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LETTERS

>Democratic Committee didn't snub candidates

With regards to your Buffalo News article on Sunday, Nov. 11, concerning the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee and candidates Paul Dyster and Steve Fournier: Neither Dyster nor Fournier were ever "snubbed" in any way or at any time by our committee.

Early in 2007, I sat with Paul Dyster, and at that time he gave me a letter stating that he was not, at that time, a mayoral candidate and that he was going to take time to explore his electoral options. He emphasized that he wanted to see unity with the committee and stated that he was going to contact the individual committee members and poll them as to whether he had their support for a mayoral attempt. This was encouraged.

I was disappointed to later find that Paul was contacting select committee members in an attempt to split our membership and benefit from that split by, in effect, stopping the committee from strongly endorsing any one candidate for mayor. I found this very troubling in light of Dyster's earlier promise to work toward Democratic Party unity.

Why did he do this? Because he was buying time while a couple of personal matters were being worked out: (1) he was waiting to find out if he was going to be hired as the state parks director; (2) he was waiting for the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center to get City Council approval on the roof repair in the amount of $500,000; (3) he was awaiting appointment for Greenway commissioner. In the end, he was turned down for the state parks job. He did become a Greenway commissioner and the center did receive its funding.

The truth of the matter is that while all of this was playing out, the business of our committee moved forward on its regular schedule. There was no "snub." Dyster never requested an interview by our committee because he was holding off on his possible candidacy announcement, expecting our committee to wait.

As for Steve Fournier, he never requested a meeting or interview with the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee. In fact, I personally phoned him at least five times, and he never returned one of my calls. During the general election I offered to involve him in our "endorsed candidates" mailings and photography, and he didn't respond. I offered to involve him in our election night event, and he never responded. I have attempted to reach out to Fournier time and again, and he has refused to respond. These are the facts.

Does this look like a "snub"? I don't think so, and this ongoing attempt to make the Democratic Committee look like the villain simply will not succeed.

Fournier won in the general election due to the strength of the Democratic line, plain and simple, because at the end of the day, Niagara Falls is a Democratic city. Also, with a Democratic governor in office, the Democratic line was moved to Line A, making it the premier line in the voting booth. Ballot position played a key role, as it almost always does in an election.

If Fournier wants to make it look like he did it "his way," then he is kidding himself. In fact he not only didn't do it his way, he did, in large measure, do it the way of the local Republican Party bosses. Yes, Fournier snubbed our committee and did a deal with the Republicans for Republican Party support. This should give pause to the Democratic voters of Niagara Falls who were under the impression they had voted for a legitimate Democratic candidate.

As for Dyster, I have to say that the amount of spinning he has done to make the city Democratic Committee look bad is truly upsetting. He entered the race late and blamed the "party machine." He won the primary and then refused to accept my sincerely offered support, instead choosing to keep bashing our committee "machine" even though his opponent was Candra Thomason, a Republican.

Now, as to how the Democratic Committee endorsement vote actually shook out in its endorsement of [Lewis] "Babe" Rotella for mayor: you should make your readers aware that a swing of two votes away from Rotella would have resulted in a vote of "no endorsement" for any Democratic candidate as mayor. With 32 committee members present, Rotella received 18 votes. That slim 18 could have been affected had a number of people chosen to remain in the meeting room and cast their vote against Rotella or in favor of no endorsement. As it turned out, the mayor himself [Vince Anello] left the room without voting, his daughter declined to take a position on the committee and five members abstained, refusing to support any candidate.

Does this sound like a "machine" rigging a committee vote? Clearly Anello could have received the endorsement had he better organized his efforts and Dyster could have been in the nomination process if only he hadn't kept himself out while waiting for his job offers to clear up.

With all of this being said -- and with the record supporting the truth now being out there -- I sincerely hope that incoming Dyster and Fournier choose to work with the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee and all of the truly honest and decent people who make up the committee so we can join together to improve our city and make it a place that all of us will once again feel proud to call home.

Mickey Rimmen, chairman, City Democratic Committee

Niagara Falls

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