The Buffalo School Board will vote Tuesday on whether to retain an outside attorney to represent its members in a lawsuit filed against them last week by their colleague, Park District Member Carl P. Paladino.
The resolution up for consideration calls for retaining the same attorney, Frank W. Miller, who is representing the board in its effort to get state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove Paladino from his elected position. Miller is charging the board $195 per hour.
With Thursday's hearing before the commissioner approaching, Paladino last week went on offense, filing the federal lawsuit against those board members seeking his removal. He argues that they are retaliating against him for comments he made last December about former President Barack Obama and his wife, thereby violating his right to free speech. He has said the formal charge against him – revealing contract discussions held in executive session – is just a pretext.
If approved, the new contract will add even more cost to what is becoming a hefty bill for taxpayers. Along with attorneys fees, the district will pick up the tab for board members traveling to Albany to testify at Paladino's hearing. This week's board meeting was moved up to Tuesday because members will be leaving for the hearing.
Since the board hired him in January, Miller's office has billed the district $49,522.