THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Carl Paladino’s hour long meeting with President-elect Donald Trump earlier this month has been the focus of much local political gossip. Paladino reportedly offered to help the administration, if he could be value in a substantive capacity but was not looking or expecting a job in the administration. Such must have been refreshing to Trump at a time when hordes of politicians and lobbyists swoon with expectations and demands.
But Paladino is a different breed.
Zeitgeist is such that few people support political campaigns without expecting something in return. Lobbyists fundraise money to curry favor and influence. Elected officials trade endorsements for votes and support for legislation. Contributors come calling for policy positions and public appearances. Executives call with concerns.
Except, apparently, for Paladino.
What is surprising about the conversation is how little of it we know about it. He apparently did not lobby Trump for a position in the administration, resources for the region, or stances on policy that could benefit Western New York. In fairness, this could be because Paladino chooses to keep the conversation private.
Paladino’s relationship with Trump could be a critical one for our entire body politic. Our region’s decades long stagnation, and Buffalo’s 65 year decline, require structural policy changes that were at the core of Trump’s message: favorable trade policies, industrial modernization, an easier regulatory environment, a more simple tax code, and less burdensome tax rates.
Trump might even find it suspect that Paladino is advocating for such policies –not being an exporter, a manufacturer, or a highly regulated industrialist. Being a real estate developer himself, Trump would realize that Paladino benefits greatly from such a corrupted tax code. Could he really be this altruistic, Trump must have wondered – to piss away an hour long meeting with the President-elect shooting the proverbial shit – not asking for something, not expecting something?
Perhaps such is the culture of this son of Buffalo.
But now more than ever we need a master lobbyist – a chief advocate – a grand poohbah with the ear of the president to architect the region’s revival. Will Paladino step up and offer the regional leadership that history demands of him? Time is sure to tell.