Carl Paladino

Paladino’s BOE Replacement Sworn In

Outspoken businessman Carl Paladino has officially been replaced on the Buffalo Board of Education by new Park District representative Catherine Flanagan-Priore, a pediatric psychologist at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, who was sworn in last night.

This summer, as you’ll recall, the state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia removed Paladino from his seat for violating executive session rules, even though voters had twice elected the former Republican gubernatorial candidate to the school board despite his many controversial public statements.

Flanagan-Priore, who was chosen by the board to succeed Paladino after three days of interviews with 15 potential candidates, said she is aware she will need to represent constituents who may have wanted Paladino to retain his post.

“I want to hear from the people who voted for him as much as the people who didn’t vote for him to make sure I’m representing the needs of the district well,” she said.

Meanwhile, a majority of the board members who brought the complaint about Paladino to the state Education Department after tangling repeatedly with him for several years, seemed ready to move on.

Paladino’s racially charged comments, in particular, sparked plenty of media attention and protests around board meetings – though Elia has repeatedly insisted that had nothing to do with her decision to remove him.

“I’m certainly looking forward to some meetings where the board can get away from distractions that have taken us off the tasks that we really need to do that will push forward the education achievement of the children in this district,” Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold said.

Of course, it’s not necessarily over. Paladino is appealing the NYSED decision to state Supreme Court, though his effort to block the board from appointing his replacement while his case works its way through the legal system was denied.

Paladino Says State Supreme Court Judge Should Not Have Ruled On his Case

The Buffalo Public School Board will officially swear in its replacement Wednesday for Carl Paladino, who was kicked off the board by the State Education Commissioner in August. After interviewing more than a dozen candidates, board members on Monday, unanimously approved Catherine Flanagan-Priore, a local children’s psychologist.

Paladino had hoped to keep the seat vacant while he appeals the commissioner’s decision to state Supreme Court. Those hopes were dashed late-Monday afternoon when Judge Catherine Nugent-Panepinto decided not to grant a stay of the decision.

Paladino said he was unlucky to draw Nugent-Panenpinto, a former board member, who he accused of being liberal, political, and “best buddies” with Hope Jay, an opponent of his, currently on the board. He said the judge had recused herself in past matters involving the board of education.

“She should have conflicted herself out of the case, but instead she called her liberal and undistinguished husband (former state Senator) Marc (Panepinto) to meet her to discuss how to handle the case,” Paladino said.

He said after the proceeding, Marc Panepinto, a partner at powerful Western New York law firm Dolce Panepinto, went up to his attorney and said “I guess your client lost the lottery today.” Paladino is being represented by a team from Lippes Matthias Wexler Freedman, including former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco.

We’ve reached out to both Marc Panepinto and Catherine Nugent-Panepinto’s office for a response.

Elia: Charlottesville Had No Impact On Paladino Decision

The unrest in Charlottesville spurred by white supremacist groups this month did not have an impact on the decision to remove Carl Paladino from the Buffalo school board, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said Monday in a radio interview.

“It did not have anything to do with the decision on Mr. Paladino. We had our hearing almost a full month before that — six days of hearings with people coming in as witnesses,” Elia said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “The decision was based on the record.”

Paladino was removed from the board on Aug. 17, days after violence erupted in Charlottesville amid protests over the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

A push to remove Paladino, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, began last year after he penned a racist essay for a Buffalo-area newsweekly. Paladino has over the years forwarded and sent racist and racially charged emails.

But the school board pursued his removal based on the sharing of information from a closed-door executive session of the board, arguing it helped undermine the district during its negotiations with the teachers union for a new contract.

Paladino is appealing the school board’s decision and Elia said the State Education Department will fight that appeal.

Meet The Man Who Wants To Replace Carl Paladino

From the Morning Memo:

The Buffalo Public School Board of Education has until September 16 to replace member Carl Paladino who the State Education Commissioner kicked out of office last week. BPS posted its Park district seat on Friday.

The deadline for applications is September 1. While the district hasn’t said how many people have applied so far, at least one candidate is vying for the job.

Kevin Lafferty, a member of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said he applied right away.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and when this opportunity came up, I jumped on it right away,” he said.

