Tag Archives: governor

The Borscht Belt Debate

23 Oct

Courtesy WNED and CBS2 New York

Despite Brian Meyer’s desperate efforts to keep the format tight and moving, it was unwieldy. With four gubernatorial candidates being provided with equal time, it seemed at times that Cuomo and Astorino were afterthoughts. After all, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Party candidate Michael McDermott threw some good ideas at people last night at WNED’s studio.

McDermott liked to cut through the BS and had one of the best answers about fracking; that his philosophy was that it was important to wait and see what it does to the environment, because you’re allowed to do on your property whatever you want unless it harms someone else. For his part, Hawkins gave super-liberals the red meat they crave – single-payer, a hard no on fracking, social justice, funding for mass transit. 

Alas, Hawkins and McDermott don’t have a credible chance. 

The format gave candidates one minute to answer questions that often seemed to run on for twice that time, and then occasionally a 30 second rebuttal. One of the problems with contemporary political speech is that we’re too reliant on dopey ads and sound bites, and this sort of debate-by-one-liner exacerbates the situation. No one watched that and learned anything. It treated us like dumb assholes, and yet again we’ll get the Albany government we’ll deserve. 

Take my wife, please. 

Republican Rob Astorino came out swinging at Andrew Cuomo, and didn’t get an opportunity to tell us very much about what he’d do. Cuomo gave as good as he got. It was a good time, but not at all a substantive one. 

Where did you get your haircut, the pet shop?

Here’s how it went, as it went along. 

Trump: An Exercise in Brand Destruction

18 Jan

Dear New York State ultra right-wing Republicans: 

Andrew Cuomo is right. 

The reason you’re so angry? You know he’s right. 

But I would say the state GOP is split into three distinct factions, not just two. 

In 2010, the Republican Party was divided between the wealthy, country clubby downstate moderate Republican hierarchy on the one hand, and a brash, obscene, bellicose, ultra right-winger who energized (and was energized by) the Palinist wing of the tea party.  The glibertarian Paulist wing of the tea party also backed Paladino, somewhat begrudgingly. What all this amounted to was a complete blow-out whereby Democrat Andrew Cuomo defeated Carl Paladino 61% – 34%. 

Paladino was largely self-funded, and could buy himself all the media attention he wanted. His only disadvantage was his own mouth. And the policies he espoused. New Yorkers rejected him convincingly. 

Now, the ultra-right Palinists are thisclose to recruiting Donald Trump to run for governor against Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo is, I’m sure, not relishing the fight because Trump has many advantages over Carl Paladino; for instance, Trump has an international brand; Trump is reasonably well-liked by people, regardless of his weird politics; Trump knows how to make headlines, and do so positively for himself; Trump has been vetted in the media for decades; people know Trump for fun things that have nothing to do with politics; he is a known quantity downstate;  and, Trump has the New York Post in his pocket. 

Trump has some negatives, too, though; for instance, he has no filter between his brain and his mouth; he can be not just exceedingly rude and hostile, but downright vicious when dealing with people who offer him even mild criticism; Trump has been scrutinized as a tabloid celebrity, but not as a serious candidate for elected office; Trump does not play well with others, and is used to getting exactly what he wants (or can buy); Trump is likely to mirror Paladino’s bellicose attitude and alienate many voters; Trump’s utterly bizarre and inexplicably vocal birtherism will make Obama voters (62.6% of New Yorkers voted for Obama vs. 36% for Romney) reject Trump outright; and Trump has never, ever before paid a stitch of care or attention to anything west of the Hudson and/or north of Saratoga when it comes to New York State. 

If Republicans think that Trump can win (if he runs), they may be right – he has a chance. But it won’t remotely be the cakewalk they’re thinking it’ll be.  Cuomo isn’t warm and fuzzy, either, but he is a centrist Democrat. 

New York State is overwhelmingly populated by Democrats. The vast majority of New York voters are located within the New York City metropolitan area and media market. These people know Trump, and while upstate flirts with this pretty TV celebrity, he’s old hat downstate. Many of them are likely to not take him at all seriously. 

All of these hypotheticals are naturally based on the assumption that he’ll run. He won’t if there’s a primary, he says, and the country clubbers that run the New York GOP aren’t warming to Trump yet. I’m not so sure he’ll run – this is already a huge publicity stunt for him, and running is secondary. What a wonderful branding exercise. 

But is it? Is Trump ready to sacrifice his brand further by wading into hyperpartisan politics? As an Obama supporter, I’ve already resolved to avoid anything with Trump’s name on it like the plague; I see his relentless birtherism as thinly veiled racist xenophobia, and I see his rejection of irrefutable evidence as a huge character flaw that disqualifies him for public office, and the money I earn. If Donald Trump thinks that the President is a foreign national who is ineligible for the Presidency in the face of a certified long-form Hawaiian birth certificate, that calls his judgment and credibility into question. Now expand that aggressive ignorance into state politics, and he’ll alienate Democrats and moderate Republicans even more. 

Oh, and here’s a tip, tea partiers: stop calling Andrew Cuomo “il Duce”. He was duly elected, and you maintain a right to hate and criticize him. He is, therefore, not a fascist totalitarian dictator. But he is Italian. Your defamation of Cuomo with this false, childish, base slur will not ingratiate you or your candidates to New Yorkers of Italian descent. This bigotry is vile and beneath you; you might as well call him a mob boss or depict him as an organ-grinder as soon as you’d depict Obama as an African chieftain or with a watermelon

Because for all the bleating about the NY SAFE Act, this race will be decided in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. The rural areas will go for the Republican, the urban areas will go for the Democrat, and these key suburban swing counties could go either way. Right-leaning upstate counties simply don’t have a lot of people. 60% or so of New Yorkers are registered Democrats. 30% or so of New Yorkers are registered Republicans. The Conservative and Independence Parties are now wholly owned subsidiaries of the Republican Party, so add another 5% on the Republican side. That’s the gap that Trump would have to win, and Cuomo made the point that he’s too extreme. 

