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On the Niagara County GOP and John Gross

I am dismayed and in disbelief that the Republican Party continues to defend its decision to sponsor an event honoring John Gross, an unrepentant criminal who has been convicted of not just one but multiple felonies over the course of three prosecutions.

I have heard all the excuses. “He’s a nice guy,” “he has helped people,” “the proceeds are going to charity,” etc. There have even been comparisons to Robin Hood! These are dangerous misdirections that obscure the real issue. Let us remember that Robin Hood was a fictional character who stole from a corrupt regime. He did not help to corrupt it in the first place. While we all respect supporting charities, surely a worthy law abiding person could have been found to honor. Furthermore, Mr. Gross hurt people by rigging bids. If the bids he rigged were public projects, he stole our tax dollars, due to the higher project costs that had to be charged. If they were private projects, he stole directly from our friends and neighbors who owned the businesses affected. Possibly the worst damage he caused was helping corrupt our government by bribing a Niagara County legislator, thereby stealing from all of us our right to open and honest elected officials.

The most disturbing part of this issue is that the Republican Party openly and publicly honored a convicted repeat felon! And worse still, they continue to support that decision. They have no qualms with the fact that the man they so readily honored was previously convicted of bribing a public official, as well as other felonies. The position that this official held was that of Niagara County legislator, a position that this same Republican Party endorses candidates for.

For too long, the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara County as a whole have earned a reputation for corruption. Perhaps sometimes it has been earned, perhaps sometimes not. However, for one of the two major political parties to so blatantly choose to honor a repeat felon is not only embarrassing to our whole community, but it also helps to further an image of corruption in our city and county. For that same political party to not understand the grave problems and consequences of their actions at the very least calls into question the judgment of its leadership.

When, in the future, this same party praises their candidates as being open and honest, remember the age-old adage: “Actions speak louder than words.” And the Republican Party’s actions showed their true ideals: They chose to honor a convicted felon!

> David Houghton, Niagara Falls

David Houghton is the City of Niagara Falls Democratic Chairman

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