Tag Archives: City & State

Carl Being Carl

24 Sep

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

It was a cool evening; cool in the sense of temperature as much as atmosphere. The sun had just set and the cloudless sky was turning a lovely shade of dark blue, with a disappearing tinge of orange on the horizon. 

I pulled my car into a spot about a block down from the Dinosaur BBQ on Franklin Street to attend the City & State “welcome to Buffalo” party. The New York-based paper had just hired a Buffalo reporter, and it was hosting a celebration. 

As I walked up Franklin, I ran into County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who was rushing to get to a dinner at Bacchus with bigwigs from a local utility company. I saw Buffalo Rising’s Newell Nussbaumer and said hello. As I approached the Dinosaur, I saw Mike Desmond from WBFO speaking with City & State Editor-in-Chief Morgan Pehme and Chris Thompson – Pehme’s new Buffalo hire. 

After a while, a very slim, dapper gentleman from the statewide office of AARP came by to chat with Pehme and Desmond. He mentioned that Erie County had the 9th oldest population in the country. 

Right around that time, I caught a glimpse of a black BMW X5 across Franklin. It stopped to let out City & State President & CEO Tom Allon and G. Stephen Pigeon. Allon is a tall, bespectacled man who looks like he stepped right out of a Brooks Brothers catalogue. I introduced myself to both men. Pigeon shook my hand. Understandably, he wasn’t especially warm and friendly to me, but behaved like a gracious adult. They went inside. 

At this moment, the BMW had made a u-turn and parked, halfway in a spot, in front of the Dinosaur BBQ. Out comes Carl Paladino, and he is smiling and gesturing at me as if I was someone he was happy to see. He came around the car and was being gregarious and friendly with everyone. As we both extended hands to shake in greeting, I hesitated and said, “you don’t like me. I’m Alan Bedenko”.

At this he recoiled and inquired whether I was fucking serious. When I answered in the affirmative, he took a step or two back to tell me that I’m “a real fucking asshole, you know that?”  I replied that yes, indeed, I am, as I grinned from ear to ear.  He went on to berate me as a “disgrace” and a “fucking coward”.  I continued smiling as this old man angrily spat expletives at me on a sidewalk, in front of people, on a cool Buffalo night. He then went inside in disgust, informing the people with whom I was chatting that he would not speak to them while they were talking to an asshole like me. It was surreal. 

I continued speaking with Mr. AARP guy, Pehme and Desmond before going inside to check the event out.  I met Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo, who is a nice fellow even if his politics are all wrong. I like that he recognizes that the legislature is – and should be – a deliberative legislative body, and the role he plays in it.  I saw his dad, too, but we didn’t get a chance to speak. I spoke with lobbyist Jack O’Donnell and met his lovely wife, Marina. It was O’Donnell’s birthday, evidently, and Pehme led the gathering in a round of “Happy Birthday”.  There was even cake. 

I spoke at some length with Camille Brandon, fresh off a primary loss in her Assembly race. While we were chatting, Paladino passed behind me and said hello to her, but indicated that he would speak to her later when “that asshole” was gone.  She later found me and said Carl had asked her why she was speaking to that “asshole”. He was entering Mean Girls territory. 

I saw Jim Heaney and Dan Telvock of Investigative Post, and Justin Sondel from the Niagara Gazette.  I spoke briefly with @HeyRaChaCha from Twitter, and we talked about all the fascinating people who were there. 

As I spoke with Sondel and Mark Cornell from Poloncarz’s office about hydrofracking and Niagara County journalism, Pehme and Allon took to the stage to thank everyone for coming to the event.  Evidently, Paladino was a sponsor of the event because he, too, took the mic.  He welcomed City & State to Buffalo, adding that it was about time Buffalo got some real journalism up in here. He added that Buffalo media had too many “worms like Alan Bedenko”, expressing surprise and dismay as to how I even got into this event, to which I had been invited. 

Of all the elected officials, journalists, and dignitaries who filled that room, only one name was mentioned – mine, spat out by Buffalo’s favorite son – a walking, talking insult billboardatorium

Oh, how delightful this all was. I don’t think you’ve really arrived in Buffalo until you’ve been viciously cursed out by Carl Paladino.

What have I done to this man, except tell the truth about him? His sordid racist emails? His failed candidacy? The horrible things that come from his mouth? This guy is the personification of dishing it out but not being able to take it. (Mr. Tea Party is hanging out with Steve Pigeon, now?) What have I done, except be one of the few not in thrall of his money or perceived power? He hides behind his money, hurling misogyny, homophobia, and invective from emails and billboards, but I’m the coward?  I mean, I never circulated anal horse pornography, but that’s just not my thing. 

