The Time for Changing Course Has Arrived.
Join Bob as he strives to restore hope and opportunity to the citizens of our City.
- Development. We must focus on business development that can deliver employment with wages to empower families and help stabilize neighborhoods.
- Transparency. The citizens of Niagara Falls have had enough “spin” from this administration. It’s time for candor, clarity, openness, honesty and accountability from City government.
- Collaborative Government. Residents will no longer shoulder the burden of partisanship and petty politics.
- Budget. Poor fiscal management has brought our City to the brink financial ruin. Enough is enough.
More than Tourism
- Niagara Falls will always be a place synonymous with tourist entertainment -- from daredevils in barrels to wire walkers – but with a quarter of our city living at or below the federal poverty level, we need to provide employment opportunities that can lift people out of poverty.
While we need to continue efforts to bring attractions to the downtown tourist area, we can’t neglect other business development. The future of Niagara Falls and its residents depends on employment with wages that can allow families to put down roots, purchasing homes and helping to stabilize neighborhoods.
A recent report revealed the following about Niagara Falls:
- 22% of Niagara Falls residents live on incomes below the poverty level;
- The population of Niagara Falls has declined 9% while the population living in poverty has increased 2%;
- 56% of all jobs in Niagara Falls are classified as sales, service or clerical and unemployment in Niagara Falls is consistently higher than the WNY average
With all that our area has to offer these statistics cannot and should not be acceptable! Today’s industries–technology, health care and logistics, to name a few, need to be prioritized and aggressively sought.
Niagara Falls has all that these industries need to locate to our city but we need to go after these opportunities and not wait for business to find us.
Our commitment to business growth, which is an integral part of establishing financial stability, will require City Hall to breakdown and remove barriers to business development.
- A regional approach to business development can expand the opportunities for Niagara Falls, lead to economic growth and result in a more stable fiscal climate for our city.
Niagara Falls, historically, has been a city strategically located for cross border business development.
That has not changed. We are situated within an expanding bi-national economy that has nearly 3 million people living within a 2-hour drive of Niagara Falls/Town of Niagara and bilateral trade between NYS and Canada that is estimated at over $30 billion per year. Our City needs to create opportunities that take advantage of the assets we possess.
Today’s industries (healthcare, life sciences, technology and transportation services/logistics) are the greatest cross border economic opportunities available and, by acting regionally, Niagara Falls can elevate itself as a market for these new emerging business opportunities and the jobs they create.
Currently there are over 700 Canadian-owned companies operating in New York State, and the number continues to grow year after year. These companies are currently responsible for nearly 73,000 jobs throughout the state.
It just seems obvious that Niagara Falls, in conjunction with its neighboring communities, should aggressively pursue these opportunities as part of a broader economic strategy.
Work to deserve trust.
- I believe there is a real need to restore the public’s trust in and respect for city government. The public wants to believe that the decisions made at City Hall are not based on a secret agenda that reflect a particular special interest, but, rather, the decision being proposed is in the best interest of the entire community.
Just look at the recent history of the current administration in the presentation of the garbage tote program or more recently, the garbage user fee. In both instances, there was a failure to be clear and straightforward with the public. Either through ignorance or fear, City Hall did not provide full disclosure to the public, which lead to mistrust and a disregard for the concerns of residents.
Do you feel that the recent proposal to enact a garbage user fee was developed with the opportunity for department heads to voice an opposing point of view? Was there an opportunity for public input prior to the policy being put in front of the City Council? I believe the organizational culture currently prevailing within City Hall is characterized by denial and self-deception.
In order to have true transparency, City Hall needs a mayor who is not afraid to engage in a free flow of information with the City Council, department heads, city employees and, especially, the residents of the city.
Critical to true transparency and a good civic relationship are clarity and straightforward communication about what’s really going on in City Hall. How was it that last fall the NYS Comptroller designated Niagara Falls as one of only three NYS cities to receive his highest crisis designation of “significant fiscal stress” and yet members of this administration tell us that we are enjoying great progress and wonderful success?
- Being honest and accountable are indispensable to transparency. Our city needs a mayor who is prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead, willing to have open conversations with the public and ready to confront situations that may come with some personal cost.
I understand this experience and have endured and overcome the consequences. As mayor, I am prepared to meet the fiscal challenges that confront the City, but not alone or with a group of “insiders.”
Restoring the public’s trust and respect for city government will not be easy. It will take an honest, candid conversation with government officials, public employees, business people, labor leaders and city residents. It will take listening to new ideas, re-evaluating current systems and accepting constructive critique. It will take opening communication with all levels of government and with our Native American neighbors. f we can do this we can get Niagara Falls back on track. If we can do this we will truly achieve transparency in City Hall.
I think we can and as mayor I would be committed to the task, and with your help reset city government for a successful future.
Put petty politics aside.
- We have all watched in recent years as officials at every level of government failed to cooperate with one another because of political affiliations or vendettas. Niagara Falls has seen its share of City Hall officials that fail to work with governmental partners and neighboring towns to the detriment of city taxpayers.
