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Crash resolution tangled in politics

Turns out in Albany, even a plane crash can't put a halt to partisan politics.

When the State Senate on Monday approved a resolution honoring the victims of Continental Connection Flight 3407, Sen. Antoine Thompson, a member of the majority Democratic Party in the chamber, got the credit as the sponsor.

But it turns out a very similar measure was introduced last week by Sen. Michael Razenhofer, who lives a couple of miles from the Clarence plane crash site but is in the Senate's minority party as a Republican.

"I know it was my resolution. The politics I don't understand," said Razenhofer, who knew a couple of the victims of the plane crash in Clarence.

"But it's not an issue. I'm going to pursue much more important things than whose name is on a resolution," added Razenhofer, who joined the Senate just seven weeks ago.

Getting lead credit on a bill or resolution has been a long-consuming tradition in Albany over the decades. So on Friday, Republicans say, Razenhofer was told his resolution was going to be approved on Monday because he represents the area where the crash occurred and his resolution was more comprehensive. On Monday, they said the offer was rescinded.

Republicans say the episode is the latest example of Democrats not living up to their boasts of changing how business is done in Albany. Under GOP rule the past seven decades, Democrats were routinely blocked from getting their names on popular or important bills and resolutions. Since taking over in January, Democrats vowed to change that practice.

Thompson, according to legislative records, introduced a resolution last Tuesday honoring the crash victims. Austin Shafran, the Senate Democrats' press secretary, said the senator first introduced the measure the day after the Feb. 12 crash.

Friday, Razenhofer submitted a more comprehensive version with a list of victims and paying tribute to the first responders for "their heroic, professional and overwhelming reaction to the Continental Airlines Flight 3407 tragedy."

By Monday afternoon, Thompson's resolution had been amended to include the victims' names and other details.

Thompson later dismissed any claims of politics and said he had no idea Ranzenhofer had a resolution on the crash.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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