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May 2, 2010 - Ray Hall (Archive)

I have met on several occasions with Carl Paladino from Buffalo who is seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. Our relationship was not one to whom private matters are confided but we did participate in lunches and dinners on particular occasions and in my experience there is no better guest or dinner host than Carl Paladino. I found him at once generous, gracious, pleasant and smart. In the times I have been in his presence I have never heard him utter a bigoted remark.

However, his political comments that New York should close down its borders to welfare recipients together with the revelation that he frequently forwarded e-mails demeaning blacks, President Obama and women has severely damaged if not completely killed his bid for Governor.

Mr. Paladino has not denied those revelations and has apologized to women who may have been offended but he declares positively that he is neither racist nor bigot. He is, however quick to acknowledge that his relationship with the African-American community has soured. He actively campaigned against James Pitts who served as President of the Buffalo City Council and worked hard against the election of Byron Brown who was elected Buffalo's mayor by a huge majority.

His quarrels with Pitts and Brown only exacerbated his fragile relationship with the black community by his assertion that the needs of African-American students were not being met by Buffalo's public schools. He claims Buffalo spends $25,000 per student and gets a poor return on investment and places most of the blame of School Superintendent James Williams.

Paladino is on record saying the only reason Williams was hired was because he was black. His remark created a political firestorm and caused the Buffalo Common Council to adopt a resolution in 2008 that strongly condemned Carl Paladino for making "racially divisive"remarks.

Paladino shot back that his thinking had nothing to do with race but a shows a deep concern about the quality of education for Buffalo's children. The Buffalo News reports that Paladino said he would not be politically correct. "I don't think we have a competent superintendent or Board of Education. It's like Groundhog Day. We have the same results."

The candidate reiterated that Dr. Williams was selected "because he was black," he added, "not because he was the best guy."

I do not know much about the Buffalo School System and Superintendent Williams but I know it is a difficult system. About four years ago I heard Buffalo was still heating a school with a coal fired furnace. I don't know if that's been fixed, but the record shows that during Dr. William's tenure the graduation rate has risen to more than 52%, a big jump over previous years.

Neither do I know if Carl Paladino is a racist or a bigot--I don't think so--I believe he is wrong and I can't imagine he will get a political nomination. He remains a great developer and from what I hear a good landlord. But let's assume he is both a racist and a bigot, even then, where does the Buffalo City Council, or any legislative body, get the authority to single out one individual by resolution as being "racially divisive."

That’s all for now. Stay focused.


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