Egriu candidacy will be taken seriously in the 57th senate district
By Frank Parlato Jr.
08 January, 2006
If he runs this time there will be people watching—at least in Niagara Falls.
By the way, for those who did not observe it closely the last time, Eddie Egriu ran for the 57th Senate district – a virtual unknown, against Byron Brown, and lost decisively too.
Now that Brown moved to city hall, there will be a special election to replace him in the State senate district which includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and which was gerrymandered for a large Democrat plurality.
Among the candidates who have mentioned an interest, besides Egriu, are Buffalo Council members Antoine Thompson, Brian Davis, Marc Coppola, and Rich Fontana, former council member and former state senator Al Coppola, and several others.
The intriguing appeal of Egriu, if nothing else, is that unlike other candidates, Egriu is a businessman. He has more than ordinary success doing work the old fashioned way: in the private sector, earning his living building things – and in Buffalo, Egriu has built churches, stores and homes. His Buffalo’s East side construction company Violation Enterprises is growing into one of the largest non- governmental supported ones in the neighborhoods he works in- which is primarily, but not exclusively, the Masten/ Ellicott districts. Egriu employs about two dozen people currently- not bad for winter construction work.
In microcosm, Egriu, one might venture, manages his businesses affairs better than, let’s say, state senators and council members collectively have managed the state and the city.
Be that as it may, there are factors, above alluded to, which make Egriu a force to be reckoned with:
1: He has his own (probably six figure) money to invest in his own campaign.
2. Egriu is an issues man. Unlike polished equivocators sometimes seen in Albany or running towards it, Egriu is too direct to fudge, and, it seems, too decent to consult polls or pols to get a direction based not on what he percieves as the right.
For instance, Egriu spent time studying the proposed New York Power Authority re-licensing, and has not found what almost every local, elected official has found. Unlike the elected officials, Egriu cannot support a 50 year renewal of the license of the Power Authority when, during the last 50 years, they have not done measurable good for the region.
“We should have the cheapest electrical rates, and that means for residential customers, too. Instead we have among the highest. Why should they get another 50 years?”
This is the simple businessman in Egriu when he says, “We generate power here, and The Power Authority sells that power to NYC and seven other states – whose residents pay lower rates than we do here. That does not add up.
“Meanwhile local officials bargain with the Power Authority for a few pennies on the dollar for their pet projects. Look, after all, this is our natural asset- this hydro- power generated from the Niagara River. How can we simply give it to Albany for 50 more years without guarantee that the people will have better rates?”
Egriu has studied the issue-- and others.
What is intriguing is that Egriu is looking at issues in both Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
1: the feasibility of removing a portion of the Robert Moses Parkway north of the Falls -which is little used -- to be converted into a greater Niagara Falls Park- possibly with National Heritage designation.
2: the investigation into the Seneca compact which might allow taxation of Seneca on non- gaming interests to create a more equal playing field with Seneca and the over-taxed businesses in Niagara Falls who now have to compete in the same businesses as Seneca- who pay no taxes.
3. Egriu realizes that tourism in Niagara Falls, if accommodated and developed properly, could be a “boon to the entire region.” As State Senator, he has said, he would use his position to “develop the myriad opportunities here.”
Eguri said, “for too long Albany has taken money out of Falls’ tourism and given little back.”
The Niagara Falls State Park, he points out, is managed by Albany based commissioners, and has, for years, taken more money out of the falls -with concessions like Maid of the Mist, cavbe of the Winds, souvinrs and parking -than they give back to the Falls.
“The Falls could be far more lucrative for both Albany and the whole region, if Albany invested more into the area,” Egriu said. “It’s about time the State Senator representing the Falls and Buffalo starts getting Albany to support the huge tourism opportunity for the entire region --instead of allowing Niagara Falls to be a pro-Albany venture- which it is today.”
As Egriu continues, he shows a feel for certain issues that imply he both understands the issues, as well as cares about them.
“Have you ever heard of a place that gets 17 million people a year and is broke?’ Egriu asked. “Well, that’s Niagara Falls, and that’s because Albany is getting rich off the Falls, but is not sharing it fairly with the Falls or Buffalo.”
This kind of issues driven “tough talk” will- if not in Buffalo-- carry a good deal of weight in the Falls.
Around here, people care about these issues- deeply. They have sat and watched the state make millions, and now the Seneca making millions.
Now Falls’ voters are poised to hear the man who will tell them that Albany should stop hogging the whole Niagara Falls tourism pie. Or that the tax- paying Americans in Niagara Falls should have equality with Seneca or Canada - who are getting rich while Americans grow poorer.
Who knows? As Niagara Falls goes, so may go this election- if not the whole region….
And Eddie Egriu may well be the force to reckon with - this time.
Copyright © Frank Parlato Jr.