Do you agree with gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino's welfare reform plan, including using former prisons to house recipients?
NEW YORK (AP & WGRZ) -- Buffalo Developer and Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino held a news conference Monday afternoon to defend his controversial plan to use former prisons as dorms to house welfare recipients during a proposed work program.
Paladino told the Associated Press that his program would allow recipients to get state-sponsored jobs, job training and lessons in "personal hygiene."
Carl Paladino is a Buffalo real estate developer popular with many conservative tea party activists. He's competing for the Republican nomination with former Rep. Rick Lazio. The primary is Sept. 14th.
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Paladino says the dormitory living would be voluntary, not mandatory, and would give welfare recipients an opportunity to take public state-sponsored jobs far from home.
He also defended his remarks about the hygiene of welfare recipients, saying he had trained troops from inner-city communities during his years in the Army and was familiar with their needs.
Former Erie County Deputy County Executive turned political analyst Bruce Fisher says there's no doubt Paladino has gained momentum among republicans to the point where he "very well might be able to" beat Lazio in the upcoming republican gubernatorial primary.
He notes that Paladino has closed the gap to 13 percent between himself and the Lazio -- the endorsed republican candidate -- in the latest Siena College Poll.
As well, GOP chairmen in Genesee and Niagara Counties recently switched their allegiance to Paladino, saying Lazio's campaign has shown nothing in terms of a bold vision to merit their support.
However, Fisher also says that while spouting populist rhetoric can get you noticed in the media, it often has "no electoral capacity" when the ballots are counted.
"Offering goofy suggestions on how to use prisons sounds good to a protest audience, but it makes no sense in terms of governing," Fisher told WGRZ-TV.
"There's a lot of frustration and not a lot of people want the old politics, so they're looking to Carl Paladino --some of them anyway -- and saying 'maybe I'll vote for him'. But I don't think Carl helps himself by inventing policy solutions that aren't really serious. It would help the conversation if there was a genuine debate about policy alternatives," Fisher said.
Paladino referred everyone to his Web Site, which lays out his plan for welfare reform.