Paladino’s Financial Stake in Charters

I’m skeptical of charter schools because I believe that they’re being used as an effort to abolish public education in the United States. The only exception is that instance where they’re used in a limited way to save kids from failing public schools.  Since Buffalo has its share of failing schools, I’m not going to begrudge parents finding a way to get their kids a decent education by any means necessary. You only get one chance, after all. 

The Buffalo News details the ways in which Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino has profited from the establishment of charters in Buffaloin fact, he’s the sole investor in some of them. It would be easy (and tempting) to dismiss all of this as Paladino personally profiting (which he does) off of charter schools, and demanding his resignation or recusal from anything having to do with charter schools in the Buffalo system. 

But the real issue isn’t whether Paladino is profiting off of charter schools – past, present, and future – the issue is that this situation is novel enough that the school board needs to clarify its conflict of interest rules. It’s not enough to just let Paladino subjectively pick and choose when there is or isn’t a conflict of interest, there need to be objective and uniformly applicable rules, and clearly defined instructions. It should not be left up to Paladino – a thuggish character who yells obscenities at strangers on the street, like a vagrant

“…I’m totally insane.” – Carl Paladino

As toxic, hateful, and repulsive as I find Paladino as a person and a political entity, I am conflicted about what he’s doing on the school board. I agree with his conclusion about its dysfunction and desperate need for improvement and accountability, and I think some of what he’s done has been positive, bold, and overdue. But the school board needs to be the one forcing Paladino to recuse himself – not only from any vote involving any of the charters in which he currently has a financial stake, but also those in which he has a potential financial stake. He needs to avoid not just actual impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety. 

That means that, while Ellicott Development may be a closely-held private company that isn’t mandated to release financial information, it should live up to Paladino’s political demands that others be transparent and make available all personal and corporate financial information as it relates to public charter schools. Paladino would demand no less of anyone else, if the shoe was on the other foot. Showing this information to a few reporters from the Buffalo News is not transparency – that’s Paladino taking advantage of the public trust. 

In the meantime, he’s controlling a majority on that board, and he’s effectively dictating the school board’s agenda and actions. He’s got his wish with respect to the removal of Pamela Brown. So, he’s all out of excuses, and it would be idiotic to hope he fails. I hope he succeeds and that the Buffalo school system becomes a nationwide model for turning around a troubled urban district. Transparency, ethics, and accountability: shouldn’t Paladino be held to the standards he selectively demands of others? 

I guess we’ll see how that hopey – changey thing works out for everyone. 


  • The potential problem you’ve identified is chump change compared to the lack of alternatives to public schools available to most parents. Real transparency would entail any and all parents having real choices for their children’s education.

    • Of course, the problem isn’t with parents who give a shit about their kids’ education. The problem is the parents and kids who don’t give a shit about education.

      • Grouping a bunch of kids who don’t give a shit in large institutions reinforces their attitude. Much like juvenile detention facilities training criminals.

        • So spread them out among the schools where parents and kids do give a shit as Sam Radford has been so successful in doing and you drag down the good kids and expose them to thugs whose slug parents don’t give a shit unless they think they can sue someone. I have friends teaching at one Buffalo elementary school where this dynamic is in full effect. They are slowly watching their good school pulled into the gutter by the slugs who’ve been given a free pass to go wreck a good school. Sometimes when you don’t give a shit and you teach your kids to defy authority and bully others you deserve a shit school.

      • This comment sums up pretty much all the problems with our educational systems. Throwing money at education, whether it is in Clarence or Buffalo, means a whole lot less than having students whose parents are engaged in their education. Those who are not are in some respects committing a form of child abuse, because they are putting their children behind the 8 ball for a long time, or maybe forever. It’s time to go after those parents directly to hold them accountable for their children’s futures.

    • This isn’t about chump change. This is about a long term plan that Paladino has been implementing for years. He has control of the board now and along with his friend Mr Quinn (keep an eye on him to see when he starts investing in “real estate”) and the end game here is privatization of education not for the children’s benefit, but the bottom line of Ellicott Development….

  • What potential conflict could even exist? The Board doesn’t have authority to authorize new charters, it doesn’t have authority to shut down or keep open existing charters, and it doesn’t have any say in where new charters locate or existing charters relocate or expand. The only role the Board has in new charter applications and charter renewals is hosting public forums to allow public comment. I don’t see any possible situation where Paladino, or the board for that matter, would have an opportunity to set up Ellicott Development for financial gain.

    • Then why would he pledge to recuse himself from votes on charter schools, and then turn around and vote on resolutions demanding that certain schools be converted into charters? Why is that even a thing for him to say, if – as you claim – there’s not even a potential for conflict of interest? Wouldn’t Carl be the first to say, “fuck you, there’ll never be a conflict and I’m going to vote for all the things I want?”

      • I thought the vote was for the option to consider charter conversions, among other options. The BPS can authorize charters, but I don’t believe that’s what they voted on.

    • So its just a coincidence that he profits off of several of them right now……?

  • I don’t see the School Board as doing anything very specific about charter schools, only very general. The Buffalo school system needs to do something radically different.

  • Remember: this is the now-former Governor of Niagara of whom you speak.

  • Carl is profiting in more ways than rent and investments. What would his buildings be doing if they weren’t charters? They’d be vacant losing money. He is bringing privatization to WNY. The Common Core and standardized tests are cut from this cloth. Just last month, he tried screwing my school out of a promised playground near his hotels. I have evidence. If you would renege on a playground what else would you do? This man has had many chances to explain his position to me on his dealings in privatization of education, but he has ignore my inquires. See you in public Carl. I want to hear you denounce the Common Core, over standardized testing and privatization. I doubt I or anyone else will hear it though. Until then be prepared to be asked in public.

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