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Undermining a city partner

February 9, 2014

Gary and Patty Damico have been some of Dunkirk’s biggest boosters in recent years....

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Feb-13-14 7:35 AM

I for one do not believe that DAMico did anything wrong. Let's run it down. The city gets the money. A conversation ensues between the city and Gary. The conditions of the loan are read. The paperwork is signed and submitted. Now the paperwork included a clause that jobs would be created. The city knew this but most likely ignored it. PAperwork submitted. All the T's were crossed and the I's dotted. Hud releases the funds. Then HUD got word of inappropriate loans. Looked into the matter and found 23 loans that did not meet the criteria. So are there 23 dummies or did the city attempt to get over on the Feds? Well the city got caught and now its time to pay the piper.

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Feb-12-14 12:45 PM

Ultimately the language within the contract between the applicant and the city comes into play. Barring evidence of collusion between the parties; ambiguities and deficiencies regarding material public policy matters (especially when you consider that the city is acting as agent for HUD) would be construed against the drawer of the contract.

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Feb-12-14 7:23 AM

"a screw up" we can live with that, but the HUD report had (23)loans were improper, the idea that current and past DLDC officials may have miss approbated HUD funds has merit, we again call for a full public investigation of all HUD loans handled by DLDC, it is the only way to get to the truth once and for all, but don't expect any case by case punishment for "wrong doers"

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Feb-11-14 6:24 PM

give the Observer a hug, well ain't special, gives a warm feeling all over, what we got here are tree huggers and John D huggers, let's hold hands and sing, not

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Feb-11-14 2:00 PM

we are never amazed when some one is caught with hand in cookie jar, or gave away cookies that they weren't theirs to give did you really believe the city or fund recipiants would admit to wrong doing, there is a storm brewing, maybe one of the offended parties will tell the truth although we believe all parties will "lay low" till HUD Storm clouds" pass as always

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Feb-10-14 6:59 PM

This article is a joke. The City is not throwing the Damicos under the bus. P&G has NOT been asked to pay back any money. The City knows it (Frey, Kory A) screwed up by giving money to a project that wasn't going to create jobs. It's on them, not P&G. HUD is the one who reported that the P&G grant didn't meet a National Objective (didn't create jobs). So why is the Observer pretending like it's the City and Mayor who are attacking P&G? Just to stir up controversy. It would be great if our local paper did investigative reporting instead of sensationalist journalism. No wonder no one has any idea what's really going on in the City.

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Feb-10-14 6:24 PM

Captain if you were a subscriber during November of 2012 you should remember that the Observer was anything but silent regarding the cash bonus question. Just a observation so that we remain "fair and balanced" Cap.

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Feb-10-14 2:08 PM

What do you mean by "cash bonuses" Captain? Something related too, or in excess of, the limits on Administrative & Professional fees? (ie. see page 38, "FFG 2014 CDBG Application Manual")?

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Feb-10-14 1:26 PM

kcw007: the info you shared involving other communities participating in similar programs financed by HUD funds is appreciated. I never doubted for one second that Gary or his wife ever did anything improper.

The description of these HUD grants sound a lot like the "welfare cheese" program...use it all up or risk losing future amts. But again, after all the funds that HUD has awarded to the city over all these yrs, where are the jobs?

The clear lack of oversight and negligence by HUD officials to make sure these funds were properly used, coupled w/the concern of having their own incompetence exposed will likely prevent a thorough investigation.

I find it interesting the OBSERVER brings P&G to the forefront, but remains silent about the CASH BONUSES paid directly to city employees out of the same funds.

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Feb-10-14 12:07 PM

Good to see that the bonuses paid for "a job well done" and "quality of work" were . . . what?

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Feb-10-14 11:06 AM

And from what I can make of it, each CFIP application is reviewed by the local governmental "program committee" and ranked by the committee as to their preference. Applicants chosen by the committee then sign a contract drawn by the local government, NOT HUD. It is the local government which has "superior knowledge" of HUD requirements, not the applicant. If the applicant answers the application questions truthfully, and there is no hint of collusion between the applicant and the local government officials, then I would think that the responsibility for failing to adhere to HUD rules lies exclusively with the local officials involved at the time the contract between the applicant and the local government was drawn.

