Mayor James C. Galie this week defended his administration's accomplishments over the past two years in response to comments made by City Councilman John G. Accardo on the need for a review of the City Charter.
Accardo said he doubts the city has experienced another 10-year period with as little progress or greater decline than under this charter. Other City Council members made similar comments.
Councilwoman Connie M. Lozinsky said the current mayor-administrator-Council form of government has been "riddled with deadlocks, gridlocks and power struggles" and has not worked. Council Chairman Vince V. Anello said the result of the mayor and Council not working together is "government in chaos."
The Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday on establishing a Charter Commission to come up with revisions to the document that created the so-called "strong-mayor" form of government that went into effect in 1988. Galie, convinced the Council wants to change the charter to diminish the mayor's powers, has said he will create his own commission.
Galie -- the third mayor under this form of government -- said he was "incensed" at Accardo's comment.
In the first two years of his administration, Galie said 400 new jobs were created at TeleTech's new downtown call center -- the most jobs brought into this area in the last 40 years. Downtown also has the Hard Rock Cafe, a "world-class entertainment-type restaurant."
"The Hyde Park Golf Course has never been better in the last 25 years. Privatization came to be because I told (former inspections and environmental services director Dan R.) Gagliardo to look into privatization if it could be cost effective and sometimes we can get a better work ethic because they're not locked into unions," Galie said. He said the privatization of sanitation services was approved because the Council couldn't override his veto last year.
Galie also pointed to improvements to city parks, the West Pedestrian Mall and Little League ballparks, demolition of the former Cleveland Avenue and Centre Avenue schools, institution of the Police Department's canine and bicycle patrols and Safe Shopping Days, and extension of Spectacor Management Group's contract to manage the Convention & Civic Center, which included improvements to the grounds and a new marquee.
The mayor said a new directional-sign program in conjunction with the state, in the discussion stage for about 20 years, will finally get under way next year.
Galie said he also worked with Sandra L. Hays of the Pine Avenue Business Association to make the Little Italy project happen, with Benderson Development Co. on new retail development on Niagara Falls Boulevard and with the Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp. to get a signed master agreement that is to bring at least $130 million in development to the downtown area over the next eight years.
Said Accardo: "Those are things that we all should be proud of but I think if you really look around at the general condition of the city there is a lot of room for improvement."
Galie said the most progressive cities have a strong mayor form of government because there is more continuity to make things happen and it's easier to get things done.
"Probably in the last two years, there has been more movement and more development," the mayor said. "The point I making is there's been a lot of things happening in the last two years. I will compare it to any administration in the past 30 years."
"A lot of it has been accomplished because of this form of government, because I can negotiate by myself along with the administration. It's because of the strong mayor form of government that all this has been accomplished, no ands, ifs or buts."
Accardo said a look at the history of the city will show a lot of gridlock in the past six years.
"I think without the infighting and constant gridlock in city government a lot more good things could happen here and more significant things could happen here," he said. "But that gridlock doesn't give anybody outside the City of Niagara Falls any confidence to come in and invest some real dollars here."