For too long we have seen city officials reject opportunities to collaborate with other levels of government because “they aren’t in the same political party as us” or “we have to maintain control.” As a result, Niagara Falls has cut itself off from the rest of the county for years, and City Hall has placed the burden on all of us to support its partisan view.
For too long Niagara Falls has separated itself from its neighbors, either unable or unwilling to cooperate in projects because of political bickering. This bickering has led our City to the brink of fiscal disaster. As your mayor, I can assure you that this petty political nonsense will not interfere with the decisions our City needs to bring back fiscal stability.
We live in an extremely competitive economic environment, and it is terribly short sighted to neglect opportunities to maximize our resources through cooperative engagement with Niagara County, the Niagara Falls School District, the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, the Niagara Falls Water Board and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.
The potential of working together.
- Regions that are expanding and developing have learned the lesson that by working together, we can achieve more than by operating in our own bubbles. By advancing opportunities to work cooperatively with these governmental agencies, we can provide cost effective government.
We can establish meaningful opportunities for development and job creation for the greater Niagara Falls region together with neighboring communities. Through cooperation, Niagara Falls can lead the growth of Western Niagara County. Achieving this will take rejecting the old days of political division and recognition that there isn’t a Republican answer or a Democrat answer… there is only the right answer for Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls deserves a mayor who will put the partisanship “on the shelf” for the benefit of the residents of Niagara Falls, a mayor that has proven the willingness to work with and for all individuals regardless of political party.
In my private practice and public service I have measured my commitment not by political affiliation of the person or group, but rather by what is right or by the good that it will bring to the community. I can assure as the mayor of Niagara Falls I will continue to assess efforts to improve our community on those same terms and work toward bringing growth and prosperity to our City.
We deserve better.
- Niagara Falls has suffered from poor fiscal management for years under the current administration. This mismanagement has brought us to the brink of financial ruin, and culminated in the confrontation of facts at the 2019 budget sessions.
Since 2008, City Hall has used over $90 million in casino funds and $25 million in reserves to pay for basic city services. From 2012 to 2017, city government expenses have exceeded budgeted revenues in 5 out of 6 years (the only year that was not the case was the settlement of the first State-Seneca dispute).
Our recurring deficit has resulted in the downgrading of our bond rating, and failed audits have exposed serious deficiencies in the ability of City Hall to manage resources effectively and efficiently. As auditors identify mismanagement within certain departments, resulting in the use of reserve funds to fix the mess, City Hall continues to care little for how such departmental behavior impacts us all. Each year, we face a budget crisis with threats of draconian cuts to services, tax increases or poorly explained fees for services… services for which we also pay taxes.
Our dependency on casino funds to balance our budget has been criticized by state audits and constantly decried by businesses and residents, resulting in a failed fiscal policy that, for the second time in five years, finds us again begging for a lifeline just to stay solvent. We need to look for new and recurring revenue sources which are legitimate possibilities to expand the revenue needed to provide necessary services.
- Niagara Falls cannot withstand any further mismanagement and wasteful spending.
There are many missed opportunities to direct federal, state and local revenues to benefit all of our community and not just for those projects that provide political advantages. In my time working with the NYS Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG), I was charged with finding wasteful and fraudulent spending practices by Medicaid service providers. During my service at OMIG I uncovered over $3 million in waste and fraud. I was able to do it then, and I will bring that effort to City Hall.
During my time on the Niagara Falls School Board, I have pushed for new sources of revenue to be used for the improvement and repair of our buildings and properties. These revenue sources do not tax residents. Working with the other board members, I have been successful in bringing this idea to reality.
As I worked collaboratively with other board members, the Niagara Falls School District has been successful in strengthening its financial position and earning an upgrade in the school district bond rating. The school district exists in the same financial environment as city government and the school district has been able to achieve this stability. In other words, it can be done at the City level. We just need the right leadership to make it happen.
There is a better way to administer government and I have participated, with my fellow board members, in showing our community a better way.
We can fix this mess.
- As mayor, management of the budget will begin on my first day in office and will continue every day of my term. It isn’t prudent to avoid a review of the city budget until the time comes to discuss the budget for the next year.
It is even less effective to do so without involving other elected officials in the process. These are not election year ideas. In 2014, I presented some ideas for better fiscal/budget management to the Niagara Reporter, including monthly city budget reviews and council committees to bring all of elected officials into the process earlier, in order to develop a solid financial plan for our city government.
For once, Niagara Falls needs leadership that understands the value of balancing revenues and expenses. I have not been a full time political appointee for my entire work career. In fact, I have maintained my professional law practice in Niagara Falls since 1986, and I know how important it is to maximize revenue and control expenses.
I recognize that it is important to pay attention to this every day in order to have a profitable business. While I appreciate that government is not a “for profit” business, that does not eliminate the need for effective and efficient fiscal management.
Look out your front door, in your neighborhood or in various sections of the city. Have we received the benefits of over $90 million in spent casino revenue?!
I recognize that the city faces some hard choices. I have had to confront hard choices in the past and have been successful in getting through those instances. I can promise that as mayor of our city, I will listen to all segments of our community; it’s what I have been trained to do. Together, I know we can find a brighter future for Niagara Falls.