Here’s what Cuomo had to say in remarks that enraged many New York right-wingers: 

You have a schism within the Republican Party. … They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That’s what they’re trying to figure out. It’s a mirror of what’s going on in Washington. The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It’s more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans.

… You’re seeing that play out in New York. … The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

If they’re moderate Republicans like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate — moderate Republicans have a place in their state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican; but not what you’re hearing from them on the far right.”

Republicans can take umbrage to that, but it’s a fundamentally true declaration. New York Republicans may enjoy the extreme hatenouncements of pretty billionaires and petty millionaires, but your average New Yorker is pretty middle-of-the-road. Pataki won because he wasn’t an extremist. Cuomo won because he wasn’t an extremist. It’s about the center in New York, and Trump may have had appeal there before the birtherism, but now he’s just Paladino with a cleaner outbox, a TV endorsement, and more money in the bank. 

Oh, by the way, the New York State Attorney General is suing Trump for defrauding students through a now-defunct “Trump University” which took money in exchange for nothing.  

So, my initial prediction is that Trump won’t win because (a) there would likely be a primary; and/or (b) he doesn’t need the headache. If I’m wrong and he does run, then I think he outperforms Paladino, but doesn’t defeat Cuomo. The reason why? Trump is being backed and promoted by a small minority of a small minority political party – a fraction of 35% of the state population. 

You guys are great at buying your own BS, and because you only credit right-leaning media and reject any sort of critical thought or debate, you think that you “surround us”. The problem is that the numbers are not in your favor, and the ease with which you descend into crass, ugly rhetoric doesn’t help. This is before we get to the actual policies you espouse, most of which would never fly in a cosmopolitan blue state like New York. 

So, good luck with this, but you might want to consider ways in which centrists and liberals might be attracted to Trump, rather than alienating them right from the start. Have a great weekend!

Love, BP

The Case for Paladino: Fisked

29 Jun

It’s been a while since I’ve properly fisked something. This article from Buffalo Business First, penned by the Buffalo Law Journal’s Matt Chandler, is ripe for this treatment.  It deals with oppressed, local, rich, connected person, Carl Paladino.

Though the gubernatorial election has long since passed, opponents of Buffalo developer (and attorney) Carl Paladino aren’t ready to put down their collective sticks and stop whacking away at the Paladino pinata.

In fairness, Paladino brings on many of these attacks with his own words, including the scathing letters he regularly pens attacking those who he thinks are doing wrong by this once great city. In spite of that, and putting politics aside (I know that can be difficult for a lot of people) not only is Paladino good for Buffalo, Buffalo needs him.

The opening paragraphs set up the argument – that it is Paladino’s critics and opponents who are unreasonable, wielding “sticks” with which they “whack” away at the poor, oppressed, wealthy, and connected kvetcher. Chandler acknowledges that Paladino is an abrasive loudmouth, but argues that, for some reason, we need that?

Buffalo has long had a reputation as a dying rust-belt city buried in snow 13 months out of the year and is viewed by many as about as desirable a place to live as a hornet’s nest. Paladino is, at the core of the issue, a passionate voice fighting to overcome those challenges and return Buffalo to the powerful city it once was.

Is he outrageous at times? Absolutely. Does he speak off the cuff and on occasion toss the politically correct handbook aside? Without a doubt. But Paladino has never apologized for who he is, and that is refreshing.

Carl Paladino ran for governor and was such a polarizing and hateful character that not only did his admittedly attractive and baseball-bat laden platform of Albany disdain fail to propel him to the governor’s mansion, but he helped turn Buffalo into an even bigger statewide laughingstock than it already was.  I grew up downstate – I’ve heard all the jokes. Paladino is a caricature of the sort of unenlightened, brash, uncultured upstate loudmouth with a misguided sense of entitlement that the part of the state with all the people in it loves to hate. For a city with low self-esteem and a serious inferiority complex, Paladino’s frequent mouth-craps serve to bring us down further.

Visit Lovely Buffalo!

While I would agree that, at one time, Paladino’s civic involvement and bomb-throwing may have been compelling and entertaining, if not productive, now it seems much more bitter – as if he’s just angry for anger’s sake.

And he’s angry at anybody who doesn’t do exactly what Carl wants.

As for Paladino “never apologiz[ing] for who he is”, that’s not refreshing; that’s depressing. We know him to be entertained by the most base defamation against women, gays, blacks, the President, etc. There’s not much there of which to be proud.

Disingenuous cries of “political correctness” are, in cases like this, merely complaining that society demands a certain amount of courtesy, temperance, and politeness. Carl has money; he doesn’t need to be any of those things. Right?

Part of what makes our country great is that we have the ability to speak our mind without persecution or prosecution. Paladino personifies that and though we may not always agree with him, I respect not only his right to say what many other people are thinking, but his willingness to do so.

That paragraph more properly belongs in the comments section of this blog. Whenever we criticize someone for being an intemperate asshole, some dummy will type something similar to it. Who ever said that Paladino didn’t have a “right” to say the hateful things that he has said? Just because “other people are thinking” that way doesn’t make it socially acceptable, or something that we should all applaud, regardless of its legality.

Over the last year, I’ve been privy to countless conversations between people bent on crushing Carl Paladino. Those conversations, as of late, have centered around a series of letters the former Republican gubernatorial nominee has written, then mass-emailed to seemingly everyone on earth. For those of you not on his email list, he fired off a caustic letter last week to Buffalo News Publisher Stan Lipsey where, among other things, he called Lipsey “spineless” and predicted the longtime publisher would soon resign.

Lipsey is so “spineless” (a synonym of “coward”), that he’s let loose the reporters at the News to start paying attention to matters that Paladino – through his money, power, and influence – had gotten away with for years. Crumbling buildings, code violations, threats to health and safety, lies. Lipsey is anything but spineless – he’s taken the fight to Paladino, who isn’t used to being confronted negatively.

