BUFFALO, N.Y. – A Trump-supporting member of the Buffalo School Board is facing an unprecedented hearing before New York’s highest education official this week amid public backlash from comments criticizing the Obamas.
Board member Carl P. Paladino is facing calls to remove him from the school board from social justice groups, the Buffalo Federation of Teachers and others who did not like his comments about the Obamas in a December article in ArtVoice.
But Paladino’s criticism of the Obamas is not the subject of the state hearing, rather those seeking his ouster contend he violated board policy by exposing information about the district’s recently inked contract with the teachers union that was discussed in closed session, The Buffalo News reports.
“I can understand people protesting his comments about the Obamas, but that isn’t the issue up for consideration,” At-Large Board Member Larry Quinn told the news site. “Carl is on the docket for telling his constituents how the district ended up with a terrible teacher contract which will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars the next 10 years and do almost nothing to reform education.
“He should probably be praised for that, not censured,” Quinn said.
Board members, BFT President Philip Rumore, Superintendent Kriner Cash, the district’s legal counsel and others are testifying as part of the two-day hearing, after which New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will rule on whether Paladino can remain on the school board.
In December, ArtVoice asked several local leaders a series of questions, including what they would most like to see happen in 2017, who they’d like to see go away, who should run for mayor, and their take on a new $50 million Amtrak station in the city.
“Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her,” Paladino wrote for what he’d like to see happen in 2017.
Who he’d like to see go away:
“Michelle Obama,” he wrote. “I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
The next mayor should be “someone with a brain, a set of balls and a lack of fear who has enough money so as not to owe anyone anything once elected and who believes in a market economy,” Paladino wrote.
“Many parents and students are intensely interested in the outcome of this hearing,” Rachel Dominguez, a secretary for the Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization and a member of Standing Up for Racial Justice, told the News. “We are all tired of the distractions caused by Paladino’s rash, impulsive actions. We have important work to do in our schools.”
“Mr. Paladino has not taken any responsibility for his behavior and has only persisted with more hateful actions, intimidation and misinformation,” said Larry Scott, BPTO co-chairman. “It is evident that Mr. Paladino is either unaware of or dismissive of his hateful views and actions and their effects on the very children whom he proclaims to be helping.”
Paladino, who formally ran for governor of New York and served as the co-chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign in the Empire State, hasn’t backed down from his critics.
Instead, Paladino doubled down, claiming the remarks were meant to be humorous and had “nothing to do with race” despite the references to the African country and Michelle Obama, an African-American.
His lengthy, 527-word statement referred to President Barack Obama as a “lazy ass president” while criticizing him for everything from his handling of the Syrian conflict to his treatment of the military to his opposition to Trump’s presidential campaign.
“And yes, it’s about a little deprecating humor which America lost for a long time,” Paladino said of his Artvoice response. “Merry Christmas and tough luck if you don’t like my answer.”
He has also filed a lawsuit against his fellow board members pushing for his removal, according to The New York Times.
Paladino is seeking damages from the board members and Buffalo Public Schools who demanded his resignation after the ArtVoice article. Many of the same critics are now pursuing his removal through the state hearing about the board’s confidentiality policy.
“It’s a principled position on the part of Carl Paladino, fighting back, if you will, against the tactics of his colleagues on the Buffalo Board of Education,” Paladino’s attorney, Dennis Vacco, told the Times. “This is really about sending a message that you cannot retaliate against an individual who is a public official for their speech.”