School board wrestles with length of public comment sessions

Sep 24, 2015

The Buffalo school board held another tumultuous session Wednesday, highlighted by a police officer escorting a speaker out of the board room.

Keith Jones was escorted from Wednesday's school board meeting after a verbal confrontation with board member James Sampson.
Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The board and frequent speakers are locked in a fight over proposals to shrink the amount of time at meetings taken up by public comment, which can extend meetings well into the evening.

There have also been some strong comments made. Last night, it was Board President Jim Sampson and activist Keith Jones squared off over comments from two weeks ago. When Jones tried to explain what he said and what he meant, Sampson had him led off and did threaten to bar him from public comments forever. The question of how much time should be dedicated to public comments remains unsettled.

There were a lot of board comments in the fight over the Joint Schools Construction Board. Board Members Carl Paladino and Larry Quinn want a lawsuit against LP Ciminelli, the program provider, saying they were over charged by tens of millions and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.

"At some point, we're going to come back with our counsel, okay, and ask this board to commence a lawsuit against Ciminelli for disclosure," Paladino said.

"He is obligated under the terms of the contract to disclose. The fact that he hasn't to date, the fact that he's pushing back makes everybody more suspicious."

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is reportedly probing the joint schools board and the $1.5 billion of public money it spent.