process into law. When certain council members had questions, our City Administrator couldn’t coherently answer to their satisfaction and once again she leaned on the verbal communication skills of others to help cover for her. Mayor Dyster swooped in again (as he does regularly) to help clarify information, Craig Johnson aided with some facts, and lastly, Brook D’Angelo supplied the City Council with a few more of the answers they were seeking. Council Chairman Walker shook his head in disapproval, no one was happy with the lack of confidence being displayed by our City Administrator.  The entire City Council was in harmony for once (gasp!) because they all shared puzzled looks on their faces. Many residents in attendance hung their heads in shame, embarrassed because somehow “we” managed to screw things up… again. A program that should have been rolled out with great confidence and welcoming fanfare has obviously become quite the clusterf*ck. Now, this clusterf*ck is law.

This is the part of my post where I will insert my disclaimer, inserted because it is always customary (it seems) to put someone on blast, then attempt to soften that blast with a disclaimer, right? This isn’t a personal attack, nor does it bring anything personal in any way into the mix. My thoughts and expressions are purely my own and based solely on my observations and gathered information about the professional abilities, or lack thereof, displayed by our City Administrator. A position in our City Government that deserves to be filled by an individual with confidence, direction, determination (insert more of your own nouns here). We have enough exasperated position fillers throwing their hands up with confused looks on their faces, we don’t need another. I’d simply love to attend a City Council meeting and not wince whenever our City Administrator talks into the microphone. I want to be proud of our leaders and proud to be able to let them lead. I walked out of City Hall after this meeting and felt embarrassed, hence, me writing this rant. Can ya blame me?  I know this program will eventually work out to be a fine system we all can be proud of, but was it necessary for us to choke on it first? All the water going over Niagara couldn’t help wash down that tough to swallow aspirin.

The garbage/recycling tote roll out program was a time for our City Administrator to shine, maybe a chance to dispel all of the naysayer’s repeated noise, but instead we walk away with shit on our boots from stomping out the flaming bag left on our porch.  Please Santa, not only do I want a clean pair of boots for Christmas, I also would love a new City Administrator… check the video footage, I’ve been a good boy!

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Epilogue: If your feelings mirror mine, let’s do something about it. Our voice can be strong if we all sing together. There is no reason for us to endure this any longer. There has been so much progress lately here in Niagara Falls, New York, we can’t let it veer off course now. Is it a matter of the entire population asking nicely for the City Administrator to resign? Let’s get our sprinkles and gum drops ready to help sweeten the request.  Please enter your thoughts below in the comment section.

index“Does wrapping paper go in the blue tote or the green tote?”

Avery offers assistance to Library and Economic Development budget woes

 guy-covering-his-faceI attended one of the budget hearings featuring Tom Desantis (on behalf of the Economic Development and Planning Departments), and Michele Petrazzoulo and Jill Onesi, the fashionable librarians. These representatives were ceremoniously seated in front of three members of the City council to present an appeal to budget cuts proposed for their operations. I’m not sure either interest prepared a defense suitable for the council to reverse the Mayor’s recommendations. I have some thoughts on how these humble department heads can measurably present their effectiveness and maintain funding for the benefit of the City.

As you know, Mr. Desantis has been the City planner for close to thirty years. That’s a blink in the life of a comet, but eternity for a family hoping their city will prosper for generations of togetherness. So who knows better about the future of development and progress in Niagara Falls than Desantis, the person who planned for us to be where we are today?

Mr. Desantis simply stated that his department had too much work to do to survive a 25% cut in funding. Proposed elimination of jobs within both areas was unacceptable, as no one would be able to handle all the activities managed by economic development and planning. He referred to the many phone calls and meetings his staff manages to entice businesses and developers to come to Niagara Falls. However, he stopped there.

