Word has been pouring into Niagara Times over the past 12 hours of accusations of thuggery and intimidation at the hands of Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte at her Town Hall meeting at the LaSalle Branch of the Niagara Falls library last night.
Delmonte, who held the third in a series of four meeting across her district, apparently brought an army of young punks whose sole purpose was to inhibit the ability of Francine's constituents to ask her any questions she deemed inappropriate.
She started the meeting by introducing a young man who we're told was there to videotape the meeting as part of his college government class as "a republican photographer". No one knows how the hell she came to that conclusion.
Things deteriorated from there.
In acts of intimidation that would have made the old Local 91 proud, DelMonte strategically positioned her goon squad around the room. Her Legislative Director, Nicky Melson, then directed the punks via text message where to stand and what to say. Melson, at DelMonte's direction, moved the team about the room with the explicit purpose of impeding the videotaping of the event. At one point, we're told, one of DelMonte's guys made physical contact with the young man attempting to video the public meeting. This is after repeatedly intentionally standing in front of the young man, forcing him to move his position multiple times.
DelMonte, obviously rattled by questions asked of her at the two previous town hall meetings, placed her goons throughout the room. When constituents would ask questions, the goons were literally shouting down the persons asking the questions. It was described to us as "a sickening display by DelMonte and her minions to kill the democratic process".
Now, we've made no secret of our disdain for DelMonte, so some may state that we're giving just one side of the story. But from what we're told, a reporter from the Niagara Gazette was at the meeting, and the methods employed by DelMonte, Melson and the rest of the goon squad were far from subtle. It will be very interesting to see if the Gazette actually has the balls to report on what everyone else in the room saw as plain as day.
It's obvious that the prospect of the upcoming campaign season is already getting to DelMonte, and it's only February. If these are the tactics that she is going to employ for the next nine months, she has lost the right to hold public office. Let's hope the people of the 138th Assembly District agree.