Carl Declares “Victory”


The Buffalo school board battle of 2016 is over, but the war continues to rage. The Buffalo News-backed and Partnership-supported bloc of privatizers has shrunk from a majority to a minority of three. Carl Paladino – perhaps the best known Buffalonian in the non-sports universe, widely reputed to be the pride of South Buffalo – barely eked out a painfully narrow victory over an 18 year-old kid whom no one had ever heard of before about three weeks ago, Austin Harig.

Harig wasn’t afraid to confront Paladino on the issues, on his style, on his “ideas”, and on his cowardly unwillingness to engage in meaningful debate about any of it.

Is the Buffalo school district in need of reform? If so, what should that reform look like? How shall it be implemented? How does one ensure that all students are treated fairly and equitably? Should money be siphoned from the district to fund quasi-private paedagogical fiefdoms, or are there better uses of finite public resources? Should parents be punished for not getting their kids to school, rewarded when they do, or neither? How can a board of education do more than just putter around the edges of the incalculable problems, which are complex, multi-faceted, imbued with racism, and laced with poverty? What can society – whether interpersonally or through its elected representatives – do to ensure that school-age children in the inner city who come from nothing have a fighting chance? 

Or is the charge of a board of education to implement and administer policies that focus on providing all kids with equal opportunities to excel, recognizes the difficult challenges that teachers, students, and parents face? Is it required instead to marshal its limited resources into ways that ensure that the district is doing everything it can to guarantee that every kid who enters that system has a shot at lifelong success? Can it stand in loco parentis

What a school board shouldn’t do – under any circumstances – is offer a poor example for the students whose educational lives it oversees. A school board shouldn’t be a place for brawls or petty resentments and vendettas. It shouldn’t be a stage where loudmouthed vulgarians bully anyone who disagrees with them. It shouldn’t be an entity where members pay more attention to their phones than to the citizens who take time out to address them. It shouldn’t be a vehicle for one man’s agenda. But here, it must not become some social experiment promoted by big business interests who peddle some latter-day, neo-segregationist privatization scheme for no other reason than to hobble the teachers, and abolish their right to organize and bargain collectively. 

Even now, as the so-called “reform” majority slithers into its current form as a minority, the Buffalo News’ editorial position is laid bare: “Union-Backed Candidates Take Control of School Board“. Whether they were union-backed or not is a side issue. This was the first public referendum on the “reform” majority’s actions, and it was electorally crushed. The grapes are especially sour, as James Sampson whines about being bumped from the ballot after having done the exact same thing to his opponent last time around.

On the Paladino/Trump news network, WBEN, Brian Mazurowski mocked Harig for his outrageous Twitter account and poor showing in a Reddit AMA. Harig had one Twitter account in his own name that he set up when he was 13 (it’s been hacked), and another one as “Abdolf Hitcoln”, (also hacked), which he created at the age of 14. No followers, following 7 people and 11,000 Tweets, most of which are “I posted a new photo to Facebook” with a broken link. They’re all broken links, because no one’s had access to that account since Harig was 16. I’ll bet a 14-year old Brian Mazurowski did some stupid stuff, too. 

But nothing can top the call of the Paladino. Despite his narrow, unconvincing win, Trump’s guy in Buffalo was not a happy man as he addressed a crowd of supporters for a school election in a bar. In typical Paladino style, the blame only went around so far. 

Audio via WBEN. Here’s the transcript: 

This was very interesting tonight. I won by only 100 votes, which shows that the unions, Mark Poloncarz, and the Democratic Party were hell-bent on establishing – and, by the way, our other..uh…we’ve lost the majority on the board; we’re down to three – but it illustrates that these people are more intent on allowing the Buffalo Teachers’ Federation to negotiate their own contract rather than have an objectivity from citizens of this city negotiate that contract with the Buffalo Teachers’ Federation. That is an abuse. That is a lack of integrity, and a lack of character on the part of those organizations and people. To allow this – to spend money as they did to force a reform agenda off the table, and in place of it, put the status quo and a group of people who are going to vote for whatever Phil Rumore and the teachers’ union want is the most disgusting act I have seen in my history, and I think it’s abhorrible [sic], and it’s wrong.  Other than that, drink up, have fun, and thank you for all your assistance.

Blame the teachers. Blame the unions. Blame the Democrats. Blame Mark Poloncarz. Blame Phil Rumore. Blame money in politics, says the tea party demagogue who expoits the LLC loophole to give to Republicans and Democrats alike. 

Blame everyone, it seems, but yourself. Blame everyone but your own agenda and ugly demeanor. Blame everything but your profane bullying. The blame lies with everybody else; blame everyone but the voters. 

That is an abuse. That is a lack of integrity, and a lack of character. 

As for the mockery of Austin Harig, he may have done stupid stuff online when he was 14, but Carl Paladino is an adult male who – in his 60s – forwarded awful racist memes, and approvingly forwarded a video of anal creampie horse porn to a roster of local businessmen. It seems to me that WBEN omitted that relevant fact. 

Advantage: Harig. 

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