Lafferty ran unsuccessfully for the seat more than a decade ago. He said he’s always felt compelled to public service but now has a personal inspiration to be on the board, as well. The South Buffalo parent’s 3-year-old daughter is in the system.

“When I ran in 2004, I said that I was doing it so when I had children, the district would be good and now that I have a child in it I feel like it’s a responsibility to run for it again now that she’s in the district,” Lafferty said.

Of course, this time he doesn’t have to convince voters he’s the best candidate for the job. He has to convince other board members.

“It’s a campaign but it’s not a campaign. I mean you’ve got to sway the board, so I would ask if there are people out there, to contact the board,” he said. “It’s very important that this board fill this seat as quickly as possible.”

Lafferty said while he would like to be a consensus builder, he doesn’t plan on being a rubber stamp for the so-called six member board majority bloc.

“I kind of want to be the majority of one, myself, and serve the majority, the actual majority which are the students of the city of Buffalo,” he said.

He does acknowledge in replacing the twice-elected Paladino, the district finds itself in an unusual situation. Lafferty was involved with the DPCC filing a separate petition which called for Paladino and the rest of the board’s removal after the member made racially charged comments about the former president and First Lady.

He believes the commissioner’s decision is good for students.

“The Paladino thing lifts a big weight,” he said. “It’s been a huge distraction. I’ve said from the beginning, I thought Carl should’ve resigned back in December and just let us move on but, you know, he continued and he was well within his rights to do that.”

Lafferty said regardless of what Park District voters think about their former board member, he wasn’t always able to represent the area to the fullest because other members didn’t like him. He said he can bring a new constructive voice with whom people are willing to work.

Paladino, meanwhile, has indicated he plans to file an appeal with state Supreme Court which could potentially halt the replacement process.

Paladino Removed From Buffalo School Board

Carl Paladino has been removed from his post on the Buffalo Board of Education, an attorney hired by the board confirmed this morning.

The 33-page decision determine Paladino had wrongly released information that was discussion in a closed-door executive session with board members.

Paladino had vigorously denied any wrongdoing during a hearing earlier this summer in Albany.

“It confirms that no one is above the law regardless of their station in life,” said the school board’s attorney, Frank Miller. “Mr. Paladino indicated he was going to continue to do whatever he wanted to do. Everyone is subject to the law, regardless of their station in life.”

School board members and others who had sought Paladino’s removal from the board initially sought his removal after Paladino made a series of racially charged and racist comments in a local newsweekly and in blast emails.

Paladino has already filed a lawsuit challenging the board’s actions against him.

The 2010 Republican nominee for governor, Paladino has not ruled out running again in 2018. Paladino served as the co-chairman to President Trump’s campaign in New York.

Updated: Here’s the full decision from the state Education Department.

Paladino Still ‘Strongly Considering’ Run For Governor

From the Memo:

In a new political era where Donald Trump can be elected President of the United States, maybe Carl Paladino could avenge his 2010 gubernatorial loss to Andrew Cuomo. The outspoken businessman, who’s one of the president’s chief Upstate supporters, said he’s strongly considering running for governor again.

“I think maybe times have changed with Trump and I think it opened up a new thinking on the part of many people as to what kind of government that they want serving them,” he said. “I think he’s proven in his days in office that the kind of change that he is bringing to Washington is something that we need in Albany.”

Paladino said he’s currently busy with other projects and doesn’t feel any sense of urgency to make a decision right now. Still, there’s no love lost for the governor who he criticizes whenever he gets a chance.

“Cuomo is a failure in every possible respect,” he said. “Government is getting bigger and bigger. Our Medicaid is out of this world. It’s twice that per person of any other state in the nation. Our atmosphere for business development is nonexistent.”

Cuomo wasn’t the only one in Paladino’s crosshairs during an interview Wednesday. He doesn’t seem to think much of the potential Republican candidates for governor who have emerged so far.

After toying with the idea of his own gubernatorial campaign in 2014, then trying to draft Trump to run, Paladino ultimately got behind the endorsed GOP candidate Rob Astorino. He even went on the campaign trail with him, but Paladino said Astorino should’ve talked more about the SAFE Act, taxes, and jobs, and didn’t connect with Upstaters.

