Jul 11th 2007,
The Tonawanda News
Rus Thompson called it “political football.” He may be right. Thompson, the endorsed Republican candidate for the Erie County Legislature 10th district in the November elections, and his competitor, incumbent Democrat Michele Iannello, are both pushing hard for the removal of tolls at both ends of Grand Island. But while they’re united in the cause, they certainly aren’t united in their efforts.
The tolls will likely be the central issue in the campaign, which might strike some as strange because Thompson and Iannello essentially agree. The tolls have long been a cause for Thompson, who started a petition at nogitolls.com, which includes more than 6,000 signatures. Thompson has blasted Iannello for not yet signing the petition.
Jul 10th 2007
The tolls are gone on the I-190 at Black Rock and Odgen Street. Now the push is on to get rid of the Grand Island bridge tolls using the same logic that was successful in Buffalo. “The Buffalo tolls were removed. That was a commuter tax,” says Rus Thompson who is running for a seat in the Erie County Legislature, “This is a commuter tax. Get rid of them. Get rid of them all.”
Thompson has gathered 6,000 signatures of Western New Yorkers who want the tolls removed and he’s hoping there is strength in numbers. “I’’ll keep going with these signatures and these tolls are gone,” says Thompson, “When are they going to start listening to the people of Western New York?”
Jul 10th 2007,
Following the successful removal of the Black Rock and Ogden St. tolls, Buffalo Developer turns focus to Grand Island.
He has been successful once already. Carl Paladino is credited with the successful removal of the Black rock and Ogden St. toll barriers on the Niagara Section of the Thruway.
Monday, July 9, 2007 05:39 AM - WBEN Newsroom
As we enter the campaign season, there is a groundswell of politicians coming out against the continued collection of tolls on the Grand Island Bridges.
County legislator Michelle Ianello has joined local developer Carl Paladino in pressing Governor Eliot Spitzer for possible removal of the tolls. Paladino was the driving force behind a lawsuit against the state that forced the removal of tolls from the Niagara section of the New York State Thruway, last October.
In recent months, the fight against the tolls has been championed by Rus Thompson, a Grand Island resident who ran for the Republican endorsement as a candidate for Ianello’s seat in 2004.
Thompson is the founder of a petition drive against the tolls, online at No GI Tolls.com. He is testy over Ianello’s recent discovery of the issue.
No Grand Island Toll petition drive continues
by Rus Thompson - Jul 5th 2007,
Freedom from the tolls was the object of my mission during the 4th of July Parade yesterday on Grand Island. Instead of putting anything in the parade like a float or a decorated van I chose to walk the route with petition in hand.
I covered the petition sheets with a plastic cover and just walked the sides asking people if they wanted to sign the petition, at a couple points there were 10 to 12 people lined up waiting to sign. In the short route I was able to walk I got almost 100 more signatures to add to the total. We are well over 6000 now and I will have to total them up now to get an exact number.
Jun 30th 2007
Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, of Ellicott Development, initiated the lawsuit against the Thruway Authority which was successful in getting the tolls removed last October. He had called the tolls an unfair commuter tax.
Paladino recently sent a letter to Governor Eliot Spitzer, laying out reasons for the removal of the Grand Island bridge tolls, as well.
Jun 8th 2007
Tom Puckett reports
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - An activist fighting against the continued collection of tolls on the Grand Island bridges says his efforts to secure an anti-toll billboard along the Thruway are being thwarted by the Thruway itself.
Rus Thompson, the founder of the anti-toll campaign, says he’s talked with several billboard companies and only one returned his calls.
Jun 1st 2007
Carl sent me the second FOIL request a couple weeks ago, I have it and hopefully over the weekend I will scan the whole document and create another page for this in noGItolls.com….
I truly want to Thank Carl for joining us in this fight to rid WNY of yet another obstacle on our road to fiscal stability, economic growth and trying to remove the stranglehold Albany has on all of us.
(Grand Island, NY, May 31, 2007) - - A push is growing to eliminate tolls at the Grand Island bridges. A News 4 investigation has uncovered what drivers are really paying for. Here’s Ellen Maxwell.
Developer Carl Paladino recently joined the fight to remove the Grand Island tolls. He did some research through the Freedom of Information Act, and sent a letter to Governor Eliot Spitzer.
Drive seeks end to bridge tolls
Grand Island effort gaining momentum
The Grand Island resident's petition campaign to remove the Grand Island Bridge toll barriers has more than 6,000 signatures and the backing of influential Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, who was instrumental in ending toll collection at the Niagara Thruway toll barriers.