Carl's Insult Billboardatorium

He followed that letter with one aimed at Brendan K*******, the attorney for the Buffalo Board of Education. The letter was directed to the Erie County Bar Association Grievance Committee and, in a nutshell, called for Mr. K******* to be disbarred based on his conduct in various school board related issues.

This is ironic. In his zeal to destroy the lives and livelihoods of those whom he dislikes, Paladino has publicly released a complaint he filed with the attorney’s grievance committee? That’s patently improper. Under Section 90(10) of the Judiciary Law, “…all papers, records and documents upon the application or examination of any person for admission as an attorney and counsellor at law and upon any complaint, inquiry, investigation or proceeding relating to the conduct or discipline of an attorney or attorneys, shall be sealed and be deemed private and confidential. “

Only Supreme Court Justices can unseal or otherwise make public any such documents. Because an allegation against a lawyer is just that – an unsubstantiated complaint to be reviewed and investigated, nothing is made public about the committee’s work until and unless a negative finding is rendered. By violating this section of the Judiciary Law, Paladino may have, himself, opened himself up to scrutiny by the grievance committee.

And what did K******* do? He did his job! He is zealously representing the client who is paying him. Nothing he is doing – or that Paladino accuses him of doing – is improper, or frankly much different from what any lawyer does every day on behalf of every client. You’re not supposed to agree with it – he’s advocating for a particular position.

Although I have a copy of Paladino’s letter regarding Mr. K******* in my possession, I will not publish or link to it here until and unless I obtain approval from the grievance committee to do that.

I’ve never met Lipsey, so I can’t speak to his character, but I certainly believe that having people willing to question the press and call them out when they cross the line is critical (the News used Wikipedia as a source in questioning Paladino’s military service).

I’ve also never met K******* and I have no idea if Paladino’s charges are true, but in a state known for crooked politicians and public figures who put their own interests above those of John Q. Public, I think Paladino keeps people honest. If he crosses the line with any of his rants, those in his cross hairs can fight back through legal channels. But if he doesn’t, then he is someone using his pulpit to turn over the rocks, look in the corners and make sure the I’s are being dotted and the T’s are being crossed.

Squalor: For the People

The Buffalo News wrote a poorly sourced screed blasting Paladino on its editorial page, and that makes Stan Lipsey “spineless” how, exactly?

Paladino’s apparent, alleged breach of grievance committee confidentiality is honorable? No, it is quite the direct opposite. “If he crosses the line”, people can sue him? Have you ever tried to sue someone for defamation? Doesn’t this guy work for the local legal newspaper? Don’t you know how much a defamation case costs, Matt? Now try doing that against someone who owns his own law firm. This is a facile and clumsy apologia for the schoolyard bully – hey, if the bully sends you to the hospital, you can sue the family to pay the bill! What price would you assign to your reputation in the community?

As for that pulpit, I also find it curious how quickly Paladino’s detractors are willing to overlook what he has done for this region. It seems as though “creating jobs” is the big national buzz phrase and Paladino has made a career in his development business of creating jobs.

Paladino has a proud record of renting space to state agencies, thanks to his political connections and financial largesse, and has a massive stable of vacant properties, as well as a handful of properties that are currently subjecting him to housing court prosecution. He’s run a successful business.  So do a lot of people.  Carl has made a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. What, exactly, is Carl Paladino’s big political legacy? Jane Corwin? Jim Domagalski? His own race? Kevin Helfer? Mickey Kearns?

Going back to the Paladino bashers I’ve listened to over the last 12 months, those engaged in the mud-slinging have never created a single job among them, nor have they ever built anything. Yet their wrath is finely honed in on, among other things, the fact that he had the “arrogance” to put a billboard on one of his buildings overlooking the I-190 attacking the aforementioned Buffalo News.

Pride

Wait, the publisher of the Buffalo News has never “created a job”? No one who has ever criticized Paladino has created a job? Who are these strawmen “bashers”, exactly? They’re not named, or even alluded to, so there’s no effective way to rebut this fantasy paragraph.  Not all of us can build brand new Rite-Aids directly across the street from older Rite-Aids we built a few decades ago. Not all of us have the juice to get that rich off the public’s dime.

Knowing the folks on the other side of the argument, I chalk it up to pure jealousy. Who among us wouldn’t love to have the financial resources to put up a giant billboard overlooking a highly-traveled road attacking our foes? I only wish I had Paladino’s resources; the biggest problem I would have is deciding who I would choose to call out if given only a single billboard. I’d probably have to convert it to one of those fancy digital billboards.

 

Crumbling. For Real.

 

Well, shit, I wish I was rich, too. I’ll tell you, however, what I’d do if I was rich like Carl. I’d make sure my family was taken care of. I’d treat people the way I want to be treated. I’d help the less fortunate – not demonize them. I’d work hard to make sure the properties I owned were kept up in compliance with all relevant health, safety, and building codes.

If I had money and influence like Carl, I’d work to make Buffalo better. I’d work to make it less of a laughingstock. I’d make sure I kept my nose clean. We need more mensch, less schmuck.

Let’s don’t forget that Paladino ran for Governor of this state.  Juxtapose that thought against the epic first 6 months of the Cuomo governorship.

We’ve got local school mandate relief, ethics reform, marriage equality, UB 2020, and a property tax cap. And that’s just in the last month.

Under a Paladino regime, the sides would be further entrenched, there would be no negotiations, the government would likely be shut down with a flourish, Paladino would be compiling his enemies list, and homosexual New Yorkers would still flock to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Ontario to legalize what their own state frowns upon.

If I had Carl’s money, power, and connections, I’d choose to be either quiet or inspiring – someone people look up to, than down on. I’m sure there are some who like Carl, some who respect him. But there are far more who wish he would use his bully pulpit, his voice, his money, his resources for good, rather than ill. He had so much promise to do good by the little people in this city. As time went on, he became more polarizing, more angry. Just what this region, this city, this community don’t need.

At the end of the day, his detractors won’t be deterred, and they can say what they will about his style, but Carl Paladino invests in the community, creates jobs, appears to love Western New York and isn’t afraid to take a stand.

