Detailing the history of One Niagara will prove to be this author’s greatest undertaking since he completed his dissertation on Basket Weaving in graduate school, many eons ago. With the complexity of this business, and the fact that I do not want to lose my audience, I will provide only the Cliff’s Notes version (or Spark Notes for our 30 and under crowd):
One Niagara is possibly the most valuable piece of real estate in the City of Niagara Falls. It was once owned by Niagara Falls Reporter’s publisher and low-income housing scam artist Frank Parlato. Parlato utilized this property as a parking lot and a trashy bazaar. No wonder he fell behind on his property taxes, at times owing the City, County and School District around One Million Dollars. Under Parlato’s ownership, the building was condemned multiple times too. It is even rumored that Parlato was living in the building.
Fast forward, Parlato “sells” the building to a group of investors. The investor’s group is led by Attorney Paul Grenga. The list of investors is kept secret, yet it is believed that Parlato still owns the lion’s share of the company. Needless to say, the “sale” of the company was more of an attempt to give One Niagara a “cleaner” and “saner” image with Grenga as a spokesman, instead of straightjacket bound Parlato.
During this time, the City of Niagara Falls brought foreclosure proceedings against One Niagara for the almost One Million Dollars in property taxes that One Niagara owes the City. Even this couldn’t be a simple affair! At
least two other entities joined the action stating that they were equity owners of One Niagara and that the current leadership under Grenga was not recognized. Apparently, like the many people who bought houses under Parlato’s low-income housing schemes, some more investors were rudely awaken! Who would have thought Parlato would rip them off? (See the Seagram’s heir scandal in which Parlato allegedly conned the family out of One Million Dollars…apparently, he didn’t use this money to pay his property taxes). This case, after about two years, is still pending in State Supreme Court.
The Link: Parlato’s newspaper, the Niagara Falls Reporter, survives based on the gratuitous investment from Roger Trevino and Niagara Falls Redevelopment. It is even been reported that Trevino ghost writes articles
for the paper. Trevino is also very politically active. His political allies include none other than Gary Parenti and Steve Pigeon. For years, even Parenti’s protégé, Council chairman Sam Fruscione was given a pass from the Niagara Falls Reporter for all of his indiscretions. Never once did that paper write a negative article about Fruscione (except once, and he was warned ahead of time). But then again, why would it? Fruscione was protected by Parenti. Fruscione relies on Parenti for advice on issues. And when the Niagara Falls Reporter decides, almost every week, to write a negative article about Mayor Paul Dyster, it is Sam Fruscione who is always available with a quote and negative comment.
So clearly, Parlato, Parenti, Pigeon, Trevino and Fruscione are in the figurative bed together.
That is also the reason why Fruscione does not openly call for One Niagara to pay its real estate taxes. While the rest of Niagara’s residents and businesses are struggling to make ends meet and to pay their taxes, One Niagara is given a free pass from the Council Chairman. Is this a repayment for the free pass he has been given at the hands of the Reporter? Or is it something deeper: maybe Sam Fruscione scrounged up enough cash to become an investment partner in One Niagara? Either way, Fruscione’s choice to ignore this huge problem, in the face of a looming City bankruptcy, is improper and unethical.
We invite commenters of all opinions here at the Post and encourage a free discourse between intelligent people who genuinely want the best for this city. Color us surprised when one of these commenters was no other than Joe Donovin. If our good readers are not familiar with this character, he was a contributor to The Niagara Falls Reporter. Now, we are not sure if this is the same JD but it inspired us to discuss a theory we had been meaning to share.
What does Niagara Falls Reporter contributor Joe Donovin, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy all have in common? THEY DON’T EXIST!!
After reading a few articles published by Joe Donovin in the Reporter, we became curious. Specifically, Mr. Donovin’s information seemed pretty detailed and personal. The stories were definitely written by an insider. Since we have never heard of anyone named Joe Donovin, we did a little research into this mysterious man. And just like our prior attempts to locate the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, we were equally unsuccessful in finding out who Donovin is. There is nobody within 100 miles of Niagara Falls that has that name.
We then turned to good ole’ investigative reporting. What we discovered was shocking! Rumor has it, that “Joe Donovin” was a collaborative project between City Council Chairman Sam Fruscione and Kevin Ormsby. Insiders tell us that Sam and Kevin wanted a vehicle to trash the city, while keeping their “good” name. Thus, the birth of JD.
We learned that Niagara Falls City Controller Maria Brown made some enemies by recommending the elimination of a position in City Hall. Turns out, the job that was to be eliminated was held by Kevin Ormsby. Next thing you know “Joe Donovin” is writing scathing articles about Ms. Brown.
