Tone Deaf . . . and Policy Deaf

9 Sep

And Everything-Else Deaf too. We learned last week that the same clown show that brought you comically inappropriate Facebook Spam,  WNY economic development in Jamaica, “I forgot how I voted,” and “I sponsored that? My bad” is now officially totally and completely out of touch with a significant portion of his constituents. But that’s okay – they’re not the constituents he cares about anyway.

Antoine Thompson, unhappily my representative in the State Senate, has secured a $400,000 grant for the New York City billionaire most responsible for downtown Niagara Falls being a barren wasteland. What is the $400K for? Demolition.

There are a host of reasons this news is infuriating. I am not against grants for private businesses to assist in development of difficult areas. I am against giving grants to developers that haven’t built even a pop stand on 140 acres of downtown, much less the $110 million project promised 13 years ago. The developer in question having the scratch to do just about any project he wants without state aid is icing on the Frustration Cake.

That downtown Niagara Falls, next to a Wonder of the World and recipient of 10 million visitors a year, is such a development difficulty is sad and the result of decades of local government mismanagement. Howard Milstein, the recipient of this grant, is not responsible for that. He is responsible for sitting on a sweetheart deal from the City of Niagara Falls, and doing next to nothing with his holdings. The City of Niagara Falls does need and deserve state demolition aid. Milstein’s “projects” do not.

But for me, for once the politics are a bigger problem than the policy. The worst part, by far, is that Thompson proves how out of touch he is with the people he represents, by not only securing the grant, but bragging about it (in a flier paid for by tax payers) afterward, like everyone would think it’s a good idea. It is obvious that the Niagara Falls City Council knew nothing about the grant – if Thompson had called any of them, I’m sure someone would have mentioned that $400,000 to persona non grata Milstein would be terrible politically with the general public. Thompson receiving campaign contributions from Milstein is even worse.

Thompson makes terrible decisions, but even I am amazed he would take the trouble of bragging about such a tone deaf decision. Why publicize it in Niagara Falls at all? Take the contribution, give the grant, and be done with it. Thompson not only does not need a geographic majority of his district, he is oblivious to it.

Senate District 60 consists of a large section of the City of Buffalo. Oh yeah, and I guess Niagara Falls, Grand Island, and the City of Tonawanda. Which Tonawanda? Don’t ask Thompson – I’m not sure he could find Grand Island on the map either. A Senate district in New York averages a little over 300,000 people. The combined populations of the City of Niagara Falls (50,000), Grand Island (19,000) and the City of Tonawanda (14,000) are less than a third of his constituency. Which means Thompson can and does win elections in the City of Buffalo alone, and the rest of us are left to fight over policy deaf scraps. I am no big Sam Hoyt fan, but I give him credit for this – he knows Grand Island exists and spends time here, though lately it has just been about road signs and cell phone towers.

That politicians represent the views of some of their constituents more than others is not news. But why does Thompson have to be so bad and blatant about it? Next time the Senate gerrymanders its districts, can George Maziarz please drop that little bit of Rochester and pick up Niagara Falls and Grand Island instead? I don’t agree with Maziarz on everything, by far, but at least I would have a chance of being represented on the floor of the (useless) Senate.

If I was really as pro-suburb and anti-city as some commenters think I am, I’d be cheering for Thompson to take his anointed place as Mayor of Buffalo as quickly as possible, so Grand Island and Niagara Falls could finally be free of him. But I wouldn’t wish Thompson on anyone.

17 Responses to “Tone Deaf . . . and Policy Deaf”

  1. STEEL September 9, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    I don’t think you can lay this stupidity on the voters in Buffalo. I really don’t see the connection.

  2. Brian Castner September 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    ** shakes head **

    You don’t see any connections in any of the articles I write, but you always comment. What “stupidity” did I lay on the “voters in Buffalo?” I’m going to ask before I rebut.

  3. Colin Eager September 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Antoine . . . enough said.

  4. STEEL September 9, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    I am not criticizing you. I am talking about his stupidity. WNY in general has a history of electing extremely weak leadership. I think your attempt to single out the voters in the Buffalo section of this district as the problem is wrong headed.

