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Did He or Didn't He Vote Yes or No?

Antoine Thompson wanders, catches cold, misspeaks, backtracks

Boy, it’s hard to get a straight answer to a simple question sometimes. I read Tom Precious’s article about the New York State Senate vote to expel Hiram Monserrate in the Buffalo News Wednesday morning, and was surprised by Senator Antoine Thompson’s “no” vote on the issue.

Was he really standing behind Monserrate? The same guy who anyone can watch manhandling his girlfriend by simply typing “Monserrate surveillance video” into Google? The same guy whose lawyer tried to explain that he wasn’t mistreating her; he was merely trying to hurry her along to the hospital (even though he skipped over nine closer hospitals on the way). The guy whose lawyer claimed that he didn’t slash his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass; that it was Monserrate’s girlfriend who smashed her own face into the glass he was holding, when she sat bolt upright in bed after he accidentally spilled some water on her? We’re talking about that Monserrate, right?

The guy who escaped a felony conviction but was found guilty of misdemeanor assault last October for slicing his girlfriend’s face during an argument so loud that the downstairs neighbor was driven to banging on the ceiling with a yardstick to get them to tone it down. That guy.

Could it really be true that Antoine Thompson was quoted as saying of Monserrate after the 53-8 vote that they “kicked him out before his day in court”?

I called Thompson’s office in the morning and left a message saying who I was from what paper and did the senator really feel that Monserrate had been done wrong somehow?

I didn’t hear back, so I tried another number. I don’t really want to name names, but this guy answered, and I asked my question. He took my name and number and said someone would call back. Nobody did. So in the meantime, I did the reporter thing. I made some phone calls, poked around the Web. Wrote up some other stuff. Called back to Thompson’s office.

“I have your name and number,” I was reminded. “I’m on deadline,” I said. Click.

So, I called over to Albany and had a nice little chat with Marcia Pappas, New York State President of the National Organization for Women. I asked her how she felt about the Monserrate vote. “It was important to take action against individuals who don’t represent their position in an honorable way,” she said. “These are people who are making decisions about legislation that could eventually be signed into law. We think it’s inappropriate for individuals like Monserrate to be in a position to make those decisions.”

That Thompson voted against Monserrate’s expulsion came as news to her. She credited the “no” votes to Senators Adams, Diaz, Dilan, Espada, Kruger, Parker, Sampson, and Monserrate. She was puzzled by Thompson’s quote in the News, and said of Monserrate, “He had his day in court.”

I called back to Thompson’s office. This time, I simply wanted to know whether he had voted “yes” or “no.” I was told that the person who would be calling me back had been on the phone all day. By this time, it had been four hours since my original call.

I finally got my call back, and was told that Thompson had been sick Wednesday night, and had misspoken when he’d told Precious that he’d voted “no” and all the rest of it. I was told he had voted “yes,” in fact, for the expulsion. I was told that Thompson had just spoken to Precious to straighten everything out.

Just as I was about to bag the whole story because it was becoming too incredibly stupid for words, I landed on Precious’s updated blog. As far as I can tell, Thompson wasn’t even present for the vote. Thus, it was recorded as a “yes,” according to Senate rules. But immediately after the vote, Thompson was quoted as saying he did not vote “yes.” And he said he felt Monserrate’s appeal should be allowed to run its course before his expulsion should take place.

Precious reported that Wednesday morning Thompson’s office tried to get his de facto “yes” vote changed to a “no.” But Thompson said he wasn’t sure if his office had done that or not, to be honest.

buck quigley

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