Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Open Letter to New Yorkers

Last week, former NYC Mayor Koch, former State Comptroller McCall, and former US Senator Al D'Amato released the following letter:

"The victory of Carl Paladino in the Republican Primary was a disappointing day for all New Yorkers. This state has a long history of electing highly qualified, forward-looking statewide candidates - both Democrats and Republicans. Yesterday, however, anger overcame reason and enabled a fringe element to choose the Republican nominee. The end result was the selection of Mr. Paladino, a divisive figure simply not fit to lead this great state.

At a time when we need leaders who can bring New Yorkers together, Mr. Paladino practices a destructive brand of politics that will divide our state. He first came to the attention of most New Yorkers when it was revealed that, for years, he has shared racially offensive emails with associates. Including videos popular with white supremacists, these emails are beneath the dignity of a candidate for high office.

This, however, was merely a preview of what we have seen along the campaign trail. Mr. Paladino was justifiably condemned by the AntiDefamation League and editorial boards alike for referring to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver - a prominent Jewish leader - as the closest thing New York has to an anti-Christ or a Hitler. Most recently, Mr. Paladino offended basic New York values when he suggested that low income New Yorkers should be sent to prison work camps for lessons in "personal hygiene." That type of hateful comment has no place in our discourse, dehumanizing the poor and playing off of despicable racist ideas.

Mr. Paladino is also running a disingenuous campaign. He has portrayed himself as an anti-government crusader, while embodying the very worst of Albany's pay-to-play culture. To quote his own slogan, he is the reason that New Yorkers are "Mad as Hell."

He has personally distributed close to a half a million dollars to federal and state candidates, bankrolling the campaigns of numerous allies. This has allowed him to pocket millions of dollars in tax incentives, sweetheart deals, and scores of government contracts. Paladino's real estate empire takes in over $10 million each year in government rents alone.

There's a reason why even the chairmen of the Republican and Conservative parties disavowed Mr. Paladino's candidacy, noting that he "stands in stark contrast to what the Republican party stands for," that Paladino is a "dangerous candidate," and that he "tries to appeal to the mean spiritedness" of people.

We need a governor who can take on the special interests, not one who is a special interest. We also need a governor who will bring New Yorkers together to take on our common challenges, not drive us apart. Through his own words and actions Carl Paladino has proven himself unfit to serve as Governor - he is exactly the wrong person to lead our state."


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