BUFFALO - After five hours of heated arguments, mock baseball bats, pictures of dogs, denied motions and an angry, impassioned speech from a teenager no older than 15 years old, the Board of Education for the Buffalo Public Schools finally told everybody to get out so they could go into executive session.
At about 10:04 p.m. on Wednesday evening, the board met privately to discuss a personnel matter: new member Carl Paladino's motion to dismiss Dr. Pamela Brown as the district's superintendent.
Fifty minutes later, they emerged from their chambers.
Board President Barbara Seals-Nevergold uttered one phrase.
"No action taken," Seals-Nevergold said.
Then the meeting adjourned, leaving Brown intact as the superintendent and delivering a blow to Paladino's major agenda item. Ever since his election in May, Paladino has vowed to call for Brown's dismissal, even sending impassioned letters calling her unqualified and guilty of committing fraud. He has also claimed she was hired because the board "wanted a weak African-American Superintendent." He didn't get his wish on Wednesday.
But that doesn't mean the meeting wasn't entertaining.
The 5:30 p.m session began with a public comment period, in which 30 people had signed up to speak. Paladino became a frequent target of verbal abuse almost immediately. At one point, a woman named Kat Massey took the podium and pulled out a baseball bat from her bag, mocking Paladino's 2010 run for governor in which he frequently used a baseball bat as a symbol on his campaign. She used her three-minute public comment period to rip him apart, drawing an eruption from the crowd and causing Seals-Nevergold and Brown to actually tell her to refrain from using board nember's names in her speech. She used the word "bully" to describe Paladino, among other adjectives.
"The hallmark of a board membership must be collaborative. T-E-A-M action to benefit the students," Massey said. "Mr. Paladino should submit his resignation."
Massey told 2 On Your Side that a security guard eventually seized her baseball bat. During a brief break in the meeting, Paladino addressed reporters and laughed off the encounter.
"Cool," Paladino said. "I used one of those in my election."
But not everybody had a problem with Paladino. In fact, a young teenager used his comment time to attack Pamela Brown and called the board "unethical" for stripping funding for instrumental music. He then called for Brown's resignation, just as Paladino has-- to which a board member said to the teenager, "shame on you."
And it turned more bizarre after the public comment session, when Paladino interrupted an agenda item to make a "motion" to allow his dog to attend meetings. That suggestion drew laughter from the board, and Seals-Nevergold suggested perhaps Paladino could bring his dog on the Board of Education's upcoming retreat. Paladino then passed out a picture of his dog to fellow board members.
As for the actual meeting, Paladino had arrived with 32 agenda items to discuss, although Seals-Nevergold said the board would only talk about six of them. However, Paladino did in fact get to discuss all of his items. Most notably, the board chose not to second any of his motions regarding an investigation into his allegations that Brown and others defrauded the state of New York via a secret "side letter" with the teacher's union.
Erie County legislator Betty Jean Grant also spoke during the public comment portion and tried to hold the board together.
"People are expecting a sideshow. People are expecting to have drama and controversy every single day," Grant said. "Let's prove them wrong."