Buffalo school board asks Carl Paladino to resign after racist remarks about Obamas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A western New York builder and former Republican nominee for governor was censured on Thursday by fellow members of the Buffalo Board of Education and asked to resign his seat for making racial slurs about President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

The school board called a special meeting and approved a resolution demanding the resignation of Carl Paladino, a board member who ran unsuccessfully for New York governor in 2010. The resolution threatens proceedings to remove the outspoken conservative if he does not step down.

Paladino created a firestorm last week when he sent an email to a weekly newspaper saying he hoped "Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Her(e)ford."

RELATED: President Obama's most memorable quotes

President Obama's most memorable quotes
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President Obama's most memorable quotes

“On Monday morning, the sun rose over Boston.”

After the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, Obama spoke at an interfaith service for victims' family members and other survivors. Speechwriter Terence Szuplat said that in the opening lines, the president set the scenes of how quickly a joyous day turned dark.

"And then, in an instant, the day’s beauty was shattered. A celebration became a tragedy," the president said in the remarks at the Cathedral of The Holy Cross in Boston.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America/Corbis via Getty Images)

“It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the true meaning of America.”

Cody Keenan highlighted the historic significance of America's first black president speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches.

This line was added in by the president himself as the team worked on edits before the anniversary event in Alabama.

He went on to say in the speech, "Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'We.'  We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can."

(Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

"The truth is, being an American is hard."

Speechwriter Sarada Peri picked a moment at a December 2015 naturalization ceremony at the National Archives when Obama spoke about the importance of immigrants and citizenship in building our country.

She said his speech was all about making the new citizens feel comfortable in their new home, despite increasing instances of Islamophobia during the campaign.

(Photo by Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images)

"He was clowning."

After the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championships in 2015, Obama — a big Chicago Bulls fan — got to show his sillier and even cool side.

Speechwriter Zev Karlin-Neumann loved Obama's off the cuff remark and dance moves imitating player Steph Curry. 

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“On a stone where day after day, for years, men and women were torn from their spouse or their child, shackled and bound, and bought and sold, and bid like cattle; on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet — for a long time, the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as 'history' with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”

At the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in September, speechwriter Tyler Lechtenberg said this section of Obama's speech had been changed and edited by the president himself. Lechtenberg thought the revised version better reflected the president's personal thoughts on the atrocities of slavery, the ongoing struggle of the African-American community and how they are part of our national history and integral to making this country stronger and better. 

(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see."

After nine African-Americans were shot dead in their church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, Obama spoke at the eulogy service for slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney. At one point, he broke out in song, singing some lines from the hymnal "Amazing Grace."  It felt heartfelt and sincere at a time when the racist massacre felt like a low point in a divided nation.

A moment not mentioned by the speechwriters — and obviously penned some time ago — but worthy of inclusion for his delivery alone.

(Photo via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

"Yes we can."

It seems fitting to end at the very beginning, before Obama was even in the White House. Obama's acceptance speech that night in November 2008 when he was first elected foreshadowed the type of messages he would continue to share at speaking events around the country and world as the nation's leader.

As he said that night in Chicago, "This is your victory."

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


Regarding Michelle Obama, Paladino said: "I'd like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla."

His comments were published in the holiday edition of Artvoice, which had surveyed Buffalo residents about what they would like to happen in 2017 and what they would like to see go away.

Paladino, a wealthy real estate developer and ally of President-elect Donald Trump, issued a statement on Tuesday apologizing for his comments. He also took a swipe at critics, calling them "parasites," and said Barack Obama was "a traitor to American values."

Paladino was elected in 2013 to the school board, which oversees a district with 34,000 students in the second-largest city in New York state.

During Thursday's meeting, which was broadcast online, some board members accused Paladino of acting like a bully and making remarks they would not tolerate from students.

"This level of hatred for African-Americans cannot and should not set policy for the education of African-American children," board member Paulette Woods said.

More than 70 percent of the district is non-white, according to the resolution.

Members of the audience stood up and cheered when the resolution was approved.

Signed by six of the nine board members, the resolution says that if Paladino does not resign within 24 hours, the board will retain a lawyer to force his removal by the state's education commissioner.

The commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, is monitoring the situation in Buffalo and will review any removal request as quickly as possible, a spokeswoman said.

State education commissioners have removed four board members from districts in western New York in the past 24 years, the Buffalo News reported.

RELATED: Trump's official picks for cabinet and administration positions

Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions
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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions

Counselor to the President: Kellyanne Conway

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Veterans Affairs Secretary: David Shulkin

(Photo credit DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Energy secretary: Rick Perry

(Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

 REUTERS/Daniel Kramer

Secretary of Defense: Retired Marine General James Mattis

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Chief of staff: Reince Priebus

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chief strategist: Steve Bannon


Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Director of the CIA: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy national security adviser: K.T. McFarland

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/Getty Images)

White House counsel: Donald McGahn

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

(Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homeland security secretary: General John Kelly

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Housing and urban development secretary: Ben Carson

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Health and human services secretary: Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Secretary of agriculture: Sonny Perdue

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Paladino, a co-chairman of Trump's campaign in New York state, told a radio station on Wednesday that he would not leave the board voluntarily.

"I'm the agent of change. I'm the guy that exposed the underbelly of their corrupt and dysfunctional school system, and they want me gone from the scene," he said in the radio interview.

Paladino could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

Trump's transition team has called Paladino's comments "absolutely reprehensible," USA Today reported.

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