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Paladino's lawyers expected to call witnesses as hearing resumes this afternoon

The hearing to remove Carl P. Paladino from the Buffalo School Board continues in Albany this afternoon for a third day, and it is expected that Paladino's legal team will start calling its witnesses to testify.

Originally, all of the board members seeking Paladino's removal were slated to testify. But over the weekend the School Board's attorney decided he would not call the final two, Jennifer Mecozzi and Hope Jay, the latter of whom filed the original resolution seeking to remove Paladino for inflammatory comments he made in a story published in Artvoice.

Today's proceedings will being at 1 p.m. with testimony from Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash, and then Paladino's team is expected to call its witnesses. The witnesses include School Board Members Patti Pierce, Larry Quinn and Paladino.

The School Board's case has been narrowly focused on its accusations that Paladino violated board policy when he disclosed confidential information discussed in executive session. The argument is that it interfered with board business and Paladino will continue this behavior unless removed.

Meanwhile, 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.

The decision to not call the two board members follows a vicious first two days of the hearing, during which Paladino's team grilled School Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold and called into question how the board does business.

Although Paladino's attorneys took a softer tact on the other three board members who testified last week, it's anyone's guess how they would have handled Mecozzi and Jay.

They could also still subpoena those two board members to testify.

The change could also hasten how quickly the hearing wraps up. State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia blocked off the rest of the week to hear testimony, but on Friday cautioned the attorneys that they would hold long days if necessary. Her comments came after the attorneys were not ready with additional witnesses on Friday and asked to go home early. She told them to make sure their witnesses are in Albany, and that since they are starting late today they will go as long as they need to.

It's unlikely the commissioner will make a ruling right away, but is expected to do so fairly quickly after its conclusion.


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