Brown and Paladino Make A Deal
For years Buffalo developer Carl Paladino has complained about the incompetence and corruption of Mayor Byron Brown. In 2005, Paladino funded Kevin Helfer’s race for Mayor against Brown in the amount of $64,000. In 2009, Paladino actively supported Mickey Kearns against Brown for Mayor. In expressing his dislike for Brown, Paladino went so far as to run radio ads stating “If we really want to fight crime, start with City Hall.”
A few weeks ago Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy ran an article where Paladino was quoted as saying “I’m not with him; I’m not against him,” regarding Brown. As McCarthy reported “Paladino says the Brown forces approached him to seek new cooperation. Longtime Paladino watchers suspect a deal. He says no.”
Well now we know that a deal has in fact been made between Paladino and Brown. In his State of the City speech Brown stated that he supports Paladino being granted the right to develop 5.5 acres of land near the Erie Basin Marina, without having the site put out for public bid. Deals regarding publicly owned land should not be hatched in private and then announced as a surprise to City Councilmembers and the public. The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) owns the 5.5 acres to be developed. BURA has in the past publicly solicited proposals for developing land, why not do the same for this project?
Interestingly in 2010, when developer Marc Croce was granted designated developer status for the Statler Hotel, Paladino wrote a letter to the Empire State Development Agency, where he called for soliciting proposals in a “bona fide, arms length manner”. Paladino stated further in his letter “Allowing one developer to have an advantage over other developers because of political connections is a violation of the law”.
Well despite Paladino’s very public feelings of Mayor Brown’s incompetence and corruption, it appears that making a deal which will allow him to do a $75 million development project, makes things all better. This development deal will surely keep Paladino from spending money against Brown in this years Mayoral election.
In the Buffalo News article reporting the Mayor’s announcement of the project, Paladino states “We worked out a deal for what we feel now is a better piece of land.” Allowing politicians to cut deals with developers behind closed doors and without publicly soliciting others is the wrong way to do an economic development project. The right approach is to publicly solicit proposals.