Want a slam dunk Tom? Produce the list of the businesses and developers your department contacted during the year of 2014. Then show the council the success ratio of landing these businesses in the falls, or provide the reason for those who may have passed on the opportunity. I’m sure records were kept on initial contacts, followup call schedules, and successful placement of new businesses and developments. When you quantify your statements related to the “many calls and contacts” your department facilitates, no one can argue with your success.

While you are at it, you can sweeten the pie by providing the list of commercial space available for sale or lease within the City. You must have this information, as it would be key to your pitches to potential businesses and developers. Furthermore, no one has ever contacted me regarding commercial space and rates I manage, so I assume you have this information.

Niagara Hub will be glad to assist in spreading the word of the new businesses and developments your department discovered and landed here. We understand you must have been nervous in sitting in front of City officials, and we are happy to help you with the simple process of communicating effectively.

So there you are- quantify your efforts and successes, and the people of this great City will fight tooth and nail for your continuance.

As far as Planning department cuts? Sorry, miracles are managed by something bigger than the Hub.

OK, how ’bout the library? The proposed budget simply cut $75,000 out of the support it offers the library. As the library is not a city department, a line item budget was not presented. The council committee respectfully asked to review what the library does with the $75,000, and the directors agreed to provide that in the same transparent quantification I asked the economic development folks do. I suggest Michele and Jill provide a count of people who use the library daily, programs that assist the community, and other events and classes that may be effected by a $75,000 reduction in support. It was nice to see several members of the Board of the Library in the audience; a statement to the commitment some have to the causes that are close to their hearts.

On a side note, the rumor mill has it that the council may take into consideration Ms. Petrazzoullo’s residency in Lewiston as a reason for sustaining the $75,000 cut in funding. If that were the case, the council would be in violation of prudent decision making, as there is no residency requirements for library employees. Sure, it would be nice to have all people who work with the city in any regard live here, but that just can’t happen. Certainly the members of the city council realize their moral, fiduciary, and professional responsibilities in voting as directed by the desires of the citizenry. When the library presents the benefits that come from the city support, the council must vote on the benefits to the city, and not on who lives where, what they wear, or which church they attend.

And folks, if you want this city to move forward, get involved. Attend public meetings to show our elected officials you care, you are watching, and you vote. This is our city, and we have selected officials to act on our behalf. Let’s make sure we are constructive and active in our assertions. Negative ramblings only entitle those moving in the wrong direction to forge ahead.

Upgrading the facilities for little leagues [by Jeff Cafarella]

Comment: I am President of Hyde Park Babe Ruth Baseball/Softball. We attended the City Council meeting on 3/31 to show support for the proposal regarding the upgrade to the local little league facilities. Here are the my remarks I read to the city council at that meeting.

Good evening Mr. Mayor and Niagara Falls City Council. I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of roughly 200 families in the city of Niagara Falls. My name is Jeff Cafarella and I am president of Hyde Park Babe Ruth. This is my first year as league president, but overall this is my 30th year involved in the league which consisted as a player, coach, manager & 13yr Board Member.

We are here tonight in support of councilman Choolokian’s proposal for the upgrade to the facilities at all local little leagues within the city. We are here in support of our youth and we are here to support change to a negative reputation this city has regarding things to do for children 4-18 years old.

The reason why we support this proposal is simple. We want our children to have a safe and modernized complex they can all be proud of. Not only will our local youth benefit from such improvements but so will our local economy.

Just this past month we we were asked by Babe Ruth State commissioners if Hyde Park would be interested in hosting a 12yr old State Tournament which would draw the top 8-12 Teams (in that age group) from all over NY STATE. Unfortunately because our complex cannot meet mandated requirements set forth by Babe Ruth Baseball we are unable to accept the invitation. The requirements we fail to meet are considered “Basic” necessities within the game of baseball. Those necessities are home run fences and the ability to have two games playing simultaneously within a close proximity. Even if we put up temporary fencing on one diamond, our next closet diamond does not have the proper distance needed to set up a 2nd temporary fence because it would interfere with the spectators on the first diamond.