“I think Astorino clearly illustrated in the last election that he’s just clueless when it comes to the issues that are important to the people of the state of New York,” he said. “He got off on Common Core. Most people couldn’t tell you the first thing about Common Core. They don’t know what it is but he ran all over Upstate New York trying to relate to people and nobody could listen to it because they didn’t understand it.”

As for veteran state Senator John DeFrancisco, who confirmed during a CapTon interview he’s exploring the possibility of challenging Cuomo, Paladino said he’s still upset DeFrancisco wasn’t elected Majority Leader in 2015. He holds the Syracuse-area Republican responsible for not getting his house in order.

“I think he showed his lack of mettle when it came to fighting with Flanagan for the leadership position in the Senate. He should’ve gone all out. He should never have let those six upstate senators depart the fold and that’s very unfortunate for Upstate New York,” Paladino said. “His chance to lead is gone.”

Paladino also knows former State Comptroller candidate Harry Wilson pretty well. They were on the same ticket in 2010 when Wilson chose not to endorse his fellow Republican.

Paladino doesn’t appear to hold any ill will but doesn’t think much of Wilson’s chances to become governor either.

“Harry Wilson’s a great guy and he’d probably make a great administrator but he just doesn’t have that killer instinct,” he said. “He doesn’t have that fire in the belly thing. He can talk it. He knows the problems and he’s a very bright guy but I don’t think he could get his message out there.”

The kindest words were reserved for Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro but Paladino said he’d have to see more of what he was about before he would consider supporting him.

“He’s young, a dreamer at this point. He’s solid, solid on issues, nice guy, and if he had that fire and brimstone in him I think he could make a good candidate. I think he could attract a lot of younger voters and be a new face. The party needs a new face,” he said.

The former honorary co-chair of Trump’s New York campaign said regardless of who the candidate is, he would expect the president to get involved in 2018. He believed his recent comments about Upstate New York in the Wall Street journal suggest he’s already looking toward the issues facing his home state.

In Testimony, Paladino Defiant In Removal Case

For nearly six hours on Tuesday, Carl Paladino told his life story, his approach toward public office and his time on the Buffalo School Board. He now faces removal from the board for allegedly disclosing confidential information.

“I think we proved our case overwhelmingly that Carl Paladino violated his oath of office,” said Frank Miller, the attorney hired by the Buffalo School Board for the removal hearing. “The best proof of that was his own testimony.”

In that testimony, Paladino defended his writings in a newsweekly discussing the board’s 2016 contract talks with the teacher’s union in Buffalo. Board members argue Paladino revealed confidential information from an executive session. Paladino’s team disagrees.

“Our affirmative defense is include among other things that the executive sessions were entered into illegally,” said Dennis Vacco, Paladino’s attorney. “So if they are not entered into lawfully, they don’t get whatever protection comes with confidentiality.”

Paladino under questioning from his attorney also said he regretted writing a racist essay mocking Barack and Michelle Obama.

“I was thinking about Obama and his wife,” Paladino said. “My thinking got carried away… I sincerely regret my words.”

Paladino’s legal team argues the board is actually trying to remove him for the Obama commentary, not the disclosures.

“They want to remove him over that,” Vacco said. “He is facing removal over that. That is the whole part of our pre-text case. You’ve heard me say over several times during the course of the case that the unlawful disclosures was an extreme after thought.”

Throughout the day, Paladino’s manichean view of the world was on display, presenting himself as a rescuer of a troubled public system, standing up to sinister “schemers” like the teachers union president and incompetent naifs.

The hearing began last week, but Tuesday was the only day to draw about more than two dozen protesters outside of the state Education buildnig in Albany. Paladino himself was tight lipped after the hours of questioning.

“You’ll have to ask my boss if he’ll let me speak,” he told reporters, nudging Vacco.

Regardless of how State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia rules, School Board President Barbara Nevergold questioned whether Paladino can remain an effective member.

“In his testimony, he doesn’t feel he’s bound by policies related to executive session and I suspect other policies related to controlling the board’s behavior and controlling the board’s actions,” Nevergold said.

Closing arguments in the hearing are expected Wednesday, but a determination from Elia is not expected for several weeks.

Paladino To Testify In Removal Hearing

On Tuesday, it’s Carl Paladino’s turn.

