Tag Archives: Antoine Thompson

Grisanti and Marriage Equality

29 Oct

I want to pass along something I received yesterday from Michael James, a former President of the Stonewall Democrats of WNY.

Although I am also disappointed with some of Antoine’s actions and that mailing, I’m sorry to read that you are endorsing Grisanti. His viewpoint expressed in the attached letter disqualify him from my support. It’s one thing to oppose same-sex marriage, but he goes beyond that to, in my opinion, demonizing a large number of those who would be his constituents.

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While I share Michael’s concern over Grisanti’s position on marriage equality, and do not agree with it, I’m compelled to point out that marriage equality failed to pass even with a Democratic majority in the state senate.  Had Grisanti been in the Senate as a Democrat (which is how he ran in 2008), the outcome would have been identical.

I share this with you so you can best make an informed decision.

The overarching concern for me is Thompson’s rapid entrenchment in the world of Albany pay-for-play corruption.

The Democrats May Lose the State Senate, and That’s OK

28 Oct

When the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee demanded that AEG make specific campaign contributions to specific Democratic State Senators, State Senator Antoine Thompson (SD-60) was among the five designees of donations in excess of $5,000.  All of this was done in an effort to politically influence the selection of AEG to operate a racino at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens.

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While Thompson claims that he was absolved of any wrongdoing in the recent Inspector General’s report on the scandal, the question remains: why Thompson, why so much, and why for a project 400 miles from his district?  The answer likely has to do with the fact that Thompson has a leadership position within the DSCC, amazingly running its “communications”.

I say “amazingly”, because this is the statement his campaign released in response to the Buffalo News’ inquiries:

It is clear that my opponent is desperate. As I’ve said repeatedly, I was absolutely not involved in any of the negotiations highlighted in the inspector general’s report. At an excess of caution, I returned any outside campaign donations that the report said there might be questions about.

I’m absolutely gobsmacked that the senate Democrats had a unique opportunity over the last two years – an opportunity they hadn’t had in generations – to accomplish something positive, and to prove that they can move beyond the traditional Albany corruption.  Thanks in large part to Espada, Monserrate, Sampson, Golisano, and Pigeon, the Senate took dysfunction and turned it into a circus.  When “order” was restored, the Senate’s business was basically beholden to the evil corruption of Espada and Monserrate, and the absurd exploitative opportunism of Pigeon. “Responsible New York” wasn’t.

So, I am fully comfortable with the notion that the Democrats lose control of the state senate.  Such corruption and fecklessness doesn’t deserve any reward, and the Democrats who purport to represent their constituents in the senate need a wakeup call.  If you’re going to accuse the other side of being dirty, don’t be dirty yourself.

The way Albany works – where the Assembly Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, and Governor basically make any and all decisions – has got to change.  Obviously, it’s my hope that there will be some political will to do just that under Governor Cuomo.  I don’t know whether Skelos will go along, but if these people who go to Albany really want to earn their fat paychecks, and genuinely want to do the people’s business, then they need to make these changes.  They need to introduce deliberative representative democracy to the Senate and Assembly.  The legislators we send to Albany should also get serious about demanding these changes.  Like Mark Schroeder:

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So, while I hope people vote for Tim Kennedy in SD-58, and I hope for a Dem pickup in SD-59 with Cynthia Appleton, I will not be disappointed if the Democrats lose the senate, because they’ve only themselves to blame.  The epic failure of the Senate Democrats to simply be less corrupt than before should not be rewarded. Sorry.

Lawyers Should Stop Funding the #NYS #DSCC & Antoine Thompson #SD60

25 Oct

Another mailer from the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee hitting Antoine Thompson’s opponent, Mark Grisanti, for his job as a lawyer.  Absolutely despicable, and the title of this post says it all.

Antoine Thompson would presumably deny the accused their constitutional right to a zealous defense against, among other things, police misconduct, inadequate or inadmissible evidence, etc.

This one attacks Grisanti, (who ran last time as a Democrat) for being a *gasp* Republican.  I’ve read Grisanti’s positions on the issues and find nothing to quarrel with.  But this first image, especially, strikes an almost WW2-era propaganda tone.

Here, the word for Antoine’s anti-downstate rhetoric is “chutzpah”. He’s benefited most handsomely since the fiasco-laden Democratic senate majority has been – then wasn’t – then returned to a leadership position.

Seriously, this is just lazy going-through-the-motions crap.  The notion that it would be persuasive is ridiculous.

The head of communications for the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee should be able to come up with something better than this.  Perpetuating the downstate/upstate cleave is lazy bs.  Attacking a guy for his job (what job has Antoine Thompson ever held in the dreaded private sector?) is ridiculous.

Vote Mark Grisanti – if getting rid of Antoine Thompson from elected office means the Democrats lose control of the execrable and needless state senate, that’s a price worth paying.