Thompson, 51, said he's been speaking against the toll barriers and calling for their removal since the mid-1990s.
But his fight kicked into high gear last fall when the Thruway Authority did away with the Ogden and Breckenridge street toll barriers. The signature collection began as a door-todoor campaign and then Thompson started the Web site nogitolls.com.
May 19th 2007
Successful removal of I-190 fees spurs Grand Island effort
Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, who led the successful drive to remove toll barriers on the Niagara Thruway, has set his forceful person - ality on a new cause: ending the Grand Island bridge tolls.
In a strongly worded letter to Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer this week, Paladino laid out his argument against the bridge tolls in both financial and moral terms.
May 18th 2007
The Grand Island, Castleton on the Hudson, and Tappanzee are the only bridges specifically tolled on the New York State Thruway System.
The roads on both sides of the Grand Island Bridges are toll free. In 2006, Thruway revenue was $594M, expenses were $335M, debt service was $127M, $90M went to a reserve for replacements and the Authority had a $66M surplus.
The Thruway Authority has 932 other bridges in its system for which maintenance costs paid out of general revenue were $13.5M for 2005 and $15.9M in 2006. It cost $6.9M in 2005 and $10.6M in 2006 to maintain the Grand Island Bridges which generated revenue of approximately $19.8M in 2005 and $20.6M in 2006.
Tolling the Grand Island Bridges inequitably, unfairly, and selectively penalizes WNY residents. In May, 2005 tolls were increased 50% on the Grand Island Bridges and only 25% on the Tappanzee Bridge.
Apr 29th 2007
Rus Thompson must be doing something right, for a large government agency from New York State to be afraid that Rus might be successful in his fight to have a needless toll removed from a previously toll free bridge, if very revealing indeed.
Rus, keep up the fight, you are doing something right!
NO GI Tolls Billboard will not happen and the reason why?
Apr 27th 2007
The Thruway authority will not allow it to happen.
We have spoken to Billboard companies that have told us
that the Authority basically controls what can be said
on the signage along the thruway, can you believe it.
They are afraid the Authority will come after them if
they put our message on any Billboard.
I think this is an infringement on our Free Speech.. What say you?
Mar 5th 2007,
Mar 02, 2007 - With the tolls eliminated months ago, the New York State Thruway Authority promises to remove the Ogden and Breckenridge toll barriers on the 190 by the end of the year. Could the Grand Island tolls be next? The push to remove those two tolls is moving forward.
It costs 75 cents to go to Grand Island…$1.50 if you cross the island and come back. Regular commuters get a discount…and Grand Island residents pay just 9 cents per trip. Still, Rus Thompson says the tolls have to go. “It’s a commuter tax.”
Mar 3rd 2007,
by Carl P. Paladino
Mar 1st 2007
Lets put up a Billboard I just called Lamar and then emailed them
I want to know how much this would cost. Please let me know We will have to raise funds to do it, are you game? With almost 6000 signatures if everyone donated 5 dollars we could have one for a few months.
Feb 20th 2007,
Rus Thompson is just a regular guy who gets up every morning and goes to work. He works hard to earn enough money to pay his bills and raise a family and he looks forward to coming home at the end of those long days to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Feb 20th 2007
FOIL #1 Released
For years and years the people of Western New York have been asking and demanding the tolls be removed from the thruway, the 190 and the Grand Island Bridges. For years the politicians in Albany have told us that the Thruway Authority needs the toll money for the upkeep and maintenance of the roads and bridges.
Feb 2nd 2007
The effort to remove the tolls in WNY continues and the focus at this point is centered on Grand Island. This commuter tax is a much bigger issue than just for Grand Island residents, it encompasses Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The people that have to travel back and forth to work everyday know the expense, the long waits in lines, the waste of fuel and the dangerous traffic hazards.
State Senator Wants Hearing On Grand Island Tolls
Jan 29th 2007,
Thank you Senator Thompson for stepping up and joining the 5400+ people that have signed the petition. We are hoping to make this a big meeting and a show of strength of support to finally eliminate the tolls on the bridges. Where are the rest of the representatives from this district? Why are they not supporting this petition? This is the first real threat to the elimination of the tolls. If they would come out and support this then something would be done all the faster.
After years and years of promises, excuses, political posturing and EZ Pass, the people of this region are fed up with paying to commute to work and to continually have to pay to get home.
Important Toll Update 1-20-07
Good Afternoon everybody, I had to send you all an important update.
