Wednesday night’s board meeting was chaotic at times, with several interruptions from the public while Paladino had the floor.
Paladino, a millionaire real estate developer, spoke to the public and on camera for the first time since his comments in Art Voice in December. Many people considered his comments about President Obama and the First Lady racist.
Paladino, who was the co-chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s New York campaign, told the alternative Buffalo newspaper that in 2017, “he hoped President Obama would die from mad cow disease after being caught having relations” with a cow. He also said he hoped that Michelle Obama would “go away,” and “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.”
At first Paladino refused to apologize and said his comments had “nothing to do with race,” but later he said he intended the response to only go to a couple of friends but mistakenly hit reply.
Dozens of community members spoke during the board meeting calling on the State Education Department to remove him.
“The board member who spoke such disgusting words presents a danger to the children at Buffalo Public Schools and I will keep saying that in the clearest, loudest voice possible until he is removed from this board,” said Rachel Dominquez, concerned parent.
Superintendent Kriner Cash allowed Paladino to respond to the speakers seeking his removal. Paladino said “to the people that have spoken here tonight, I understand you, and I understand the limited knowledge you have about the real workings and I forgive you.”
The board passed a resolution 6 to 3. The resolution allows the board to file a petition with the State Education Department to remove Paladino from the school board. Paladino, Larry Quinn and Patti Pierce were the only members to object to the resolution.
Cash said to the board and to the public that there must be consequences for Paladino’s behavior.
“It will always be completely intolerable, completely unacceptable to say anything at anytime that is hatred oriented, that has racist overtones,” said Cash.
Board members also argued Paladino should be removed for sharing information discussed in an executive session about teacher’s contracts.
“I believe every citizen in Buffalo is entitled to know what happened, who said what, how much money was spent, he did it after the contract was approved, long after,” said Larry Quinn, board member.
After the board meeting, Paladino allowed only a question from News 4. News 4 reporter Rachele Mongiovi asked him for his reaction to the resolution that was passed, Paladino said, “I think that the true intent is to get me off the board because I pry too much into the unethical, immoral and illegal things that they do.”