BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Another showdown is brewing between outspoken Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino and Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold.
Paladino wants Nevergold to be denied a vote on the Board, which could render the current board completely “lame,” with no majority vote – the split would be 4-4 – all while there are important votes to be taken including a new budget.
The latest battle will play out in State Supreme Court next week. Paladino says Nevergold, who was appointed to fill the seat of Chis Jacobs, who went on to become Erie County Clerk, should have then run for that seat in the next school board election, but didn’t. He claims she violated the state’s Public Officer’s Law and has been serving illegally.
Paladino maintains, “All those votes that took place in 2013 are illegal.”
In his lawsuit, Paladino argues Nevergold “was required to run for election in May of 2013,” alleging “the office she presently occupies constitutes an illegal occupancy” and that “the votes she has cast since May 2013 must be declared null and void.”
Paladino also wants State Supreme Court Justice Tracey Bannister to issue a preliminary injunction denying Nevergold the right to vote on any issue between now and July, when the new board with a new majority convenes.
“I brought the lawsuit to deprive her of a vote right now,” Paladino told News 4 Senior Correspondent Rich Newberg, “because during this period of time they can go in and lock people into contracts who we would fire.”
Sources familiar with the case say exceptions in the Public Officer’s Law, which applies to most school districts, are made for the “Big Five” districts in New York State. Buffalo is one of them. They say in some instances, appointed school board members have been able to serve out the full terms of the elected people they replaced, without having to run for the position.
Nevergold will be represented in court by Karl Kristoff, the Special Counsel to the Buffalo School Board.
“With all due respect to Mr. Paladino’s position,” Kristoff told Newberg, “it’s the position of the Board of Education that he got it wrong.”
Paladino told Nevergold he would drop his lawsuit if she agreed not to vote until the new board comes in.
“Counsel was standing right there,” said Paladino, “when I suggested that she give us a stipulation that they will not take any onerous actions. Then I’ll drop the lawsuit.”
Nevergold told Newberg, “I refused to do that because… I think it’s a form of extortion.”
Both sides in the dispute are scheduled to present their arguments to Justice Bannister next Monday and Wednesday. By week’s end she could decide whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction that would prohibit Nevergold from voting. She also has the option to wait as long as 60 days to render a decision in the case. By that time the new Buffalo School Board would have convened.
Nevergold won election to the Board last Tuesday as a member-at-large. Nothing in Paladino’s lawsuit seeks to prohibit her to vote after July 1.