In the end, Ormsby kept his job in City Hall by virtue of his friendship and loyalty to Council Chairman Sam Fruscione.
We also learned that in addition to writing under a false name, he was sharing privileged information with The Reporter. Why, would Council Chair Sam Fruscione dare violate the oath he took to protect the best interests of the public and partner with the Niagara Falls Reporter?
Let’s take a moment to examine Sam Fruscione. A man who since entering the political scene in 2005 hasn’t accomplished much more than causing scandal or sensationalizing the city’s pitfalls. Fruscione, is a self proclaimed “proud Italian-American” and even hosts the Little Italy public access television with his bestest buddy in the whole wide world, Jerry Genova. Their show glamorizes organized crime and obsesses with the Italian-American underworld. Instead of focusing on the proud hard-working heritage of Italian-Americans, these two worship mobsters and murderers. Unfortunately for the rest of us, our chairman never boned up on real Italian-American history and instead watched a mob movie or two. It was also Fruscione and Genova who were at the heart of the Pine Avenue Business Association’s collapse and the demise of the annual Italian Festival.
So what exactly does Fruscione stand for politically? Let’s look at the recent graduate incentive program introduced by the Dyster administration over the past few weeks. Last Wednesday, in the Niagara Gazette, Fruscione stated that he supported this new program. Yet in this week’s Niagara Falls Reporter, Fruscione changed his mind and no longer supports the program.
Fruscione also claims that he supports the demolition of vacant housing. But Fruscione slashed the budget for demolitions to $75,000.00, knowing very well that demolitions cost about 22,000 a pop. Is he serious? His budget will not even pay for 4 demolitions. So what did he do with the money instead?
How about a $250,000 Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Facade Improvement. That could be eleven demolitions! And he sent this money to the Medical Center despite the fact that the hospital’s CEO earns over $600,000 per year.
What will be important to Sam Fruscione this year? Who will he be sending our money to? Another NFMMC project (who btw is a big contributor to The Reporter)? A tax break for Frank Parlato’s One Niagara?
Sources tell us that Parlato is a regular visitor of Fruscione’s at City Hall. And every time Parlato leaves Fruscione’s office, he has volumes of documents in his hands.
Maybe if Sam can’t be trusted with his city documents, some of his privileges should be suspended…just like his email account with the School District was suspended because he was abusing it with his buddy Gary Parenti.
I never thought I would ever utter these words, but I miss Mike Hudson. Anyone with a little bit of common sense understood what the Niagara Falls Reporter was about from the very beginning. Sensationalism. Very rarely did Hudson and crew get a story right, and when they did, we would surely hear it for years to come.
It is also the negativity and crass “journalism” from the Reporter that makes Niagara such an undesirable area for outside interests. Pretend you are an outside investor and you may want to invest in the City. You decide, like any good investor, to do some research. You quickly, with a simple Google search, stumble upon the Niagara Falls Reporter. Week after week, year after year, the Reporter stakes claims and wild accusations regarding scandals and corruption. All of which, with the exception of their accusations regarding former Mayor Anello, are blatant falsities. Who then in their right mind would want to spend their hard earned money investing in this area when a group of naysayers are so intent on ruining the image of this area?
But like I said, I miss Mike Hudson. And no, I am not a saloon owner. Like him or not, at least when Mike Hudson was in charge of the Reporter, there was at least a sliver of journalistic integrity.
Yet with Hudson out of the picture, at least for the most part, we are left with the lunacy of Frank Parlato, Jr. While Hudson basks in as much sun and Rum in Los Angeles, Parlato’s crazed mind runs afoul throughout the Reporter.
Parlato, it has been said, writes most of the articles of the entire Reporter and simply slaps other people’s names on as the “author” or “journalist”. Parlato, a shareholder of the One Niagara building, uses the Reporter to wage war against the State and the City. It is the City that has filed foreclosure proceedings against One Niagara for their almost $1 Million in tax arrears. And if you listen to Frank long enough (a minute or two is usually too long), you will hear him gripe about how the State park across the street from One Niagara is destroying his business.
Besides Parlato using the Reporter to wage a war to support his personal interests, he succumbs all of his readers to a writing style reticent for junior high school newspaper columnists and right wing blogs. The spelling and grammar is atrocious and the layout is sloppy and confusing.
Most egregious is Parlato’s narcissistic Letters to the Editor section. Never, in my entire existence, have I seen a letter to the editor receive a retort. But now, under Parlato’s crazed leadership, the Reporter responds to each and every Letter to the Editor that criticizes their newspaper. Can’t the Reporter stand by its own articles and opinions without trying to get the last word in?