Yesterday afternoon (Friday) I met with newly elected Senator Antoine Thompson in his office. He has given us his 100% support in our effort to eliminate the tolls at the Grand Island Bridges. We will be scheduling a meeting at the Grand Island High School in February. Senator Thompson has sent out letters to the Governor, Assembly, Senate and the Thruway Authority requesting their support and an invitation to the meeting. I consider this a rally in support of removing the tolls and a very significant next step. Please make every effort to attend and to pass the word on, we need to make this as big a meeting as possible.
Why is this so significant ? Senator Thompson is the first representative from this district to get behind the petition effort. Until this point we have had to reach out to representatives out of the district like Senators Volker and Maziarz who have rec’d the support of the Senate Republicans, Assemblymen, Tedesco, Hayes, Cole, Quinn etc.. who have rec’d the support of the Assembly Republicans. Two weeks ago I talked to Robin Schimminger and he is in support of the petition effort.
Dec 22nd 2006,
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - After being rebuffed last week in Albany, Rus Thompson has managed to get his petitions to remove the Grand Island tolls to Governor Pataki. Thompson says his wife did so during Pataki’s stop in the town of Tonawanda.
Thompson says he has thousands of signature on those petitions and a promise from the governor to look them over. He’s hoping for positive news from Pataki before the year is out.
Dec 6th 2006,
(Grand Island, NY, December 5, 2006) - - Should residents have to pay a price of admission just to live on Grand Island? A new petition drive seeks to follow the example of the Niagara Thruway by tearing out the tolls from the Grand Island bridges. News 4’s George Richert reports.
It all started when Rus Thompson asked State Senator Dale Volker about taking down the Grand Island tolls.
Thompson, who runs the web site www.nogitolls.com, said, “He said that Governor Pataki does not see any public outcry coming from the people of Western New York and Grand Island residents about the tolls, and I said, ‘Really?’ ”
So this home improvement contractor started an outcry of his own, a web site entitled nogitolls.com, and a grassroots petition drive urging the Governor to do away with the Grand Island tolls.
He plans to take them to Albany next week.
Dec 5th 2006,
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The petition to remove tolls from Grand Island has support from the Grand Island Town Supervisor.
Peter McMahon says it is unfair to residen ts to charge them to leave the island, when they have no other alternative roads. He says the recent removal of tolls from the I-190,. where riders did have other options, makes his case that much more valid.
November 27th, 2006
GRAND ISLAND, NY (2006-11-27) Western New Yorkers continue to respond to a petition that calls for an end to Grand Island tolls. A couple of weeks ago we told you about a petition that is being circulated by a local citizen calling for the removal of the Grand Island Tolls.
Shortly after the 190-tolls ended in the City of Buffalo, a local construction contractor crafted a new petition to stop the Grand Island Tolls at the 190.
Rus Thompson says as of last week, he already collected more than two thousand on-line and hand written signatures. Thompson says responses are coming from all over the region. Thompson says commuter traffic becomes intense at the bridges, often causing back ups at the 290 as motorists wait in line to pay tolls.
November 27th, 2006
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The successful campaign to remove commuter tolls on Interstate 190 has spawned an effort to have them taken down on the Grand Island Bridges.
Activist Rus Thompson, who recently ran for state assembly, has launched a second campaign– this time against the tolls.
“I figured while the momentum was building, now would be the time to say ‘hey, what about Grand Island’,” Thompson says.
November 27th, 2006
There will be no more tolls on the Grand Island bridges, Rus Thompson said at Town Hall on Monday.
I am making it my personal cause, he added.
Thompson announced he was starting a petition to show Gov. George Pataki that area residents want to see the tolls go the way of parachute pants and poodle skirts.
Nov 27th 2006
TAKE DOWN THOSE TOLLS: There's no doubt that the closing of two tolls in Buffalo have folks fired up on this side of the region.
But before we start throwing the confetti in the air and believing that the Grand Island tolls will be coming down soon, we should all be reminded just how long it took the state's Thruway Authority to no longer require 75-cent tolls at the Black Rock and City Line barriers.
And it took a gigantic effort to make it happen one that included a huge media and political blitz. Will the same be needed for the Grand Island tolls?
Nov 19th 2006
CONTINUING TOLL FIGHT: We can't say we are very optimistic about his prospects, but we're firmly behind Grand Island resident Rus Thompson's effort to have the island's toll booths removed.
Nov 11th 2006
A local man has started a petition to end the tolls on the Grand Island bridge, similar to what happened to the 190 tolls in Buffalo.
