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May 8, 2019

Niagara County Legislature doubles down on secrecy

With its move to keep hidden decades of financial disclosure forms as well as not pursuing an audit of Off Track Betting for its widely criticized VIP ticket giveaways, the Niagara County Legislature on Tuesday proved once again it’s not accountable to the public and afraid of what it may find.

Niagara County’s unelected kingpin and CEO of Western Off Track Betting — attorney Henry Wojtaszek (above) — made his first appearance in four years before the legislative body to present financial results of the public benefit corporation and address the on-going VIP ticket scandal first brought up by his mentor — former State Senator George Maziarz — and now being reported on [...]

 
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April 26, 2019

Your ‘Game of Thrones’ guide to Niagara County politics

The most-watched TV series on the planet — which is wrapping up a record-breaking eight-year run — isn’t really about dragons, knights or wights in George R.R. Martin’s fictional Westeros, which itself is loosely based on England’s “War of the Roses.”

Given that, not surprisingly, it’s really all about politics: family dynasties, secretive back-room bargaining and backstabbing as well as plenty of revenge served up with ice and fire.

As we dive into the last epic season of GOT, can local fans of the record-breaking series — which hasn’t aired new episodes in almost two years — find insights and parallels between Niagara County’s 2019 political scene and the one [...]

 
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April 5, 2019

From North Tonawanda to Tinian: A Story of John Lukasik

As “Citizen Kane” played in one of Buffalo’s lost movie palaces, North Tonawanda resident John Lukasik sat in the audience as Orson Welles made cinematic history. That is, until the lights abruptly flashed on that Sunday afternoon on December 7th, 1941, and an even larger history wrote itself.

 “I remember thinking, ‘Where was Pearl Harbor?”

That Monday an 18-year-old John and a buddy went to a Marine recruiting station to sign up — out of anger at the sneak attack — and because “the Marines had a really nice dress uniform,” Lukasik said. His buddy got in, but John got rejected. Too many fillings in his teeth …

It would take another two years [...]

 
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February 26, 2019

Term limits needed at local level, NT council candidate Niemiec says

Term limits should exist across all levels of government and local government should not be exempt from them, says Zach Niemiec, candidate for 2nd Ward Alderman in North Tonawanda.

“There are many models out there,” Niemiec says. “The simplest to follow is that of the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution which was ratified in 1951 by the states which placed term limits on the President.”

“The 22nd Amendment states that no person shall be elected more than twice (8 years) and can not serve more than a total of 10 years if appointed or filling the remainder of a vacant term for the role of President.” Niemiec proposes Aldermen and Alderwomen, mayor, [...]

 
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February 13, 2019

Niagara County’s Independence Party is a total sham! Here’s what you need to know …

“The worst interview I’ve ever had!” exclaimed Independence Party of Niagara County chairperson Susan Agnello-Eberwein at the conclusion of independent journalist Joseph Kissel’s interview seeking the Independence Party’s endorsement.

The roughly 20-minute interview with seven members of the executive committee of Niagara County’s Independence Party started off congenially and innocently enough at 4 p.m. Saturday in one of the side rooms of Wheatfield’s Community Center off Niagara Falls Blvd.

The first question seemed fairly innocuous: “What made you want to get into politics?”

As the only independent professional journalist in Niagara County, during [...]

 
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February 5, 2019

Erik Herbert sets his sights on Niagara County Legislature

Pity the fool that goes into a 1v1 with Erik Herbert.

The current NT school-board member, police officer, political organizer and mixed-martial arts champion announced today he’s challenging majority appointment Jesse Gooch to represent the 7th Legislative District of Niagara County.

It’s an odd fight because two-thirds of the 7th district consists of the Town of Wheatfield, and one-third, North Tonawanda, where Herbert is building a new home on Witmer Road with his wife Diana and their son.

But Herbert knows how to win and succeed, and his previous campaigns — including hard-fought title fights as well as bringing back [...]

 
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November 2, 2018

Taxes, environment, transparency: What they all agreed upon at Lockport’s mayoral, assembly debates

Hard to believe, but the five candidates offering their thoughts on the City of Lockport and NYS Assembly District 144 seemed to agree on most major, common-sense issues.

An environmentally cleaner City of Lockport, including radioactive Simmonds Steel and heavily polluted 18-Mile Creek.

Also, reducing the financial burden on property owners who are bearing too much of the responsibility to fund public education.

And getting a better deal with the New York Power Authority as we ship most of the power of Niagara Falls downstate while paying some of the highest rates in the country.

Creating more jobs [...]

 
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October 12, 2018

NT council signs again with accounting firm linked to Lockport’s missing million

Going against the professional opinion of NT chief accountant Amanda Reimer (above), North Tonawanda’s common council voted 3-1 to retain the services of Amato, Fox & Company to perform the city’s annual audit.

Amato, Fox & Company — NT’s audit firm for the last 39 years — was examining the books for the City of Lockport in 2012 when its council balanced the budget with a surplus that proved to be a mirage.

In 2014, the State Comptroller’s Office said the City of Lockport could have avoided some of the resulting layoffs and program cuts if the audit had been carried out differently and if Amato, Fox & Company had informed the [...]

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1
Erik Herbert sets his sights on Niagara County Legislature
 
2
Niagara County’s Independence Party is a total sham! Here’s what you need to know …
 
3
From North Tonawanda to Tinian: A Story of John Lukasik
 
4
Niagara County Legislature doubles down on secrecy
 
5
Your ‘Game of Thrones’ guide to Niagara County politics
 
6
Term limits needed at local level, NT council candidate Niemiec says