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Feb-10-14 9:59 AM

If you do a search for" HUD Commercial Façade Improvement Program application" you'll find the program applications for a bunch of communities across the nation. Each of those applications appear to be custom designed by the local government; length of the application and number of questions vary GREATLY. In on a VERY limited number of application forms (ie. St. Louis, MO) there ARE questions about the number of current full and part time employees, but nothing about projected employment forecasts. As per my previous post, in no case have I found in the guideline & goal descriptions for these local CFIP programs the mention of a need to retain or increase future staffing levels as a requirement for obtaining a CFIP grant. If there is a HUD Block Grant requirement regarding future employment for a CFIP grant it would appear to be the local government(s) that are failing to transmit that requirement into the local CFIP program application, or the actual grant contract.

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Feb-10-14 9:01 AM

DARKSTAR makes a great point. The city has been receiving about a half million per year in HUD money for decades. If the purpose is job creation then where are all the jobs? The truth may be that city leaders have been playing fast and loose with taxpayer dollars - and getting away with it - until now. I look forward to a complete investigation by state and federal authorities. Don't expect answers from the Buffalo office of HUD. Money is handed out with a wink and a nod. At one time when the city swimming pool was being threatened with closure, I called the HUD Buffalo office and asked if HUD money could be used for pool renovation. I was told "all you need to do is put the project in the city's application for funding and it would likely be approved". Ok, how many jobs would that have created? The city could use some adult supervision.

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Feb-10-14 8:43 AM

Well my question is, if HUD money is tied to job creation, and the city has spent untold millions of HUD dollars, where are all the jobs?

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Feb-10-14 7:30 AM

Did anyone consider that with the current and past administrations Federal funds have been misused? This like an improper tax form send up the red flag. As you know once this happens nothing is sacred anymore. The Feds will look at the city through a microscope. We are now under that microscope and are starting to feel the power of the Federal Government. Oh one more thing you can fight, spend your money but your not going to win. So look for less Federal money in the very near future.

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Feb-09-14 5:27 PM

I've looked up info for several cities regarding their HUD Commercial Façade Improvement Program (CFIP). Nowhere in the web pages for Independence, MO, Rome NY or St. Louis, MO do the program guidelines and goals say anything about maintaining or increasing employment opportunities at the business receiving a grant. Mostly it has to do with sprucing up within a defined business district with an eye to attracting increased customer traffic to that business area in general and, subsequently, creating an atmosphere conducive to attracting more private investment interest.


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Feb-09-14 4:51 PM

You bet I do Captain,I subscribe,give a nice tip to my carrier,and donate to the education program,you?

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Feb-09-14 4:41 PM

Let's be honest... HUD distributes money to people all of time. I am siding with Damico on this... others signed off on it. It's not his problem.

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Feb-09-14 3:43 PM

Honestly, this site isn't as appealing as it once was. Yes, I still post comments, but I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep if it shut down.

...I bet you give more than a hug to show your gratitude ;)

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Feb-09-14 2:08 PM

Remember Gary what Ronald Reagan said about the 10 scariest words ever spoken-"I'm from the government and I'm here to help you"!

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Feb-09-14 2:01 PM

If I were you Captain(and others)I'd give the Observer a little hug once in a while to show your gratitude in allowing your comments to be posted! Perhaps if the tax assessment reduction had not been granted the web site would have been eliminated? Yep the Observer is a business and it does provide a service for people. Thanks Observer for the glory days section this morning!

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Feb-09-14 1:35 PM

Not blaming current or past administrations for I have respect for both. The application was 4 pages, (City of Dunkirk Commercial Façade Improvement Program). It requested the proposed work to be completed, cost estimates, plans, specifications, business certificate and current employment summary. (I have a copy if anyone wants to see it). I have seen in some applications where it asks you the number of new full-time positions and the number of new positions available to low/mod city residents. This application did not ask how many jobs would be created because of the new window instillation. The application was approved by the Dunkirk Economic Development Committee and since HUD is so thorough, I can only assume that they signed off as well. To say our project was ineligible two years later is a moot point. Finally let me say this, if the only purpose of using HUD money is to create jobs then that should be the only thing listed for criteria since nothing else matters.

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Feb-09-14 11:15 AM

Now that it's old news regarding the OBSERVER bldg getting an uncontested 36% tax assessment reduction ($550K to $400K) from the city, it looks like their gratitude (and the honeymoon) may be over.

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Feb-09-14 10:35 AM

According to the HUD report, available at the Chautauqua Today website, the report covers March 2009-August 2011. Wasn't that Mayor Frey's administration? Granted, Dolce was the Councilman-at-large, but Frey and Ahlstrom have the most to do with the whole HUD problem.

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Feb-09-14 10:16 AM

Hmmmm can you hear the conversation. says to qualify I have to create jobs and this will not do that. Mayor dumb dumb don't worry Gary we have a way around that.

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