If Hyde Park were able to host this tournament, there would be an influx of approximately 500 people coming to nf for up to four days. Our local hotels, restaurants & businesses could benefit from such tournaments.

Just a few short years ago, HP was famous for hosting our annual 4th of July Tournament. It consisted of 30 teams from all over WNY, Jamestown, leagues as far west as Ohio and even our neighbors to the north sent teams for the 4 day holiday weekend tournament. Unfortunately due to the worsening conditions of our grounds, the lack of those basic necessities mentioned before, the tournament has since faded away and now our friends at the Lewiston Baseball League have been the local organization where teams looks to come play because of their modernized complex and playing fields.

We understand people will question who will maintain these facilities after they have been built, but allow me to remind you that little league baseball survives on the hardworking volunteers that dedicate their own time to allow our youth to succeed in a safe & structured environment. The leagues would still maintain the shelters & diamond upkeep as well as everyday maintenance. There would be no NEW additional costs to the city following completion of the complexes.

When driving around the city you might notice some other sporting facilities which have been recently upgraded such as the new million dollar hockey arena, the creation of Legends Park and complete renovation to The Bocce Courts just a few years back. Those renovations were desperately needed and now provide the safe & modernized facilities that are needed in their respected sports. We are now here standing united asking you to provide the 3,000 children who participate in baseball/softball those same needed upgrades to their respective complexes.

Little league baseball has existed and provided a service to the youth of this city for over 50 years. It has survived while many false promises have come and gone into this city with verbal financial support from previous city leaders. With the cities latest financial gain, NOW is the time to financially support our youth for the next 50 years.

There is a new movement in all the local little leagues within the city and we are all working together to better the lives of all our children and to change the stereo type of little leaguers from Niagara Falls. Without these desperately needed renovations to our facilities, we’ll be fighting an uphill battle with spinning tires.

In closing, we are simply asking for safe diamonds which meet playing requirements, a shelter to serve as concession stand/field house with working bathrooms and if possible a lighted diamond to enhance the overall experience. To some it may seem like a lot to ask for, but for many in other local close cities & townships, this is the standard.

I stand here tonight asking you not to look at this as a financial investment, but as an investment in our youth for generations to come.

Finally, I will leave you with a quote that we are all familiar with…..If you build it, they will come.

[Submitted by Jeff Cafarella]


NIMCH [by Gerald Skrlin]


American Acronym: Not In My City Hall

People in Washington DC got together some time ago and produced a traffic gridlock, protesting and resisting city proposals to take away their properties to build roads to ease the traffic in and around their neighborhoods.

They mounted a campaign, NIMBY viz. Not In My Back Yard, much like former Council member Jimmie Stuart did when he resisted the truck route proposed to use the Whirlpool /Rapids Bridge, which would have congested the north town and left the area buzzing with lorries galore.

Well, since I spoke to the City Council on Tuesday Jan 21, 2014, I have had to wait a long time to present the information I acquired by requesting FOILs to back up my accusations, as I stated, “The corruption that exists between the Mayor’s Office and the Inspections’ Departments.” Bear with me and I shall present this information to you so you may determine the veracity of my claim.

I saw how Tom DeSantis reacted to what I spoke. It was very interesting.

First of all to speak out against public officials it is not easy, nor is there any pleasant emotional thrill to bring out the truth in these claims. However when considering the deceitful actions used by particular members of their departments and the Mayor, and their underhanded and continual criminal attempt to cover up illegal activity; that of actually ignoring an illegal rooming house to accommodate foreign student women, being deceitfully exploited by the Holiday Inn, is in the proverbial sense, unforgivable.

Besides these facts, an actual felony was committed in producing forged documents to a Niagara County Health Sanitarian on two occasions. The list of offenses does not stop there, they continue. And what of the uncovered illicit deals? We shall perhaps never learn of those deals that went on far behind the scenes in shady deals as have been so, so characteristic of former Niagara Falls administrations.

