Buffalo School Board Passes Resolution Calling for Paladino’s Ouster

Carl Paladino (Photo credit: Hannonjd Director of New Media, Paladino For The People)
Carl Paladino (Photo credit: Hannonjd Director of New Media, Paladino For The People)

Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, who ignited a firestorm last week over his racist comments about the Obamas, has 24 hours to resign from his seat on the Buffalo School Board. Otherwise the board will ask the New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to have him removed.

By a vote of 6-3, the Buffalo School Board on Thursday adopted a resolution, which effectively serves as an ultimatum to Paladino: Get out or be forced out.

Paladino served as President-elect Donald Trump’s New York State campaign co-chair during the election.

The vote comes almost a week to the day that Paladino’s racially insensitive comments sparked controversy. In a response to questions from the Buffalo alt-weekly Artvoice, Paladino said he wished that President Barack Obama would die of Mad Cow disease and that First Lady Michelle Obama would “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe.”

An unapologetic Paladino initially said his remarks, which many criticized as outright racist, were nothing more than an attempt at humor. But in a letter to the paper on Tuesday, he said he mistakenly passed along his comments to the newspaper rather than his friends, which he claimed were the intended recipients of his wishes for 2017.

Paladino, who was defeated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2010 gubernatorial race, titled the letter: “I certainly am not a racist.”

Although his local support has waned, Paladino has resisted calls to resign.

The school board’s resolution characterized Paladino’s comments as “unambiguously racist, morally repugnant, flagrantly disrespectful, inflammatory and inexcusable comments” that casts the western New York city in a bad light.

“Mr. Paladino’s behavior has irrevocably impacted the work of the Buffalo Board of Education by negatively impacting the Buffalo City School District in its goal of safeguarding the nights of all students in promoting a safe and healthy environment in which students are treated respectfully, by everyone,” the resolution states. He was elected to the school board in 2013.

Paladino issued a statement late Thursday suggesting that the board’s vote was politically motivated.

While not explicitly stating that he’d resign, Paladino said he’d “fight to the end to continue to expose corruption.”

The comments that stirred the controversy came in response to a series of New Year-related questions from Artvoice, titled, “What do we want for 2017?,” which it sent to notable figures in the Buffalo area.

Paladino replied: “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.”

Asked who’d he’d like to “go away” next year, Paladino responded: “Michele Obama…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.”

As criticism mounted over his comments, Paladino issued an apology letter to Artvoice saying that he “never intended to hurt the minority community who I spent years trying to help out of the cycle of poverty in our inner cities. To them I apologize.”

He added that he received the paper’s survey at “an emotional moment” as he was listening to Obama’s recent statement on the situation in Aleppo, Syria.

“Your survey questions provided me with the spark to vent and write deprecating humor about a bad President for whom the mainstream media continues to seek an undeserved legacy,” Paladino said.

Gov. Cuomo was quick to decry Paladino’s remarks, as was a spokesperson from Trump’s transition team, who called the comments “absolutely reprehensible.”

The school board’s vote comes one day after the Buffalo Common Council, the city’s legislative body, voted unanimously to have Paladino removed from his seat.

Earlier the Buffalo News reported that Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz called on Paladino to resign immediately, as did Assemblyman Sean Ryan D-Buffalo, who said Paladino’s comments are “outrageous, dangerous and disturbing.”

Paladino has refused to bow out, and the controversy continues.