Shame on Antoine Thompson and the DSCC #SD60

23 Oct

The Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee is sending the following mailer to households in the 60th Senate District.  Note that Antoine Thompson’s name appears nowhere in the text.  There is nothing about Thompson’s supposed “accomplishments” or why someone should vote for him.  It merely attacks Thompson’s opponent Grisanti for being…a lawyer.

The piece specifically accuses Grisanti, in so many words, of aiding and abetting the criminals whom he defends in court.  I’ve never seen a more scurrilously false, misleading, and borderline libelous mailer in any local campaign since Jim Keane was accused of being in the Klan. It is an insult not only to the voters in the 60th Senate District, it is an insult to every lawyer who works to ensure that his clients are zealously represented, and treated fairly in the court system.

Thompson should condemn the DSCC for sending this mailer on his behalf, and disassociate himself from it.

One thing’s for sure, we do need, “honest, ethical, respectable, leaders in the State Senate”, which explains why Antoine Thompson’s name was omitted from this mailer.  No one could make any of those claims against Thompson, who gets his staff to lie for him, has been accused of accepting money in exchange for influence on Racino management, and a guy who is widely thought of as a statewide laughingstock.  Hell, he’s even stiffed groups that relied on his member item handouts.  Hell, Thompson’s a guy who stiffed his creditors to the tune of $5,700.

Antoine Thompson, who took a $1500/night trip to Jamaica, paid for with campaign funds.

Antoine Thompson, who gave $1000 to the legal defense fund for indicted crook and woman-slasher Hiram Monseratte.

Antoine Thompson, who was mildly injured in a car crash and discovered that his injuries weren’t serious enough to bring a successful lawsuit and then tried to change the tort threshold to enable him to bring suit for his pulled muscles.

Antoine Thompson, who gave $400,000 to a New York City billionaire developer who has sat on prime Niagara Falls real estate for a decade.

The DSCC should be ashamed of itself, as should Thompson.

Vote Grisanti. Here are his stands on the issues.

Kennedy Slams Quinn III on Aqueduct

23 Oct

In the wake of a New York Inspector General’s report alleging that Antoine Thompson (SD-60) received a contribution of $8,600 from Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG), an entity that was heavily lobbying Senate leadership to obtain a racino operation contract at Aqueduct Racetrack, it’s being alleged that a local Assemblyman took over $50,000 in politically motivated, Aqueduct-related contributions and voted to set aside the regular procurement process to enable the Aqueduct contract to be awarded on political considerations.

Tim Kennedy, the Democrat running for State Senate in SD-58 hit his Republican opponent, Jack Quinn III in a press release yesterday:

KENNEDY: ‘IT’S AN ALBANY PROBLEM’

Kennedy campaign notes Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III is embroiled in Aqueduct scandal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III is embroiled in the Aqueduct scandal that has grabbed the state’s attention, voting to side-step standard procurement procedures and avoid transparency measures while taking money from parties involved in the bidding process.

In 2008, Quinn III voted “yes” on Assembly Bill No. 9998 that removed the standard procurement process for the Aqueduct VLT. His vote facilitated the entire scandal. Quinn cast his vote to keep politics involved in the bidding process and to keep the process out of the light of transparency.

An initial review of the inspector general’s report shows that Quinn III has taken approximately $50,000 from companies vying for the state business and firms associated with individuals named in the report.

Quinn III took a $9500 maximum contribution from Douglaston Development LLC, which was founded by Jeffrey Levine. Levine was named in the inspector general’s report as an “AEG representative.” Levine currently serves as the chairman of Douglaston Development. Levine also owns Levine Builders, a company named in the report.

Quinn III took a maximum contribution of $9500 from SL Green, one firm that was competing in the bidding process. He also took $4000 from a subsidiary of another company competing for the contract.

Quinn III also took two $9500 contributions from Tishman Speyer Australia Asset Management, a firm lobbying for SL Green. Quinn also accepted $5,500 from eEmerge, which is a subsidiary of SL Green.

For years, Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III has lived and participated in Albany’s pay-to-play culture,” said Tim Kennedy, a candidate for New York State Senate. “Quinn III’s vote to keep politics in the bidding process involving AEG and then financially benefiting to the tune of approximately $50,000 from those involved is a perfect example of why Western New Yorkers are hungry for change in Albany, and it’s why I’m fighting to bring change to Albany. It’s time we put politics aside to fight for progress in Western New York. Albany incumbent Jack Quinn III has voted to maintain the failed Albany status quo. I’m standing up for Western New York to make sure we build a government that we can trust.”

According to Kennedy, the root of the problem is Albany.