It is about time things change! Not change such as politicians speak of, i.e. political change, it is not expressly cared for in a Federal republic bound to checks and balances, but when most people think of checks and balances they think of their own check book and pine at how difficult it is to balance it!

Is it beneficial for our working people to be replaced by student workers? No. Is it beneficial to deny foreign students seeking a summer opportunity to visit the United States and partake of the program which has strict guidelines that mandate they be awarded an American Experience? Absolutely not!

Ms Sharon Hauser, General Manager of the Holiday Inn has been accommodating foreign students in Mr. Fisal Merani’s house at 154 Buffalo Ave, Niagara Falls, NY 14303 during the last three tourist seasons, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

According to department of State Guidelines, such students are to be protected by their sponsoring agencies who are supposed to help place them in suitable accommodations and preferably with American families to demonstrate American hospitable cultural values.

What a sad experience they learned here!

On at least three occasions I told the city council of the incident in the summer 2012 when eight foreign student women, four from Jamica, and four from the Eastern European Balkans were accommodated at Merani’s house. It was extremely fortunate for them when my sewer backed up whereupon I complained to the city inspections dept. about the Holiday Inn’s illegal boarding house. The inspectors came and what did they find?

They found that there was “ no sewer backup” which means the sewer line did not permit the flow of waste to the city sanitary sewer system. Instead of the toilet on the second floor flushed into the sewer line upstairs, discharging in between the walls, there it flowed, going down into the basement where it pooled. The maintenance workers had the cellar door locked so no one could get down the cellar stairs.

It was during this period when there was also an electrical fire in their stove. The girls, who were friendly with my son rushed over one evening, calling out frantically for help. Their electric stove was on fire. My son, having studied electronics discovered immediately that it was an electrical fire, whereupon he attempted to get to the fuse box in the basement to shut off the source of energy producing the fire.

Can you imagine what would have happened if he had run down the stairs into the basement? The hotel maintenance staff did however put out the fire, but, they never did call the fire department!

I read a letter from the Niagara County Health Dept. Director Scott Ecker which addressed to Ms Sharon Hauser. He stated the Holiday Inn, of which she is general manager was operating an illegal rooming house, Fisal Merani’s house. I read it before the new 2014 city council of which I consider to have, a majority of ONE.

Walker, Cholikian, Grandeniti, and Robinson all heard me speaking of these matters for years, and Paul Dyster, whom I informed personally of these matters twice, face to face in the summer of 2013, and face to face at Maple Ave School in 2011, all did… NOTHING!


Gerald Skrlin

Caretaker Lavinia E. Porter House
Historic Museum
Niagara Falls, New York, USA

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(The preceding article is a guest submission for The content or opinion expressed within does not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of Readers are encouraged to submit articles and videos, but expresses the right to approve or disapprove each submission. Each submission will be posted as is.)


My thoughts on Championship Sunday (Part 2 of 2) [by Patrick Mackenna]

“What’s your deal?” That question helped to spark one of the newest, most intense rivalries in sports. 

In 2009, USC was favored over Stanford by 23.  USC, a national powerhouse led by Pete Carroll, had no reason to circle this game on the calendar.  All indications pointed towards this being a sizable victory.  Jim Harbaugh, first year coach at Stanford, would do his best to make Carroll circle Stanford the next time around.   Despite the point spread, the disparity in ranking (Stanford # 64/ USC #4), USC was defeated 55-21.  Adding insult to injury, Harbaugh continued to pour it on with the game well at hand.  Stanford actually went for a two point conversion to reach 55.

