Tag Archives: Republican Party (United States)

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). 

See Jane. See Jane Speak.

21 Mar

Back when the sartorially challenged Chris Lee ran for his first term in office in 2008, he seldom spoke on his own behalf. Oh, he’d give prepared speeches, and he’d appear on the occasional talk show, but almost every public pronouncement was handled by Nick Langworthy, who has since become the ECGOP chair.  When WNYMedia.net dared to approach the candidate with a communard “question”, Langworthy ran interference.

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A similar pattern is developing with Jane Corwin. The candidate has seldom spoken for herself, running almost all commentary through Langworthy or her own spokesperson, Matt Harakal. Like Lee, Corwin figures all she has to do to win is (1) throw money at the race; (2) deliver right wing talking points; (3) ignore her own Wall Street past and frame herself as a “small businesswoman”; (4) invoke the name of Nancy Pelosi when describing Kathy Hochul.

Let’s see how often Corwin speaks to the cameras on her own behalf in a non-scripted way. Then again, the conservative district would likely re-elect Chris Lee given the chance, because he has an (R) at the end of his name.

Largely Symbolic, Locally Stupid

18 Jan

Many thanks to the Republican congress for finally freeing us from the tyranny-at-gunpoint of $32 million in regional federal investment in pork barrel projects such as:

Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station $9.5 million
Lake Ontario/Niagara River navigation $4.2 million
Cyclotron at UB research center $3.7 million
Statler transportation facility $3 million
Viral research at Hauptman-Woodward Institute $2 million
Darwin Martin House improvements $1 million
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus streetscape improvements $1 million

Although it does sometimes seem as if the Darwin Martin House is the biggest welfare queen in Buffalo, I have a huge problem with losing funding for things like viral research and the Cyclotron.  We’re pretty good here in western New York of maintaining a mediocre economic status quo, so when Washington throws us a bone we should run for it, not from it.   After all, it’s not the federal government at the root of that mediocrity, and New York State is a net federal payor.

Earmarks get a lot of attention because they’re easy for people to understand, and easy for some politicians to heap scorn upon, but they’re real projects that benefit real people and create real private-sector jobs.  In the case of medical or scientific research, they can have scientific and economic benefits that last decades.  After all, a lot is riding on the medical campus, as it represents a huge effort to move our region further away from its long-gone industrial past and into a 21st-century knowledge-based economy.

I challenge anyone to tell me why a C-130 flight operations center at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is mere “pork” – like a bridge to nowhere – with no federal benefit.

While the sole Republican representative from the Buffalo area, Chris Lee (NY-26), says it’s indicative of an effort to stop “reckless spending”, that sort of comment does a disservice to the projects themselves.  There’s nothing “reckless” about an investment in Buffalo’s future, it’s common sense. And given that earmarks make up less than 0.5% of the federal budget, talk of this earmark ban being some sort of return to fiscal sanity is just a lie.  This is macro window dressing, with very poor micro effects.

In the meantime, the United States spends around $700 billion per year for defense alone, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – about $2 thousand million per day out of a $3.5 trillion budget.

I guess things in Washington are not that dissimilar from our own Erie County Legislature – we get all worked up about minutiae, ignoring the bigger picture.

Leftovers (UPDATED)

28 Oct

When Carl Paladino’s racist emails first came to light, Paladino felt he had to establish the fact that he got along just fine with black people.  He got ultraconservative millionaire Thurman Thomas to record a spot for him, and touted how much he had done for “inner city kids”.  In the Buffalo News, Jim Heaney takes that balloon, pops it, stomps it, and grinds it into the ground under his boot. It’s about as thorough and indisputable as it gets.

A debate was held last night for the three candidates in the 144th Assembly race.  Democrat Sam Hoyt, Republican Brian Biggie, and Conservative Joe Golombek squared off.  Hoyt took a lot of heat for being a long-termer in a dysfunctional Assembly who has a working relationship with the hateful, execrable, despicable Sheldon Silver.  But the best line of the night went to Hoyt who, after Golombek argued that Hoyt was Silver’s puppet, quipped that, “There is no bigger puppet in Buffalo than Joe Golombek, what Byron Brown wants Joe Golombek does.” Golombek refused to answer a question about abortion rights, and while Hoyt and Biggie support marriage equality, Golombek does not.

