Paladino’s remarks are so hypocritical

I agree with local politicians and business leaders who have asked the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to deny financial assistance for Uniland Development Co.’s project at Delaware Avenue and West Chippewa Street. Providing tax breaks to help finance construction of an attached parking garage for the Delaware North Co. does not further any legitimate purpose of an IDA.

But to hear Carl Paladino proclaim that “there’s something rotten going on,” and decry “selective subsidies” and the creation of “an unlevel playing field” smacks of utter hypocrisy. The man who sees wrongdoing everywhere apparently has forgotten how his firm, Ellicott Development Co., was granted an enormous financial benefit by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency without any competition or public input. Here’s a reminder.

On Feb. 28, BURA unanimously granted to Ellicott Development “exclusive development rights” for a prime 5.5-acre site near the entrance to the Erie Basin Marina. No other competitor was given an opportunity to bid for this highly advantageous status.

Word of Paladino’s proposed 14-story, half-million-square-foot mixed-use project was first made public during Mayor Byron Brown’s State of the City address a mere week before the vote, despite BURA’s obligation to perform its functions “with transparency.” Although the agency is obligated to act “without favor,” this newspaper suggested that BURA approached Paladino and invited him to choose whichever BURA property he liked best.

How could Paladino receive such “selective” treatment from BURA? Brown serves as chairman of BURA’s board, and has virtual control of its decisions by virtue of his power to select a majority of its members. He found a way to silence a vociferous former foe during an election year by awarding his company exclusive rights to develop premium waterfront land without any competition. There surely is something rotten going on.

Arthur J. Giacalone

East Aurora