It's good to see the Board of Ed in B-Lo making an effort to confront Carl Paladino on his most recent sampling of racist hate spew. In theory they are forcing the moment to its crisis as Eliot might've said. But are they? I've noted elsewhere that board member Hope Jay's career trajectory reminds me of another lawyer who happens to be a woman who did time on the board en route a judgeship. Credit to Jay for crafting the whereases and the wherefores of the document. I question the endgame of said missive though as the ultimatum to Carl to get outta town before sundown is offset with a wimpy threat to involve NYSED Commissioner Elia should sundown come and go and Carl remain in his seat petulant and politically incorrect as ever. In the classroom and in parenting 101 class we call this giving away your authority. You've heard the rookie parents and teachers telling rambunctious kiddies they'd better behave or (the Principal, Grandpa, Uncle Sean) is going to be mad at them.
If I needed any more evidence in the year 2016 that the end is nigh I guess I found it in the Buffalo News this morning when I found myself agreeing in principle and fact with none other than former Buffalo Board of Ed member and freewheeling CEO of Gateway Longview, Mr. Diamond Jim Sampson. Of all people I guess I never figured Sampson to be the one who'd cut through the obfuscation and self congratulatory back patting of Hope Jay's twitter account to spell out where this proposition goes off the rails like one of those slow motion door opening farts. Here's the gilded one speaking truth to good intentions:
"I appreciate that the criterion for removal is very narrow, however, I believe that to remove an elected school board member, overturning an election, it should be done by the Board of Education, providing for transparent, open hearings and ensuring due process," said former School Board President James Sampson. "The Board of Education should not defer to the Commissioner who is far removed from our community and whose decision is essentially made behind closed doors. It is messy but the right thing to do. "
It is messy but it's the right thing to do. Amen to that James Sampson. Surely you recall Carl turning on Sampson calling him spineless and a raccoon or some such Carlesque thing and insisting that dear friend Lars Quinn be installed as Board President upon Sampson's execution or waterboarding or whatever extreme measure Paladino had in store for him. But when you read what Sampson said it's clear he's not playing tit for tat the way Carl and his mentor like to do. What Sampson is saying is that the board needs to own this decision and to act as the agent of its execution. The problem with the Jay letter is that it whips everyone into a frenzy of imminent action then subcontracts that action to a third party whose loyalties in matters of education lie much closer to Carl Paladino's than to The Board of Regents, NYSUT or the Buffalo Board of Education.
In subcontracting the hit, if you will, to Mary Ellen Elia the Buffalo Board of Education has abdicated its role in pursuing the removal of Carl Paladino and opened up any number of kinder gentler options to a mercenary of ed reform's revolving door of interchangeable fixers. I am seeing some kind of mandated sensitivity training, an in-service or two and the usual circle jerk of self improvement pamphlets and faux contrition we see from professional athletes, celebrities and politicians when they get it caught in the pickle cutter but nobody has the nerve to sack them.
Attorney Hope Jay tells the News she doesn't think the Board has the authority to remove a member but the news contacts three other lawyers who say the Board does in fact have the juice to pull the plug on Carl. This leaves us with two possible scenarios: Hope Jay isn't the sharpest lawyer in the tool shed for not knowing this. Or she did know it but didn't want to deal with the icky and brutal process of taking on a swamp dweller with the resources and temperament of Sir Carl. And as if 2016 hasn't been surreal enough, let me end by wholeheartedly agreeing with Carl Paladino himself when he tells the News “The Board of Education’s action today is certainly not an illustration of a profile in courage or leadership.” Even a blind gorilla finds a banana once in a while.