This September’s primary - in the 138th assembly district – permits Democrats to send one of two messages: Assemblywoman, Francine DelMonte’s, “Go along -- with Albany -- to get along,” or Gary Parenti’s, “fight on.”
The taking of our tourism, the closing of our airport; the keeping of toll booths to get into our city; the stealing of our hydro- power; and the wholesale give- away of our downtown to a foreign nation, is how Albany took a city rich in assets and bankrupted them. Parenti plans to fight to win back our assets.
DelMonte thinks it’s futile: The Assembly is controlled by the Speaker, the Honorable Sheldon Silver – an elegant gentleman who represents a choice district of millionaires in Manhattan. Members of the majority party vote as he directs.
“If you can’t beat them, then join them,” DelMonte says, and her list of donors, published in the Niagara Gazette, proves the point: She raised four times as much from Albany/NYC than from Niagara. And, significantly, the Earl of Albany, Lord Silver, himself, came from Manhattan to endorse her. Her voting record shows Silver knows to return a favor. For six years, DelMonte supported every legislative initiative Silver had.
She learns fast. A hometown girl, when she first ran for office, DelMonte campaigned how she lived modestly among the people of Niagara Falls. Once in Albany, as if suddenly amongst a gathering of eagles, (instead of the gaggle of gooses that elected her) the new assemblywoman – informed of the “Golden Rule” (which is “Silver rules”) - came amongst the gathering – under Silver’s warm wing. Six years later, DelMonte is a wealthy, powerful lady who moved out of the declining city to an estate in Youngstown.
She has a voice at the Silver-table. Her campaign is “trust Albany.” But consider how misplaced that trust has been: Niagara Falls gave the management of the region’s largest airport to Albany, and Albany closed it. The Niagara Falls State Park was originally an “Olmstead Park,” with commercialism prohibited; but Albany ordered the trees felled to create parking lots, restaurants and souvenir stores – which deprive the city of much of the economic spin-off normally associated with having a world attraction within one’s boundaries. Niagara Falls became the first place in history where millions visit - which became a ghost town -- across the river from a boom town. Meanwhile, profit from the Niagara Falls State Park goes to fund parks in NYC.
Or, consider: Within a few years of the New York Power Authority taking control of Niagara hydro-power – our region ceased getting hydro- power from the river. It goes instead to NYC, while we buy electricity from, believe it or not, the Queen of England and other investors in Great Britain -- at exorbitant rates.
DelMonte sits quietly while the Power Authority revs up for another 50 year contract to control Niagara hydro-power. She must know it’s wrong for Albany to use our land and river banks to take our locally-generated power and give it to NYC. Yet, if she fought over who got Niagara hydro- power- Niagara Falls or NYC, the Speaker would seize her richly-appointed office and downsize her to a closet; she’d lose her parking spot; her staff would be cut; she’d lose her “communications” allowance – beefed up – through Silver’s appointment of her as head of a subcommittee on “Export Trade”, a laughable fiction, since DelMonte’s subcommittee has never met. However, this “subcommittee’s” allotment allowed Delmonte to spend $100,000 “communicating,” in eight newsletters this year, information about herself, written by herself, with photos of her smiling self – at your expense.
Consider also: after it was decided by Silver to support the giveaway of a prime portion of our precious downtown Niagara Falls – and a tax-free preference to a foreign nation - called Seneca – removed from a reservation to become our new, tax-free competitors, right next door to tax- paying businesses, it was one of DelMonte’s first assignments to help “determine” what her fair city would get. Instead of protesting, “Why can’t the people of Niagara Falls get the million-dollar-a-day anticipated profit, instead of Seneca?” DelMonte, who could have unhinged the whole Seneca giveaway or, at least, forced the state to make it a lot sweeter for Niagara Falls, made a joyful noise, and cemented a deal whereby the city got the rat’s handsome tail. However, all was not lost: As DelMonte began cheerleading the Seneca compact, her brother and campaign manager, attorney, John DelMonte quietly got a client: the Seneca Nation of Indians. John earned close to a million from his new-found client – for tasks such as drafting human resource manuals – that give Seneca employees preference over Americans, and collecting debts from Americans who bet and lost to the genuine, American-hating Seneca few - who captured the town.
Yes, Silver and DelMonte make a team: Brother John, like the Aspen, can sway, too. Silver of Manhattan has endorsed her. Manhattan and Albany have endorsed her. Possibly, the wealthy Seneca will endorse her. It’s the least they could do.