Rus Thompson, who lost a race for the New York State Assembly to Sam Hoyt this past Tuesday, has started the drive. “It’s an expense issue, and it’s a traffic issue,” Thompson said. Thompson said he was inspired by the success of the recent push to end tolls at the Breckenridge and Ogden toll barriers in Buffalo.
“Governor Pataki said there’s no public outcry, I want to let him know that yes, there is a public outcry to get rid of these tolls,” Thompson said.
To sign the online version of the petition, CLICK HERE
Added by Eric J. Tower on March 14, 2005 8:30am
Rus Thompson whose website is above there seems to be the only person offering to actually run against the current political leaders at this time.
By Rus Thompson Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Is political change a necessary precursor to economic revival? Edward V. Regan thinks so, and he's got the resume to back up the conviction.
Absolutely, the political machine cares only about itself and how powerful it can be. The days of government for and by the people are gone. Now are the days of greed and ultimate control and power ie; the political machine.
When real reform candidates are out there like us, we are stomped on, silenced and smeared by them. Why? because we are working for change and they are worried about losing their jobs. It would be a different story if the private sector was thriving, instead it is dying and they know they cannot make the money and benefits unless they have the government jobs.
Real reformers will have to be apart from the "Party politics" and a history of working with both sides of the aisle. I can only look back at my own 10+ years of being involved in local politics. As a Conservative I was involved in the endorsements of various candidates. I worked to get both sides elected, I watched both sides and was not shy about criticizing either when they made decisions that were more about themselves vs.the greater good of the people.
Where has that gotten me? As an integral part of the tax revolt, co-founder of Primary Challenge, 3rd in the creation of Free Buffalo and leading the reform movement in the 10th district...........
The following articles have been written in the Tonawanda News.
I only wish it was delivered here on Grand Island. It clearly shows I have been in the forefront of this Tax Revolt since December 2004.
The Democrat majority refuse to even look at anything the Republicans have submitted as a plan because it has cuts and no new revenue source. This has been going on for a year and it must stop. We don't have a strong enough voice in the legislature to push for cuts and the eventual elimination of county government. I will do just that.
“The taxpayers are starting to wake up, and I’m so happy about it, because maybe things will start to change,” said Rus Thompson, a prominent member and Grand Island resident.
Thompson has announced preliminary plans to run against Legislator Chuck Swanick, R-City of Tonawanda, in this year’s Republican primary election.
So far, Republican Rus Thompson of Grand Island is part of a new group, Primary Challenge, looking to challenge every incumbent this year. That’s a tall order and Swanick will be no easy target, even though Hardwick beat him two years ago for the GOP line. That’s after Swanick made a deal with Erie County Executive Joel Giambra to become legislative chairman.
Rus Thompson, a Grand Island resident, has already announced his intention to run against Legislator Chuck Swanick, R-Kenmore, in the upcoming Republican primary.
Primary Challenge, the political organization gunning to unseat every Erie County legislator in this year’s primary elections, has announced its slate of candidates. But the list is void of Tonawanda residents.
Only Grand Island resident Rus Thompson has come forward to represent the group in one of the three legislative districts in the Tonawandas. He plans to make a run against Charles Swanick in the 10th district.
Kevin Hardwick, who beat Swanick in a Republican primary in 2003 but lost in the general election, said Friday’s festivities are a sure indication that Swanick won’t run for re-election. Others who have announced they will run for the seat incude Kenmore Trustee Michele Iannello and Grand Island’s Rus Thompson.
The major parties have announced their candidates for the Erie County Legislature seat in the 10th District, and for the first time in 26 years, Chuck Swanick isn’t an option for voters.
Kenmore Village Trustee Michelle Iannello has claimed the nominations from the Democratic, Independent, Conservative and Working Families parties. Bill Naab is the Republican choice, which sets up a primary election between he and Grand Island contractor Rus Thompson.
What started off as a challenge now may be in a shoe-in for Rus Thompson.
The Grand Island resident who was prepared to take on 26-year incumbent Chuck Swanick in his bid for a seat on the Erie County Legislature now appears to be the Republican party’s lone candidate for this fall’s elections. The twist came after Grand Island resident Bill Naab withdrew from the race four days after receiving the GOP’s endorsement.
In a rally he hosted Tuesday night, Rus Thompson chastised the Erie County Legislature for approving a sales tax increase.
Thompson, a Republican candidate for the 10th legislative seat, hopes to fill the position Chuck Swanick, R-Kenmore, is vacating coming fall. Bill Naab, the original Republican choice for the seat, dropped out of the race.