The controversial businessman faces removal from the Buffalo School Board and, on day four the hearing, Paladino will defend himself.

“I’m always excited,” Paladino said when asked about his planned appearance.

Paladino, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor and a prominent New York supporter of President Donald Trump, faces removal for allegedly revealing confidential information discussed in a school board executive session. Day three of the removal hearing in Albany featured three hours of testimony from Buffalo School Superintendent Kriner Cash, who testified some of the information Paladino disclosed was inaccurate.

“Dr. Cash is nice enough guy, but he did a terrible job on the stand today,” said Paladino attorney Dennis Vacco. “He was evasive. He couldn’t remember, he couldn’t recall specifics of his communications with (Buffalo Federation of Teachers President) Phil Rumore.”

Vacco on Monday was frustrated as he has been for most of the hearing as school board members and othe witnesses declined to discuss the details of the executive session in question — saying it’s an attempt to hamstring Paladino’s effort to mount a defense.

“When we try to drill down on what was said, what’s confidential, what’s not confidential, he throws up roadblocks,” Vacco said.

It’s not clear what Paladino will discuss when he speaks at his removal hearing, but he will likely try to shine a light on the discussions surrounding the school board’s budget and contract talks last year, including the spending of money from a fund balance.

“We’re not going to allow them play the rope a dope game tomorrow with Carl on the stand,” Vacco said. “We’re going to hear exactly about that $10 million and what it meant to those negotiations.”

Paladino is not facing removal for racist commentary in an essay published last year by Art Voice, a newsweekly in Buffalo. Instead, his defense team has sought to claim Paladino was initially being removed for the comments, constitutionally protected by the first amendment. Frank Miller, the attorney hired by the school board in the removal case, did not address the media.

Paladino Files Lawsuit Against Buffalo School Board Members

Buffalo Public School Board member Carl Paladino has officially filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the other members on the board who are seeking his removal.

Paladino wants both compensatory and punitive damages from Dr. Barbara Seals-Nevergold, Sharon Belton-Cottman, Hope Jay, Dr. Teresa Harris-Tigg, Jennifer Mecozzi and Paulette Woods – commonly referred to as the board’s majority bloc.

Paladino and his attorney, former New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco, claim the members conspired to infringe on Paladino’s freedom of speech. He claims they trumped up a petition to the state education for Paladino’s removal based on him allegedly disclosing confidential information, only after they learned racially-charged comments the board member made to the alternative Buffalo newspaper Artvoice were not grounds for removal.

“My client feels very strongly that his constitutional rights, including his right to free speech have been violated by the actions of the majority members of the Board, the Board of Education, and the school district as a result of a resolution that was passed seeking to remove my client from elected office.  Certain members of the Board of Education are seeking Carl’s removal in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights,” Vacco said.

This is not the first time we’ve heard this argument from Vacco. He’s submitted the same evidence to State Ed Commissioner MaryEllen Elia regarding her investigation into Paladino’s alleged misconduct.

A hearing about the petition for his removal is scheduled for next week in Albany.

Paladino Civil Rights Complaint by Ryan Whalen on Scribd

Paladino Doesn’t Rule Out Running For Governor

Facing possible expulsion from the Buffalo School Board over racially charged and racist comments, Republican Carl Paladino in a radio interview on Friday did not rule out running for governor again in 2018.

At the same time, Paladino vowed in an interview on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom to file a legal challenge if he’s removed by the state Education Department from the school board.

“I may run for governor again, I don’t know,” Paladino said in the interview when asked if he would seek re-election the board.

Paladino last ran for governor in 2010, losing to incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

He’s since taken on the post of school board member in Buffalo and was a co-chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in New York.

Paladino was sharply criticized late last year when he wrote in a Buffalo-area newsweekly that Michele Obama should “return to being a man” and live in Africa with a gorilla.

He later emailed a meme advertising “Stop Blaming White People Month.”

“It’s humor,” Paladino said in the interview, adding, “You have to learn to laugh at these issues.”

Paladino insisted he was being unfairly targeted by his enemies over the removal, including the city’s teachers union.

The removal hearing is scheduled to begin in Albany on June 22. Paladino said the process will be “funny.”