The Buffalo School Board moved again Wednesday for the removal of Park Board Member Carl Paladino. The Board approved the hiring of Syracuse-area lawyer Frank Miller to handle the application to the New York State Education Commissioner.
Neither Paladino nor supporter Larry Quinn was at the special session, although the developer and former gubernatorial candidate issued a statement. Paladino called the planned hiring a "waste of time and money."
He says the board will have to pay for his lawyer and recommended it consult the U.S. Constitution, saying his racially-contentious comments about President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and aide Valerie Jarrett are "protected speech."
Paladino supporter and At-Large Board Member Patty Pierce says she voted for hiring an outsider to look at the situation.
"This has created a situation here in our community and within the district that has just been raw with emotion and I don't think that we as a board are in a position to make a decision or have the authority to have Mr. Paladino removed and, therefore, the proper person should make that decision," Pierce said.
Board president Barbara Seals Nevergold agrees it had to be an out-of-town lawyer.
"We felt that that it was important to have someone that did not have conflicts or potential conflicts in this area," she said. "As you know Buffalo is a very close-knit community, so it's very difficult to find someone who doesn't know someone who doesn't know someone who knows someone. So in the interests, again, of developing the process such that it would be free from conflict."
Nevergold said a formal petition for the removal has to be filed by January 20 - "30 days from the date of the incident, December 23." She said it is not clear how much the legal fight will cost or how long it will take, although in the past, requests for removal of a board member by Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia have taken nearly a year for a decision.