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AV Interview: Antoine Thompson

State Senator Antoine Thompson

State Senator Antoine Thompson

Last week we met with State Senator Antoine Thompson, a second-term legislator who seems to have positioned himself well to direct a great deal of public investment into Western New York in the next couple years.

Thompson was co-chair of the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee (the first African-American senator to hold that post), and so played a key role in winning the Democrats their first majority in both houses of the state legislature in decades. In reward, Thompson was made deputy majority whip and chairman of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee. That committee steers a lot of capital, and even more money will likely flow through it in the next two years thanks to the federal stimulus package.

So we thought we’d better talk to the chairman to hear his plans. The full interview will appear in next week’s print edition, but I thought I’d share just a little bit of it today:

Antoine Thompson: The Youth Conservation Corps is a program that was started in the 1980s. It was generally funded by the feds, but the state never put a dollar in the program. Now, with the federal stimulus, the Department of Labor is going to put more money into the Youth Conservation Corps, which is going to hire thousands of kids and young adults in the state. But the state still wasn’t going to put any money into it to promote working in parks, dealing with everything from weatherization to recycling in communities, a whole host of things that can promote conservation,—in addition to working with youth bureaus across the state. AmeriCorps is a great program. Wouldn’t it be logical to expand that effort with an environmental focus, where young people who go through a successful program like AmeriCorps can then apply for Youth Conservation Corps money, and those young people would then be trained in conservation, doing conservation projects in cities towns and  villages all over the state?

That program’s my baby, so I’m really pushing to get $30 million in the budget  to go with whatever federal money comes in.

AV: You mention federal stimulus money, some of which will be directed toward developing renewable energy, creating so-called “green collar” jobs, and other environmental projects. How specifically will your chairing the committee that will consider these projects benefit Western New York?

Antoine Thompson: First of all, I never try to promise more than I can deliver, but I always try to deliver more than I promise.

Most of this money is going to come in chunks to various parts of state government. When we talk about waterfront revitalization money, my committee is the committee that allocates $27 million a year in waterfront revitalization money. EPF. So when we talk about getting money out of the state for waterfront revitalization, yours truly will be the one who’s working those meetings and deciding how much of that money can come to Western New York.

Read more next week.

  • Lancey Howard

    It’s about time the Chairman of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee came from Western New York. The toxic chemicals in Niagara Falls are a threat to everyone. New York City thinks Upstate is a colony and doesn’t pay attention because we’re too quiet. Sometimes it’s our own fault.

    I’m glad Thompson’s in there.

  • Mr. Bumble

    The Senate Districts are based on population.
    A lot of New York State is farmland.
    Western New York was based on “Heavy Industry.”
    More enviromental money should be spent here.
    Hackett Avenue residents in the Tonawanda’s were told; “Do Not Jog Outside” for more than 15 minutes.
    The Army Corp of Engineers receive Geiger Counter Readings from helicopters over Hackett Avenue.

    If you live near Hackett Avenue: MOVE! ASAP!

  • Twixt

    You guys are fooling yourselfs…
    I agree Thompson means what he says and says what he means, but it could just be the “Audacity of Hoops!”

    Good Luck Thompson, you’re gonna need it!

  • Mr. Bumble

    Count me in with Mr. Howard:
    “I’m glad Thompson’s in there.”

  • Simon Magus

    What do you think Thompson is going to do? The problems are over 60 years old. Byron Brown was senator for 5 years, he spent $2 million changing the names of 4 streets. If Thompson’s as good as Brown 30 streets will have new names.

  • Pomeroy

    Thompson better do more than change the name of a few streets, he better remove them. Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls is known as “Toxic Avenue!” Masiello, Byron Brown and Marc Coppola did absolutely nothing in that office. I believe Thompson’s different. It’ll be up to him to prove me right (or prove me wrong).

  • Mary Ayoungin

    Why is it that the State always has to clean up what the Companies did? The Taxpayer, the little guy, always ends up paying for the rich man. Antoine Thompson would have more money available for the science, history and art museums plus the zoo and philharmonic orchrstra.

    Volker used all of WNY’s money on cows.

  • Twixt

    Hey Mary, cows are people too!

    I never knew there was more than methane gas in the local political enviroment but after reading about Hackett Avenue and Buffalo Avenue it just might be time to leave the area. Maybe that’s the government’s plan and the reason why Albany is trying so hard to evacuate WNY? They probably know things they’re not telling us and simply taxing us out of existance for our own good. It’s like an episode of the X-Files…

  • Pomeroy

    “Hey Mary, cows are people too!” And it’s true! Americans couldn’t get any fatter if they tried. I’ve never been for a fat tax before, but the idea of increasing the tax on soda pop only makes sense. We end up having to pay their medical bills from their self inflicted bad eating habits, maybe they should chip in?

    Does Thompson want a deposit on the empty water bottles that litter our streets?

  • Mary Ayoungin

    The Bigger Better Bottle Bill is a good idea but you can’t tax a person out of a bad habit. Soda-pop (caffine mixed with sugars) is far more addicting than cigarettes!

  • Inquiring Mind

    Isn’t Thompson the guy who gave a speech on the state senate floor in ranting and raving opposition to a bill he had signed up to co-sponsor the day before? And then explained he was too busy to read it?

  • Simon Magus

    Inquiring Mind you are the best!!! I almost fell for the salesmanship of this con-man because of the comments. The guy is a prick. A vote for him is a vote for Byron Brown.

  • Twixt

    You are correct Inquiring Mind, it was on April 30, 2007: