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Paladino comes to Mascia’s defense

Carl P. Paladino, a member of the Buffalo School Board overseeing a district that is 50 percent African-American, doubled down on his support of Joseph A. Mascia, defending his use of the “N-word” to describe several African-American politicians, including Mayor Byron W. Brown.

“He labeled individuals; he didn’t label a class of people,” Paladino said on WBEN Radio Thursday.

None of that was flying with morning talk show host Sandy Beach, who excoriated Paladino for “getting in bed with a racist.”

The latest episode in the continuing drama unfolded Thursday morning when The Buffalo News reported that Paladino would stand by the candidate for the Council’s Fillmore District seat who was taped making the remarks.

As Beach discussed the story on his morning talk show, Paladino called in.

Paladino said Mascia’s views stemmed from the culture in which he was raised, lamenting that the candidate – who is also an elected member of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority – was the victim of people seeking to “prejudge him with political correctness.”

Though Beach acknowledged he admires many of Paladino’s stands and said he did not believe the 2010 Republican candidate for governor is a racist, he criticized him during a lively on-air debate for sticking up for someone who characterized Brown, Council President Darius G. Pridgen, Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes and others with the “f-word and the N-word.”

“That’s the very definition of racism,” Beach shot back regarding Mascia. “By doing that it shows.”

Beach also told Paladino: “Don’t stand by a guy like this because it makes your position untenable.”

In his Wednesday remarks to The News, Paladino said Mascia continues to represent a “balance against corruption in the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority” who should be “respected.”

“I don’t see anybody buying into this racist stuff,” Paladino also told The News.

Paladino’s latest remarks are not the first time the developer has been criticized for his views on race.

During his campaign for governor, Paladino was blasted for emails he circulated that contained tasteless racial and sexual jokes.

In June, at a political rally in Olean, he made comments about “damn Asians” and other “foreigners” attending the University at Buffalo on discounted tuition. His assertions were shot down by UB officials who said 99.2 percent of the school’s international students attend on nonresident visas and can’t qualify for resident tuition rates.

Although the radio comments were far more extreme, Paladino does have a history of making racially insensitive remarks, particularly about his colleagues on the Buffalo School Board.

In an e-mail sent to board member Barbara Nevergold earlier this week, Paladino grouped her and other black members of the minority bloc in a category with “thug activists.”

In recent weeks Paladino also has criticized his colleagues on the board for recruiting black candidates for the position of superintendent, saying the board should hire based on merit, not race.

Meanwhile the race for the Fillmore District solidified Thursday as the Erie County Board of Elections validated the petitions of Democratic primary candidate Samuel A. Herbert, whose signatures were challenged by Mascia. Democratic Elections Commissioner Leonard R. Lenihan said incumbent Democrat David A. Franczyk has also qualified for the ballot.

News Staff Reporter Tiffany Lankes contributed to this report. email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com