December 10, 2012 - 11:56 AM
By Jill Terreri
Antoine M. Thompson, a former state senator and Common Council member, announced on his Facebook page that he is the new executive director of the Buffalo Employment and Training Center.
"I will supervise over 30 employees and support Mayor Brown and the City of Buffalo and other key public, private, faith and community sector leaders in assisting people with job training and placement," he wrote on Friday.
According to Thompson's post, he started the job today.
A message left on his cell phone was not immediately returned, and someone who works at the training center said his voicemail there had not yet been set up.
The center, at 77 Goodell St., is funded by the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Development Consortium, Inc. Its funding comes from state and federal sources, though the city budget allocates funding for four positions there, and the mayor appoints the executive director.
UPDATE: Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey said today that Thompson's hire was made by Mayor Byron W. Brown. Casey said Thompson's experience in city government - he was also a member of Council staff - and in the Senate, as well as a stint at the University at Buffalo's Office of Urban Initiatives, qualifies him for the job.
Brown would like to make the training center more proactive in searching for job vacancies in the public and private sectors, and matching job seekers to those positions.
Asked if this was a classic case of political patronage, Casey said, "Absolutely not."
Thompson has been something of a political protege of the mayor's, becoming Masten District Council member after Brown, and then state senator after Brown won the mayor's race.
Thompson lost a bid for re-election in 2010 to Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican.
Thompson works as a real estate agent and is the president of BlackWNY, a free newspaper. The December edition, which recently hit newsstands, features an interview with Brown about his job creation strategy in the city, and the back cover is devoted exclusively to a photo of Brown and his family in holiday attire, wishing readers season's greetings.
Like other department heads, Thompson will serve at the pleasure of the mayor. Common Council approval is not required.
The position has been vacant for about six months, as former Executive Director Colleen Cummings retired.
According to the city's 2012-13 budget, the executive director position pays about $79,700, which Casey confirmed will be Thompson's salary. The city budget allocates about $212,000 in salaries at the center.