The legal team representing Carl P. Paladino in the hearing to have him removed from the Buffalo School Board has started calling its own witnesses to testify.
After attorneys spent roughly three hours questioning Superintendent Kriner Cash, former state attorney general Dennis Vacco called Patti Pierce as his first witness.
Pierce is one of three witnesses Vacco plans to call, along with Paladino and board member Larry Quinn. It is expected that Pierce and Quinn, both School Board members, will testify Tuesday, as the hearing moves into its fourth day.
Paladino's defense is that those seeking his removal are retaliating against him for the comments he made in the Artvoice story late last year about President Obama and his wife, not disclosing confidential information.
Pierce testified that Paladino – a close ally – made those comments in his capacity as a private citizen, not a member of the Board of Education.
"I could not condone Mr. Paladino's comments however I felt what he said in Artvoice was coming from him as a private citizen and not as a board member," Pierce said.
Her testimony followed that of Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash, who testified earlier Monday that settling the teacher contract was necessary to execute his plan for turning around the struggling school system.
Cash was the first witness to testify on the third day of the hearing to remove Carl P. Paladino from his Park District seat on the Buffalo Board of Education.
The teacher contract negotiations are central to the proceedings because the board members seeking Paladino's removal say he violated board policy when he disclosed confidential information that was discussed during an executive session about the contract.
Cash also offered a rare public glimpse into his views of the dynamics on the Buffalo School Board, saying that since last year's election there appears to be no clear majority.
"I can't get a clear sense of what's the majority and what's the minority," Cash said.
During his turn to question Cash, Vacco also pressed Cash on whether the fact that several board members received support from the Buffalo Teachers Federation concerned him after the last election.
"Not until I would see how they behaved as board members," Cash responded.
Paladino's team pursued a similar line of questioning during last week's testimony, questioning whether the union's support of certain board members influenced the contract talks. They also pointed out that all of the board members seeking Paladino's removal have been supported by the teachers union.
Cash also acknowledged that the district was ready in the event of a teacher strike, but it's still unclear whether BTF President Philip Rumore gave him any indication one might happen.