While a growing faction of angry malcontents continue to bash Paladino, I wish we had more people like him. Buffalo could use more people with that kind of a commitment to a community so desperately in need of people willing to stand up and fight for it.

I like how Mr. Chandler dismisses people who disagree with Carl Paladino as being “angry malcontents”. As if there’s no way you could say a negative thing against such a great and beloved madman without being a disaffected jerk yourself. Nothing, happily, could be further from the truth.

Here’s what I wrote about Paladino and his platform – before the horse porn emails, before the fight with Fred Dicker, before Paladino’s implosion at his own hands:

Running on an “angry at Albany” platform is one thing, but we don’t stay in New York State because of our anger.

We stay here in spite of it.

We’re all angry, but we want solutions to the problems that make us angry. Railing against welfare queens and proposing stricter ethical rules are facile non-solutions. If suddenly Dictator Paladino changed the rules tomorrow to prevent Sheldon Silver from profiting from his law practice, that would not reform state government or help Buffalo in any remote way. If King Paladino changed the welfare eligibility rules tomorrow, the state’s population would still drop or stay the same.

We’re all angry at Albany. But like every other politician who has promise, Paladino’s platform fails to deliver. Byron Brown squanders a huge mandate and enviable likability. Chris Collins wastes his power and prestige on picayune micromanagement. Likewise, Paladino will take a unique opportunity to go to Albany and make big change, and instead promises to make little ones that will please a particular upstate, suburban constituency.

Not even lip-service was paid to good government…

We have plenty of people standing up and fighting for this region. Some you’ll agree with, some you won’t. But why do we honor a belligerent loudmouth with lots of money and a thin record, while ignoring the real heroes in this community?

Some are working with underprivileged kids, getting them back on the education track. Where’s Carl? Some of them are building and rebuilding homes throughout the city, rebuilding a broken community house by house. Where’s Carl? Some of them are braving the real risk of personal harm to get kids off drugs and out of gangs. Where’s Carl? Some are venture capitalists and investors in small businesses, taking a financial risk on new ideas and inventions. Where’s Carl? Some are promoting the beauty and sights and people of this area, trying to get new businesses, residents, and visitors. Where’s Carl? Some people are working to ensure that kids are clothed, fed, housed, taught a trade, and re-educated. Where’s Carl? Some are helping to introduce new immigrants and refugees to their new home in the United States, setting them up with homes, language courses, jobs. Where’s Carl?

Every day, scores everyday heroes do hard work – often without remuneration or praise – to help make this region a better place, to help lift people up from disadvantage. Few of them spend tens of thousands of dollars to call their political opponents assholes.

We do need people who are committed to the community, who are willing to stand up and fight for it.  We don’t need obnoxious, belligerent rich bullies calling everyone and their mother a motherf*cker when they dare to not be his sycophants.

(Updated to redact the attorney’s name in the hopes it never comes up in a Google search and harms his ability to earn a living). 

Governor Material

13 Mar

The Buffalo News found several people to go on the record and accuse Carl Paladino of being a deadbeat.

(What is it about megalomaniacal western New Yorkers with Napoleon complexes packing heat?)

The Buffalo News today reports that recent gubernatorial loser and wealthy local malcontent Carl Paladino allegedly owes thousands of dollars to myriad campaign staffers and vendors. The man who pledged to spend $10 million apparently borrowed $3 million from “unnamed sources”, owes thousands to average people trying to make a living, and has apparently reacted to them in malicious and unfair ways. At least a few promise to sue, and one threatens to dime him out to the state bar grievance committee.  He allegedly owes $8,000 to Michael Johns, who worked Tea Party outreach, he reportedly owes William Rey about $5,000 for video production. He allegedly owes Tim Suereth $6,300 for expense reimbursement.

Others due money in amounts ranging from $1,200 to about $35,000, include an attorney, a researcher, and a half-dozen campaign staffers and media producers, according to the former campaign aides, consultants and vendors.

Several of those owed money described a frequent pattern of behavior by Paladino when he was approached for payment.

Paladino at first failed to respond, and then offered a disputed history of the terms originally agreed upon. Paladino sometimes contended that, regardless of terms, he paid people what he felt they were worth, the former aides and consultants said. And, they added, Paladino often became insulting and confrontational.

“He seems to be picking fights with people he owes money to and not paying,” Suereth said. “He’s looking for every reason to not pay people he owed money to at the end of the campaign.”

Perhaps the lede was buried, because Paladino‘s own former campaign manager, Michael Caputo, claims that he’s owed $38,000, but more importantly:

Caputo has said in the past that most of the fees he received were subsequently spent on legal, research and media services related to the campaign.

I’m no expert on New York State’s campaign finance laws, but that doesn’t seem completely Kosher. Disclosure rules exist to promote disclosure.

Paladino, who has become a bizarre and paranoid local cross between Sarah Palin and Charlie Sheen, took to Facebook to excrete the following:

You received a message on your blog from an unidentified, disaffected campaign malcontent who has no regard for truth or facts and you think you have a scoop.  You don’t.  There are people who didn’t get paid for good reason.  Everyone who deserved to be paid was paid.  They can go to court if they have a complaint.  What business is it of yours?  It’s a civil matter.

Well, what “business it is” is that these people went to the News to voice their complaints, and they were particularly brave in that they used their own names and accused Paladino of very specific charges. Paladino ran for governor, and the conduct of his campaign is newsworthy because of the public nature of campaign finance laws and disclosure, but it details his demeanor.  You can tell a lot about a person about how he conducts his business, and how he treats those who work for him. Paladino treats his vendors and campaign employees like disposable pieces of garbage whom he can cheat, and force them to sue him to be made whole.

Remember if you write something and have actual knowledge that what you write is not true, it obviates the need to prove malice even for a public person.  In any event I believe we can prove malice.  I caution you to be careful.  Don’t for a minute think that I won’t haul you into court and subpoena every e-mail and document you, spineless and Evans ever wrote about me.  I can’t wait to depose the three of you.  You better not destroy the records.  Judges don’t like people who do that.

