A community activist who opposed tax breaks for a project launched by a company with ties to Carl Paladino is reacting to a new firestorm of criticism that targets the Buffalo School Board member.
Frank Mesiah, the former president of the regional NAACP, is questioning claims that Paladino has not had involvement in the day-to-day operations of Ellicott Development for years.
Ellicott Development CEO William Paladino made the comment as he aimed to distance Ellicott Development from his father's insults that targeted President Obama and the First Lady. The younger Paladino called the comments "disrespectful and absolutely unnecessary," and said his father has no involvement in the company, even though he remains chairman. Mesiah remains skeptical.
“I have not seen anything from the history or the record now of Carl Paladino having divested himself from Ellicott Development,” Mesiah said. “I’m just not ready to believe that he has no influence when his name is part of, I imagine, part of the whole ownership of Ellicott Development."
Mesiah said the company should release reports that prove Paladino is no longer involved.
“They’re all part of the same family, and we’re not sitting there in those family meetings to know the impact of a Carl Paladino on the family relationship with Ellicott Development,” Mesiah said.
William Paladino posted a statement on Ellicott Development's Facebook page over the weekend stating that the elder Paladino's comments "are not a reflection of the beliefs and principles" of the company.
"Carl has not been involved in the day-to-day operations of Ellicott Development Company for many years now and his comments and statements are his alone," the post stated.
Three months ago, Mesiah tried unsuccessfully to block government incentives for a housing project launched by Ellicott Development. Mesiah sat on the board of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency until he decided earlier this month not to seek reelection as president of the NAACP.
The agency approved the tax breaks over Mesiah's objections. He said he remains convinced that a company with ties to Carl Paladino should not receive tax breaks.
Mesiah served as the regional president of the NAACP for two decades and currently serves on the organization's executive committee.
Ellicott Development did not return calls for comment.
Meanwhile, Paladino critics have stepped up efforts to have him removed as the Park District representative on the Buffalo School Board. Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for his ouster. The Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization is organizing a rally at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Niagara Square when speakers are expected to urge the state education commissioner to remove Paladino from the board.