What’s with the hate and anger? Here he is, a millionaire in his $70,000 truck, being feted and paid attention to by all sorts of VIPs from not just the region, but throughout the state, but he’s got to take especial time to attempt – and fail – to insult me from the stage at the Dinosaur BBQ at someone else’s event. How great is that

Almost everyone said it was “just Carl being Carl”. It was, indeed.  That is, of course, the problem, but he’s attained folk hero status and can get away with just about anything, and the list of “cowards” who are willing to call him on it is regrettably short these days. There’s a fine line between being a straight talker and the state of being “Carl”. 

As for me, it was one of the proudest nights of my life; a story to remember. I make it a point to never knowingly do business with Carl Paladino, and I didn’t touch a drop of liquid or morsel of food that he underwrote at the event. 

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you. – Matthew 5:44. 

Disrespecting Christina Abt

15 Aug

Christina Abt is the Democratic Candidate for the 147th Assembly District. She is also running a primary race for the Independence Party line under our system of electoral fusion. Abt is, incidentally, a member of the Independence Party. She has an opponent for the IP primary, millionaire owner of the Tanning Bed chain, Dan Humiston. 

Abt is also a real cheerleader for Buffalo & Western New York. A genuinely good person, with ideas and intentions that are also good. She deserves your support. 

A candidates’ forum and debate is scheduled to take place on August 21st at the Historical Society. The debate is being organized under the auspices of the YWCA, City & State, and the Partnership for the Public Good. Abt took to her campaign blog to outline the facts surrounding the organization of this debate, and who is – and isn’t – invited to participate.  She started out by republishing an email about the event that she received from the PPG’s Sam Magavern. 

Candidate Debate, August 21

There are some hotly contested races this fall – in both the primaries and general elections.  Join us for debate night at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Court, starting at 5pm on Tuesday, August 21.  Here are some of the confirmed and invited participants:

 Assembly District 149

Sean Ryan, Confirmed
Kevin Gaughan, Confirmed

 Assembly District 147

David DiPietro, Confirmed
Chris Lane, Confirmed
Dan Hummiston, Confirmed
David Mariacher, Invited 

Senate District 63

Betty Jean Grant, Invited
Tim Kennedy, Invited 

Congressional District 26

Kathy Hochul, Invited
Chris Collins, Invited

Presented by City and State, PPG, and the YWCA of Western New York.  Free and open to the public.  RSVP to the YWCA at 852-6120, ext 0,or info@ywca-wny.org.

As “fact two”, Abt notes that she was never informed of, or invited to the debate. 

FACT THREE

When I questioned the sponsors of the event (City and State Magazine, Partnership for the Public Good and the YWCA of WNY) as to why ALL of my opponents, both GOP and IP, were invited and I was not, I was told that it was planned as a primary focused event with the Hochul/Collins general election debate serving as a grand finale/audience draw.

FACT FOUR

When I further pointed out that I was in fact in a primary for the Independence line against one of the gentlemen who is also in the GOP battle in the 147th district— and that they were therefore were providing my opponent with a public debate forum that was being denied to me— I received compliements for a good point and an invitation to possibly interview with the editor of City and State and perhaps participate in a debate in the future.

FACT FIVE

When I asked the representative of City and State Magazine (the prime sponsor of the event) if I would be receiving an invitation, his response was that if they invited me it would not be fair to the gentlemen already invited— and also, they might decide not to show up.

FACT SIX

I am a graduate of the YWCA Political Institute School for Women.

Abt doesn’t offer her opinion on the matter, and she doesn’t express any reaction or emotion to what’s happening. 

So I will. 

This is an outrage.

The YWCA is, in part, organizing this event, and its motto is “eliminating racism, empowering women”. The Partnership for the Public Good is a progressive organization. Yet these two groups and their leadership see fit to exclude a female from this debate. Not just any female – but a female who is currently engaged in a primary campaign against one of the invited men in her race. City and State should have simply offered up an apology and quickly invited Abt to the debate. It did not, and has a poor excuse for it. 

The notion that inviting her – late, as an afterthought, and after-the-fact – would dissuade one of the men from attending is also outrageous. I can’t even begin to understand or fathom the rationale behind that statement. Who cares if they don’t show up? In what way would an invitation to Abt be unfair to the four men who are invited? It strains credulity to the point of being an utter falsehood – a cover-your-embarrassed-ass moment by a collection of alleged progressives who should know – and do – better. 

Maybe this explains why the PPG’s website’s section on gender inequality is blank. 

The YWCA – it hosted a “candidate’s college” earlier this year, which was specifically designed to get women active and involved in the electoral process.  It hosts it every year, and as Abt noted, she’s a graduate. Yet she was specifically and deliberately excluded from the coming debate. Every other candidate for the office she seeks – all of them male – were invited without hesitation. When confronted, the PPG, the YWCA, and City & State offer up ridiculous excuses and deflections.

These organizations should add “Factually Unsupported Rank Sexism” to next year’s candidate’s college syllabus. And they should absolutely invite Abt to the debate, and apologize to her for their knowing, deliberate insult. 

Visit Abt’s website here

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