The handshake between coaches at midfield was anything but cordial.  Instantly, Stanford-USC became must see TV.  Carroll, however, would bolt the collegiate ranks and take the Seahawks head coaching position the following year.  USC would be crushed with violations, sanctions due to recruiting issues, specifically giving Reggie Bush too much stuff to hide.  Harbaugh stayed another year, building Stanford into a National contender while grooming prize quarterback Andrew Luck. San Francisco would coax the maniacal coach away from Stanford in 2011.  Harbaugh and Carroll were again interdivisional foes. 

Harbaugh’s immediate NFL success crushed the learning curve for first time NFL coaches.  GM’s began looking at their (3) year plans, (5) year plans and in Buffalo’s case (15) year plans differently.  GM’s started to want (1) year plans.  Who could blame them? 

San Francisco came within inches of winning last year’s Super Bowl.  Harbaugh had become a begrudging rock star.  His success had earned a lot of admiration and his antiques are subsequently swallowed as quirks.  Recently, his wardrobe made news in that he spends eight bucks on Dockers.

Harbaugh also brought the post game douchery to the NFL.  His sweeping handshake and back thumping of fellow meathead Jim Schwartz told everyone in the league: you better be on your toes when you come shake my hand.  The 49ers finished year one under Harbaugh 13-3 (following a 6-10 season under knuckle-dragging Mike Singletary), they went to the NFC championship game and were a few Kyle Williams fumbles from advancing to the Super Bowl. 

Here’s the guy Harbaugh replaced…  Harbaugh is tough, player friendly and progressive.  He’s unafraid to be contrary and has made a practice not to look back.  Perhaps his most difficult decision was to move on from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.  Smith, fresh off taking the 49ers to the NFC championship lost his job after being concussed and sidelined.  Kaepernick filled in for Smith and when Alex became healthy, Harbaugh made the controversial decision to stay with the 2nd year QB. 

Carroll on the other hand, was likely closer to unemployment than a rivalry with Harbaugh a few years into his deal.  His record was around .500 and his team seemed an oddly assembled collection of mediocrity.  Carroll’s saving grace? Russell Wilson in the third round, a slick trade for Marshawn Lynch and feeding his defensive unit massive amounts of PEDs (or as they are referred to by the Seahawks – “Adderrall.”),d.cWc  Seattle quickly jettisoned to the NFC elite.  The two matches with the 49ers became must see TV. Carroll’s style differs from that of Harbaugh.  Carroll is more outgoing, media friendly and a little more Ra-Ra on the sideline.  Pete could easily be mistaken for a Hollywood director and is about as charismatic as they come. 

Carroll made an equally bold move at quarterback by inserting Wilson in the starting lineup over free agent acquisition, and guy who made more money off one good start than Rob Johnson, Matt Flynn.  Hindsight blinds us from the fact that in the moment, starting an undersized, untested rookie took a lot of courage from a coach already on the hot seat. 

The juxtaposition of personality style from the coaches has emboldened the rivalry.  Each teams respective fan bases are also at odds with one another.  There contentious relationship feels a bit like an eighties movie storyline.  Harbaugh, the lead with your chest out bully and Carroll the enthusiastic hipster make for a nice dichotomy.  Harbaugh is played in this scene by the “douche bag from Karate Kid 3”…while the spirit of Carroll is represented in (4) skiers loudly coming down the hill.  Harbaugh would not be a fan of ski-shenanigans on his mountain.

Seattle and San Fran have split regular season games over the past two years, with each team winning their home games.  Seattle however, has destroyed San Fran in two contests in Seattle by a combined 71-16.  This Sunday figures to be different given the trajectory of the teams since their last meeting.  San Fran has gotten hot and healthy; Seattle has won ugly of late and comes into the game without offensive weapon Percy Harvin. 

In my opinion, San Fran is the better team.  The home crowd which is typically worth 3 points by Las Vegas standards, is likely worth 4 in Seattle.  The stadium architecturally designed to keep the noise within, has twice seen the record for sound broken this season.   Members of media have been in unison about the advantage; there seems to be no way to simulate or prepare for the noise.  My inclination in this game leans towards the 49ers in a close game.