Read Luthmann's Latest from the Niagara Reporter and Newsbreak
By Richard Luthmann
NOTE: Read the FULL COVERAGE of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino’s controversial Centennial Park deal at the Niagara Falls Reporter. The following is a summary of a full article that can be read HERE:
I previously covered the story of a maverick Niagara Falls community leader named Demetrius Nix.
Nix leads the “We All We Got” (WAWG) movement in Western New York, which is focused on combatting crime, poverty, and injustice. He has personally raised political awareness in his community and registered hundreds of new voters locally.
Central to the backstory is that Nix was snubbed by Mayor Robert Restaino, a former judge, lawyer, and Hochul ally, at a Juneteenth event in 2022.
This year, to prove that his community could no longer be ignored, Nix ran against Restaino for Mayor, both in the Democratic Party primary and the General Election as a write-in candidate. The story is interesting in its own right, as Nix gained over 300 write-in votes, well over Restaino’s margin of victory against his Republican challenger in a tight race the second week of November.
Nix believes that Restaino fears him and his “We All We Got” movement because they are pulling away the black and minority vote that traditionally came out for Restaino on the Democratic Party line. Notably, Nix registered hundreds of new Muslim voters who had never been involved in the political process.
The community activist and mayoral hopeful lost the Democratic Party primary but made an impressive showing for a first-time candidate, garnering 20 percent of the vote. Restaino won the race, failing to capture a majority with only 45 percent of the primary day take in a three-way race.
Nix, a progressive, says he is showing the vulnerability of the political establishment.
“I’m a threat to the Democrats because I’m taking votes from the mayor where he needs them,” Nix said.
And Nix is right. Black turnout for Restaino was down noticeably in this year’s primary compared to four years ago. Many believe Nix was the X-factor.
During the campaign, Nix charged Restaino with using his public office for improper and illegal purposes.
“I am calling upon Trini Ross, Letitia James, and the other powerful prosecutors to investigate Robert Restaino and his accomplices for conspiracy and public corruption. This pattern of behavior is unmistakable and unmistakably racist,” Nix said.
The Centennial Park Project
Now, Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino faces more scrutiny over his plans for his latest pet project, the Centennial Park and Events Center, raising concerns about its impact on local small businesses.
The proposed park, a 7,000-seat event center with a small adjacent park, is strategically located across the Seneca Nation Casino, far from the city’s core commercial areas. This location is criticized for favoring the tax-free Seneca Nation over Niagara Falls’ businesses.
Contentious Location and Lack of Seneca Nation Agreement
Restaino’s decision to start eminent domain proceedings against Niagara Falls Redevelopment for ten acres of their property for Centennial Park has sparked debate. Critics argue that the chosen site, distant from city businesses but near the Seneca Casino, appears to prioritize the Nation’s interests. Despite Restaino’s claims of a “commitment” from the Seneca Nation, concerns arise over the absence of a concrete legal agreement, especially given the Nation’s sovereign land status.
The Need for an Easement Agreement
An easement agreement is essential to protect Niagara Falls’ investment and local businesses, ensuring free movement across Seneca land during events. Without this, the Seneca Nation could implement access restrictions, potentially diverting economic benefits from city businesses to the Casino and its entities.
Legal and Economic Implications of Site Choice
The eminent domain process against NFR to secure the site is expensive and legally challenging. Critics argue that the selected location near the Seneca complex, far from downtown businesses, could result in the Seneca Nation monopolizing economic activity from events. Alternative sites, like the city-owned land on Niagara and Third Streets, are suggested to ensure equitable economic benefits for local tax-paying businesses.
Urgent Call for Mayor’s Reconsideration
Local activists and critics urge Mayor Restaino to reconsider the location of the Centennial Park and prioritize the city’s broader economic interests. The choice of site and the absence of a secure easement agreement could lead Niagara Falls into another financial challenge, overshadowing the potential benefits of the new events center.
Read the FULL COVERAGE HERE:
By Richard Luthmann
The United States witnessed a troubling milestone in 2022, recording the highest number of suicide deaths since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began tracking this data in 1941. A staggering 49,449 Americans lost their lives to suicide last year, translating to more than 14 suicides per 100,000 people. This figure, which marks a 3% increase from 2021, could rise further as pending death certificates are finalized.
Demographic Disparities in Suicide Trends
Men disproportionately bore the brunt of this crisis, dying by suicide nearly four times more often than women. The highest rates were observed among senior men. In a silver lining, suicide rates among children and teenagers showed a decline. The 10 to 14 age group saw an 18% drop, while the 15 to 24 demographic experienced a 9% decrease in suicide rates.
Youth Suicide: Gender Differences and Age Group Trends
While the decline in youth suicide rates brings some relief, male teenagers and young men still represent the majority of these tragic cases. Alarmingly, suicide rates increased across all age groups above 35.
National Response to the Suicide Epidemic
In 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called for a comprehensive national suicide prevention strategy, highlighting the urgent need to address youth mental health challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. His advisory emphasized a multi-sectoral approach involving healthcare, education, employers, and government to mitigate pandemic-related stressors affecting young people.
Potential Drivers of the Suicide Epidemic
A July 2023 Johns Hopkins University analysis of CDC data pointed to firearm access as a critical factor in the surge of suicides, with over half involving guns in 2022. Experts also cite declining mental health, economic hardship, and well-being, particularly among middle-aged individuals, as contributing factors.
National Initiatives to Combat Rising Suicide Rates
In response, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the 988 crisis hotline in July 2022 for suicide prevention and mental health support. Operated by the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, this service offers round-the-clock support via phone, text, and chat. It has already handled over 7 million contacts, and as of September 2023, it expanded to include American Sign Language (ASL) capabilities.
Further, the Surgeon General’s suicide prevention strategy encompasses 13 goals focused on public health responses, addressing risk factors, improving crisis care, and expanding evidence-based prevention methods. As the nation grapples with this growing crisis, these initiatives offer a beacon of hope and support for those in need.
Read the FULL COVERAGE HERE: