Tag Archives: Dr. James Williams

The Morning Grumpy

29 Jun

I have a voracious appetite for internet memes, video, podcasts, news and analysis, so each morning I’ll share several that you can read during your “morning grumpy”.

1. Elena Cala is a lot of things; assistant to Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. James Williams, former editor of Buffalo Rising, Former Teacher, Mom, and Chanteuse, but she certainly isn’t known for handling the media very well. On Monday, her ongoing Sicilian blood feud with Buffalo News education beat reporter Mary Pasciak came to  a head. You see, Elena and other BPS staff are still upset over an article Pasciak wrote in which she demonstrated that several members of the superintendent’s staff did not hold the qualifications posted for their jobs, including Cala. There have been dozens of other perceived slights during Cala’s dealing with Pasciak, but the outcome of this one was fun to watch.Click through to watch the video tutorial from Elena on how NOT to handle media members who buy ink by the barrel.

My personal dealings with Elena have always been pleasant, but during her short tenure as an employee of Dr. Williams and the BPS, she has earned a horrible reputation as the most difficult press person in the region. That’s saying a lot, as there are a lot of pompous former media pros working in these PR departments around town.

As Pasciak reported in April,

Cala, special assistant to the superintendent for community relations, is supposed to have “seven years full-time experience in public or community relations in a large institution or educational setting,” according to the posting for her position.

The only such experience listed on her resume is a stint as a public relations assistant at Westinghouse Communities of Naples Inc. in 1985.

Cala, who makes $80,000 a year, worked most recently as an editor at Buffalo Rising for four years. Prior to that, she taught at a Catholic elementary school for four years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College, where she became close friends with Mayor Byron W. Brown.

Questions remain whether it was her connections with Brown, her personal relationship with Joy McDuffie, or her efforts as editor at Buffalo Rising to drive favorable turnout during a critical school board election which got her the job, but Cala will probably not have to worry about dealing with oppositional media much longer.

2. As the seemingly pointless war in Afghanistan drags on, two stories came across my radar screen that I thought drove home the futility of the conflict and the long term human costs.

The BBC’s Ben Anderson spends 24 hours in Afghanistan’s bloody Helmand Province and shares his experience with analysts at VBS.tv.


The utter futility of the entire conflict is palpable. Bring them home.

Meanwhile, the children of our deployed soldiers face horrible conditions in military schools and deal with the mental strain and anguish of their Fathers and Mothers fighting on the front lines half a world away for over a decade.


The shame.

3. This just in from The Brookings Institute. Cleveland, Detroit, Youngstown and Buffalo are among 36 of the top 100 metropolitan areas whose population below the age of 45 declined during the last decade. At the opposite end of the spectrum, college towns such as Austin, Raleigh, Provo and Madison, experienced significant growth in pre-senior population. Think the Mayor or County Executive might be interested in addressing these problems or are we doomed to another couple of years of crumb hoarding at the political poker table?

4. Jon Stewart is America’s finest media critic and satirist and in this clip he very succinctly analyzes the entire strategy of Fox News. Nailed it.


5. Actual news headlines versus Fox News headlines.

6. Every national political reporter who has an opportunity to interview Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney needs to read this article first.

7. Should You Change Your Password?

8. Enjoy 57 minutes of excellence by The Hood Internet.


See ya tomorrow.

Reaching for Epithets (also: Paladino isn’t Mel Brooks)

16 Apr

Here, Channel 2’s Josh Boose interviews Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who needs no help from anyone to insert hoof in mouth.


It really couldn’t get any worse. If Paladino spent as much time formulating a reasonable reform platform as he does hunting for appropriate epithets to hurl at his enemies, he wouldn’t be in this trouble.

Yesterday, two editorials excoriated Paladino’s judgment regarding the emails – one in the Albany Times Union, and one in the Buffalo News. But the Tonawanda News takes the Sandy Beach tack and calls it no big deal – just a matter of taste.

I reviewed the scant few examples reported by WNYmedia.net that embattled gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino apparently e-mailed to people he knows. They are all visual examples, and many are extremely crude. A couple of them have even been sent to me by friends, and I deleted them because, quite frankly, they’re not funny.

Which means you had the good judgment not to forward them, unlike the local gubernatorial candidate, who found them compelling enough to share along.

One doctored picture depicts the president and first lady as 1970s pimp and prostitute. I can see the humor in that. Of course, I see the humor because I remember some of the characters that TV’s Kojak and Starsky & Hutch dealt with in the 70s.

Could some be offended by that example? Sure.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some people ignore the blatant and obvious racial degradation in that specific example, but it’s quite palpably there. Hint: Obama is dressed up as a 70s ghetto pimp, and the First Lady is dressed as a 70s ghetto prostitute.

But there are also those who are offended by jokes about Irish drunks, dumb blondes — and their Canadian “Nuefie” equivalent — dumb Poles (the predecessor to dumb blondes) cheap Jews, pedophile priests, feeble/forgetful elderly, etc.

That paragraph is an example of the phrase, “digging a deeper hole”. Also, it’s “Newfie“, for God’s sake.

By the way, at least two other presidents have been compared to primates. Several photos of George W. Bush, doctored to depict him as a monkey, have circulated via e-mail. In the 70s, Mad magazine used President Nixon in place of Japan’s “Three Wise Monkeys” who “see/hear/speak no evil.” Although a precedent had been set, to make a similar example with President Obama is apparently wrong. But don’t you dare suggest that the one crying racism is actually the racist for pointing it out. You’re not enlightened.

Because comparisons of black men to simians is patent, blatant racism. Throughout history. I can’t imagine anyone denying that or not realizing that.

So, what’s wrong with Blazing Saddles? The movie that is ranked sixth by the American Film Institute in its list of “100 Years 100 Laughs” is apparently inappropriate, when taking public outcry over Paladino’s e-mails into consideration, because it contains 17 references to the N-word. I guess those people at AFI missed the week when sensitivity training was offered.

Yes, taste is subjective.

Well, here’s the difference.

First of all, Mel Brooks, the writer & director of Blazing Saddles, is a comedian. Carl Paladino is not. They have different skillsets, different audiences, and the public has different expectations from them. Secondly, you really have to be dense to not realize that Blazing Saddles was satire – it was mocking racism, not engaging in it.

Because it’s not addressed, we have to trust that the ethnicity issue with the e-mails were specifically related to or perceived as racism. But we don’t know for sure. The Web site alleges it’s racism, stating “Other emails display an attitude of misogyny or blatant racism — the latter being an issue with which Paladino already has a problem, given his past dealings with and criticisms of Antoine Thompson, Jim Pitts, Byron Brown and Dr. James Williams.”

This is racist. It really isn’t open to interpretation, but thanks for asking.

Yet, Paladino has been on record criticizing several politicians such as Eliot Spitzer, Rick Lazio, Andrew Cuomo, Sheldon Silver, Brian Higgins, Bill Stachowski, George Pataki and Michael Wilton, the former head of USA Niagara Development Corp. I guess that wasn’t necessary to report.

We’ve reacted to Paladino’s criticisms of the feckless Andrew Rudnick with glee. The Tonawanda News must be new to our site, and didn’t bother to check. But addressing the specific comparison here, Paladino never said, “Eliot Spitzer was elected because he’s white”. Or “Sheldon Silver is a corrupt white man”. Yet he has said that Dr. James Williams was selected because he’s black. You might want to look at Boose’s interview at the top of this post once more.

Also referenced in the report were emails pertaining to claims that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States while others “were just pictures of naked women.”

JUST pictures of naked women? Methinks that misogyny comment should be extended beyond Paladino.

As we’ve explained countless times now, we selected emails for publication that went beyond run-of-the-mill birtherism or pornography. In other words, no one reacts with shock-horror if a man like Paladino looks at pictures of a naked Kelly Monaco.

Paladino himself very likely has his own trust issues now. It’s not a crime to share an e-mail, but to me it’s a violation of trust. It’s also a good example of why one should cherish and protect his own privacy.

When you mass-forward an email, you have no expectation of privacy. No more expectation of privacy than when you, say, write an ignorant, childish editorial in your newspaper.


2 Jul

Volunteer Basketball coach at McKinley High School, Michelle Stiles, was suspicious why full-time boy’s basketball coach James Daye was seen leaving the home of one of her players late one evening. After bringing it up, Stiles was summarily dismissed.

(Daye? He was placed on administrative leave in March. Apparently, he had sex with a student while he was teacher in South Carolina in the 1990s. Daye denies this.)

Jayvonna Kincannon, the captain of the girls’ basketball team, was upset at this, and used a cell phone in school in order to add herself to the speaker’s list for a board of education meeting one night. This also was met with swift and unfair punishment.

When a student is suspended for over five days, that student has a right to a hearing under state law. Kincannon never received one. She was suspended for five days, and then, upon her return, informed by letter with Superintendent James Williams’ name on it that she was suspended for an additional six weeks. The special investigator, David Edmunds, found Barton’s fingerprints figuratively all over that 7-week suspension order. It was revenge.

In any event, the 7-week suspension, and the 5-week reduced suspension was an excessive and completely disproportionate punishment. While the school has a right to enforce the rules, it cannot arbitrarily, capriciously, or maliciously impose an illegal, longer sentence such as they did in Kincannon’s case. Although her suspension is now expunged from her record, without the media spotlight on this, it would have just happened. How many more kids are being unfairly punished in the system?

Some members of the Buffalo school board wanted to make the people who did this to Kincannon answer for their actions and misdeeds. They wanted Barton – who refused to participate or cooperate with Edmunds’ investigation – to be punished. They wanted other administrators to be punished. After all, why should a school administrator violate a student’s – a child’s – civil rights and rights as a student in the Buffalo school system with impunity?

Shouldn’t part of what kids get taught in school be personal responsibility? Accountability? That when you make a tough decision, and it turns out to be the wrong one, that there are consequences?

Evidently – and sadly – no.

City Honors: 11th Best School in the Country

19 May

Buffalo’s City Honors was ranked as the 11th best high school in the country by Newsweek magazine. But that’s not the only good news,

Superintendent James Williams sees this as validation of the changes he’s implemented, including:

All I Leave Behind Me is Only What I Found

7 May

Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams?

Yeah, he’s looking.

Buffalo Public Schools – Phase II Reconstruction Completed

23 Nov


For those of you that don’t regularly visit the frontpage of WNYMedia.net, I’d like to point you in the direction of a cool post from Marc Odien. We were hired to complete a video piece highlighting the completion of the Phase II School Reconstruction Project and the project is quite exciting.

The video was presented at the grand opening Ceremony for the Phase II at Performing Arts High School the other night. A total of $327 Million went into renovating 14 Buffalo Public Schools and All High Stadium in Phase II. While there are issues with the surrounding neighborhoods, blighted properties, and other significant issues; this video takes a look at a significant investment into the education infrastructure in the City of Buffalo. Hopefully, work will continue to redress other issues, but this project is great news for the students and teachers.

Video is after the jump…