  5. Brian Castner September 9, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Well, I did not do an analysis of where his votes come from specifically because I didn’t comb through that data. I am merely noting that he can afford to ignore NF, GI and Tonawanda, and does through his actions. This is about Thompson’s idiocy and chosing to only respresent part of his district, and being clueless about the rest. If you want to take the next step, and start blaming voters, then I do blame everyone that has voted for him, wherever they live. But I think it would naive to not recognize that the Buffalo portion of his district is is power base, for a number of reasons.

  6. STEEL September 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Yep because if the Grand Islanders had their way WNY would have some really really good representation in Albany___________Nahhhhhhht

  7. Brian Castner September 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    You’re having a different argument than I am – I’m not talking about the relative merits of each voter. I am discussing which part of his constituency Thompson represents.

    But I did go look at the data. (http://www.elections.state.ny.us/NYSBOE/elections/2006/general/2006_sen.pdf) For 2006, when Thompson last had an opponent, he got 31,905 votes in Erie County (no further breakdown), or 58% of the total vote of 54,743. Interesting, almost as many people chose to leave the space blank as vote for his opponent. In actual votes versus his opponent, he got 72%. He also got 5718 votes in Niagara County, or 70% versus his opponent. In Niagara County, even more chose not to vote at all, so he got 44% of the total vote of 12,372.

    All this mathematically proves a) Thompson is a douche, 2) Erie County (of which Buffalo is the overwhelming part) is more supportive of Thompson than Niagara County, III) Thompson could receive no votes from Niagara County and still win, so he can afford to ignore them like I stated, and d) I take it back, Buffalo really is mostly responsible for Thompson still being in office. You convinced me.

  8. Brian Castner September 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    @ Colin – Thompson was your WFP candidate – still like fusion voting?

  9. STEEL September 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    What I am saying is NF would still be fucked even with a super good how ya doin there Tonda-wanda guy in office.

  10. Brian Castner September 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Why? Because WNY voters are hopelessly poor chosers of talent? Or there is no talent worth choosing? I am willing to hear either argument – hey, wait – didn’t we do a Tournament this past March on this exact topic?

  11. Ethan September 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    I feel bad for Paul Dyster.  He’s trying to do good, but then he has to deal with crap like Antoine?  Must be very frustrating indeed.

  12. Colin Eager September 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    Brian: and Brown was our candidate for mayor, and we endorsed Higgins while he was supporting the war and Patriot Act, and . . . well, it’s a long list.

    But yeah, I do still support fusion voting. Those bad choices were function of who was in the room.

  13. Brian Castner September 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    @ Colin: But if you didn’t have fusion voting, you wouldn’t feel forced to support Higgins just because he is “closest” to WFP values. You’d either have your own candidate you were happy with, or no one, which would at least be more intellectually honest.

  14. lefty September 9, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    @ Steel –

    If NF is fucked regardless of office…so is the East Side of Buffalo. Can we just flush both down the toilet?

    But wait – does the East Side have millions of visitors a year and a wonder of the world? No. But Niagara Falls does. So how about we just flush the East Side and work on the Falls….

    As for GI, it does not need much from Albany outside of staying the hell out of the way. Population up 2.2%, median income up 22% and house values up 27% in the last 10 years. All of that in spite of pathetic POS in Antoine.

    Lastly, I really love the slight insults to the ‘how ya doin there’ Tonda-wanda guy…you douche. For someone who is such an online pussy when insults come your way…you sure love to those soft jabs to people who do not read your shit.

  15. Eisenbart September 9, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

    Someone signed me up for Antoines mailing list when I wouldn’t lend them my lawn mower. I am not even in his district! Emails, mailings, texts,…. it’s been a truly relentless experience.

  16. Jordan September 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Antoine is worthless. I live in North Buffalo, and he represents me too, without doing anything worthwhile.

    One of my neighbors has an Antoine sign up on his lawn, one of those huge plywood ones. I just want to go over there and shake the guy. I don’t understand how any thinking person can vote for this clown.
    Hopefully someone can defeat him someday, but don’t count on it. Name recognition will take him through retirement.

  17. STEEL September 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Lefty, I really don’t think Niagara Falls is fucked up because of the east side, I really don’t.

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