Several county legislators did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. But Grand Island resident Rus Thompson, who is running for the county’s 10th District seat this fall currently held by Chuck Swanick, R-Kenmore, doesn’t think the oversight board is sufficient.
“With the current makeup of the Legislature, it doesn’t go far enough,” Thompson said. “They need a full-blown control board with teeth. They need more oversight, because the main political party in the Legislature (Democrats) is focused on new revenue sources, and they’re not looking at making more cuts.”
Republicans have chosen Bruce Kaiser, a candidate they hope will last longer than the last person they endorsed.
He is running against fellow Democrat Michele Iannello, and Republicans Rus Thompson and Bruce Kaiser. Incumbent Chuck Swanick, R-Kenmore, will not be running for re-election.
Canal Fest personifies the mentality Primary Challenge is trying to change. Canal Fest Inc., the not-for-profit organization that runs the eight-day festival, allows only currently seated officials to march in its annual parade, taking place Tuesday.
Primary Challenge, a group dedicated to ousting incumbents throughout Erie County, has been working to get a spot in the parade for weeks, but has been shut out. Organizers of Canal Fest say rules are rules — they don’t change during an election season.
Continuing with the theme of inconsistencies, Canal Fest Inc.’s policy on political flyers came under fire from the political change group Primary Challenge. Primary Challenge and its candidate, Rus Thompson, who’s gunning for the seat in the Erie County Legislature vacated by Charles Swanick that represents the City of Tonawanda, Grand Island and Kenmore, was shut out of the parade.
Click here to see Bruce in action handing out literature like he was told not to..
The Grand Island contractor announced his intention last December to run against Republican Chuck Swanick
Voters looking for change in Erie and Niagara counties
will have plenty of options come September.
All seats in both county legislatures, and both mayoral seats in the Twin Cities, are up for
Kurt Alverson, the director of the Chamber of Commerce,
said the debates are the first time such meetings are held for primaries.
“With so many people running, we want to make sure people understand the issues and candidates,” he said.
Rus Thompson is not one to give up.
The Grand Island contractor hasn’t let the fact that he was passed up twice by the Republican Party’s endorsement ruffle his feathers. In fact, he plans to use it to his advantage.
“When Bill Naab dropped out of the race, they were scrambling to find someone to run against me,” Thompson said, of the party’s first choice candidate who declined to run.
The GOP then opted for Bruce Kaiser.
Thompson said he has a record of working equally with members of all parties, and that is something Republicans are uncomfortable with.
“Party politics: It is what’s destroying the county and destroying the 10th District,” Thompson said.
Primary Challenge’s other candidate, Rus Thompson,
also lost to Bruce Kaiser in a close race for the Republican line in District 10, which covers the City of Tonawanda, Grand Island, Kenmore and part of the Town of Tonawanda.
Unofficial tallies showed Kaiser leading Thompson by about 100 votes
Publication date: 9/14/2005
Meanwhile, Grand Island Republican Rus Thompson has decided to wage a write-in campaign for the county’s District 10 seat, which covers Grand Island, the City of Tonawanda, and parts of the Town of Tonawanda and Kenmore.
May 25, 2001
PUBLIC HEARING held before JOEL A. GIAMBRA, Erie County Executive, concerning Local Law Intro.
No. 3-2001, A Local Law amending Local Law No. 1-1959, constituting the Erie County Charter,
as amended in relation to the composition of the County Legislative Districts.
The third individual that we have randomly selected is the gentleman by the name of Rus Thompson, who is a candidate for the town council, apparently in the town of Grand Island.
STATEMENT BY MR. THOMPSON:
I'm Rus Thompson, from Grand Island.
I'm against the redirecting plan. It seems to me that the party that is in control of the legislature is spending more time trying to figure out a way to get themselves more power and control in Erie County than they are working for the people they were elected to serve.
The apparent greed for power is affecting their jobs. I would recommend the legislature be consolidated and downsized to directly reflect the population loss in Erie County.
We could easily cut the legislature in half and start on the right path of representing the electorate and cutting the size and control of government. Furthermore, I suggest that the legislature spend more time doing their jobs and less time trying to make the other party look bad, so they will look like the heroes in the next election.
This is an abuse of power and outright waste of taxpayers' money. Simply do your job and you will be re-elected. I am in Mr. Swanick's district and I am personally not happy with all the representation we have at a county level.
"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation;
and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."
MR. WOLF: Thank you, very much, Rus.