So Mike Hudson, you may not be one of God’s most perfect creatures. You may like your gin a little more than most, and you may be in dire need of a haircut, but we miss you badly. Please come back and rid us of the Parlato experiment.
Frank Parlato, Jr., publisher and contributor to the Niagara Falls Reporter, published what he may want to call an article in the Reporter on July 3, 2012. In the article entitled: “Waste $$$ revealed in plan to pay grads to live here”, Parlato couldn’t have been more wrong. Crazed Parlato, in the article, attacks the proposal by newly hired Niagara Falls Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo.
Piccirillo’s plan, which is still in the development stage, will provide a subsidy for 20 college graduates to move into lower income neighborhoods in downtown Niagara Falls. Though it is too soon to tell the actual benefits and detriments of the plan, it is laudable that the City, through Piccirillo, is actually trying new methods to improve economic development.
Clearly, it is not optimal to pay people to live in the City of Niagara Falls. Just like it’s not optimal that we have to have residency policies for our public employees, police officers and school teachers. But given the economic plight of Niagara Falls, desperate measures are necessary until the City rebounds.
But it may not be such a horrible idea for our City to encourage new college graduates to relocate to our downtown. Let’s consider the fact that there is currently a “brain-drain” in Niagara Falls. Our best and brightest high school and college graduates must relocate in order to find careers. There are simply no jobs remaining in this area to keep our youth here. And with the loss of our best and brightest, we have less community leaders, activists and future prospective politicians. With this plan, possibly, more young professionals will call Niagara Falls home. With more people living downtown, it will, on a small scale, make the crumbling downtown rental property market a little more competitive. With competition comes improvement. With improvement come other prospective tenants. With a demand for downtown properties, there may better tenants which will create better neighborhoods downtown.
This doesn’t even delve into the possible economic implications of having more people living and shopping in the Falls.
Regardless, Piccirillo’s idea is, at a minimum, viable. It should be explored, tweaked, and after due deliberation, enacted or scrapped. We applaud him for his forward thinking and hope he continues to be proactive
as he endeavors to make our community better.
Of course, Piccirillo is receiving a crash course into the negativity of the Niagara Falls Reporter. Crazed Parlato, who is not known for his ethical standards, is quick to bash the new plan. It is Parlato, though,
that earned between 10-12 million dollars in the 1990’s and 2000’s by conducting HUD-FHA based housing scams in the City of Buffalo. It was Parlato who set up a “house flipping” ring in low income neighborhoods in
Buffalo. Specifically, Parlato would buy deteriorating houses from elderly homeowners, usually for as cheap as $2,000.00 each. He would “renovate” these properties with unlicensed contractors and then flip them. His
housing ring included real estate agents to sell the properties to low income people, private lenders who would give high risk loans, and an attorney who would complete the transaction. Often, after the sale of the properties, the new home owner would learn of the myriad of problems and hazards at the property. When faced with the choice of either paying their high interest mortgage or repairing the serious hazards at their home, the new homeowners would be forced to make the home habitable. Then, after missing their mortgage payments, Parlato and gang would foreclose. The new homeowner would be tossed to the streets and the Parlato ring would simply resell the property to the next victim.
Ironically, it was the millions that Parlato “earned” in this housing scam that provided him with the capital to purchase the business graveyard One Niagara. Ever since he has owned One Niagara, he has swindled investors, skirted City ordinances, and has not paid his property taxes. In fact, at any given time, One Niagara owes the local municipalities one million dollars in property taxes.
Yet Parlato feels that he can attack Piccirillo’s idea. Specifically, in Parlato’s article, he insinuates that Piccirillo is attempting to “’improve’ minority neighborhoods through gentrification [by planning] to attract educated whites.” How dare Parlato even hint that Piccirillo’s idea has any relationship with race or ethnicity. Only bigots like crazed Parlato can see this as a black and white issue. In fact, didn’t Parlato make his millions from scamming low income African-Americans?
Further, Parlato tries to calculate an actual cost that this program would have for our taxpayers. His calculations and rationale, at best, are flawed. But his hypocrisy is boundless. Regardless, maybe, and just maybe, our communities’ economic development will be enhanced if One Niagara paid its million dollar tax arrears. And maybe, if One Niagara actually developed its graveyard of a business, it could create a tourist
attraction to benefit our downtown area. Instead, Parlato will sit on the sidelines and write scathing articles knocking down progress in his newspaper instead of actually doing something positive himself.
If anything, we wish the best of luck to Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo. He is one of the few young professionals that have decided to stay and help make Niagara Falls better. We will welcome and
support him, and others like him, unlike the crazed narrow-minded Parlato.