The reward for sitting through two hours of the first hearing of the new city Charter Review Commission last night was the late arrival of Carl Paladino. The gray-haired real estate mogul from Buffalo with a voice like gravel and dark pouches of worry below his eyes is a Tea Party dream come true, and not only because he’s worth $150 million. He says he wants to be governor because he is mad as hell, and he wasted no time delivering his scorched-earth message: “The arrogant ruling class has driven our state into the ground,” he told the 15-member panel. “They fear term limits like cockroaches fear sunshine.”
His toughest fire was aimed at Albany, which left the crowd of 100 scattered around the hall at the CUNY Grad Center on East 34th Street a little puzzled, since the commission deals only with city issues. He explained that policy decisions in New York affect the rest of the state. Term limits, he said, must be imposed on all city and state officials. “And I suggest 8 years, not 12. After 12 years, our elected officials become too comfortable and too entrenched. They build political machines and massive special interest war chests. They stop listening to the people… they become corrupt.”
Outside the hearing, he kept up the heat, firing away at Steve Levy, his rival for the Republican party nomination: “Steve’s there because he has ambition; I’m there on the issues. I want change for the people. Steve wants to go over there and deal with Sheldon Silver and deal with all the nonsense. He thinks that’s a pretty boy thing to do. I don’t. Steve Levy, as far as I’m concerned, is a nonentity.”
Paladino was there with his daughter, Danielle, and campaign manager Michael Caputo, whose barrage of e-mail blasts about the original Troopergate scandal helped unsettle the last elected governor, Eliot Spitzer. Also in the Paladino entourage was the great Republican consultant Roger Stone, who did his best, as well, to unnerve Spitzer.
“I’m for Kristin Davis,” said Stone, referring to the self-declared Manhattan Madam, who says she hooked up Spitzer and Alex Rodriguez, and who is also running for governor as an independent. “I’m just here with my friend, Michael Caputo,” added Stone as he followed Paladino out the door.