Naturally. The bully with a law firm threatens to sue. The problem here for Paladino is that “malice” in defamation jurisprudence isn’t defined as “being mean” or “hating Carl”.  He’d have to prove to a jury that the Buffalo News published false facts in an article without regard to their truth or falsity.  The article itself reveals that this charge must fail, as the writer spoke with people who got stiffed and proved it, and did so on the record.

Furthermore, discovery runs both ways for Mr. Paladino, and at the heart of any defamation litigation is the supposition that the plaintiff’s reputation has been harmed or assailed.  Therefore, Mr. Paladino puts his reputation at issue in the case, and it is itself subject to discovery.  I’m sure the News’ lawyers would likewise relish the opportunity to depose Mr. Paladino, and he had also better not engage in any spoliation of evidence; not because “judges don’t like people who do that”, but because it’s improper and illegal.

You sit in a big room with many people who don’t respect or like you or your fearless editor and publisher and they watch what you do.  They are good people with integrity and honor and they want the best for their community.  They don’t like elitism nor do they like editorializing on the front page.  Truth is truth.  Give it up Jim.  You are a messed up dude.

Well, no. Jim Heaney isn’t a “messed up dude”.  He’s a local reporter who got a juicy tip, followed up on it, verified the facts, and printed them. Just because Mr. Paladino doesn’t like the content of those articles doesn’t make them editorials. Also contained in Paladino‘s clumsy threat-letter is dicta explaining that the author appreciates the coverage he gets from Business First and Buffalo Rising. Yet it’s becoming clearer by the day that Paladino “leads” by threatening people. He surrounds himself by sycophants, and bullies everybody else.

Until now, western New Yorkers were happy to say Carl was like their crazy uncle. As the facts come out, it would appear that his personality is more sinister than that. Refusing to pay vendors, unilaterally abrogating agreements, forcing people to sue him to be made whole, then making threats against those who complain, aren’t the ways in which legitimate businessmen behave. It’s not how your crazy uncle behaves. It’s more sinister than that. Frankly, if Paladino is on speaking terms with Buffalo Rising and Business First, then those two outlets aren’t doing their jobs.  On principle, I don’t knowingly or intentionally do business with this person.  The rest of western New York, now knowing how he operates and how he treats his underlings and vendors, should do the same.  The same goes for anyone seeking or receiving political support or funding from him. Choices matter.

Paladino, Father In The Gay Community?

13 Oct

Yesterday, in response to the continuing row regarding controversial statements about homosexuals made in front of an audience of Hasidic Jewish rabbis and again in various interviews, Carl Paladino issued the following statement to the media and posted on his Facebook page:

“I am Carl Paladino, a father, a husband, a builder and a business owner. I am neither perfect, nor a career politician. I have made mistakes in this campaign – I have made mistakes all my life- as we all have. I am what I am – a simple man who works hard, trusts others, and loves his family and fears for the future of our State.

Yesterday I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable. I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words. I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated. I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong. My personal beliefs are:

1) I am a live and let live person.

2) I am 100% against discrimination of any group. I oppose discrimination of any kind in housing, credit, insurance benefits or visitation.

3) I am 100% against hate crimes in any form.

4) I am in support of civil agreements and equal rights for all citizens.

5) My position on marriage is based on my personal views. I have the same position on this issue as President Barrack Obama. I have previously stated I would support a referendum by New York voters. I have proposed Initiative and Referendum so New Yorkers can decide important issues like this.

6) The portrayal of me as anti-gay is inconsistent with my lifelong beliefs and actions and my prior history as an father, employer and friend to many in the gay and lesbian community (emphasis mine)

I am concerned with the future for all our citizens, gay, straight, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim and Agnostic. Although I am not perfect I do admit my mistakes. I will reach out to leaders of the gay community to educate me on how to better represent my support for the rights of all citizens. If elected as your governor I will stand and fight for all gay New Yorkers rights.

I ask you for forgiveness on my poorly chosen words and the publication by others not involved with our campaign of unredacted script that did not reflect my oral statement or match my personal feelings. Please go to my website http://www.paladinoforthepeople.com to learn more detail about the issues including my staunch support for civil rights for all New Yorkers.”

What has been left out of the subsequent coverage of this statement is what appears to be quite a revelation from Paladino; “my lifelong beliefs and actions and my prior history as an father, employer and friend to many in the gay and lesbian community”

It’s easy to understand his statement that he is a “friend” to many in the gay and lesbian community, many of us are. It is also likely that during 30 years as a business owner and developer, Paladino has employed a number of LGBTQ people. In fact, he has owned businesses which specifically cater to the LGBTQ community.

In their story about Cobalt, the gay club once managed by Carl’s son William, in a property owned by one of Carl Paladino’s many subsidiary companies, the New York Daily News reported the following:

From May 2004 through July 2006, William Paladino co-owned a nightclub on Delaware Ave. in downtown Buffalo, records show.

Liquor license records show the club was run under the corporate name 2975 Group LLC, while the building it was housed in was owned by one of Carl Paladino’s many companies, the Huron Group LLC.

It was called Cobalt in 2004 and much of 2005, catering exclusively to gay clientele, holding drag queen nights and featuring “boy-tenders” behind the bar.

What remains is his statement that he is a father to (someone) in the gay and lesbian community. This statement required some clarification from the Paladino campaign, so we contacted Paladino’s campaign manager, Michael Caputo, with the following request via email. I’ve attached images of the email communication in order to pre-empt any claims that I am not disclosing all of the details of my communication with Caputo.

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After several failed attempts to get a straight answer or anything other than a passive aggressive non-denial denial from Mr. Caputo, I decided to email Mr. Paladino directly for a comment or clarification.

I am still waiting for a response from Mr. Paladino on this issue. However, the question remains, is Carl Paladino a Father to a LGBTQ child?

New York’s Gubernatorial Candidates #NYGOV

13 Oct

Andrew Cuomo

The Democratic candidate is Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.  Cuomo’s platform is here.  His biography is well-known. He is also running on the Working Families Party, and Independence Party lines, thanks to New York’s arcane electoral fusion rules.

Carl Paladino

The Republican candidate is Carl Paladino.  Being from Buffalo, we all know who he is, what he is, and – above all – that he’s not “politically correct”, which is a handy euphemism for “unfiltered Id”.  Paladino has obtained the endorsement of the Conservative Party, which had originally backed Rick Lazio – a bid by local attorney Ralph Lorigo, who was essentially running as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Paladino campaign – has ended. Paladino will also appear on a vanity line he created for himself called the “New York Taxpayer Party“.

Howie Hawkins

The Green Party of New York‘s candidate is its founder, Howie Hawkins.  Hawkins wants to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant just outside of Peekskill, and to ban extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale by hydrofracking. His platform page is a catch-all of left-wing progressive ideas, such as raising taxes on the rich, reforming Albany through proportional representation, which would make it easier for independent third parties to win elections and gain power and influence, full employment at “living wages”, single-payer health insurance, free education from pre-school through grad school, a sustainable & green economy, affordable housing, etc.  Of particular interest for WNY voters is his stand on regional planning:

Move land use planning authority from local municipalities to elected metropolitan/regional planning boards in order to end economically and environmentally destructive sprawl, to protect farms, green space, and environmental resources, to reduce intraregional inequities in housing, education and fiscal capacity, and to renew city,  town and village centers with transit-linked, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of mixed homes, shops, jobs, schools, parks, and civic buildings.

Warren Redlich

On the other side of the political spectrum from the economic interventionist Hawkins stands the Libertarian Party’s Warren Redlich.  His platform includes capping pay and pensions for state workers, “eliminating waste”, letting voters decide on pay for state electeds and their staffs, and reducing the number of taxes collected.  Redlich believes that it costs more to collect many state taxes than they bring in.  Redlich is a personal injury lawyer, yet advocates for “tort reform”.  But looking at his platform, it seems as if he’s only talking about medical malpractice cases, but then in the next sentence wants to eliminate pain & suffering noneconomic damages for just about all cases, except in cases of “gross negligence”, a higher standard than simple negligence.  Naturally, Redlich is pro-gun, anti-eminent domain, wants to reform the way in which fines are calculated and collected for traffic infractions, and wants to end the war on drugs.

Kristin Davis

Davis is a client of Roger Stone’s – Stone is the political dirty trickster who taught Paladino campaign chief Michael Caputo just about everything he knows.  It’s been widely reported that the connections between the Paladino campaign and Stone-related entities are quite close and lucrative.  For Stone.  Davis’ political awakening was recent and swift,

After she was released from Riker’s Island, Kristin Davis told the Daily Caller she discovered she was a Libertarian. “When I got out of jail I was broke, the government confiscated all of my money, I was unemployable because of the stigma prostitution has for women in the business but not men, and I was appalled after seeing both the criminal justice and corrections system up close” said Davis. “I began reading Goldwater, Hayek, Von Mises, Freedman and Ayn Rand.” Davis decided that the best way to promote a pro-legalize prostitution and legalize Marijuana agenda was not by lobbying gutless and corrupt politicians who would never listen but by running for Governor to put these issues before New York voters.

Davis is a former madam, – more specifically, she ran the “Emperor’s Club” where Client 9 – former Governor Eliot Spitzer – would arrange for paid sex with Ashley Dupre.  Davis’ platform is quite simple; she wants to legalize marijuana, legalize prostitution, legalize casino gambling, and legalize gay marriage.  One could very easily argue that these four points, if done together, could more than make up for the state’s budget shortfall through taxation of marijuana sales, prostitution transactions, gaming fees/taxes, and gay marriage license fees.  She is running on the Anti-Prohibition Party line.

Jimmy McMillan (aka “Papa Smurf”)

A party tailor-made for New York City people with New York City problems; a party that would never gain a foothold in literally low-rent WNY, Jimmy McMillan (website) is running on a platform of “rent, rent, rent; there is nothing else to talk about.” Rent reduction, freeze, and cap are foremost among his issues in a city where rents have skyrocketed in past decades, and where the rent control board provides for occasional increases.  He wants to make sure at least one parent can stay at home with any child to “restore family values”.  He would waive property taxes, claims his rent reduction plans would add 3 – 6 million jobs, free college tuition, reform housing and criminal courts, and otherwise ensure that New Yorkers have a “roof over your head, food on your table, and money in your pocket.”

Charles Barron

Photo Credit: NY Daily News

Barron is a Democrat running on the “Freedom Party” line (not to be confused with Pataki’s vanity line from the 90s).  Barron doesn’t appear to have a campaign website.  The New York Times’ City Room blog reported on Barron’s run in June, noting that he was running to protest Andrew Cuomo‘s selection of Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy – a white man – as his running mate.

The Democratic Party has taken our vote for granted for many, many years…[t]his is the latest slap in the face. This political blackout by Andrew Cuomo is outrageous, that he would be comfortable going with an all-white state slate.

Barron’s running mate is Buffalo’s own Eva Doyle, an author, radio host, and columnist.  Barron is a former Black Panther, and a champion of many socialist ideas and causes.

Next Monday, on October 18th, at 7pm, a debate sponsored by Newsday, News 12, and Hofstra University will be held featuring all of the candidates named above. It will also air on YNN and NY1 throughout the state.

Paladino’s Remains the Touchiest Campaign Ever®

5 Oct

The Carl Paladino campaign is as thin-skinned as it is clumsily belligerent.

Long before there were comments about Joy Behar’s menopause in reaction to a joke she made, long before this hemena-hamana candidate threatened a persistent Fred Dicker, long before there was a declaration that the New York Daily News’ Bill Hammond was a “sleazeball”, and long before Paladino blindly accused Steve Cichon of WBEN of bird-dogging for Cuomo, there was Channel 2’s Josh Boose, and there was the Buffalo News’ Jim Heaney.

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As early as April of this year, I had branded the Paladino campaign as the touchiest campaign ever.

Heaney wrote:

Paladino refused to talk to me during the course of my reporting, which has got to just about be a first, given the guy’s “dial a quote” reputation. But I understand. He’s long professed his admiration for my work — when my guns were trained on others — but now that I’ve come knocking on his door, well, he’d much prefer I go back to sniffing around City Hall. Or the State Capitol. Or NYPA headquarters. Anywhere but Ellicott Square, which, just in case you’re counting, is where Paladino takes in $1.5 million a year via 14 leases with government tenants. When he’s not having his supporters over for beers and roast beef sandwiches.

(Here are the emails back and forth between Heaney and Paladino from April)

Hammond’s column is directly on-point, outlining that Paladino can dish it out in buckets, but upon even mild, benign questioning becomes hypersensitive like a tween girl called “fat” or the last boy picked for the kickball team.

Challenged by Fred Dicker of the New York Post to back up his charge, Paladino did what Paladino always does – he lashed out. He couldn’t answer Dicker’s perfectly legitimate question, but complained about a Post photographer taking pictures of his 10-year-old daughter.

Which was more or less the same trick Caputo pulled with me. He couldn’t rebut my columns, so he calls me names and threatens to freeze me out of the campaign.

Well, here’s some more criticism he won’t like: He’s running the ugliest, most negative campaign in modern New York history. And he’s acting like a wimp.

I’ve called Gov. Paterson the “bungler in chief” and a “serial fabricator.”

I referred to Cuomo in 2006 as an “arrogant, headline-grabbing, pushy egomaniac.”

I once called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver the “poster boy for Albany dysfunction.”

None of them much liked it, I’m sure. But they recognized that absorbing pointed criticism goes with the territory. They took it like grownups. Imagine that.

Paladino may be trying to grow up on the campaign trail, releasing seemingly normal issues videos revealing a Paladino who, as compared with his usual public persona, seems almost medicated – as he did during his March 2010 announcement.  He’s busy trying to walk back a claim that’s being called “false” about his time in law school, he’s taking hits from the Albany Times-Union about his slack talk,  and he’s so proud of “going out of [his] way not to be politically correct”.  That’s a euphemism for “a-hole”.

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But don’t let any of this fool you.  His remains the most thin-skinned, petulant, and obnoxiously embarrassing campaign in recent New York history.

Cuomo-Paladino-Davis-Redlich-Barron-Hawkins-Smurf

4 Oct

It’s usually the candidate who’s afraid to debate who demands that all the fringe, quaternary-tier party candidates be included in the debates.

From what I can gather, the Cuomo and Paladino camps are trying to work out debate parameters, but Paladino’s side keeps criticizing Cuomo for wanting to exclude Roger Stone’s candidate, Howie Hawkins (Green),  Charles Barron (Rogue Dem), and perhaps even Papa Smurf of the “Rent is Too Damn High” party.  It would seem to me that Paladino wants to pack the stage with minor-party rabble so as to dull any Cuomo positives and Paladino negatives that might come about during any debates.

Paladino’s campaign manager Michael Caputo wrote,

“The Cuomo camp has been BSing journalists and the public regarding their intention to debate Carl Paladino and the other gubernatorial candidates for one week, today. We offered to meet for debate planning in a September 26 telephone call; the Cuomo campaign never contacted us as promised.

So far Carl Paladino has accepted seven debate invitations. Andrew Cuomo has accepted none. How long can this charade continue?

Andrew Cuomo’s surrogates call Carl Paladino racist, but it’s Andrew who seeks to exclude the only black candidate from debates.

Andrew Cuomo holds himself out as an advocate for women’s issues, yet it is Andrew who seeks to exclude the only woman candidate from debates.

If Andrew Cuomo doesn’t have the courage to debate all his opponents, how can he take on the special interests that are destroying New York?

Andrew Cuomo should stop the games and give the voters the debate they deserve – debate all the candidates now.”

With all due respect to Davis and Barron, I’m more interested in seeing Paladino and Cuomo go head to head. I don’t need the debates packed to the rafters with every single-issue fringe candidate out there.

Three debates, Cuomo vs. Paladino. And Dicker absolutely has to be one of the questioners at one of the debates.

I’d be happy to moderate.

Paladino Campaign In Full Walkback – Damage Control Mode

1 Oct

The reason Andrew Cuomo doesn’t get questions from the press about his affairs is that there is no evidence of any affairs, and he hasn’t pre-emptively brought out a story about a love-child.

The reason Andrew Cuomo doesn’t get questions about his love-child, is because he didn’t impregnate a woman not his wife and deceive her about it for a decade.

The reason Andrew Cuomo doesn’t get questions about his love life is that he hasn’t made his love-life an issue about his values.

Riffing off something Marc posted last night, when I first saw Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo’s statement to the press regarding the Dicker dustup, my initial reaction was that it was uncharacteristically long and surprisingly defensive.  Paladino was donning a mantle of victimhood after going around for six months practically calling anyone who comes into contact with him a mother f*cker.

He’s also crying foul over the statewide press researching and writing stories about an extended family that Carl has trotted out into the public spotlight himself.  The glowing profile pieces on his wife and the campaign’s own discussion of Carl’s affair and extramarital child were manufactured by the campaign itself, most likely in the hopes that it would be a pre-emptive strike, the messaging of which they could control.

As Marc points out, and I picked up on during last night’s late news, Paladino’s camp is now denying that Paladino accused Cuomo of serial infidelity during his marriage to Kerry Kennedy – a marriage that ended because Kennedy had an extramarital affair, fell in love with another man, and moved out.  It was a divorce process that was very heavily reported on when it happened 7-8 years ago after Cuomo’s failed run for Governor.

Watch the entire walkback attempt from last night, courtesy of Channel 2 – and note especially how Paladino responds to a probing question from WBEN’s Steve Cichon, and accuses him also of being on the Cuomo payroll and a Cuomo “bird-dog”.  Aside from the Buffalo News, there are no friendlier mainstream news outlets to Carl Paladino’s candidacy than the New York Post and WBEN.  He’s managed to accuse them both of being in Cuomo’s employ.  That’s madness.

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Carl was on Channel 2 News last night explaining earnestly to Bob McCarthy and Dave McKinley that he lashed out at Dicker because he was confused – he hadn’t accused Cuomo of anything!  He was sad that Dicker wasn’t asking the same stuff of Cuomo!

Paladino now also insists the whole confrontation was rooted in a misunderstanding, which began when Dicker overheard a remark Paladino made to another reporter, in which he thought he’d heard Paladino say Cuomo had an extramarital affair.

Dicker began demanding that Paladino produce proof of the allegation.

“I get questioned constantly by the press about my life, about my personal life. They ask me questions about infidelity, …about everything,” Paladino explained.

“And I said (to another reporter) ‘why doesn’t Andrew Cuomo ever get these questions? Why doesn’t he get a question about whether or not he’s had any infidelities?’ And that’s where the remark came from. Dicker took it out of context and went and presented it as though I made an accusations against Andrew Cuomo. I did not.”

And though Paladino can be heard in the confrontation several times telling Dicker he would provide proof of his claims “when it’s appropriate”, today he said he really didn’t know or realize what Dicker was asking about when the confrontation began.

No, no, no.  Nice try, Carl, but that’s a lie.

First of all, the CBS 6 video clearly shows Dicker asking Carl – calmly and repeatedly – about his allegation about Cuomo’s affair and where his proof was.  Carl began flipping his lid and changing the subject, like a guy who got caught in a lie.

Before Carl got all in Dicker’s face, the story all day had been the buzz surrounding this Politico article, aptly titled, “Carl Paladino alleges Andrew Cuomo affair

“Has anybody asked Andrew Cuomo about his paramours?” Paladino told POLITICO, as campaign manager Michael Caputo chimed in, “when he was married.”

Paladino continued, “When he was married — or asked him why his wife left him or threw him out of the house? Has anybody ever done that?” he demanded. “What are they doing intruding on my life?”

This is typical teabagger/Roger Stone dirty tricks.  Make an offhanded, unsubstantiated, likely false accusation, and demand that the targeted candidate deny it.  Cuomo would generally be caught with two bad choices – remaining silent, allowing the insane ranting candidate to wonder why Cuomo won’t answer the question, or answer the libel and give credence and attention to Paladino.  After all, Carl didn’t repeat to Dicker, “we’ll release it at the appropriate time” without knowing what he was talking about.  He didn’t make the accusation to Politico’s Maggie Haberman just out of the clear blue sky, as evidenced by Caputo’s interjection.

This was planned.

Paladino made the comments to POLITICO after some of his aides had made similar intimations for days, though none so direct.

He spoke Tuesday mid-afternoon from a hotel where he was staying near Midtown Manhattan, in a wide-ranging interview that touched on his reaction to the coverage of his daughter. Paladino, who was married with three kids at the time of her birth, had had an affair with her mother.

Paladino, a developer, discussed his daughter with the Buffalo News when he declared his candidacy before the summer, and the campaign made his wife, Cathy, available for a string of interviews in the past week in which she was asked about the young girl.

Asked about the coverage, Paladino grew visibly angry and said, “My daughter is off limits.”

Paladino’s attempts to walk back the false and baseless accusations of a distant Cuomo affair are poor, and this is the second time his campaign has been caught without a good explanation for something.  Given the Marist poll that was released a couple of days ago showing that almost half of all New Yorkers don’t think Carl is fit to be governor, a lot is resting on the debate(s).

And about those debates – Paladino’s pugilist attitude may be winning him tough-guy fans, but when it comes to debates, they display whether the candidates have a well-articulated plan to make New York better.  If Carl comes across like an unpolished turd who just calls people mother f*ckers and repeats his baseball-bat-to-cut-taxes meme over and over, Cuomo will mop the floor with him. Also, quite clearly, Cuomo has an opportunity here to set Carl off on a rant that will frankly make him seem like an unstable lunatic.

Yesterday marked the first time since we released the emails that Carl Paladino had to explain himself, go on the defensive, and do some damage control.  As it turns out, he and his team aren’t as good at the whole contrition thing as they are at the whole calling-Joy-Behar-a-menopausal-old-bat thing.

Primary Special: Lazio for Governor

13 Sep

I don’t normally write on Monday’s, but as tomorrow is Primary Day in New York, I am making an exception.

If you are a registered Republican (I know there are at least one or two of you), I urge you to vote for Rick Lazio to be the Republican nominee for Governor. I see three main issues for this upcoming primary:

A Paladino nomination would be a national disaster. I, for one, wish to be spared another two months of Mad Carl, horse porn, and re-education camps. I’m embarrassed to have him seeking the nomination from my party, as the face of otherwise forgotten Buffalo, political backwater. Every time he is described in the news outside of WNY as “Buffalo real estate developer Carl Paladino” I cringe. But besides the shame, its been unhelpful to have Paladino in the race at all, because it has drawn Lazio far further to the Right than he otherwise would be. The sooner we can be done with Carl the better, and let him get back to doing what he does best: building towers and suing New York State.

A vote for Lazio is a vote against Paladino. The corollary to this is Paladino might actually win this thing. If you agree with my first point, then you can’t just sit home and hope it all goes away. You actually need to get up, go to the poll, and do something about it.

Lazio makes some sense. Left to his own devices, Lazio comes up with ideas like eliminating one house of the Legislature and having a hard property tax cap. His policy wonk credentials are legit. His political instincts, however, leave something to be desired. I think he would be a better governor than campaigner, as he would no longer be fending off attacks from his Right, and could get on with drawing policy back to the center (or better, reforming it all together).

If Lazio and Cuomo end up as their party’s nominees, we have a small chance of seeing a substantive debate for the next 7 weeks in the run up to the general election. If not, I shudder to think where the campaign is going from here.

(Author’s Note: I am completely and totally unaffiliated with the Lazio campaign in every way possible. I haven’t given him a dime, and I don’t answer campaign calls when they ring the house.)