UPDATE:  Joe Golombek writes with this clarification/correction:

I specifically said that I support the law of NYS in regards to abortion. Then I said that it was a non-issue because of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. That is when I told Mr. Hoyt that it should not be a political issue and that he uses it as one to get supporters emotionally charged up.

Golombek went on to allege that every single audience question (except for one) came from people in some way associated with the Hoyt campaign.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in Buffalo yesterday to announce a new GI Bill.  noting that one in five returning post-9/11 veterans are out of work, this bill would provide returning vets up to $20,000 per year to attend a private college, and free tuition at any state college or university.  The announcement was made at Daemen College alongside local veterans.

The “Take Back New York” bus that the state GOP is trundling around the state stopped off in Buffalo yesterday.

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Here are some pictures:

Not a great message

The Republicans in Buffalo

Clown

Maybe Paladino's duck isn't such a great idea if I can frame pictures like this

I've never seen this man before. He seemed nice.

Paladinoporn.com (NSFW)

13 Oct

Over the past few weeks, Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino has staked out a position as a candidate whose values and morals are informed by his Catholic faith.  In a speech he delivered to a group of supporters on Sunday October 10th, specifically discussing homosexuality, he said, “we must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives.”

Back in April, WNYMedia.net posted 8 emails received from an anonymous source – each of those emails was either obscene or racist, and the emails were forwarded by candidate Paladino to large numbers of prominent western New York businessmen and politicians. Now that morality, religion, and pornography have been introduced to the gubernatorial race by Mr. Paladino, WNYMedia.net is releasing more – previously unreleased – emails that Paladino has forwarded to his friends and colleagues.  These emails coincide with the unveiling of the Paladino Porn website. They are wildly NSFW. These include:

1. October 2009 email including a video of a young woman in pigtails engaging in sexual acts. Mr. Paladino wrote that the video is “awesome”.

2. August 2009 email entitled, “Russian Beauty” showing a woman masturbating and expressing breast milk onto a glass window and table.

3. October 2009 email depicting two young women engaging in lesbian sex.  Mr. Paladino wrote that the video is “awesome”.

4. November 2009 email featuring softcore porn images of a nude woman posing.  Mr. Paladino wrote that the images were for “andy, this is better”, apparently referencing an earlier email.

5. January 2010 email showing a woman receiving a bikini wax, entitled, “I found my retirement job! xxx”

6. November 2008 email including a video from “fistflush.com” of a woman engaging in sex acts with a bunch of bananas, entitled, “Chiquita Bananas…xxx careful”.

7. November 2008 email entitled, “squirter” depicting a male and female engaging in sex acts.

As with the emails revealed in April, we have confirmed the authenticity of these emails and are positive that Mr. Paladino forwarded them to others.  Like the earlier emails, these are degrading to, and objectify, women.

The voters of the state of New York – especially the alleged “values” voters who support Paladino because he purports to share their traditional, orthodox views on sexuality – should be perfectly clear about whom they’re supporting.

In criticizing the very idea of marriage equality, Paladino inserted “pornography” and “perverts” into that discussion.  The next day, he went to great lengths to defend his statements before ultimately, uncharacteristically apologizing for them and blaming the media.

As Paladino claims what a friend he is to the gay community, we remind you that he is also neither enemy nor stranger to pornography and perversion.

You cannot claim that gay marriage will cheapen or harm the institution of marriage if you, yourself, have carried on an affair and fathered a child out of wedlock.

You cannot claim that you are opposed to pornography when you email inbox and outbox is so jam-packed with it.

You cannot claim the moral high ground whilst crawling through the gutter.

Because of his hypocrisy, his phony morals, his poor judgment, and his willingness to separate, rather than unite New Yorkers of every color, creed, religion, ethnicity, and sexual identity, we don’t think that Carl Paladino deserves to be the Governor of the State of New York.