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Organized Labor ‘Condemns’ Buffalo School Board Member Carl Paladino For His Bigoted & Racist Comments Made Against President Obama & The First Lady

WNYALF President Richard Lipsitz Calls For The State Education Department To Remove Paladino From The School Board, While NYSUT President Karen Magee Says Paladino’s “Dangerous And Despicable Comments Prove He Is Unfit To Serve”

Published Wednesday, December 28, 2016
by Labor News Sources & Staff
Organized Labor ‘Condemns’ Buffalo School Board Member Carl Paladino For His Bigoted & Racist Comments Made Against President Obama & The First Lady

(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) - Organized Labor is condemning Buffalo School Board Member and former Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino for his bigoted and racist comments that he recently made about President Obama and the First Lady.

This week, Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz called for the New York State Education Department to remove Paladino from his seat on the Buffalo Board of Education, while Statewide New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) President Karen Magee voiced the same message, noting Paladino’s “dangerous and despicable comments prove he is unfit to serve.”

Paladino’s comments on the President Obama and First Lady have created a firestorm of controversy since they were recently published in Buffalo’s ArtVoice magazine, which queried a number of notable Western New Yorkers on what their wishes were for 2017.

Paladino - a Buffalo developer who had served as the New York co-chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign - provided the following response to a question asked by ArtVoice about what he’d “most like to happen in 2017.”

The misspellings are Paladino’s: “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.”

Valerie Jarrett, who is African-American, is senior adviser to Obama and is not deceased.

Asked what he’d “like to see go away in 2017,” Paladino turned his sights on the First Lady: “Michelle 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.”

WNYALF President Lipsitz - whose Regional AFL-CIO Labor Organization oversees five individual Labor Councils in Buffalo, Niagara-Orleans, Dunkirk, Jamestown and Cattaraugus-Allegany that combine to represent just under 150,000 Unionized Workers across Western New York, released a letter he has sent to State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, which reads as follows:

Throughout the past four years, Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino has made one racially charged comment after another.  He has spoken with clear purpose and unmistakable motive.  Mr. Paladino is not just being cute or politically incorrect.  He is an avowed bigot who seeks to blame every social problem facing our country on people of color, including the President and First Lady of the United States of America.

Now this would be problematic if such insults were the speech of an ordinary person, or any one of the 34,000 kids attending Buffalo public schools today.  However in this case, Mr. Paladino is an elected official.  This carries the responsibility of representing children and families and making decisions in their best interest.  Buffalo Public schools have an enrollment of approximately 70% non-white students.  To have an individual like him in a position of power is an abomination and an attack on the very idea of progressive education.

Lastly, I need not remind you that our kids are watching.  They see and hear everything - no matter how much we try to shield them from the ugly side of America.  Allowing comments so vile in nature to go unpunished would send a message to our children that this is okay and acceptable behavior.  We cannot normalize this rhetoric.

As the Commissioner of Education, you have the power to protect our children from those who seek to dim their light of opportunity and to protect the reputation of public education in Buffalo. 

Mature adults understand the hateful nature of these comments, but young developing students may not.  With that said, we are asking that you take the necessary steps to remove Mr. Paladino from the Buffalo Board of Education and show our kids that this is not acceptable behavior from anyone.

Meanwhile, NYSUT - which represents more than 600,000 Educators and Health Care Professionals across New York State, is also urging Education Commissioner Elia to remove Paladino from the Board of Education, saying his “dangerous and despicable comments about the President and First Lady prove he is ‘unfit to serve.’”

NYSUT President Karen Magee issued a statement, which read as follows: We stand with parents and concerned citizens across New York State in calling upon the State Education Commissioner to immediately remove Paladino from the Buffalo School Board.  His racist rants are despicable.  He is unfit to hold a position of responsibility affecting students and their well-being.  As educators, we are dedicated to ensuring our students learn in classrooms and on campuses where the values of respect and civility are paramount.  We condemn this disgusting, racist behavior and call for Carl Paladino's removal.

Speaking on behalf of all of the NYSUT Officers, Magee noted that Paladino's latest diatribe is part of a long-standing pattern of offensive commentary from the Buffalo School Board Member and failed gubernatorial candidate: "Students, parents and educators in Buffalo have ‘borne the brunt of his demeaning and unacceptable behavior for far too long.’  We ‘stand with them’ in saying, `Enough is enough!'"

NYSUT Members, including many other Labor Representatives and Members, plan to reinforce the call for Paladino's ouster during a Buffalo protest rally that has been organized by the Buffalo Parent-Teachers Organization and is scheduled to occur at 10:30 a.m. Thursday (December 29th) in Niagara Square outside City Hall.

The Buffalo School Board scheduled a special meeting on Thursday to expressly convene to discuss "board member conduct." Editor's Note: The following photos from Thursday's rally in Downtown Buffalo are courtesy of NYSUT Regional Staff Director Mike Deely, via the Social Network Facebook


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