Joe Paladino Sr. now has a lot more time to drink his wife’s coffee in the morning.
The married 76-year old Irondequoit resident said he was fired this week from his gig as a school crossing guard after his comment to a local television reporter about women making coffee for their husbands caused a stir on social media.
Paladino’s remark was broadcast Monday in a WROC-TV News (Channel 8) report about possible development of a vacant church building near his home. He was one of a couple of residents opposed to the development who were interviewed for the story, which reported that storage units, retail stores, and a coffee shop were being considered for the site.
“In this neighborhood, the wives make the coffee for their husbands, okay?” Paladino said. He later added that “the town is full” and that “we don’t need any more people.”
His comments were panned on social media by many.
“Wow,” one Twitter comment read. “Not entirely shocking, given how this town has to be dragged kicking and screaming toward any progress. But wow.”
Wow. Not entirely shocking, given how this town has to be dragged kicking and screaming toward any progress. But wow.
— Steven Coad (@stevencoad) November 14, 2022
“You see NIMBYs in every town when it comes to new development, but the whole “wives make the coffee” is an unusual argument,” read another. “Almost bold in its misogyny.
In an interview Thursday outside his home, Paladino said a representative of the Irondequoit Police Department, which coordinates crossing guards, fired him by phone a day earlier from his job helping elementary and middle school students cross Colebrook Drive. He said he had had the job for five years.
“They said they got bombarded with text messages, phone calls, emails, about what a jerk I was, how I sounded like I was a mafia guy,” Paladino said. “All I said was, in other words, we don’t need a coffee shop here, we’ve got a coffee shop down the street.”
He said the complaints accused him of being sexist, racist, and homophobic, all allegations he denied.
You see NIMBYs in every town when it comes to new development, but the whole “wives make the coffee” is an unusual argument. Almost bold in its misogyny.
— Griff (@mcgryff) November 14, 2022
Paladino said the Police Department representative told him that two separate complaints in his file about children hearing him swear also contributed to his firing.
He explained that one of the instances stemmed from his anger over a motorist barreling through a crosswalk that he was guarding.
“I’m standing in the middle of the street with a stop sign, some guy comes running through the intersection at 40 miles an hour, I turn around and say, ‘Son of a bitch, what are you doing?’” Paladino said. “Kid went home, told his mother. I got a call from the station, and I got in trouble for that.”
A message left with the Irondequoit Police Department was not immediately returned.
Paladino said he took the crossing guard job after retiring from a career at DuPont. Guarding crosswalks and tending bars helped put an extra $1,000 in his pocket every month, he said.
His crossing guard post was a convenient two-minute walk from his house, and gave him a chance to work with youngsters, something Paladino said he enjoyed. He said it made him feel good to help students get to school safely or repair their bicycle chains or break up skirmishes.
“You know, I’d walk by the neighbors and they’d open the door and say, ‘Thanks for taking care of my kids,’” Paladino said.
Paladino believes his firing was unjustified, and said he considered filing a lawsuit before deeming that too much of a hassle.
“The bottom line is I’m a war veteran with the Marine Corps, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Paladino said. “That is my right to say whatever I want.”
Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected]