Esmonde’s Paladino Arc


Donn Esmonde is a hypocrite and an inveterate asshole who has no business ever using his fingers to type about school matters again. After being caught pimping charter schools operated by his close friends, or caught vilifying teachers’ unions, despite his wife being a former Buffalo schoolteacher and himself a former union member, his opinion is as worthless as a farthing. 

He now calls on Carl Paladino to resign from the Buffalo School Board. It would be a fitting, Palinistic resignation, but as one Twitter commenter opined, 

Indeed. Who would have thought. 

Donn Esmonde. Donn Esmonde thought and knew. 

He knew in 2013

Paladino’s blowtorch style and email history make this board a potential tinderbox. But I think he’s there for the right reasons. Expending his time and energy in the name of helping school kids – nearly 80 percent of whom are minority – doesn’t strike me as racist. But I think it would go a long way if he dropped the “sisterhood” condemnations.

He knew when he pimped James Sampson in 2013

Sampson was swept onto the board with Carl Paladino on a reformist tide. Paladino gets the press, Sampson – who co-founded West Buffalo Charter School – co-sets the reform agenda. He is as radical as the board’s resident rattlesnake, minus the fangs and venom. I am not a big fan of Paladino’s personal-attack style. But he, Sampson and a potential reform-majority board will force-feed change to a calcified district – and may doom its oddly detached superintendent, Pamela Brown.

He knew when he tried to make light of matters involving the poorest and most disenfranchised citizens of Buffalo, 

Despite the absence of a Kardashian, this was another episode of “As the Board Turns.” African-American board members referenced “Selma.” Minority-bloc member Theresa Harris-Tigg claimed the majority is “treating children and parents as property, and we know from history where that went.” About a dozen spectators rose at one point and turned their backs to protest board majority’s tactics. A chant of “Shame” broke out after words were exchanged between majority board member Carl Paladino and School Board attorney Rashondra Martin, a black woman. The exchange prompted one black male in the audience to walk toward the board table, saying to Paladino, “You can’t talk to her like that,” and sparked the removal of several spectators by Buffalo cops.

A late-comer asked me if anyone had been led away in handcuffs. No. For better or worse, that’s a different movie – not “Selma,” but “50 Shades of Grey.” Although sitting through nearly four hours of boardroom theater felt at times like an exercise in masochism.

He knew in May 2015, when his vaunted “reform” majority acted like dictators

A my-way-or-the-highway creed may work at a private company, though I have my doubts. But it’s undeniably a bad fit for a public school board. It makes me wonder whether some of the board majority, particularly Paladino, are temperamentally unsuited for the job. I don’t doubt the developer’s passion or intentions. But Paladino’s bully tactics of demonizing anyone who disagrees with him, personalizing disputes and launching frequent email rants against an ever-shifting cast of targets is no way to win friends and influence people.

“They’re acting like bullies, the five of them,” said Jim Anderson of Citizen Action, the good-government group. “They need to learn how to play with others.”

I agree with much of what the board majority wants to do. But they can’t make decisions from on high – without consensus or collaboration – and expect parents, clergy and community groups to nod their heads and march in lockstep.

He knew when the board hired Kriner Cash as the new Superintendent. 

Ignore Carl Paladino – Like a tantrum-prone child, Buffalo’s mini-Trump isn’t easily tuned out. Let the board majority’s lightning rod kick, scream and rant. In Paladino’s bully-world, there are angels and devils, no in-between. As everyone from departed Superintendent Don Ogilvie to board President Jim Sampson discovered, you are the second coming until the first time you stray from Paladino’s extreme-reform party line. At which point the nitro-tempered developer launches an email assault and tries to get you voted off the island. Roll with it.

He knew. Donn Esmonde knew, but he promoted the simplistic privatization agenda of the “reform” bloc, which has now found itself transformed into a 3-person minority. Not necessarily because of the meritoriousness of its ideas, but also because of the dictatorial obnoxiousness of its most outspoken member; a vulgar, petty, man who casually utters racist and sexist nonsense in the name of not being “P.C.”, a man who deserves no elected office, no public trust, and no respect from the western New York community.

Donn Esmonde, who clearly doesn’t believe in public education, should never write about schools again. 

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