by John McMahon
We were promised a list of paramours, and what did we get, Carl? People want to hear about the sex, Carl. Drop the sex bomb, Carl! Yeah, baby!
Recently, Buffalo developer and charter school real estate speculator Carl Paladino has been taking extraordinary measures to focus public attention on the sweetheart deal LP Ciminelli fashioned for itself in the Buffalo Joint Schools Reconstruction contract. Frank Ciminelli died less than a month ago and along comes Carl to spit on the grave? Something is rotten in the Developer-Industrial complex of Buffalo. As St. Ronnie Reagan counseled NEVER speak ill of fellow Republicans.
Unfortunately, Mr. Paladino has a history of grandstanding shrewdly for his own interests. He complained loudly and proclaimed ignorance when Donna Gioia was attempting to move the Buffalo Zoo to a former brownfield he bought for a song. Of course, that was only after some suggested it was Carl's plan all along. He swung into action to block the Senecas from opening a casino outside of Buffalo when it was clear they were not interested in buying property from him in Cheektowaga. He railed against the corruption of the Amherst IDA and its mastermind Jim Allen only to take a deal later from that same governmental agency for a controversial hotel project.
His complaints and bitter confrontations with black political figures who failed to get with his program helped mobilize white opinion against them, from James Pitts to James Williams to “the sisterhood” of school board members who happened to be both black and female. Now just as plans for a business-friendly takeover of the Buffalo School system seem to be coming to fruition, there's some dark clouds on the horizon. One of his minions, School Board President James Sampson got caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar by a State audit, just as Paladino was preparing his assault on the “proprietary” accounting practices of Ciminelli.
Perhaps its time to reconsider Paladino's greatest stunt which was his 2010 GOP Gubernatorial run against Andrew Cuomo and Rent is Too Damn High Party candidate Jimmy McMillan. Like so many political events from that decade this farcical race actually happened – it wasn't just some mass hallucination. First, President Obama took the unprecedented step of getting involved in NY politics, not to hold anyone on Wall St. accountable for the meltdown of 2008, but to convince a sitting Governor of his own party not to run in order to clear the way for a lightly-regarded, unpopular candidate, Andrew Cuomo. Fear of a statewide GOP resurgence turned out to be vastly overestimated.
Then the unlikely Tea Party coup of Carl Paladino took place. Carl had become a populist hero prior to this by filing a successful suit against the Thruway Authority for the removal of the Niagara Toll Barrier. Thus he had an enthusiastic base of Tea Party support led by Grand Island Bridge toll opponent Rus Thompson. This coupled with his stance on gun rights made him an attractive third party candidate. What vaulted him to the top of the GOP ticket was his own money and a weak opponent in Rick Lazio. This could have been a David and Goliath contest for the ages but then a funny thing happened, Carl the sharp lawyer, deal maker, hustler and former Democrat started to make incredible mistakes.
When it was discovered that he was forwarding racist e-mail caricatures, he defended them as humorous content. He voiced opposition to gay marchers in New York City's Columbus Day march. He was dubbed the “Bigot From Buffalo,” by the NY Post and also had confrontations with Fred Dicker an influential columnist with that paper.
In essence, he became the clown in the coronation of Prince Andrew. But he took a defiant tone and struck back against character questions by bringing up the sexual mores of his opponent Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo is a divorcee who still has not married his partner, Sandra Lee. Paladino said that he knew of some of Andrew's “paramours,” but strangely, never provided further details.
He turned into a buffoon that reinforced some pretty nasty downstate stereotypes about Buffalo as a racist, gun-loving, gay-bashing backwater. Paladino would get payback for all this mudslinging, of course right? Not if a deal was struck. Paladino threatened to run against Cuomo again, giving the GOP another headache, and helping clear the way for Cuomo's reelection. Meanwhile Cuomo has steered his party to a center-right stance on key issues including charter school takeovers, core curriculum, teacher evaluations and, of course, property tax caps in order to cut school budgets. Overall, he has followed the GOP lead of consolidating power into the executive branch of government. No one should have been surprised by this given his pathetic tenure as Attorney General and his dodgy record at HUD in the Clinton Administration.
Paladino threw the fight with Cuomo, no question. But was it monumental stupidity – Carl being Carl, as many a local pundit suggested, or was it yet another maneuver in long list of calculated plays by a sly old fox? Let's, for the sake of argument, say that it was both, and so it's time now to pay the piper. If you're going to kill the king, as the adage goes, make sure you kill the king. Carl going after Ciminelli might be an ideal proxy war on Cuomo.
His recent machinations to prevent a superintendent search might also be a way of blocking M &T Bank from bringing in another Cuomo-friendly privatization czar. He's put on his crusading school reformer hat on to convince us that Ciminelli should be punished for the way it siphoned off funds from the Schools project, but maybe he's really after controlling all future real estate deals with the school board.
At the same time Ciminelli got the nod for more waterfront condos AND the new RiverBend solar park project. Did you hear that they're thinking of building a new Bills stadium? Did you know Carl owns a ton of property on one of those sites?
The Crown Prince's clown might be having a case of erection envy!
Perhaps it would be in Cuomo's interest to punch a round trip ticket for Carl this time around by buying his property in the footprint and then cutting in Ellicott Development in the stadium deal, somehow. Just because Bill Clinton was able to survive his little paramour problem doesn't mean Prince Andrew can, that is, if he wants to be king. Many folks in Buffalo and throughout the nation suspect that they have lost their voice in corporate controlled American government and so they just want to be entertained. Nothing sells like sexual politique. Just ask Eliot Spitzer.
On second thought, to hell with Ciminelli, the schools and the stadium, let's cut to the naughty bits - Carl's Chronicles of Cuomo's Concubines. Kaboom!