Before I say a word, I've got to set the mood. Give a quick look and listen to this:
Got it? OK, let's proceed.
Today's topic is state Sen. Antoine Thompson, who fancies himself as Buffalo's next mayor when Byron Brown moves on to greener pastures.
Thompson created his own version of "Where's Waldo" last week when he split from a Senate session to travel to parts unknown. His colleagues in the Senate didn't know where he was and his staff wouldn't answer questions regarding his whereabouts, except to say he wasn't in Albany.
In their defense, one member of the staff told me Monday they were under orders to not divulge his whereabouts. However, this staff member confirmed that Thompson and Mark Boyd, the senator's chief of staff, had, in fact, traveled to Jamaica.
Oh boy, I thought. Especially when I checked the weather last Thursday.
Albany: Fog, rain, high of 38.
Kingston, Jamaica: Sunny, high of 81.
I called Thompson and Boyd to press for more details. I'm still waiting on Thompson, while Boyd took my call, only to give me the run-around.
Only when I told him I already knew they had ventured to the land of Cool Runnings did Boyd come clean -- and only after presumably consulting with his boss. He blamed the stonewalling on us bad reporters, because we don't write about all the positive things the good senator is doing, and therefore it only makes sense to withhold potentially embarrassing information.
With me so far?
At this point, I'm thinking I've got a hell of a story. Even more so when I find out our dynamic duo were't staying at a Motel Six, but an oceanfront resort that costs $1,500 a week that Thompson is paying for with campaign contributions.
But, willing to let more facts get in the way of a good story, I dug deeper, making calls to members of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo, which planned the trip.
And, lo and behold, they corroborated Boyd's claim that he and Thompson put in an honest day's work when they were in Jamaica, trying to network with officials on a variety of issues, including renewable energy, which is near and dear to Thompson's heart.
In fact, I know one of the two individuals I spoke with, and I know him to be a straight shooter.
So, folks, this is not a matter of the senator blowing off official business in Albany to put his feet in the sand.
Rather, this is another example of the weirdness that surrounds Antoine Thompson.
The senator who is recorded as voting to oust Hiram Monserrate, but then says he didn't. Or, at least, didn't mean to. Or something like that.
Who gave money to Monserrate's self-defense fund. Which may be legally constituted. Or maybe not.
Who is getting blasted by constituents for taking credit for pork that he didn't deliver.
Who has taken the art of self-serving pork barrel announcements to new highs/lows.
Who makes a potential non-story a front-page story by easing out of the country and telling his staff to dummy up.
And you wonder why I began this blog with the theme from the Twilight Zone?
Is it a bad thing that Thompson headed down Jamaica-way to network in the hopes of drumming up a little business?
Should he have done it when the Senate was in session?
Probably not, especially given what's going down in Albany these days.
Is this what Thompson is paid to do?
No, he's paid to work as a senator.
What exactly is Thompson getting paid?
His salary this year, including lulus, is $100,000.
Whose job is it to drum up business on behalf of the state?
Empire State Development Corp.
Were they along on the trip?
Nope. But they did send along brochures.
Does it look good that Boyd took his girlfriend along on the trip?
If Thompson had nothing to hide, why all the hush-hush?
Actually, about the only thing I know for sure is that this latest episode is only going to intensify questions about Thompson's fitness for office.
Not that he has any serious opposition this fall. The only name I'm hearing is Russ Thompson, he of Thruway and Tea Party notoriety. If he opts to run, Thompson -- Russ, that is -- might make some noise, but he does not pose a real threat.
Which means, barring emergence of another candidate, Thompson will be around to conduct more fact-finding missions.
What's next? I hear the Dominicans might be looking for business partners.
Then again, I hear it's better in the Bahamas.
taggedEconomic Development | Politics | State government