Carl Paladino is still mad.
More than a year after losing to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the New York state gubernatorial race, Paladino had a venting session at Moon Brook Country Club on Thursday night.
Speaking at the 56th annual Southern Tier Builders Association dinner meeting, Paladino questioned the motives of some elected officials and touched on the difficulties of doing business in New York state.
Carl Paladino speaks to a crowd at the Southern Tier Builders Association annual dinner meeting Thursday night at Moon Brook Country Club.
P-J photo by Scott Shelters
"We thought he'd be an interesting speaker," said Brad Walters, STBA executive director. "His background is in construction, and that's what we do."
Paladino, founder and chairman of Ellicott Development Company, began by criticizing those in power in Albany and the state of New York's government in general.
"It's out of control," said Paladino, a Republican. "We have nobody to blame but ourselves. We let them take charge. It's not just Democrats. It's the Albany establishment. It's composed of your elected leaders that you send to Albany each year."
He later criticized Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos in particular, calling Silver an "evil man" and questioning Skelos' ability to represent the interests of the Republican party. Paladino alleged Skelos holds up reform and has personal interests in mind.
"It's about an illusion and a group of people who should be replaced," he said. "Dean Skelos should be hooked to the back of a horse and dragged across New York state."
Paladino called for workers' compensation reform, adding that personal-injury settlements have "gone out of a sense of reality." He accused some elected officials of "payola," particularly those with ties to personal-injury law firms. He then spoke on lobbyists.
"They no longer have the party's interests at heart," Paladino said. "They have money at heart."
He commented on gay marriage, stating "I don't care about gay marriage, and I'm not a homophobe," before focusing on the $10 billion 2011 budget deficit, which he claimed never existed. He called the deficit "an illusion to the people that the state of New York was in financial distress and could not answer questions of lowering taxes," alleging that a 13 percent increase in Medicaid costs had been automatically built into each year's proposed budget.
"It's totally out of sync with any sense of reality, but it's built into our budget," Paladino said, calling the $10 billion a "paper deficit." According to Paladino, the state then slashed the paper deficit, successfully passing the 2011 budget.
He questioned the transparency between the government and the media, alleging newspapers largely rely on government-issued press releases to write stories.
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"When you don't have a starting point, whatever they give you at the end it's like, 'Oh my God,'" Paladino said. "The press was cheering (when the budget was passed). The people were cheering."
Paladino called for Medicaid reform, criticized the New York State Taxation Department and stated the Metropolitan Transportation Authority "is the most corrupt organization in the world."
He encouraged citizens to speak with their representatives to create reform.
"Change will only come if we fight for it," Paladino said. "The next time your legislature tells you the bread crumbs they're bringing home are sufficient, say 'no.'"
Prior to Paladino's speech, Walters presented the fourth annual STBA Circle of Excellence Award to Paul Hedin of Habiterra.
STBA is a New York Builders Exchange that offers construction reporting and plan room services for New York and Pennsylvania. Visit stba.com for more information.