The war that Carl started: Is Jay McCarthy fit for office?

Carl Paladino’s brute demeanor, un-tempered style, and lack of any background in education has shaped the city’s political discourse on school reform for years. Presumably because he ran (haphazardly) for governor, the Buffalo News has offered him an unfiltered platform that has done the publication enormous reputational damage — in addition to charges of racism, bias, and “failure of journalistic integrity.”

Paladino’s criticism of what he, in blanket terms, refers to as “the sisterhood,” has revolved around the claim that the former board majority was incompetent — despite offering no evidence for the rhetorical flourish. And given the local media’s (perhaps unconscious) racial biases, there never seems to be any pushback on the claim.

Political observers on the right and left say that Paladino was playing deliberate (and some say, astute) race-baiting politics. The strategy elected newcomers Larry Quinn and Patricia Pierce, who now have delivered Paladino a white board majority.

Now, the war that Paladino started has come back to bite him.

His harsh judgments of African American women have many political operatives insisting that Paladino’s white majority should endure the same level of media scrutiny. They say that the Board’s African American contingent is, indeed, more qualified and competent than Paladino’s — and they may be right.

Dr. Barbara Nevergold, who led the former majority, is a career educator who holds many advanced degrees, including a doctorate. Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg also holds a doctorate and is a Professor of Education at Buffalo State College. Mary Ruth Kapsiak is a career educator who holds two masters degrees. Sharon Belton-Cottman is a mortgage banker.

In contrast, the new “white majority” is led by James Sampson, who holds a masters degree in social work. Carl Paladino and Larry Quinn are both businessmen who have no experience in education, and whose insights are questionable and unproven. Patricia Pierce was a district attorney, who some claim has been more focused on putting young minorities in jail rather than on helping them become productive members of society. And Jay McCarthy is a bartender to the wealthy and well connected patrons of Hutch’s, the swanky Delaware Avenue establishment.

But, as is percolating in this Buffalo News article, tensions on the board are escalating and the North District’s Jay McCarthy is at the center of the controversy. It seems that he was communicating privileged personnel information relating to former Superintendent Pamela Brown to Business First’s Dan Miner almost immediately after accessing the information in a closed door executive session. The article in question can be read here, and the information pertained to Brown’s separation agreement.

The former majority argues that this is a pattern of behavior that makes McCarthy “unfit for office.”

“At the end of the day, we’ve had too many leaks. It’s been a known fact that there were board members that were leaving executive session and reporting to the news everything that happened in executive session. This is a problem that this board has had,” said East district board member Sharon Belton-Cottman, who is a mortgage banker. “It’s unacceptable.”
“At the end of the day, we’ve had too many leaks. It’s been a known fact that there were board members that were leaving executive session and reporting to the news everything that happened in executive session. This is a problem that this board has had,” said East district board member Sharon Belton-Cottman, who is a mortgage banker. “It’s unacceptable.”

McCarthy was first elected in 2010 with the financial and political backing of Chris Jacobs, a real estate developer and former longtime board member, who even hired an attorney to remove a pro-charter school challenger from the ballot.

McCarthy, by virtue of his bartending position at Hutch’s, which is frequented by the city’s most wealthy and influential residents, was able to cobble a political coalition that fundraised large sums of money, despite McCarthy’s total lack of experience in education or insights into education reform.

Political operatives now speculate that the former board majority led by Dr. Nevergold, will make McCarthy’s lack of qualifications to serve on the Board a point of political rhetoric in the same way that Paladino would demean and defame “the sisterhood” for its alleged lack of competence.

Observers think it could be an effective strategy — and that it puts the North District is in play, when McCarthy runs for reelection.

Sources say that Dr. Nevergold is planning on picking up two seats in the next school board election: the West district, now held by Sampson; and the North district, now held by McCarthy.  The same source says that they are unlikely to run a candidate against Paladino in the Park district, which is often the most energized by his divisive and mean spirited rhetoric. Though others speculate that Adrian Harris may run again for the Park district seat.

Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, a professor of education at Buffalo State College, exchanging words with Carl Paladino, with Interim Superintendent Will Kerezetes and Dr. Barbara Nevergold.
Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, a professor of education at Buffalo State College, exchanging words with Carl Paladino, with Interim Superintendent Will Kerezetes and Dr. Barbara Nevergold.

 

 

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4 comments

  1. From your article it would appear that the people with all of the degrees, the ones that have the most experience, have not been able to help the schoolchildren of Buffalo. Graduation rates are totally unacceptable. People that have common sense and drive to fix the system now have an opportunity to do so. The children deserve better than what they have.

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    • I totally agree that degrees are not the be-all end-all, and that private sector experience, common sense, and management aptitudes are all equally if not more important.

      But my problem is with Carl’s blatantly — and continuously — racist behavior. If he is worried about incompetence on the school board, then why has McCarthy not only avoided his disparaging criticisms but actually has been a beneficiary of his money — Carl even promoting him in the media. There is very little insight that McCarthy brings to the table in terms of education, policy, management, finance, or organizational behavior — so Carl certainly can’t make the claim that they are like minded (only that McCarthy is willing to allow himself to be used as Carl’s tool).

      Clearly, McCarthy is the least qualified on the board, but because he’s white and is a bartender to the wealthy and well connected, he gets a pass. But the black women on the board get slandered despite their long lists of degrees, careers in education, and lifetime commitments to their communities.

      Carl exposes this city to enormous reputational damage, as was evidenced by Jannelle Ambrosia’s racist tirade in a Cheektowaga parking lot last month — which was due in no small part to Carl’s love of race baiting politics and the media’s willingness to inflame the public’s worst sentiments at our weakest moments.

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  2. Carl Paladino is not racist, you idiot. Pay attention. Paladino has done more for the black community than you can possibly imagine, and is working without respite to raise the level of achievement among primarily black students, to give them a hope and a future. The Buffalo News has only raised their credibility by “allowing” some conservative ideas in their rag, no doubt to pretend they are unbiased.

    Carl doesn’t go after the sitting school board because they’re black, he’s goes after them because they are incompetent.

    We thought you were better than that, Matthew.

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  3. Wow did I just read that right your saying Carl is not racist ??? then why did he post n line the (run nigga_run ad he posted with { Blacks running away from an airplane} – political ad during the presidential election) not to mention the slanderous cartoon with Michel Obama under a horse? Then before the Board election he said ” he wanted to put all the people on food stamps in a dormitory prison ‘ and let little black kids clean the bathrooms of schools thus saving on maintenance in Public schools ?? and then those comments on sisterhood for the current school board members and the video of him Calling then State senator Antoin Thompson , a Nigger over…I saw and heard that one on the internet myself ;

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