“After decades in control, Republican leadership corroded the State Senate into a rotten mess of corruption and dysfunction. The leader of the Republican Senate, Joe Bruno, was indicted by the FBI, and now, we see an Albany mentality persisting among certain members of the Senate Democrats,” Kennedy said. “This isn’t a party problem. It’s an Albany problem.”

Antoine Thompson: When Is Enough Enough? #SD60

22 Oct
Antoine Thompson at a Barack Obama rally at th...

Image via Wikipedia

Does a day go by when Antoine Thompson isn’t outed in the press for doing something questionable?  A few months ago, it was his myriad mailings to constituents that eclipse that of every other state legislator.  Last week, it was his “book” on the state of the 60th Senate District.  Today?  It’s revealed that Antoine Thompson was a recipient of politically calculated donations from the company that allegedly used political connections to land a deal to run a racino at Aqueduct.

His motto, according to his campaign website, is “Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done!”  For a price, or on your dime.

Disingenuous

20 Oct

These posters have been popping up all over town:

Here’s who paid for those:

The Committee for Economic Growth is nothing more than another name for “Unshackle Upstate”, the Partnership-led group that hates taxes and hates state spending even more.  It hates Democrats and lurves Republicans.

A quick scan of its donor list from the BOE website shows it receives names from Bob Wilmers, Andrew Rudnick, Jerry Zemski, Lou Ciminelli, and Mark Hamister.  I’m all for getting rid of Antoine Thompson and for UB2020, but there’s something so disingenuous about the Partnership moaning and whining about state spending (on Medicaid, e.g.,) while advocating for a UB2020 program.

But as a separate note, it’s quite important that donors to PACs that participate in the New York electoral process play by New York’s rules and disclose their funding.  It might be free speech to give money for political action, but it doesn’t violate free speech to require those names to be disclosed.

Grisanti v. Thompson

19 Oct

The New York governor’s race may be the most entertaining and photogenic on the ballot, but it is far from the only choice voters will have in November. In fact, in some locations, the ballot is so full it wraps around to a second side. Why is this important? Voters forget to look at the back. If I worry for America, it is because of research like this and this.

Hopefully the 60th Senate District race is on the front, because Western New York has a great opportunity this year to finally rid ourselves of Antoine Thompson.

My opposition to Thompson is not primarily policy based: I probably agree with at least the sentiment of his environmental work, and I don’t him any credit for having an iota of leadership or influence on the matters bogging down the NYS legislature. He is a reliable Democratic vote, which enabled the chaos, but he can’t be blamed for leading it – he’s not capable enough for that.

No, I oppose Thompson because he is nearly a caricature of an Entitled Incumbent. He is free to be completely incompetent, in his basic duties as a legislator of casting votes (and remembering what those votes are) because he is sure he will be re-elected. He is free to send whole forests of propaganda mailings (and now books!) at the taxpayer’s expense, and take junkets to Jamaica during budget hearings, because he is sure he will be re-elected. He is free to hand out $400K to the most hated (non)developer in Niagara Falls, in exchange for campaign contributions, because he is sure he will be re-elected. It is the culture of the Entitled Incumbent in Albany that enables the government meltdown, because with no fear of removal by the voters, the longer the politicians stay in Albany “debating”, the more money they make.

Therefore, the policy positions of his opponent, Mark Grisanti, are secondary. When Grisanti wins, he will be a junior member of the Senate, and has little chance to make himself heard for his first term. That’s okay – he won’t be Antoine Thompson.

Grisanti seems to know this, and I love his mailings for their pragmatic cynicism. Here’s a flier I got in my weekly Grand Island Dispatch.

I think its wonderful that Grisanti reminds voters on Grand Island that they are represented by Thompson. It would be easy to forget: Thompson never comes here, and you will barely see a single Thompson sign on the island. Meanwhile, his opponents have not (lately) had the money to run a serious challenge. Grisanti is reminding the voters of Niagara Falls, Tonawanda and Grand Island that while Thompson has forgotten about them, they should not forget they have the power to vote him out. Let’s see how far down that ballot all that Republican anger goes.

I also like the choice of candidate in Grisanti, because if he wins, it will provide a model to the rest of the state. Grisanti is a registered Democrat, and has lost to Thompson in Democratic primaries in the past. By gaining the Republican and Conservative endorsements this year, Grisanti is bypassing the traditionally low-turnout primary to take his case to the entire district. Until we have open primaries (nullifying the power of the party members) where any registered voter can vote on primary day, or even better, a fusion system (like in Washington State) where the top two vote getters on primary day appear on the general ballot, no matter their party affiliation, then this is the best New York State can do. Pragmatically run a guy with cross-over appeal just to get rid of the incumbent. I’ll buy that.

Albany’s problem is not Republican or Democratic. It is an Entitled Incumbent problem. Get rid of Thompson.

