Every couple of years, seats on the Buffalo School Board go up for election and the Buffalo News, the only daily paper in the city, prints hundreds of column inches completely losing their shit about the important “reform agenda” and how different candidates relate to it.
And while, at first blush, it seems like a good thing that the region’s major newspaper chooses to pay such close attention to the elections that will determine governance of a school system where childhood poverty and graduation rates have just eked below and above 50% respectively in the past year, it’s important to note that then Buffalo News‘s reporting on the school board – and education generally – is not merely biased, but also completely disingenuous about its slant, using its massive platform to elevate the cretinous minions of Carl Paladino while hiding behind timid censuring and refusal to endorse the man himself (though notably not going so far as to endorse his opponents).
A classic example of this sleaze – though not related directly to school board elections – is the News‘s choice in 2014 to lead a story about spending on state senate elections with a headline crowing about dastardly Big Teacher trying to sway the election with its millions, when the teachers union was actually outspent by its opponents, a pro-charter school PAC funded by literal billionaires like Daniel Loeb and real-life comic book villain Paul Singer.
Seriously, look at this shit.
That year, the paper ran at least two other stories hyperventilating about spending by the teachers union, including a pearl-clutching editorial wagging Warren Colville’s decrepit finger at teachers for having the temerity to oppose politicians who wanted to gut their ability to collectively bargain by replacing public schools with private-not-private charter schools.
Guess how many articles the News printed about spending by charter advocates that year?
But I digress.
This year the district seats (as opposed to the at-large seats) in the Buffalo School Board are up for election and the News‘s intrepid education reporters and editors are deep in the shit, exposing the Godless commie teachers using the defoliant of The Press so the grunts (that’s you, voters) can more efficiently gun them down.
Your country The local business elite thanks you for your service, now it’s time to listen to some Wagner and go surfing.
The Buffalo News has run, by my count, 34 pieces about the school board race in the past 10 days. In addition to standard candidate profile pieces, those articles, columns, and op-eds include straight news reporters scaremongering about union spending and bemoaning the “viciousness” of the race as well as hand-wringing editorials about the threat teachers and their supporters present to the “vital reform efforts” and “changes” promised by Paladino’s bloc.
The News likes to use histrionic language – like “vicious,” “taking over,” and “killing,” – when talking about the union’s efforts, but dresses up the business community’s efforts to take over the school system, privatize public education, and bust the teachers’ union in the schmaltz of “reform.”
Is this just a sad example of how neocons and the Third Way have managed to malign organized labor in the public’s eyes? Has the Buffalo News just become another relentlessly monetized robotic neoliberal institution obsessed with disruption and metrics and ROI?
Well, yeah, but in addition to just drawing devil horns and sinister mustaches on the union while glorifying the corporate “reform” insurgents, the News is a part of the same business network whose efforts to loot the public trust has now extended to public schools.
I don’t just mean that Warren Colville and Michael Connelly like to sit around the Buffalo Club drinking extra-sweet Manhattans while plotting with Ron Tanski and Bob Wilmers how to somehow combine getting richer and screwing the lower classes (though I’m sure that’s going on as well).
Though you’ll never seem them disclose it in print, the Buffalo News pays $50,000 per year to be a member of the despicable local chamber of commerce – the Buffalo Niagara Partnership – and even helps to run the show. President Warren Colville (who thinks it’s very important for you to know the national origin of the daughters he thinks it’s very important for you to know he adopted and whose son, also named Warren of course, definitely got his vice president job at the Buffalo News on merit) sits on the board of BNP along the executives of pretty much every company you know and hate in Western New York.
Together (when they’re not scheming with statewide groups to frack the Southern Tier into a Third World hellscape and keep wages at poverty levels) the Buffalo Niagara Partnership likes to spend money making sure local elected officials know who really runs the show in this town.
The Partnership’s PAC, the Committee for Economic Growth, has spent nearly $200,000 on campaign contributions since 2010. This amount does not count money spent on school board elections, since the New York State Board of Elections doesn’t report that spending; however – in its only mention of the Partnership’s spending in this campaign – the Buffalo News reported that BNP spent $30,000 on the election in 2009, with no mention of the paper’s relationship to the group. Notably, the News did not see fit to report in the same article that BNP’s PAC spent at least $18,500 on the 2014 election – $11,000 on a mailer endorsing Paladino-slate candidates Larry Quinn (a shitbird who has been hovering over the landfill of local development and politics for years) and Patricia Pierce and another $7,500 in a straight up donation to Quinn’s campaign. That same year the PAC of the shadowy 43×79 Group, a clique of local businessmen closely aligned with the Partnership that was at one time chaired by Colville, gave Quinn another $5,000.
That year, the Buffalo News endorsed BNP and Paladino’s preferred candidates, saying “Of the the 13 candidates, Quinn is the one who is indispensable.” No mention was made of the paper’s affiliation with Buffalo Niagara Partnership or 43×79.
Yesterday, the News ran an op-ed column by the Partnership’s CEO backing “reform” candidates, though none are named specifically. Again, no mention is made of their campaign spending or the paper’s affiliation with the group.
Though they haven’t released their official endorsements yet, there’s no doubt in my mind that, like in recent years, the Buffalo News will back all the candidates in the BNP-Paladino axis, even the ones who couldn’t get enough signatures to get their name on the ballot.
The only time in recent memory I can remember the News NOT backing a pro-charter candidate was their 2013 non-endorsement of Carl Paladino – a virulant racist, sexist, and homophobe – which was so tepid and cowardly that it was barely distinguishable as such:
The Buffalo School District is desperate for change and, whatever his defects, Paladino is clearly the change agent among the entire field of candidates. He seems to have a genuine passion for improving the education of Buffalo’s students, and while his bull-in-a-china-shop approach to – well, just about everything – would undoubtedly cause problems, it could also have its benefits in a district that ducks change as effectively as a Sasquatch ducks photographers.
That is to say after Paladino was revealed as sending racist emails, proposed housing welfare recipients in prison dorms to teach them personal hygiene, and said he didn’t want his children “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option,” the Buffalo News was so committed to crushing the teachers’ the union, so slavishly obedient to cronies in the business community that their editors couldn’t muster the balls to say “Carl Paladino is not fit to run our school.” Instead they printed most spineless Paladino non-endorsement-endorsement their e-board hacks could tap out, also refused to endorse his challenger, and proceeded to vociferously back every person that aligned with the scumbag.
No matter what your politics are, you should vote against for whoever the Buffalo News endorses because the paper’s reporting on education is slimy, one-sided, and fundamentally dishonest, they brazenly refuse to acknowledge their business ties to the school “reform” movement, and they didn’t even have the nerve to denounce a guy who probably thinks it’s okay to use the n-word “because they still get to say it” to lead a majority-POC school district.