Quick Political Thoughts

12 Oct

I’ve had a couple political thoughts rattling around in my head for the last couple days – what’s the link:

1) President Obama and the Democratic Party have gone absolutely Beckian. Glenn’s basic rhetorical strategy is to say something outrageous about a person or group, and then dare them to repudiate (refudiate!) his conspiracy theories.

Enter Obama and the Democrats who have charged the US Chamber of Commerce with taking money from foreign corporations to be used specifically for attack ads against Democratic candidates. The Chamber says, “What are you talking about?” The Dems say “If it’s not true, then prove it!” Just like Beck has failed to prove he did not rape and murder a girl in 1990. If you can’t beat them, join them – see the end of item #2.

2) An inherent hypocrisy in modern American Liberalism’s disdain and contempt for the Right has been brought into clearer focus: material wealth as invalidator of political rights.

Slate noted recently that in today’s American politics, the Right thinks the Left is evil, but worse, the Left thinks the Right is crazy, pathetic, retarded, and unworthy of respect. Exhibit A’s is Matt Taibbi’s recent masterpiece of condescension, masquerading as a profile of the Tea Party. The pinnacle:

After lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them.

Taibbi’s article encapsulates not just the objective reasons for the Left’s dismissal of the Tea Party, but the feeling and flavor of it as well. Shorter Matt Taibbi: not only is the Tea Party wrong, but they don’t deserve to have a voice in the first place. Why? Because they are white, by and large, well to do (often by sucking at the government teat).

Thus the essential Liberal contradiction: the movement that dismisses material possessions as unimportant and race as irrelevant invalidates the political beliefs of the Tea Party because the material possessions and race of their followers. Wait?! I thought they didn’t matter? Shorter Liberalism: What are you Teabaggers complaining about – look how good you have it.

If material success should not be a prerequisite for power (see: the Civil Rights movement), then why should an entire movements’ political beliefs be dismissed based upon material success? Is being poor and of color the only way one is allowed to have a legit political voice now? Note that the Tea Party is reading Saul Alinsky, and used his tactics in the Health Care Screaming last year. Liberals loves two things: being smart and defending victims – if the Left thinks the Tea Party is so stupid, then they should be leaping to their feet to save these Teabaggers from themselves, no matter their race or economic success. 

3) It’s time we finally rid ourselves of Antoine Thompson. I mean, seriously. In case you have forgotten, here are all the reasons why.

He has a real opponent this year. Mark Grisanti is winning the lawn sign battle on Grand Island, at least. He can only win the election if the people who are disgusted with Antoine actually vote for him. I could hope Paladino’s coat tails drag him along, but I’d rather stump for him instead.

Press Release Tuesday

21 Sep

Today was a gorgeous late summer’s day in Buffalo.  The temperature reached 80 delightfully breezy degrees, and there were two events we were asked to cover.

Firstly, a businesswoman named Sundra Ryce is running to replace Len Lenihan as the Erie County Democratic Committee chair.  Owner of a construction company called SLR Contracting & Service Co., Inc., Ryce promised that she would use her credentials as a businesswoman to help create jobs for Western New York, and to unite a party that’s been riven into about three distinct camps.

Despite her claims of independence and bridge-building, Ryce has both feet firmly planted in Byron Brown’s and Maurice Garner’s Grassroots political club, and has – personally or through her business – donated no less than $8,600 to Antoine Thompson alone over the past decade.   She’s also somewhat cozy with County Executive Chris Collins, who had appointed her to a transition team when elected, and to an upstate mandate relief commission.  More evidence of the Collins-Brown synergy we’ve come to know and love lately.

Next, State Senator and Democratic Attorney General nominee Eric Schneiderman was in Buffalo for a campaign stop hosted by Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz, who was one of a few local politicos to have endorsed Schneiderman during the primary.

Promising to continue as a “sheriff of Wall Street”, Schneiderman praised Poloncarz’s, “aggressive, fair-minded approach to the [comptroller’s] audit function” as an example of what the attorney general’s office should do to “restore public confidence in the market and financial sector”.  Schneiderman focused not so much on the financial meltdown’s affect on the banks, but more on the “grassroots consequences” of Wall Street’s collapse.  Noting that Americans had withdrawn $33 billion from the markets in recent months, Schneiderman promised to be a “watchdog” for the people of New York.

Poloncarz noted that the Republican candidate for AG, Dan Donahue, is opposed to using that office to regulate or monitor Wall Street, and characterized that as “wrong for New York”.

When asked how he felt about being in the heart of “Carl Country”, Schneiderman retorted, “I don’t feel like I’m in Carl Paladino Country.  I feel like this is Mark Poloncarz Country”.

On a less serious note, right before the Schneiderman presser, a truck engine failed next to a police car on Church Street, exploding a load of thick, black oil all over the street and a police cruiser.

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